2008 Pontiac G8 GT: FIXED!
July 25, 2008
Fourteen (14) days ago I dropped our 2008 Pontiac G8 GT at Martin Cadillac in Los Angeles to fix a malfunctioning traction control with the promise of a quick, easy fix and same day return. Wednesday night we picked up our Pontiac, fixed, from Hooman Pontiac in Culver City.
What follows is a tale of deceit, frustration, anger, a damn-fine commitment to service from Pontiac and international espionage, though that last bit can't be discussed...
As I blogged last Wednesday, getting anything out of our service advisor was an altogether unpleasant experience. While I understand nobody likes being pestered, customers calling for information or updates every two days isn't unreasonable. I don't need to hear that he's very busy, or that he has a lot of cars to deal with. I only need to know about my car, and I generally like that information without being yelled at.
I took Wednesday to think things over and called back Thursday, he said the same thing he had before, that there's a lot going on, he can't check his email every few minutes, there's still no word on the parts.
I spend a lot of time at dealerships and I have personal relationships with some service advisors, I was getting a bad feeling from this guy and I had to get a second opinion. I called Hooman Pontiac, the dealership where we bought the vehicle. They were surprised at the problem, and at my treatment, then offered me the number to Pontiac's customer service line. So I made the call.
The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease:
The complaint procedure was surprisingly easy. I was expecting a Byzantine array of menus never leading to a human employee. I was wrong, only one, maybe two, electronic filters before I was connected to a real-live GM employee. I spent about 8 minutes complaining and then she did the darndest thing, she asked if I could hold while she called Martin to get an answer. Wow! I wasn't getting a call back, she was having me hold while she made a priority call. When she got back on the line it was reported that the dealer had found the part, ordered it, and it would be in the following day. Knowing that they were still on the other line, I asked her to go back and get me the part number. She came back with a five-digit number that I knew from experience was not a GM part number.
I was mad at this point. Not only was he lying to me, but directly to Pontiac. I gave him one more chance, at Noon that day I called to check on the status of the part, when he said there was still no line on it -- despite what he had said on the phone earlier-- I lost my cool and said I'd be there in 10-minutes to get my car.
In retrospect I should have been calmer. I should have called the service manager (more on him later). But I didn't. Sorry.
The Mystery of the Phantom Part:
The car was dropped off at Hooman directly after being removed from the previous dealership. Our new service advisor said they were having a busy day but they'd put a rush on it and see what they could come up with. A few hours later they hit the same roadblock; The part isn't available yet but there is a SPAC case already opened for it. While I never had the acronym explained to me, a SPAC is a special parts order that will, if necessary, bypass traditional channels and arrive directly at the dealership as soon as possible. Often directly from the supplier.
Shortly after that call, my phone went off again. This time it was the regional service manager for Pontiac. He wanted a rundown of the situation that instigated the complaint which I gave in spectacular detail (I keep notes on all of my dealership visits). He ended the conversation saying that they would get in touch with Hooman to smooth out this issue. No more than five minutes passed before my phone started shaking again, this time it was the service manager of Martin Pontiac. He got the same rundown as the regional manager but his reactions were different. They were much more personal. There was an honest disappointment in his voice. He then said the darndest thing, "If they can't fix your G8 soon, I'll rip the unit out of one of my stock G8s and replace yours." I appreciated the offer, and would have gone for it five hours earlier, but declined. His call was appreciated, and given a different service advisor I wouldn't hesitate to go back to Martin. They've treated me well in the past.
By the following Tuesday there was still no part available. The car, still fairly new, has a limited repair stock. It's a problem we've experienced before and will surely experience again. Hooman called me Tuesday and said they were contacted by the regional bosses with a plan; rip a functioning part out of a brand-new car on the lot and send me on my way. Deal. We picked it up the following evening.
I don't have an exact count, but I don't think I received any less than 15 phone calls from GM after my complaint. While I wish it didn't have to happen in the first place, the response could not have been better.
The part? Turns out it was the brake pedal assembly (Part #: 92203688) causing all of the problems. We were also made aware at Hooman of two service updates to our G8. One to fix the chime and warning light for the passenger seatbelt, the other to reprogram the transmission. We'll let you know if the transmission feels any different. At this point though, we're just glad to have it back.
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 6,630 miles.