Local Columnist Gets Consumerist Reader's Complaint Fixed

One of our readers, Colin Madine, was able to get his consumer complaint resolved after contacting the Chicago Sun-Times “The Fixer” consumer advocacy columnist.

The issue was that he had bought a $300 service coupon book in 2006 with his Honda Odyssey minivan. These coupons were for free oil changes, discounted repairs, etc. The new owners of the dealership had decided not to honor the coupons. The were immovable. When The Fixer got involved, she tracked down the original dealership owner who ended up refunding Colin for the coupon book.

Takeaway: we’re not the only shame game in town. Especially if your complaint is with a local business, try seeing if your local newspaper or news channel has a “Fixer” or “Trouble Shooter Team” you can get involved.

[Chicago Sun-Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. balthisar says:

    When you purchase a business, don’t you also purchase all the liabilities, accounts payable, etc?

    It was cool of the ex-owner to honor the refund, but the new owners wouldn’t get my business after that.

  2. molin says:

    Yes, they purchase the liabilities and that was my argument with the new owner. He claimed the old owner never told him about the coupon books, therefore he didn’t need to honor them. The old owner claims the new owner knew about them and decided not to honor them due to poor vehicle sales in the competitive Chicagoland market.

    What was left out of the Sun-Times article is that the old and new owners were in negotations as of Jan 2006- about 5 months before I bought the van. I guess in the end it doesn’t matter who is lying, I got my money and my families pic in the paper hehe.

  3. jsk2001 says:

    My3Cents and Planet Feedback are also great websites to post complaints.

  4. thepounder says:

    It’s nice that it turned out well. I wonder if some town’s local paper “Fixers” might come equipped with a Sopranos accent and a bat. That’d get things fixed even faster than bad press.

  5. wildfire991 says:

    So the moral of the story is, if you’re selling a business, just sell a bunch of coupon books right beforehand and pocket the money! Free money! Woohoo!

    The part about Honda not wanting to get involved just makes me love them also. The whole “dealership” system seems to be horribly outdated and broken.

    I liked the first story as well about Jiffy Lube. You’d think after all this time and countless oil changes nationwide, they would remember to put the drain plug back on. I guess a fifty cent poster outlining the basic steps of an oil change, and a check-sheet to make sure you do it right (because oil changing is a complex science) just isn’t as fun as replacing entire engines.

    And of course no consumer fraud column is complete without a story about Sears nickel-and-diming people. What a depressing column, but unfortunately it seems to be necessary these days.

  6. Chongo says:

    I read ‘The Fixer’ when ever I pick up a Sun-Times. While it dosn’t compare to this site, it ain’t bad. However, the real problem is they mostly just post the happy ending stories. I have read a couple “Owner would not call back” stuff, but most of it is “And when we stepped in, we got Mrs. Smith’s lawnmower fixed”. Sad though that it takes a media outlet to get things done.

  7. fixerstef says:

    Hi, thanks for posting that column. Colin is a really patient guy; it took a while, but at least we got a happy ending for him. Re: Chongo’s comment — it’s true, we do post more happy than sad endings, but only because The Fixer usually succeeds. We don’t spike the “unfixed” ones — we run ’em all, so people see which businesses were completely unresponsive. The column just turned two, and is fun to write — though I admit it’s a little depressing that it takes “The Fixer” to resolve things that could have been handled much earlier if only the companies had an eye on the big picture (customer service). P.S. This is my first post, but I’ve enjoyed this site for awhile.

  8. JayXJ says:

    It never fails to amaze me how many dealerships will give a customer a decent sales experience, good car, etc. Then vaporize any chance of repeat business with stuff like this. So many dealerships alienate their customers with horrible service.

  9. edrebber says:

    The dealer was let off the hook to a certain extent. The cost of each individual service contained in the book was worth more than the cost of the book.