Should you buy a Jeep in 2020?
Jeep importer Fiat Chrysler: Still leaving ordinary Aussies out in the cold, and treating consumer law as if it’s optional.
At least some things in life remain utterly dependable…
Jeep: Still emphatically compliant with the Hannibal Lecter retail playbook. If you’re thinking about buying one, see a doctor, stat. Because your medication is no longer effective.
So, I got this on Friday. It’s pretty typical:
I get this question often enough, and I do try to be gentle. Especially with a woman. (The first time.) People’s emotions are in play. I kind of get it. Jeeps are sexy - and if you’re lucky enough to get one that does not actually defecate routinely in its trousers, you’ll probably love it.
One family’s experience
But before you go down this particular Russian-roulette track, meet the Lawrence family:
So, the Lawrences buy a 2013 Grand Cherokee shitbox - used - from a shitbag Jeep Dealer - and they buy is a couple of years old, in 2015. Henceforth, they get it serviced on time - every time - from a Jeep dealer, who bends them over in the time-honoured tradition of inflated pricing for that. (Because they can.)
So, this is all sounding like a really nice story - hardly worthy of my time - until one day recently when the Lawrence’s seven-slot shitheap takes its first big, steaming dump in traffic, and coasts to a halt, inelegantly, at the roadside.
Danny Lawrence takes his zombiefied Jeep back to the dealership. Things aren’t looking too bad even at this point - they’re making noises about replacing the battery.
That’s ‘only’ about $600. See what I mean about the pricing? That’s $478.41 - for a friggin’ battery. And almost $100 to fit it. And lubrication is extra…
Then, and this is the bit I really like, they inform Mr Lawrence the fuel pump is cactus, and - added bonus - the debris from its trouser-pooping proclivity has migrated downstream and destroyed the fuel injectors. Oops-a-daisy….
Astonishing repair cost
There are of course sundry additional costs associated with resolving these newfound issues:
That’ll be $47,500. If you’ve ever wondered why the defibrillator in a dealership is located in the service department, that’s pretty much it.
I just checked, and the value of a 2013 Grand Cherokee Laredo is about $22,000 Shitsvillian micro-buckeroonies today. It was about $50k new. The repair cost is roughly double the current valuation.
Consumer Law … hello?
Now, as if things couldn’t get any worse for the non devil-worshipping Lawrences. But they did. The Jeep dealership failed nicely to honour its obligations under the legislated ‘Acceptable Quality’ Consumer Guarantee, and they passed the buck smoothly back to the Death Star itself - the importer of Jeeps in here Shitsville. FCA - Fiat Chrysler Arseholes.
So, basically, the dipshit dealer advised the Lawrences to apply to Fiat Chrysler Arseholes for a quote-unquote “goodwill concession” - even though that hasn’t been part of consumer law since 2011. And, I note, Darth Vader never handed out too many of those.
It’s easier to get a refund on a toaster in this country - even though the same legislation pertains to toasters and cars. Some car brands still think they’re above the law. Probably because the ACCC has no balls.
As I understand it, it is entirely illegal for dealerships (or any other retailer) to fob you off onto the importer in this way - but I’m no lawyer.
Fiat Chrysler tells the Lawrences to eff off, on the goodwill front, predictably enough.
And it gets worse, because every independent mechanic Mr Lawrence approaches runs screaming from the proposition of placing their hands upon this disaster - because Jeeps are notoriously such dodgy shitheaps to work on.
So, the once mighty Lawrence Grand Cherokee is currently zombiefied, and unlikely to return from the Twilight Zone any time soon. And none of this helps the Lawrences get from A to B on a daily basis, of course. This is a big hit for an ordinary family.
The law says products must be reasonably durable. That’s regardless of warranty status. This means (as I see it) that a well maintained car should simply not shit itself within six years if it’s been serviced properly. And if it does, this must be the manufacturer’s problem, not yours.
Fiat Chrysler is not commenting - allegedly because a complaint is currently with Fair Trading. Which is a shallow, convenient, bullshit excuse for not getting out in front of this issue and doing the right thing.
And I’d say to them, that’s just not good enough in 2019. It’s not a matter before the friggin’ court, you Fiat Chrysler Muppets. You’re not gagged by contempt legislation. You’re choosing not to comment because any statement you’d make would simply illuminate your ultimate cock status.
A guy named Teg Sethi had a related problem. Here’s the epic multimillion-view music video he produced:
Answer me this: How pissed off do you have to be to create and fund a video like that?
The implosion of Jeep in Australia
Fiat Chrysler occupies, in the domain of automotive customer service, the same space as Volkswagen does in the domain of ethics and morality. It’s that bad. If you’re thinking of buying a Jeep, therefore, you’re insane.
Jeep sales, Australia
Fiat Chrysler refuses to see that this conduct is injuring the brand. See, Jeep was looking good as recently as 2014. Incredibly, they inflicted 30,408 seven-slot shitboxes on ‘Strayans in that year. 2014. But after a raft of bad publicity, sales had atrophied to just 7325 in last year. And they’re another 20 per cent off the pace so far this year. Still in freefall. An 80 per cent reduction in five years. Incredible, I think you’d agree.
Quite simply - you cannot keep doing this to people in the 21st Century, and expect to get away with it. Commercially, Fiat Chrysler has to be unsustainable at 7000 vehicles a year, and there’s no way they’ll hit 7000 this year. Not gunna happen.
Leaving morality to one side - taking good people like the Lawrences into the prison shower is not the path back to viability for Jeep. It’s just not. If you’re gunna have unreliable product, you have to provide world-class customer service. You can actually get away with that.
But the double-whammy? Not so much.
Did Martin Shkreli set the parts prices?
Speaking of morality, remember this douchebag (below)? 36-year-old Martin Shkreli. He’s the big pharma hedge fund scumbag who raised the price of the antiparasitic drug Daraprim from about $13 to about $750 - $US - per pill.
How ironic - the guy ramping the price of an antiparasitic drug being self-evidently the biggest parasite imaginable. It’s perfect. Anyway, he’s in federal prison for securities fraud, and he got fined more than $7 million as well. So that’s nice. More on Martin Shkreli >>
But there’s a parallel here. The Jeep costs $50k brand new. This price includes the cost of a high pressure fuel pump, the fuel rail and the injectors. They’re in there, under the hood, when you buy the car, right? Therefore, how can it possibly cost $47,500 to replace just those few components? Where, exactly on the moral arc does that pricing structure sit?
I get that parts need to be profitable. It’s a business, keeping cars on the road. But just the parts here, for this repair, are more than $40,000. That is just indefensible. They’re been Shkrelified.
This is the Martin Shkreli spare parts pricing strategy. $750 per pill. $47,500 for a fuel pump and injectors. Each seems equally morally defensible. That family has a mortgage. Two kids to feed. They don’t have $50k lying around, guaranteed. And Fiat Chrysler does not have to sell those parts at anything like that Shkrelified price to make a reasonable margin.
To you Fiat Chrysler dirtbags Down Under I say, emphatically: Pack up and return back to Detroit. Or is that Turin? (It’s so hard to keep track of who’s screwing who, and who’s on top, in the modern automotive industry.) Pack up and piss off - is what I’m saying - because you and your outrageously immoral conduct are no longer welcome Down Under.
This kind of disgraceful, anti-consumer corporate conduct has to stop.
If you’ve had an experience with Jeep - or one of their even slimier sub-brands, Fiat, Chrysler or Alfa Romeo, let me know in the comments below. What happened? Good or bad.
If you enjoyed this report and you’d like to support my ongoing ‘no shit’ consumer advocacy, there’s a secure Paypal donation link here >> (or you can click the ‘support’ button to the right)
It is uplifting dragging these scumbags into the light, from time to time, and you can help with that if you choose.
You can also help support this work - and other consumers - making these mongrels sit up and take notice - by sharing this report on your own social media, or by discussing it on your YouTube channel, your blog or your podcast.
Oxygenating this kind of deplorable conduct as widely as possible is the only way to get them to change. And this industry needs pro-consumer reform, badly. It’s being dragged down by bad actors.
If you’d like to disagree with me in the comments below - and tell me how great those arseholes really are - I’m totally cool with that. Just remember: you are not entitled to an opinion, for which you cannot argue. If your argument is: ‘Me Jeep’s been awesome, mate’ then I’d suggest I’m pleased for you but I’d suggest a sample of one does not a decent metadata analysis make.
Your comments by e-mail
Shane from Taswegia
“G'day John. How's it hanging?
“I just watched your YouTube channel report detailing the unfortunate saga for the young family with their Jeep "motor" vehicle which has autodigested it's fuel supply system and ceased to be functional in it's primary intended purpose (you know, as a means of transport).
“Great report. Terrible topic.
“I am horrified for the way these poor souls have been mistreated, and especially horrified by the stratospherically obscene quote of $40,000 + for a new fuel pump and some fuel injectors.
“Holy Bat-Shit-Crazy, Robin...
“These parts can only have been hand-made by the Pope with assistance from his old-mate Jesus, using pure Platinum mined out of Uranus. No?
“Maybe they are just regular old slimy Fiat-Chrysler plasticky crap, cast in a third world sweat-shop for about $2, and then shipped to Fiat-Chrysler dealers to be peddled to the punter at a Two-Billion percent markup.
“I can imagine standing at the Jeep "service" department, being quoted $47,000 for a repair on a car. I would immediately drop dead, because my heart would explode in my chest. What a way to go. Death by service department...
“Anyway, it seems if Jeep Aus. get their way, these unfortunate souls will be left with a useless, broken lump of U.S.A. in their driveway. In its present state, it can either be stripped out for parts, or put on AirBnB as a "compact apartment", and the proceeds used to buy a cheap push bike.
“Wow ! What a great, big wonderfully fair world we live in! (NOT)...
“Best result could be something akin to the dealer giving them back what they paid for this Jeep (+ a bit extra for the hassle), and the family then goes out and buys a good, sensible, reliable used car (from a Cadogan recommended list of manufacturers that don't shit down the throats of consumers)...
“I hope it all ends well.”