Jeep caves in over family's massive $50k diesel fuel system repair bill

…but here is the evidence of entrenched Jeep rip-off service culture plus extreme price gouging across the failing brand

 

Shitbox Jeep with $50 grand repair bill - an important update in this report, concerning the Lawrence family and their Grand Cherokee repair bill, which I reported on last Wednesday. Looking down the barrel of a $47,500 fuel system repair bill (official quote, below - click to enlarge). 

Happily, Fiat Chrysler bent over on this a couple of days ago - details on that coming up - but not as altruistically as the media is reporting.

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That’s James Hall, reporting in News.com.au - to whom I say: back to business school for you mate. Jeep’s paying for the repair - but I doubt it’s costing them the full extortionate retail whack of $50k. They’re getting the parts at cost - so there’s that. And there’s probably been a stern conversation with the dealer involving the labour. 

So, it’s virtually a free repair for those Jeep arseholes. Certainly in the context of the operating budget, it’s free. 


The vehicle

This is a second-hand Grand Cherokee, bought two years, and it’s six years old today. It has 180,000 kays on the clock, which is high for that age. 

(But a brand like Kia gives every customer a seven-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. And I say this just for perspective, because Jeep would argue, strenuously, that it is a more premium product.)

The Lawrence’s Jeep was serviced on time, by the dealer, and it’s very difficult to abuse a diesel fuel system, when you think about it - unless of course you fill it up with gasoline. That’s bad.)

There’s a lot of Jeep apologists. Dozens of people suggested this was just a ‘rogue dealer’. Keep watching because I’ve got the smoking gun on that - it’s not a rogue dealer. It’s an entrenched rip-off strategy with Jeep. Smoking gun coming up: the evidence - shocking.


Consumer law

The law says every product must be reasonably durable. In other words, you get it serviced on time, don’t abuse it, it has to meet the durability expectations of a reasonable consumer.

If I buy a toaster or a kettle - for, I dunno, $100 - and it lasts me three years and then croaks, OK. It’s been reasonably durable.

If I get six years out of a refrigerator, maybe a TV, OK. More expensive appliances - I’d expect them to last longer. Especially if I buy a premium brand.

With a $50k car, I’d suggest, as an engineer, a reasonable design expectation is 10 years or 200,000 kilometres.

The law says: if something minor fails, they have to repair it, free. If it’s a major failure, that’s a trigger for replacement or refund - your choice. This is not my opinion. It’s legislated.


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The record refund

Remember that woman - Sally Morphy? (The Princess of Poshtovia, I think I called her in an earlier report from October 2018.) She buys this Range Rover. It shits itself, she takes it to court. The court orders a $240,000 refund. Perfect.

Even more perfect: She makes an application for costs, right? To Land Rover Shitsville, this is, like, two red-hot pokers in the anus. It’s around $140,000 extra. They object. Strenuously.

And, like, Land Rover is the second respondent here. The first respondent is the dealer. And the dealer goes after Land Rover for its costs, which are also about $140k.

And - serendipitously enough - the judge agrees. So, costs included, Land Rover ‘Straya ends up paying - let’s call it - half a million dollars to buy back a quarter-million-dollar Range Rover shitbox, because they were a pack of pricks who acted like complete cockheads in the way that only lawyers can, attempting to delay and obfuscate intentionally to ramp up the Princess of Poshtovia’s legal costs.

Plus, they paid their own legal costs, which were not trivial. 

So I think we can all agree that was a happy, pro-consumer result.


Reliability obligations

I dunno about you, but I want the car industry running scared on this. With increasingly complex vehicles featuring increasingly complex combustion technology and emission control systems, I want robust durability built into the friggin’ DNA because complexity is expensive to fix, and frustrating to live with when it’s under-engineered. 

Robustness needs to be a commercial imperative for carmakers, because I don’t think we can rely on all the brands to do the right thing.

Everything is going to wear out, clearly. But decent automotive designs should last 10 years or 200,000 kilometres. That’s entirely reasonable. 

If there is a premature failure, and you’ve done the right thing, then the dealer and the importer need to get together efficiently and keep you sweet, perhaps highly motivated because they’re shitscared of Princess Poshtovia jumping out of Pandora’s box like weaponised friggin’ anthrax.


Rogue dealer?

This suggestion that $47,500 is just a rogue dealer, and Fiat Chrysler head office had no knowledge of such abhorrent practices: What a load of shit, in my view.

Firstly, prices cannot be fixed under Australian law. Dealers are free to charge whatever they want, for parts and labour. There’s no way to compel dealerships to be reasonable on prices, and some certainly do have a lend.

The Lawrence’s dealer is in Newcastle. Nearly $7000 for labour - for what is at its luxurious best a 15-hour job. That’s almost $500 an hour. If you’ve never seen a sandpaper dildo, that’s how one feels. 80 grit, in this case...

Parts were $39,600. One pump, six injectors, two fuel rails - gaskets, etc. You could almost ship these parts to the fucking International Space Station for $40k. (Rule of thumb: It’s about $20,000 a kilo to get anything to the Space Station.)

This repair bill is evidence of a systematic parts pricing rip-off strategy by Fiat Chrysler and its dealers. Across this country, for several years, and which could not occur without the FCA’s knowledge and tacit approval. In my view.


The smoking gun

Two years ago, a guy named Michael e-mailed me, upset. His cup over-ran when his diesel Jeep shat itself at 58,412 kilometres, in an eerie prequel to the Lawrence’s recent meltdown.

The Caroline Springs Jeep shitheap dealer dealt with that. The two dealerships (Newcastle and Caroline Springs) are separated by 1000 kilometres. These events are also separated by almost two years in time.

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Those shitheads in Sunshine quoted the following: $8900 for the high pressure pump. Six injectors at $2500 apiece - that’s $15,000. Left and right fuel rails at $2163 each. That’s $4326. Fuel injector lines $1267.

Sundry parts: $1970. The total is a staggering $31,464. Not including labour.

The Sunshine dealership was far more reasonable about the labour - at just $1820, which (I imagine) is around 15 hours at about $120 per hour. That’s only 50 per cent higher than it should be.

Those pricks in Newcastle were proposing to fillet the Lawrences to the tune of $7000 for labour. An epic touch-up.

But the parts … $31-and-a-half grand in Victoria, two years ago, versus $39-and-a-half in Newcastle, today. They’re similarly blown-out, I think you’d agree.


Did FCA head office know?

And there’s no way head office could not know. Like, no way. Not that I can see.

These are just two ripoffs we know about. How many poor bastards just copped it on the chin and coughed up because they needed to get their Jeep Shithawk back on the road? Because this is the whole ‘smoke/fire’ scenario. These two quotes are the smoke, but I’m tipping there’s a whole fire ‘out there’ - blazing away.

If you’re a dealer and sales are in the crapper - and with Jeep, they most certainly are - service department extortion is an awesome book-balancing opportunity.

And fool me once … maybe it’s a rogue dealer. Fool me twice … it suggests a culture of ‘rip-off as usual’.

This ‘rogue dealer’ suggestion is about as likely as the alleged ‘rogue engineers’ mooted at one point by those arseholes at Volkswagen, when all the time, the fish was rotting from Martin Winterkorn’s head down.

There is no way senior people at Fiat Chrysler Australia can be unaware of dealings such as this. Consumers would be arcing right up to head office about repair cost, don’t you think? I’d love to see the AFP knock on Fiat Chrysler’s door with a warrant and test this hypothesis.


Consumer response

Importantly, consumers are doing what’s vital here. There’s a stampede away from this dogshit brand, and rightly so. To you senior executives at FCA, I can see only one remaining option: You might have to try being ethical and honest.

I know: It’s a desperation move. Like fixing bayonets when you’re running real low on ammo. It’s pretty grim when you have to resort to honesty and ethics in the business world.


Conclusion

FCA did intervene a couple of days ago. They bowed to the media pressure and they turned the Lawrence’s $50k frown upside down by offering to repair the shitheap for free. 

In other words, they agreed to do somewhat less than obey the consumer law. Because make no mistake: Had they rolled the dice in court and lost, it could well be Princess of Poshtovia 2.0 - they get their $50 grand purchase refunded and make an application for costs. 

FCA is getting out of this one for about $10 grand - minus the media fallout, which I sincerely hope is unpleasant, and costs them sales. They deserve that. 

To Kevin Flynn, who runs FCA in Australia I’d suggest: you did try very hard to spin this up in the news to appear as if you were bending over backwards to be magnanimous, but in fact you do not deserve a standing friggin’ ovation, any more than the rest of us deserve pats on the back for no knocking over the National Australia Bank again today.

You arseholes did less than the law requires for a breach of the ‘acceptable quality’ guarantee. And in that sense, you’re still getting away with it.

Feel free to share this report widely - on social media, or discuss it on your own YouTube channel, your blog or your podcast. Oxygenation is an excellent hedge against this undignified anti-consumer onslaught.

It’s like the Catholic church - they’re OK with the priests’ disgraceful conduct. But really don’t want it oxygenated.

Your comments by e-mail

Phil

Great good news story for consumers over FCA. Well done.

In relation to the Caroline Springs repair invoice - who would call a repair in excess of $30,000 a "miscellaneous repair"? I would hate to see what a substantial repair bill would be!

And would anybody entrust a >$30,000 repair job to somebody that spells ...

Solenoid as "solinoid"

Metal filings as metal "fillings" (maybe thinking of his next dentist visit)

Total as "TOTTAL" - they are so busy inflating the figures that they also inflated the spelling!

A quick look online and most of these components can be purchased for around 10% of what was quoted and this is from Bosch who is the OEM for most of these.

If the multiple fuel filters were doing their job then surely all the components further down the line would be protected from contaminants and wouldn't need replacing.

To add to these dealer rip-offs. A couple of years ago I bought a R36 Wagon - yes a VW which you warn us about and I didn't listen. It had every luxury and was great to drive (and serviced at Ballarat VW). It started to lose power and had warning codes displaying. I used my own scanner and cleared the codes then it was fine - showing one injector was faulty. The fault returned and I took it to the servicing dealer (Ballarat VW) and they quoted approx. $4700 - $4900 to replace the six injectors.

I took it to a service workshop that specialises in European cars and has a good reputation - Easons Car Centre. They replaced the six injectors and also found that the two oxygen sensors need replacing all for $3,300. They bought genuine Volkswagen parts (also Bosch products) so obviously they pay more than an authorised dealer would and still made a profit.

By the way - Ballarat VW was formally "Ballarat BMW & VW" but I have heard several rumours that either they were not paying their bills on time to BMW or the quality of work was not up to standard. Maybe you know the truth.

Keep up the good work and I miss your weekly 10 letters from f@#k wits.

Cheers,
Phil

Andrew S

John - I am another example of Jeeps disregard of ethical behaviour.

I purchased a Diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland in 2012 new.

2 years ago (the car being 5 years old) the alternator basically caught on fire. The Brighton East dealership quoted me (verbally) $10k to fix the alternator plus other issues the fire/heat had caused. I flipped out.

Note: there is a recall on the alternators of the petroleum version of this model (but not the diesel version....). The recall is for the alternators catching on fire, essentially blowing up.

I called head office about this and asked (instructed) them to fix it. About 5 calls later and a few choice words they eventually relented and replaced the alternator with a non Jeep brand.... this took about a month.

I’m the meantime I lodged a complaint with the ACCC, and got nothing back from them. They respected the complaint, but it was almost pointless reporting.

In short Jeep tried to extort. They only caved because I push back ferociously (almost to the point that police should have been called). Instead the consumer laws should step in an mediate here, which they do not...

Keep the articles coming!! I love them. I’m also a poor sap who owns two jeeps... the event above happened after i bought the 2nd.

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