Tootling along in our loaner Metris van, my twenty-year-old (Cole) suddenly noticed the check engine light blink. The blinking code indicated that the loaner would soon need a routine service check. Cole and I started to laugh hysterically. And then the check tire pressure light came on, and we laughed even harder than hysterically. Your confused? What the hell are we doing in a loaner Metris? Didn’t we just buy a new Metris van a month ago?
Well, yes we did. It seems that we are special.
I’ve hesitated to write about this “issue” because, you know, how many car issues can you have before people start to wonder about you? Heck, I wonder about us! OK, fine. I’ll tell you all about it.
We bought a 2016 Metris Sprinter after months of investigative work (you can read about it here and here). As soon as the van moved into the garage, we customized it for our pup day-camp business. Everything had a place—the pups, our leashes, the supplies, and Rascal our Jack Russell. We took the van to have the windows tinted. Every morning, we grinned from ear to ear when the engine turned over and started. Our campers traveled in style, with bright shining faces, to and from day camp every day. That is, until the morning the happy ended. The van started right up, but the moment I tried to turn the wheel, I realized either we didn’t have power steering or I had lost all the strength in my arms. Fortunately, I guess, it was a power steering issue. I wasn’t overly worried. New cars sometimes have problems that need to be worked out. I called the dealership, and they told us to come right in, which was easier said than done; nevertheless, my strong boy manhandled the van back to the dealership. On the way, I told him how I had driven my Honey Bee Datsun without power steering, back in the day. He may have been grunting too hard to have been impressed.
The dealership checked the van right in and walked us over to wait in their waiting area. The accommodations included comfy chairs, conference areas, charging stations, large televisions, and a complimentary breakfast sandwich. I chose the Applewood bacon, eggs, and cheddar on a sourdough English muffin with basil mayo and paired it with Peet’s coffee. It was very tasty. I don’t remember which sandwich Cole chose, but he enjoyed every bite. After about 45 minutes, our service rep came over to discuss our van’s power steering problem, which, they informed us, they had never seen before. The Metris has been around forever in Europe but is new to the United States (it was introduced around October 2016). The service technician could barely contain his excitement when he told us that a special engineer was being called in to further examine the van and that he was hopeful it would be fixed in a couple days. He said the dealership would be happy to loan us the exact same van until they could fix ours.
“Exact same van” meant everything except customized for a pack of pups. Shaking my head, I explained that all our gear would have to be transferred to the loaner van. The service tech nodded knowingly and empathized with us by telling us that he often traveled with his dog (his one dog!). Sighing, we transferred all the leashes, collars, keys, blankets, and the various and sundry supplies we need to the loaner. Once home, we added crates and tried to organize the loaner. And then we carried on, hopeful we would have our van back soon.
Fast forward 10 days. We still don’t have our van back. Everyone on both sides of the ocean, I’m told, is trying to locate a very special wiring harness.
We’re a priority. Meetings are being held on our behalf, and e-mails are being sent to high-level corporate people. A troubleshooter at Mercedes corporate even called me, and towards the end of the conversation, thanked me for taking the phone call, to which I replied, “No problem.”
Today (Wednesday) was not a good day. Our update from the dealership included the news that the “most wanted part” has still not been located. I suggested sending someone to Germany to find it. They thought I was kidding. I can’t help but wonder if the part even exists, so I brought up the repurchase option. Essentially, this means that they will replace the van and pay for the customization work, but it can take up to four weeks to pull together all the paperwork, and let’s not put the van before the pups. Everyone is hopeful that they will locate the part next week, after Labor Day. Nobody works the Friday before a 3 day weekend they said (doesn’t this make it a 4 day weekend? Oh well). Nobody does not include me. I work. The conversation ended with a promise of another update next week.
Most people would be angry, or so I’ve been told more than a few times. But I’m not angry. They can’t install a part they can’t find or don’t have, and I really do believe we are a priority—a priority without our van, but still a priority. I believe that this will be resolved and that we shall overcome, and perhaps be better off than before. But, darn it, I am so disappointed.
My next step was to call the general manager of the dealership. I planned to be firm and to explain our situation: we needed our van—it was customized to our business and not having it was costing us money and, for gosh sakes, I’d only had it long enough to make one car payment. Instead, I burst into tears on his voicemail as I left my name and phone number. To his credit, he called me back.
Now, we are the general manager’s priority. He will become personally involved. I believe him, as I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t want me in his service department waiting room waiting for our loaner to be serviced and wailing into my breakfast sandwich, “I want our VAN!”
Stay tuned for part 2.
Odd Loves Company.