When I first bought my 2005 Volvo S40 T5 in December of 2004, everything was great. The dealership (then Prebul) was outstanding and bent over backwards to make sure we were happy with the car. Even at the 50,000-mile scheduled maintenance, they gave me a loaner car for 2 days at no charge (at least not a line item on the invoice!). They washed the car at every oil change. Service and support was top notch and probably couldn’t be beat, even by the BMW dealership.
And then the Prebul fraud scandal happened. All of the Prebul dealerships were shut down abruptly and sold off, one by one, to other local dealerships. I think Volvo was the last brand to be picked up, and it was picked up by Long of Chattanooga. At that point, I knew I wasn’t going to be dealing with Prebul-quality service that I was used to. I knew they bought it for pennies on the dollar, and since I didn’t buy directly from them, there was no sort of customer loyalty. That, I expected, but I also expected some modicum of professionalism and courtesy. I was wrong…
Since I had purchased everything for my car through the Prebul Volvo dealership, when my car needed new tires, I called the dealership. I called a week in advance and got a quote on tires. They said they would order them and the entire process would take, at most, 2 hours. When I arrived at the service department at 7:30 AM on the day of the appointment, they did not have the tires in stock. When they called their supplier in Chattanooga, they were also out of the tires. Instead of telling me to come back at another day, they let me sit and wait. They had all the wheels off the car and the car jacked up before they told me that there was a delay. The guy working on the car had taken his lunch break, and the tires were on their way from Atlanta. When the tires arrived, they said it would only take them an hour tops to get me ready to go. Well, they got busy and several customers came and went. The excuse was that they were busy and there was a delay. Too bad I made an appointment to show up at 7:30 AM, waited until well after lunch for the tires to arrive, and then get pushed to the back of the queue because some old man who didn’t make an appointment wanted an oil change. After all was said and done, my car was done and ready to drive off, shortly after 3:00 PM. I didn’t have cash to get a snack from the vending machine. Never received an offer on a ride, a cab, or a complimentary car. Nothing. Abso-freaking-lutely horrible. That was the first and last time that I would deal with them.
Then, some amount of time later, my dad had to take his 2004 Volvo S40 for some sort of problem. They had to order some special part to fix it. So, my dad had a rental car while he waited for 2 weeks. As it turns out, they had parked the car somewhere in the back with the windows down for 2 weeks. When he had come by at one point to check on it, he asked them to roll up the windows. They did not. So, the windows remained down while rain showers came and went. Needless to say, that was also my dad’s first and last time visiting Long of Chattanooga. He wound up buying a Subaru to replace his Volvo.
Fast-forward to November 1, 2011. My car started making horrible sounds on my commute to work. Grinding metal, sounds of something dragging, scraping, etc. I knew it was either my clutch or transmission or both. Since Tuesdays are meeting days at work, I didn’t have a choice but to go in. I left early that day to avoid rush hour traffic and basically hobbled my car home in 3rd and 4th gears for 99% of the commute. Wednesday morning, I tried taking my car to Firestone, but was informed they do not work on transmissions and that I would have to take it somewhere else. The next closest service center that I knew of was Long of Chattanooga. My car made it… but barely. I accidentally pulled in too soon and wound up in the Mercedes service center. As I was making the turn, the clutch and transmission gave out on me and the car locked up 20 feet from the service pull-through. I managed to slowly coax the car into the pull-through, but the woman behind the counter said that I could not park my car there. I asked if this was still Long of Chattanooga. She said yes, but that it was the Mercedes service center and I would have to find a way to get it to the Volvo service center. No offers of help. No ifs, ands, or buts. If you’re an elitist Mercedes owner, you’re in luck because that uncaring elitism extends all the way through to the service center. After that confrontation, I got back in my car and basically got it to roll in 1st gear on hopes and dreams the extra 100 feet to the Volvo service center. *whew* I dropped the keys off with a description of the problems with the guy at the Volvo service center desk. He took it in and was generally pleasant about it. I received a call from him later that day and said that the clutch was totally shot to the tune of roughly $1,900 for parts, labor, and taxes. He said that they would have to replace the clutch to test the transmission, so I gave him the go-ahead. The next morning, I received a call that they had simply drained the transmission fluid and metal chunks and shavings came out with it, and that the transmission would have to be replaced. This raised the total of the bill to $4,747.46 for everything. I told him not to do anything else until I had a chance to think about it and check what my options were. So, we wound up buying a new car on Saturday and leveraged an approximate value of the Volvo minus clutch and transmission as part of a trade deal. Ford just needed to go see the Volvo in person before everything was officially finalized. We called Long to tell them not to replace the transmission and put the car back together and to expect the guys from Ford to come pick up the Volvo. Initially, the bill was $100 plus tax for the diagnostics. A couple of hours later, we received another call and that they “forgot” to charge us $1,098 plus tax for the labor involved, and they had not replaced the clutch as they had said. The guy gave me a “deal” and cut the labor cost in half for $548.07. My take on this is that I paid for services NOT rendered. The fact that they “forgot” the charge is a bunch of bull. I paid the bill over the phone just to get it over with and say good riddance to any connections with any Long of Chattanooga dealerships. I haven’t dealt with anyone else but the service department, but all I can assume is that everyone else working in those dealerships are just as bad, if not works, than the crooks and shiesters that actually “work” on the cars brought in for service.
I’m now driving a 2012 Ford Focus and am not looking back. I loved that Volvo, but the honeymoon was over after dealing with the new Volvo dealership in town. The fact that the cost of repairs from 11/10 to 11/11 almost added up to $8,000 (the Kelley Blue Book estimated trade-in value of the car) didn’t help, either. I’ll miss the car and the joy it was to drive it, but I will not miss the cost of maintaining it. I was 10,300 miles short of getting into the 100,000-mile club, and every single mile of that was my driving. I literally peeled some of the delivery plastic off the hood of the car when I bought it. It’s a little depressing and frustrating, but I guess I’ll have to get used to driving another brand new car that had a whole 22 miles on it at the time of purchase. I think I can deal.