Louis Peasley needs help with his Ford Flex sport utility vehicle. But Ford is giving him the silent treatment.
He wants us to help him, but he can actually help us today. Peasley is going to show us how not to ask a company for help.
In October 2013, Peasley bought a new Ford Flex sport utility vehicle along with a seven-year/75,000 mile maintenance plan for an additional $4,997.
The problems began 31 days after he took delivery. That was when he brought the vehicle to the dealer for a service appointment. Peasley says the service advisor refused to honor his maintenance contract that day and at two later appointments.
Peasley got angry, believing he had been defrauded. He wanted a refund for the cost of the service plan. So he started sending emails – repeatedly – to various names at the dealership. When that didn’t get him the result he wanted, he started sending emails to a list of names at Ford. He says, “I have emailed over 300 times and have written and mailed at least 30 times.”
You can probably guess what he got as a result of his carpet-bombing campaign. His email address is now blacklisted at both the dealership and at Ford.
He also wrote to the bank that financed his purchase since he included the cost of the maintenance plan in the car loan. They didn’t help either.
The letters he sent to the dealership, to Ford and to the bank, based on the samples he provided our advocate, had the tone of an angry, repetitive rant. The letters accused the dealer of deliberate deceit, fraud, and violation of federal and state consumer protection laws.
Letters like that generally won’t win cooperation. Companies will tend to stop talking to you when you accuse them of violating the law. As you might expect, no one would even respond to us when our advocate inquired about his case.
There is an important question here: Why would the dealer refuse to service his car? I found a possible answer on the Ford website. Peasley bought what Ford calls their Premium Maintenance Plan.
Ford Protect Premium Maintenance Plans cover all scheduled maintenance as listed in the Owner’s Scheduled Maintenance Guide plus routine inspections and normal “wear and tear” items that require periodic attention. This is a prepaid plan, you pay nothing for covered services.
He sent us a copy of the plan’s signature page, which has a summary of the terms and conditions. That page says that the covered services are at 5,000 mile intervals. Did Peasley drive 5,000 miles in the one month between buying the car and taking it in for service? If not, the dealer might have been justified in refusing to do work under that plan. Was that the case? We don’t know. Peasley didn’t tell us and the dealer isn’t responding.
A further question to consider: Are the multiyear prepaid service plans that car dealers offer worth buying, especially with a new car? That’s a subject for a future article. However, a 2014 article on this site looked at a related issue – new product extended warranties. You can see what our readers thought about those in the poll that followed the article.
Why did Peasley wait three years after the problem started before he contacted us? We don’t know. It could be that the trigger event was a recent recall notice affecting his vehicle. He says no one at the dealership will communicate with him about that either. Of course, he could go to any Ford dealer to handle the recall work. And, according to the maintenance plan’s description, any Ford dealer will honor the maintenance contract. So why does he want to keep fighting with that one dealer? We can only wonder.
What we can do is learn from his example. There are valuable pointers on our website on how to resolve a consumer dispute or complaint. Those include how to write a complaint letter that works.
A letter more along those lines to appropriate Ford contacts might have had a better outcome for him.
We can also learn from good examples. Here is a recent article from our site about a consumer who advocated successfully for herself.
As for Peasley, his actions poisoned the well at Ford to such an extent that there is nothing we can do for him. So we have to dismiss this case.