By Carmine Santa Maria
Part 2I have to apologize for the two week delay in this Part 2 column. In my January 10 column, written on Jan. 2, “Heading into the New Year without a car…Part 1” never did I dream that my column would be so prophetic, that at the day of this writing January 16 that I would still be without my Pontiac Vibe? It’s still in the Van Buren GM dealer on 2257 Jericho Turnpike. For those who might have missed that column or those that didn’t remember the details, I’ve reprinted the info after the breakdown. “GMC called me and told me that the Van Buren Car dealership would accept my car to work on the warranty. Their flatbed truck picked me up on Farmers Boulevard right outside “Christ the King School” on Farmers Boulevard and 145 Road. Now their Flatbed truck was not authorized to go on the parkways and we had to take the streets to get to Jericho Turnpike. We got to the Van Buren dealership around 1PM and he dropped off my Pontiac Vibe at the parking lot just outside their Service Garage. Now to be fair about it, it was a Friday afternoon and their jobs were working by appointment, not like me, an emergency that was towed in. I hung around for a half hour before I got to speak to the service manager Brendan, who explained to me that the car had to be checked to see what was wrong and if it was under warranty and that wouldn’t happen until the end of the day. I asked him if he had a loaner car, I could use while my car was being repaired. He said he didn’t and then asked me if I needed a lift home, which I did, and he had a driver take me home to Brooklyn. I was to call him around 4 pm and he would have an idea of what was wrong with the Car. Brendan told me that the compression in the engine was gone and they had to do engine work. At that time, he couldn’t determine if the fault was under warranty and he couldn’t rent me a car until Monday, when they could work on it. That meant I had no car to use over the weekend, and I did want one for Monday New Year’s Eve. Monday I called in the morning and Brendan said they were still working on it and to call later on in the day. Not hearing from Brendan I called around 3 PM and Brendan told me that he was trying to reach Enterprise Car Rental, but no one was answering. Panic set in, I said I would try to reach an Enterprise dealer myself. That’s when I learned that all Enterprise dealers were closed at 3 PM to celebrate the New Year. I went on line and found out that the Airports had Enterprise Rent Cars open until 11 PM. I called the one at JFK and found out that they were only allowed to rent to passengers that were flying and had to show an itinerary.” Well needless to say, that my New Year’s Eve’s plans were squashed without a car, not only the Eve, but New Year’s Day being a holiday, also left me without a vehicle. Wednesday Jan 2, I called the Van Buren dealership and they would authorize a car from Enterprise Rent a Car for $35 a day, which meant that I would have to supplement $7 a day to get a car. At that point, I felt it was a bargain, since the lowest rental fee they had for corporate rentals was $42 per day. Enterprise lived up to their commercials, picked me up took me back to their base on Bath Avenue and rented me a brand new Pontiac La Cross. The car was beautiful, my wife loved the individual heated seats and I kept the car for 8 days, a rental limit imposed by GM. However, since GM took two to three days to come to inspect the Pontiac Vibe to give the authorization for the Engine replacement as well as my car rental, on the 8 day I had to return the car to Enterprise…even though the Vibe was still being worked on. And Brendan at Van Buren still couldn’t get the car working nor did they know what the additional problem, possibly the transmission, was. Brendan said that GM would have to come down to authorize additional work. Now not knowing when my car would be fixed, I started calling the GM Customer Reps that I was dealing with a Cathy and subsequently a Manuel, who took over from Cathy. Countess calls to Manuel were unsuccessful, and the two hundred calls I made to him two days straight were fruitless nor did he return the calls I left on his voice mail that promised to call the caller back in 24 hours. It was over 48 hours now and I had to return the car to Enterprise. I started calling back the GM 800 number and started asking for a Supervisor. A Brian answered the phone and asked if he could take over my file number. He looked over my file and I explained in length my dilemma. It was he who informed me that I was only allowed 8 days and that perhaps, because I had an extended warranty on my car, he could possibly get me a three day extension. Meanwhile, the Van Buren service center still didn’t know when my car would be fixed. Not satisfied with Brian’s answer nor his inability to help, and, after much and constant objections on my part, he referred me to the GM Extended Warranty division, where a young Mr. Pope took over my complaint, which he had to ask his Supervisor. Ohh, Ohh, I thought! And was completely surprised when he said they would authorize another 5 day rental at Enterprise. So I went back to the Enterprise, returned the Buick LaCross and left with a Chevrolet Equinox SUV. I chose the 2007 Chevy SUV because it was easier for me to get in and out of. It was a very fast car and had a larger turning ratio than I was used to. I was to return the SUV Wednesday Jan. 16, which should have given GM ample time to get my Pontiac Vibe working again. The key words are “should have given.” Guess what, here at the day of this writing on the 16th Day of January; my Pontiac Vibe is still at the Van Buren Service Dealer. I am to return to Enterprise to extend the rental another five days and there is still no end to this column Will my Pontiac Vibe be fixed by the time you read part 3 of this series? I hope so…I don’t l know who else to call at General Motors. Meanwhile wish me luck. Screech at you next week!