“At Honda, we don’t do email”

I wrote a letter to Honda Canada about the recurring problem I have with the serpentine belt on my 2006 Odyssey that needs replacing every year. In trying to fix the problem, my dealer replaced several expensive parts that were probably not involved since a belt replacement is always a temporary fix.

I had to write a letter because Honda Canada refuses to publish an email address. A previous call to their customer service was met with a, and I paraphrase,

“If you don’t want to pay for a diagnosis every year, then we can’t help you. No, there is no knowledge base or experts we can contact to look into this chronic problem.”

It reminds me of this famous quote from the movie, Goodfellas,

Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? Fuck you, pay me.

Or, in Honda’s Customer Service voice,

“Your serpentine belt squeaking again? Fuck you, pay me.”

I sent my letter on March 23rd and got a return call on April 4th. They left a voice message saying they were going to call the dealer who did the repairs. They called again on April 11th and asked me to return their call. I tried twice and finally left a voice message on April 13th saying that we’re just playing telephone tag and they should just email me at the address I provided in my letter.

Honda’s response? They sent a letter dated April 26th saying they tried several times to reach me and if I wanted to discuss the issue, I had to call them. Yes, instead of using modern technology like email, Honda Canada wants me to keep wasting time trying to find a time when it’s convenient for them to answer the phone. They clearly don’t value my time. They sure do love sticking it to me for money though.

Here’s the original letter I sent them:

2016-03-23

Honda Canada
Customer Service
180 Honda Blvd
Markham, ON L6C 0H9

Re: Annual problem with a squeaky serpentine belt

To whom it may concern,

Regarding my 2006 Honda Odyssey EX, VIN:xxx;

I have called your customer service office last year and this year, and had my vehicle serviced by Kanata Honda for each of the last 5 years for this repeating problem.

In summary, early in the year, or after about 3,000 km, the serpentine belt starts squeaking and whirring requiring replacement. In trying to diagnose the problem I’ve had several other expensive parts replaced that may not have contributed to the problem given that a simple belt replacement fixes it each year. So I’m out over $2,300 and fully expect the problem to reoccur in early 2017. Why? Because in spite of 3 attempts by Kanata Honda to get to the bottom of the problem, it keeps recurring.

Last year I was told to use belt dressing. That immediately fixes the problem for less than a day and must be reapplied every day. This year I was asked to take a wire brush to the belt. It did nothing.

So I called your customer service again and the agent told me that I must once again pay for a diagnosis even though I had paid twice before for a root cause analysis. No cause can be found but the dealer speculated on multiple occasions that it was due to the low distance travelled and maybe the belt was setting into a shape. The van is driven almost daily for 8-10 km on average for about 30 minutes. At about 2000 RPM, that’s still 60,000 revolutions. That should be more than enough to prevent the belt from getting a fixed shape.

If it is the case that the vehicle must be driven more to prevent this problem, then that should have been clearly set out in the sale agreement. I should have been aware that after the warranty expires I would either need to expend time and money on gas and wear and tear to drive the vehicle a minimum specified number of kilometres each year, or face the cost of an annual belt replacement.

Your customer service agent said there was no Honda knowledge database or experts to call upon to solve this problem once and for all, and that I had to return to the dealer.

As it stands, my Honda dealer and Honda Canada cannot stop a low-mileage vehicle belt from repeatedly squeaking. Think for a moment about how silly that is. All the people I’ve told about this issue think this is ridiculous, as do I.

Here is my decision on the future of this vehicle and my relationship with Honda. As I enjoy everything about this van except for the annual squealing belt and $135 annual charge and inconvenience to fix it, I will continue to drive the vehicle and absorb the cost. However, even though this is my third Honda vehicle in a row, and I expect to buy at least two more vehicles before I stop driving, I will never buy another Honda product again because I have no confidence in your organization’s ability to solve what should be a simple problem, or your corporation’s lack of concern for why you can’t solve this problem. You’re content to throw up your hands and pass the ongoing cost on to your customer. Fine. You’ve made your decision and I’ve made mine. The cost to you on the loss of future sales of two vehicles from me, and the unknown loss of sales from people I tell this story to, will be far more than my cost of the annual belt replacement. It seems like pretty poor financial management and customer service to me.

Regards,

Tom Sheppard

I then attached a table of my dates, replacement parts, and expenses.

Author: Tom

Destroyer of software. If I haven't tested it, it hasn't been tested.

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