Things on my plate

I’ve had a few things on my plate since my last post, so here’s the update:

1) I turned 40
2) my birth mother adopted me
3) I got a new plate for the MirthMobile

Michigan decided to change out their old blue plates with white letters and replace them with white plates with blue letters. Way to go Michigan! For my 40th birthday I got to go to the Secretary of State (DMV for everyone else in the USA) to renew my registration, license, and replace my old plate MIRTH1. I had the MIRTH1 for several years because someone named Mirth had the MIRTH plate. She let it go and I pounced.

Here’s the old plate:
Old Plate
You may notice a license plate frame around the old plate and a partial one around the new one. There is a story there.

At the end of 2004 I took my current job a Gospel Communications. The office is about 60 miles from my home and I had no intention of moving, so I got my car checked out by the local Chrysler dealer. I got some work done and the final price was considerably higher than I had discussed or authorized. I was angry, but nonetheless needed my car, so I paid the price and went on. Some time later I noticed that they put a license plate frame on my car – without my permission.

I sent them this letter along with an invoice for $984.15 – the precise amount of the repairs to my car:

Highland Chrysler Jeep
1350 28th Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508

To whom it may concern;
Thank you for choosing your advertising space so judiciously!

I have a long history of providing the best in mobile advertising for a relatively small cost. I was pleased to find that Highland Chrysler Jeep chose to use my services for advertising and I’m sure that the traffic seen by your advertisement is worth the expense.

Your mobile advertisement travels from a residential section of Caledonia Township in South-East Kent county to a location on Apple Avenue in Muskegon every weekday and throughout Kent, Ottowa and Allegan counties on weekend days. In fact there is a trip planned for this weekend that will bring your advertising message to a variety of new potential customers.

The most exciting part of mobile advertising for me is that you never even contacted me about spending your valuable advertising dollars with my service. One day, following a service procedure at your establishment I found the advertising and I have proudly displayed it ever-since. I have tried on numerous occasions to contact your service manager, [name], to thank him for the opportunity to fullfil your advertising needs, but he has not returned my calls. [name] was very helpful when he said he would let Mike know that I called and have him call me back, but that has not happened yet.

Please find enclosed your first quarterly invoice for rental of the advertising space and a picture showing a close-up of your message at work. Please make your check payable to Brian Melles and send it to the address listed above and below upon receipt of this invoice. If for any reason you wish to terminate your rental agreement with me prior to the end of the current billing period (January 24, 2005) I will happily pro-rate the invoice. Otherwise, I’m sure you agree that the money you spend advertising with me is well-spent, I’ll continue billing Highland Chrysler Jeep on a quarterly basis.

Additionally, next quarter, I’m running a special promotion that will put this information on my website for the low price of only $150 per month (regular price $300 per month) that’s a savings of 50% on the web advertising alone, and we all know how effective web-based advertising can be. In keeping with your previous method, I’ll go ahead and take care of that for you, and send you another invoice at the end of next quarter unless I hear from you differently.

Thanks again for using my services this way!

I received a phone call a few days later and discussed the matter with them. Not only were they not willing to pay for the advertising (duh), nor were they willing to discuss even a partial refund, but they also didn’t want the license plate frame back, and they also didn’t have the original screws that came with my car which did not have the extra space for the frame. Now. without the frame, the plate would bang and clatter loosely on the back of my car. I broke the frame up into pieces and used only the top portion to finish securing my license plate to the back end. Highland did offer me 10% off of my next service. I respectfully declined to take advantage of that.

Altogether an experience just as bad as any Comcastic customer service opportunity. When presented with the opportunity to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one, why do companies continually choose to keep their customers unhappy? All people with a service should start reading Seth Godin’s blog to learn the basics. Seriously, it’s been over two years and I’m still honked off enough to take the time to blog about it – and more than once. Don’t get me started on my 1993 State Farm Insurance story!

So, Highland Chrysler Jeep – please enjoy this belated, but still appropriate, finger from me to you.

4 Replies to “Things on my plate”

  1. You kill me, Brian. That’s one of the best stories about bad customer service I’ve read, and it doesn’t hurt that those license plate borders are a pet peave of mine. I’m amazed how many people leave them on their cars.

    I’m also amazed how many people take and use the free ones that our local sporting goods store gives out for free. They say such clever things as “I’d rather be hiking”, or my personal favorite, “I’d rather be shopping”, with the name of the store in a large typeface below. Gag me!

  2. Two things:

    1. Kool toyota was nice enough to stick a “KOOL” emblem on my pickup before I bought it. I *hate* Kool toyota, and I hated my salesman (Salesmen who brag about how you’re ‘putting them into bonus’ tick me off). I had thought of the advertising thing (I drove to Holland and back every day) but luckily they were able to pull it off (hint: Windex, and a piece of cloth they snuck under the corner and pulled on.)

    2. While they’re illegal here, people DO have license plate frames up here with LEDs or something in them that scroll messages across them. One person is a Mary Kay person, so you’re always up to date with Mary Kay whenever you’re behind that woman.

  3. when i first moved to grand rapids i needed my car looked at. being new in town i thought i’d find a jeep dealership (i had a jeep). highland was the closest one to me so i picked them.

    i found out that there was something wrong with the car, so i was going to have to leave it for quite awhile.

    since i had lots of stuff to do, i asked them if i could have a loaner car, but they said they didn’t do loaner cars.

    they lied. one of my friends had their car fixed there and they had a loaner car.

    needless to say, i’m never going to highland again.

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