Monday, December 7, 2009

Tractor Tales

We have indeed had something of an adventure with the Arrowhead Tractor. It has been difficult and required some careful stepping, but I believe we have come to a bit of a resolution, although not ideal it is the best we can do.

Late in September, Kevin called Arbing Equipment Ltd. a Case tractor dealer in Sussex. We had some work that needed to be done on the tractor and were looking at having as much done as possible. Kevin gave them a list of what to look at and possibly repair if needed (alternator, brakes, windshield wipers, lights, hoses, tires and chains). They were given this list with the stipulation that we wanted to spend no more than $2,000. Unfortunately this is where the story breaks down. Although Kevin called repeatedly in the subsequent weeks and asked for a quote or any information regarding the cost of the work, he was told that it was impossible to give quotes on this sort of work. The one piece of information that we did have was that new chains would cost $1,300 plus tax. So we expected that we may not have all of the work done from the list, but we never could find any information out from the dealer.

After six weeks of calling looking for information, the dealer told Kevin that it was ready and that the bill came in at $5,512.61. At that point Kevin asked me to find out what I could about what we could do in the situation. We had clearly asked not to spend over $2,000 and they had clearly taken advantage of us.

I spent a day on the phone. I talked to the Better Business Bureau, to Consumer Affairs at the Dept. of Justice, the office of the Ombudsman for NB. In the Province of Ontario there is legislation to protect consumers from this sort of treatment by service shops. The Consumer Protection Act demands written quotes and a deviation of no more than 10% from the expectation of the consumer without a new quote or verbal permission. Unfortunately for us Maritimers we are on our own. Each office I spoke to was VERY sympathetic, but could suggest nothing that was helpful to us. I did call Case® International as well, and they opened an incident report, but again I am still waiting on them.

I spoke to three different individuals at Arbing Equipment. Initially when I called, the service manager was out of province so I spoke to the parts manager. While I was talking to him I was aware that someone else had picked up and was listening in, which was fine really, but certainly put away any trust that might have been lurking in my mind. The parts manager informed me that the number Kevin had been given was actually incorrect as it did not include the cost of the chains, $1,469.00 after tax. He also informed me that there was a $390 trucking fee for the chains, information which had been omitted when Kevin initially inquired of the cost of chains for the tractor.

The actual total of the bill was $6981.81. We were somewhat mortified, not only that they would breech our $2,000 mandate so grossly, but that they wouldn't so much as call and talk to us about it. My suggestion to the parts manager was that, even though they had made the error, if they removed the chains and brought the labour down to a total bill of $3,500 we would do our best to work with that. He laughed in my ear.

A week passed, I spoke to the Service Manager after he returned from being away. He said he would do what he could. But none of the folks at Arbing Equipment remember anything about a $2,000 cap. Which is convenient since the majority of the bill is labour ($3,000 to be exact - which comes out to 46.153 hours... oddly specific). I asked for a detailed breakdown of the labour, what was done and how long each task took. They cannot provide information like that, all they can tell me is that between Sept. 29 and Nov. 12 we accrued $3,000 in labour.

A couple of days after I spoke to the service manager I received a call from a salesman at the office, I can only assume this is who was listening in when I called initially. I'm not really sure why they passed me off to a salesman, but that is indeed what happened. For the first time since we had delivered the tractor, I was faxed an invoice from Arbing Equipment. I spoke to the salesman a couple of times and we have come to a resolution. We at Arrowhead are not satisfied with this resolution, but I believe it is the only way we are going to get our tractor back without legislation in New Brunswick to protect us. The tractor shop is going to remove the chains at no extra cost for labour and "donate" $1,557.61 to Arrowhead, leaving our bill at $3,955.

The Canadian Consumer Handbook does talk about deceptive business practices, but basically it just says... be careful. It would be great if a local MP would champion some legislation along the lines of Ontario's Consumer Protection Act, to protect Maritimers from 'forgetful' service providers.

The tractor should be returned this week, without chains and in running condition. We are thankful that this has come to a conclusion, and that the Lord is in control. Sometime we don't understand why things must be difficult, but He knows what's happening. His grace is sufficient and his mercy is great, so we continue to trust in Him to provide for all of the needs at Arrowhead as He always has.

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