Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Chevy Farm

Otherwise known as Westgate Chev... if you live in Edmonton, you probably have seen the tv commercials they put out, featuring Gord Gent, the "owner" of the business. All typical of this type of industry, doing the proverbial "Hey, come see us, we have a large selection of quality new and used vehicles", and the normal implications of how great they are and how well they treat their customers.

Sadly, like many in the industry, they speak the words but do their best to get out of honoring them. This post is about my brother, a person with a deep interest in cars, quality, and a desire to believe.

A few years back he went on a shopping spree, looking for something comfortable he could "retire" with, and came across a used Cadillac at 'the farm'. Knowing cars like he does, he researched his books and found this particular model had been known for some nasty electrical problems. Those issues were brought up with the sales person, and an extended warranty was suggested with the promise that it would cover everything. (Are you seeing where this is going? Well, you would be right.)

Shortly after buying the car, problems came up with not only the electrical system but also with some "shudder and vibration" issues which pointed towards the fancy transmission system. As well, usually in the winter months, the car battery would just die.

Covered first by the normal used vehicle warranty, and then the extended warranty, the car made many trips into Westgate. Often for days at a time. They replaced this and that, tightened this and that. But the problems were never fixed.

They said the problem was the computer, which is housed inside the car radio. So they pulled that out, put in a new one, and then charged him about a thousand dollars. Even though he was told the electrical and electronic systems were covered, apparently the car radio by magic, is not included with that. Of course, he mentioned that the sales person told him it would be, which is the reason he bought the extended warranty in the first place. But the sales person left the dealership shortly after he bought the car, so he conveniently could not be questioned about the promises made.

To make matters worse, the radio system had CD's inside of it, which they never removed when they replaced the unit. And it took over 6 months of complaints before the CD's were tracked down and returned. Damaged of course...

And yes, you would guess right when I say the radio was not the problem at all.

Other problems happened, and Westgate said "Oh we can't fix that, you have to take it to the Cadillac dealership"... which he did, and had to pay for repairs for things that were supposed to have been covered under the warranty.

Any time my brother tried to discuss the issues with the Service Manager, all he got was the run around. Does that surprise you? Now.. when I found Westgate finally climbed up into the social media world, I tweeted them, asked if they would want to correct a wrong and of course they replied "sure". I sent them my brothers contact information... weeks went by and no call. So I tweeted them again and they responded with the proverbial "ok, will look into it". And a few days after that someone did call.

The response? "Oh well, you waited too long, we can't do anything about that now". And what about a refund on replacing parts that didn't need replacing in the first place? "Oh we can't do that either".

What Westgate Chev can do however, is give you the run around... refuse to deal with the things you paid for, charge you more money to fix things that have NEVER been fixed, and politely tell you to fuck off afterwards.

Oh yeah.. the fella that called said he would be more than happy to sell him a different car.

Well Westgate. You know what? The same issues exist. The electrical still has problems, the vibration is still there, and the battery still goes from a full charge to totally dead while the car is parked and not running and not doing anything. Apparently the computer thinks that in the winter time, it needs to just turn something on at random intervals which quickly drains a full charged (and in good shape) battery.

Westgate was given several chances to correct these issues before this blog post was created, and they knew it was coming...

Their response? To un-follow me on twitter. Yup, that sure solves a lot...

I suspect they may find a few cars parked in their area this summer, displaying signs about the rip off, and educating potential customers about their (total lack of) really great service. Oh wait... my bad. Lip service is still service, yes?


  1. I'm glad I got to read this as I am currently looking for a used vehicle but I still don't understand how if your brother researched this vehicle and found it had "nasty electrical problems," why he still bought it. Seems like he was almost setting himself up for trouble from the start.

  2. You ask a fair question.. :) I guess in a sense, my brother is one of those people who, ever since he was a kid, would look at a car and know the make and model. Just as computers are my thing, cars are his. Growing up, he got me into car repairs... every thing from pulling engines and rebuilding them, all the way to racing at Speedway (when it was still in the north end where Leons is now).

    The bottom line is, not ALL of the units in this series had issues, and of course the test drive (which he did extensively) did not indicate that this particular car showed any of the signs of those problems.

    Knowing his abilities as he does, and driven by the love of this model being his retirement dream... coupled with the knowledge of the extended warranty that was specifically purchased to "cover his ass" if you will... As I indicated at the start of the post, the 'desire to believe'...

    The belief was that the Chevy Farm would stand behind what he was sold. They did not. And this matter even went all the way up the chain to General Motors Canada. Every step along the way was months in between issues. They would try something, and it would take a few months before it happened again. For example the drive train issue was only noticeable in the summer months, and the car battery being drained would only happen in the winter months.

    Most of the electrical side was things like the radio just going off into never never land. Except the radio literally controlled the car due to the computer. Anything related to the cars performance would be displayed on the radio system. You would be driving along and the radio would go into a boot cycle... the windows would stop working, etc... and then boom, it would be back. One of the sun roof switches failed and that was replaced (at a cost) and a sensor for the exhaust system failed (which had to be replaced at a Cadillac dealership) also at a cost. For the latter, he was told "geez, this sensor should never fail"...

    He thought with the warranty, and if this particular car HAD any of those issues, he would get them all solved. The extended warranty was for two years or 24,000 km, which as you can imagine was not cheap. And he would have a problem, deal patiently and nicely... Only in the end to find out that all he was getting was the run around. With that said, a FEW problems were fixed. But not all of them. Is it as bad now, no...

    However the real killer was the grand spent on replacing a part that was NOT the problem, the loss and eventual return of damaged property, and the failure to refund (despite repeated requests) the cost of the part that never needed replacing. Westgate took the approach of "we don't know what it is, lets just try this and that"... and at my brothers expense, on parts that were supposed to be covered.

    That's not how a business should be run, in our humble opinion. This was not a cheap car, nor was the extra warranty cheap. And no matter how frustrated he was, he never got mad... he only wanted it to work. Instead, he got taken.

  3. Hey thanks for the heads up. I was actually at their place a few weeks back checking over some things. Now I won't bother going back. I will look for your tweets about the summer "parking boycott" because I want to stop in and point out to the management that failing to provide the service, cost them a sale.

  4. Hi,

    I've had the same problem with my silverado truck which is brand new from there, too many things gone wrong to mention lol .

    Basically customer service sucks ! The sales managers don't care , once you bought a vehicle you're on your own quite literally .