I was talking to a friend of mine earlier this week. She had a car accident some time back. (The accident itself could make for an interesting blog post–but I’ll just say that her parked car was caught amidst a lesbian cat fight that involved drunk driving and a toilet plunger and leave it to you to fill in the rest.) Now, this friend has a nice car–a brand new Acura. She took it to the Acura dealership for repairs, and the lesbian’s insurance company provided a rental. This is where the conspiracy theory comes in. The rental they gave her was a PT Cruiser. Now, I’ll admit that when the PT Cruiser came out I thought it was a cool car. But when you’re used to a luxurious ride and they give you a stripped down Chrysler that has spent it’s life as a rental ashtray car, you have to wonder what’s up.
And I’ve decided it is a conspiracy forged between insurance companies, car rental places, and auto manufacturers. Take your car in for collision repair, warranty work, or the like and they will give you some piece of crap that is so below what you are used to that you don’t care if your own car comes back three different colors or with worse problems than you took it in for.
I can back this with my own experience. Two cars live in my garage…a big ole SUV that could carry the whole Brady Bunch (if Alice caught a ride with Sam the butcher) and a sportier coupe that really only seats two comfortably (actually, I seem to replace that coupe every few months–but that, too, is a tale for another time).
My last coupe had a whole laundry list of warranty related work that needed to be done over the time I owned it. One of the visits to the shop required that the car stay for five days (because parts were ordered the wrong color, then came in broken, a one day repair turned into a week). The dealership “kindly” gave me a rental. And this was it:
That’s right, the replacement for my sporty little coupe was a giant grocery-getting mom-mobile.
But, when I took the SUV in (again, a one day repair turned into an all-week adventure when they couldn’t figure out why the all wheel drive was malfunctioniong), what do you think they gave me? (shown actual size below):
A roller skate on wheels replaced the SUV. It didn’t even have a CD player, and if you got it up to highway speeds (a task that took about 16 minutes), it shimmied like it was going down the line on Soul Train.
In both of these instances, they replaced the car I took in with something as far removed as possible. All in a twisted scheme to make me so grateful to have my real car back that I never dared take them in for repairs again.
And I think it worked. A few months later, when the little wooden door on the “not an ashtray” fell off, I just traded the car in.