I'm sure you've all been following the saga of my 2003 SVT Focus. Well, today, things just took a turn for the worst. Here's the email I sent to 5 Ford execs, as well as a video I took of the noise that doesn't exist (link is under this email).
To Whom it may Concern,
On 09/11/03, my husband and I added our fourth Ford car to our family. Between the two of us, we've owned nine Fords throughout our 6 year marriage, and four of those were purchased brand new. Both of our fathers worked for Ford Motor Company for over 30 years. We were raised to own and buy nothing but Ford products. That nameplate put food on our tables, clothing on our backs, and roofs over our heads since we were infants. Our patience was tried when the 95 Mustang we bought brand new lost a transmission at 27,600 miles. It was tried once again, when we bought a brand new 2000 Ranger, that suffered suspension issues and was traded in at 20,500 miles. Our patience is quite thin, now that once again we're being tested with the 2003 SVT Focus, with 8107 miles on the clock.
Our story starts like most probably do. We fell on rough financial times, I got a new job, and decided to celebrate by buying a brand new Ford. We started off wanting something economical, so we research the ZX3. After reading numerous articles touting the SVT Focus as a "driver's car", a "fun little car", and "an advance in american automotive technology", we decided that was the car for us.
Once we got our financing, we took delivery of the little black Focus with just 23.2 miles on the clock. From the time I drove it, I fell in love, as did my husband. We couldn't get over all the nifty little features it had; stuff our loaded-up Mustangs didn't even have! From the seat warmers to the steering column volume controls, this car had it all. We had finally found the perfect car. All was well, until the car turned 4900 miles, and we heard a rattle noise coming from the driver's side rear suspension. At first, we thought it was the exhaust. When we took the car in to get the problem repaired, they told us that the trailing arm had worked itself loose. It sounded like a big deal, but I figured any car is going to have an issue or two.
When we picked the car up from service, we discovered that the noise was still there. We drove the car for almost a month, until the noise got so bad it was irritating to drive the car. On 12/18/03, the car went in a second time for service. I explained that the noise never went away, and had gotten MUCH worse. I got a phone call on 12/19/03, saying they found the problem, but that they'd have to order the parts. Apparently, the car had a faulty strut and strut mount. Wonderful, I thought! Wonderful, because if that was the problem, our little Focus would be fixed and back to normal, once and for all!
When we picked the car up on 12/22/03, we expected everything to be repaired, and we were excited to think that we'd actually get to drive the car once again, noise-free. That lasted for about 12 feet. As soon as we made the turn around the rear of the service building, the noise was ever-present. By this time, the noise had gone from a rattle at 4900 miles to a loud clunk at 7200 miles.
Frustrated, I called 1-800-392-FORD. I dealt with a nice lady named Reagan. I explained everything to her, and she was really concerned. She contacted Marshall Ford, who told her that our car was in ONCE for the rear suspension, and that it wasn't a repeat repair. That humored me, because I have all the paperwork, and it's written up as "rear suspension noise" on both sheets. I was told at that point to give the dealer one more chance.
That one more chance came today, 01/06/04. With 8107 miles on the clock, we arrived at Marshall Ford at 8:30 am. I explained to the service writer that I was back for the third time for the same problem. He then informed me that he drove the car on the last service visit, and heard nothing. He asked permission to road test the car with my husband, and we agreed. I sat with our 2 year old daughter in the lounge area, as my husband and the service writer drove the car. When my husband walked through the lounge door, he was irate. I asked him what the problem was, and he told me the service advisor said he couldn't hear the noise. Ladies and Gentlemen, this noise is audible even when the Audiophile system is on 12 volume. It's an unmistakable clunk, and it literally sounds as though the driver's side rear wheel is going to fall off the car. Apparently, my husband argued it out with the service advisor, who then admitted to hearing the noise, but claimed it was an interior panel. So, he first lied, saying he heard nothing, and then he counters it with the statement "I thought that was an interior panel". That in itself is pretty shady.
So, they agree at this point that we have a problem. They inform us that Enterprise will be picking us up in 45 minutes with a rental car. When enterprise arrives, they bring two people, and a four passenger car. So, the three of us had to squeeze in the back seat, and we didn't even have room to secure our daughter's car seat. To add insult to injury, we arrive at Enterprise and we're asked for a credit card. I had a debit card with $19 on it. I had $1.20 in my pocket. They insisted that in order to take the car, we had to produce $25. We tell them we only have $20, and they say "Ok, we'll take that". They then threaten that if we come back with as much as a scratch on the car, our insurance company will receive a claim from them. So, they ask us to pay $13.95/day for insurance through them. I explained that if I didn't have $25 to rent the car, that would also mean I didn't have $13.95. So, we decline their insurance, and the salesman says "I'll pray for you". We decided the best thing to do would be to take the car home (had our 2 year old not been present, I would have called for a ride..........we were 30 miles from home) and borrow another car until our Focus returns. We did just that, and returned the rental car within 2 hours.
If my memory serves me, I believe we're entitled to a "service loaner", that is, a no charge dealership vehicle. Had we not had $20 on us, what would we have done? For something that should have been cut and dry, today turned out to be one huge nightmare. It made me think that maybe we should have just kept driving the car, and waited for something to happen. To go to a place, and be treated that unfairly, that is enough to make a person avoid service appointments all together.
So, throughout this entire experience, I've come to several conclusions. First, that car is NOT going to be fixed. This is their third stab at it, and they claim they still can't hear a noise that's as evident as a cherry bomb going off. Just prior to our dropping the car off, I videotaped the interior of the car, while it was making the noise. It is in quicktime format, and I'd be glad to email it to anyone interested in seeing it. What I find disgusting is that this video was made with a small, handheld digital camera with a microphone the size of a pinhead. If that camera picked up the noise, and the service advisor could not, I think we have a serious problem.
My second conclusion is as follows. My husband and I were raised with "brand loyalty" instilled in our heads. Both of our fathers warned us that hell would freeze over before they'd ever allow a GM or Chrysler product to adorn their driveway. As I stated above, I love Ford. Ibuild my own Mustang,I race my Mustang, and I pretty much live and breathe for the cars. However, this is the THIRD time we've owned cars that resulted in less than stellar ownership experiences. The single reason we still possess our 1995 Mustang GTs (two of them) is because 90% of what came from the assembly line has been replaced with higher quality parts, stuff I know will last for the long haul, and keep me safe as I barrel down the 1/4 mile. The part that saddens me most is that our original plan was to buy the Focus, drive it for 18 months, and trade it in on a brand new Marauder. With that in mind, I feel that I need to be institutionalized. Anyone who has been screwed over this many times, yet wants to continue on with the whole "brand loyalty" thing cannot be too stable. Maybe I am crazy. Or Maybe I'm just stuck on Fords, and I feel that someday, I'll actually end up with one that works. In all seriousness, this isn't a bash or a rant. I do have faith and pride in Ford Motor Company. But I do feel that 1) they need to take a few more courses in customer service, and 2) they need to address several issues that are starting at the birthplace of these cars: the assembly line.
Third, we bought this car to transport ourselves and our small children from place to place. We had originally planned on buying a used Explorer or 89-97 Thunderbird. But in the end, we decided that buying a new car would be "safer" and "more dependable". I'm now thinking that maybe we should have bought the used car. When you're driving around a 2 year old and a 6 year old, and your wheel sounds like it's going to separate from your car at any second, it's pretty nerve racking. I shutter to think of what I would do if one or all of us would end up injured due to a faulty component on this car. Who would I be more angry with? Ford, for building a car with a major safety concern? Or myself, for allowing my family to be placed in danger every time we leave the driveway?
In closing, I'd just like to say that I truly hope the car is repaired this time. But in reality, I know that isn't going to happen. For the next year and a half, I'm stuck with a $415/month installment loan, and I car I can't even feel safe driving. When it does come time to unload this car, I may consider the new GTO. I'm not saying that so you can roll your eyes and say "That's what everyone says". I'm saying it because, with me, the third time is the charm. I'd hate to switch to a brand I don't support, but as with buying any new car anymore, I guess it's all just a big coin toss. It can't be any worse than what we have right now. Finally, after everything that has happened, I feel that maybe SVT should change their name to STV.......an acronym for "Service This Vehicle". Thank you for your time.
The noise that no one can hear! (Right Click, Save As.) 5 MB