One Man’s Plight Against the ‘Man’

The following reflects my plight and battle against the ‘Man’ at multiple layers and how the ‘Man’ wields its power to shaft the consumer.  In my case the ‘Man’ rears its ugly head at two different layers.

  • First, a global corporation, Nissan – specifically my dealings as they relate to Nissan USA
  • Second, the Nissan dealer with whom I tired to resolve my issues with McGavock Nissan of Wichita

I am the proud owner of a 2013 Nissan Altima…well at least I thought at one time I was the proud owner.  I purchased a new 2013 Nissan Altima late 2012.  I drove the car for about two years at which time my father started having vehicle issues and was not in a position to replace his vehicles.  After a conversation with my wife, we decided to give the Altima to my father so that he would have a reliable vehicle to drive.

Beginning in early 2016 the Nissan Altima began exhibiting problems surging and dying when trying to accelerate from a stop.  My father fought this problem for several months before he contacted me about taking the car into the shop to be looked at.  Initially he wanted to take the Altima to a non-Nissan dealer, I requested that they take it to the local Nissan dealer so that hopefully it would be fixed ‘right’ the first time.

  • The Altima was dropped off at McGavock Nissan of Wichita on 8/2/2016
  • After repeated phone calls beginning on 8/5/2016 we found out that the service adviser that had received the car and scheduled the appointment had been fired
  • During these phone calls, it is my opinion that they were not even aware that they had the vehicle
  • The work order for the Altima was entered into the system on 8/9/2016, 7 days after the Altima had been delivered to them
  • On 8/12/2016 the work was completed
    • $125 to diagnose the transmission
      • Service bulletin – NTB15-083 was found relating to a CVT (transmission) reprogram
    • $62.50 to diagnose the AC which was blowing warm
    • $175.00 to recharge the AC
    • After taxes and other charges the total bill was $425.16

On 9/01/2016 my father pulled into a parking space at a grocery store in Wichita, KS, upon trying to leave the car would not move when put in gear.  He phoned the dealer who towed the car into the dealership.  On 9/08/2016 I phoned McGavock Nissan and spoke to Ralph (not his real name), the vehicle had been with them for 1 week and they still did not have a diagnoses.  Later in the day on 9/8 Ralph called me back with a quote of a little over $3,700 to replace the transmission.  I was a little taken aback with the news that my 2013 Nissan Altima needed a new transmission, even though the vehicle has 90k miles it should not need a new transmission.

I called around to three transmission shops in Wichita, KS in an attempt to try and find out what it would cost to replace the transmission.  One common theme from all three shops was that the Nissan Altima had a terrible transmission and that they are replacing a lot of them.  I discovered that the transmission cannot be rebuilt and the only source for the transmission was Nissan as it is not available from aftermarket sources.  The the average cost to have the non-Nissan shops replace the transmission was approx $3,200.  One of the transmission shops informed me that Nissan had extended the warranty on some of these transmissions, they did not know if my vehicle was one of them but suggested I check.  All three shops told me they were replacing at least one a month, with one of the shops ordering two transmissions from Nissan the previous week.

On Friday 9/9/2016 I called Nissan-USA to find out if the warranty had been increased on my vehicle and to file a formal complaint regarding the failure of the transmission.  I was told that I would receive a return call from Nissan on Monday 9/12/2016 regarding my case and to be sure I was by the phone.  On Monday 9/12/2016, Cody (his real name) from Nissan USA called my home number, which was not the number I provided them, instead of my cell phone.  Cody left a message stating he would review the case notes and call me back on Thursday 9/15/2016.  Let’s overlook the fact that he should have reviewed the case notes prior to calling and should have called the number that was provided.  Within 30 minutes of Cody leaving a voicemail I called him back providing the correct number and requested he call me back.  On Wednesday 9/14/2016 I called Nissan-USA back and verified that they were in fact given my cell phone number for the case and requested a return call from a supervisor, albeit they had my home number on file from the initial purchase of the vehicle.  On Thursday 9/15/2016 a supervisor called right as I was walking into a meeting and was unable to take the call.  The voicemail from the supervisor stated they had reached a decision on my case and Cody would call me back on Friday 9/16/2016.  On Friday I heard from Cody and was informed that Nissan would cover 50% of the repair cost and that he would call the dealer immediately upon hanging up with me to let them know.

On Friday 9/16/2016, immediately upon hanging up with Cody I called Ralph back at McGavock Nissan to let him know that Nissan would be calling and that I needed an updated quote so that we could get the work started.  It was not until Thursday 9/22/2016 that I was able to get an updated quote, which was now a little over $4,000.  When questioning why the quote went up $300 I was unable to obtain an answer and after several un-returned phone calls I reached out to the General Manager for assistance.  Ultimately, the answer I received was that they had initially misquoted the labor.  On Friday 9/23/2016 I gave the General Manager verbal approval to begin the work.

Late, Friday 9/30/2016 I was finally notified that the work on my Altima was completed and that it came in under budget.  In addition to the transmission work, I had the tires replaced and the oil changed.  In talking with Ralph, we agreed that he was going to email the work order for me to look at and would call me early on Saturday so that we could settle up.

The work order I received indicated the transmission was replaced as warranty work and that they performed two oil changes, one cost $29.95 and the second one of which cost $1,651.30.  So basically I have a $2,625.29 work order that states my transmission was replaced under warranty and that I had a $1,651.30 oil change…WHAT?

In speaking with Ralph on Saturday 10/1/2016 I was told that they struggled with where to put my 50% for the transmission work.  According to Ralph, they had to list the transmission as warranty and they knew I would have an issue with my part of the charges listed as an oil change, they just didn’t know where else to put it.  My response to Ralph was that the transmission was not replaced as warranty work, that I am having to pay for it and that Nissan is covering 50% of it.  I wanted the transmission details listed on the work order, a discount deducting Nissan’s 50%, and a discount deducting the charges I incurred back on 8/9/2016 for a miss-diagnosis.  Ralph was unable to correct the work order on Saturday and it would have to wait for the Service Director on Monday 10/3/2016.

The updated work order on 10/3/2016 removed the $1,651.30 oil change and moved it to a line item labeled “Deductible” in the totals of the work order.  This still was not acceptable to me, the transmission was not being replaced as a warranty item.  My rational was/is that if at some point Nissan does decide to admit that these transmissions are shit and decides to extend the warranty, then I am going to go back to Nissan for a refund of the monies I paid to have mine replaced prematurely.  After going back and forth with McGavock Nissan multiple times the best I got was the Service Director hand writing on the work order that the deductible was for the transmission work and having him sign it as well.  I initially wanted it entered into the work order as opposed to being hand written, but according to the Service Director they were not able to enter it onto the work order.  Funny since there are lots of areas where they can enter comments…but not this?  I had the hand written work order scanned and emailed to me, then paid the outstanding balance so my father could get the car back after it being at McGavock Nissan for almost 5 weeks.

I then had my father mail me the work order that he received when picking up the car…the work order he mailed me is not the work order that was scanned and emailed to me.  I don’t know why I should be surprised, nothing this dealer has done has been what I would consider to be on the up and up…it appears that through this whole painful process there has been a lot of cover-up from both Nissan and the dealer.

To add insult to injury, although Nissan won’t admit there are issues with the initial transmissions put into these cars, according to Ralph at McGavock the replacement transmission has stronger parts and that they are also replacing the transmission coolers with a more heavy duty cooler…but these transmissions don’t have issues then why put in stronger parts?  Oh, did I mention the new transmission only has a 12k or one year warranty?  Sounds like to me that even Nissan doesn’t trust the new transmissions otherwise it would have a better warranty.

Full disclaimer, during this process I contacted the General Manager at McGavock Nissan in Wichita and had a conversation about trading my Altima in on a 2010 Honda CRV.  I owe $12k on the Altima with its value being approximately $8k.  Apparently 2010 Honda CRV is worth more than my 2013 Nissan Altima and ultimately we were unable to make a deal.

There were two individuals at McGavock Nissan that tried to help me, one the GM and the other was the individual the GM had reach out to me in order to try and make the financing work on the CRV, who I believes name was Jay.  It’s unfortunate that there service department is completely incompetent and I feel sorry for everyone in Wichita, KS that owns a Nissan as this is the only local dealer.  The Service Director was impossible to get a hold of without calling the GM first and the Service Advisor was almost as bad.

*Note: This is my story, you may or may not agree with it.  It is the facts as I know the facts to be.  Your Nissan Altima may be the best vehicle you have ever owned, mine is not!