Blues Travels

The Driving Enthusiasts Web Site

Stokes VW Follow-Up.

[Editors Note: Rob has assured me in his comment in the previous post ( This Post), that steps are being taken to make sure that his people are adequately trained on R32’s. The following post is in reference to This Post]

I thought the matter with Stokes VW was over with. However, it came to my attention last week that Stokes VW of Charleston was trying to contact me. I had been ill with the Flu and was in no shape to talk to anyone. So, I wanted to wait until the following week (today, in fact) to return their call.

It should be pointed out that I was pleased that Stokes was interested in trying to reach me at all. I had made several calls to Volkswagen of America a few weeks ago, detailing my experience at Stokes VW. I suppose it was those calls, coupled with this web site, that eventually got Stokes attention. I think it is safe to say that both the GM of Stokes VW (Larry Berry) and the service manager ( Rob ) were concerned with what I had to say, in part because they take pride in their reputation and also because they could see I was unhappy and wanted to “rectify the situation”.

Before I go into the details of my conversation with Rob this morning, I want to address his desire to “rectify the situation”. On December 14th, Debbie at Volkswagen of America called and left a message on Rob’s voice mail. This is according to Volkswagen of America as of today. In fact, 3-4 detailed messages were left on Rob’s voice mail. According to Volkswagen of America, it was not until January 6th ( 2-3 weeks later! ) that Rob returned their call, and this only after Volkswagen of America had attempted to reach the GM, the owner and a few other people at Stokes VW. Now, I am sure Rob may be reading this. So, I want to go on record as saying that Volkswagen of America informed me of this just this morning. If Rob disputes this account, he needs to call Volkswagen of America and take it up with them.

According to Volkswagen of America records, Rob eventually called Debbie back on January 6th. He spoke to Debbie, the gal handling my concerns. Debbie stated that Rob expressed some concerns about my web site ( How he found it I have no idea, but I am glad he did find it. ). He informed her that he had read my post, even going so far as to read her some quotes from it. She relayed my concerns to him in detail whereupon he expressed a sincere interest in calling me so that he could do whatever he could to address my concerns and “rectify the situation”. Volkswagen of America told me that they were clearly under the impression that he wanted to make me happy. So, when I called Volkswagen of America this morning, they were rather surprised when I relayed to them the details of the conversation I had with Rob earlier this morning. Here are some of those details.

I had called Rob this morning in response to a message he left with my brother last week, on the 6th of January (which was a Thursday). My brother called me here in Charleston to let me know that Stokes VW was trying to reach me. Since I had been sick with the Flu, I chose to wait until I felt a bit better before talking to Stokes about this matter. Once I had Rob on the phone, I asked him how I could be of service. Immediately Rob launched into a mild diatribe regarding my web site. He went into a point by point critique of some things I said on my site, in particular my characterization of my experience at Stokes as “Highway Robbery”. He was very polite and to a degree conciliatory, however I would not describe his demeanor and necessarily contrite.

Robs position seemed to be ( and I am paraphrasing him here ) that it was unfair of me to suggest that Stokes VA was charging too much for their work, or that they were not well trained. He explained that they tried very hard to make me a satisfied customer. He also stated in due course of our talk that the R32, as well as two other new models (the Phaeton and Taureg), had only came out the first of last year and that I cannot expect the technicians to know those cars in so short a time period. He further stated that the R32 in particular was not a car they worked on much, hence their lack of familiarity with it, and my need to be more understanding.

As soon as he was done I responded, going into detail with respect to my issues. I explained to him that I had several problems with their work, not their professionalism. I told him that I felt they were nice and very pleasant people to deal with. But, I continued, several things were not done to my car that should have been done, and for which I was charged. Moreover, I had to do research on my cars rear oil change in order that they could do it properly, which I felt that they should have done. I went even so far as giving them part numbers for parts they would need to do the job. In spite of my efforts, some of the parts were never ordered which lead to an already incomplete job being left unfinished. Several times Rob tried to cut me off, but I would not relent. Eventually, he sat back and listened to what I had to say, and eventually he began to concede that I had some valid concerns and points.

As the conversation began to draw to a close, Rob and I came to an understanding. We both agreed that I am very particular, even obsessive, about my car. We both agreed the job could have been done better. I think we both agree that Stokes takes pride in its reputation and they work very, very hard to have happy customers. Yet, in spite of the common ground we ended up finding, in the end I was disappointed with my conversation with Rob, and here is why.

As some of you know, I am considering a move to Charleston, and if I make this move I know I will need someone to work on my R32. Stokes was my only option. Bare in mind that Rob suggested to Volkswagen of America that he wanted to “rectify the situation”. He lead Volkswagen of America to believe that he wanted to make me happy. That would have pleased Volkswagen of America and me to no end! Instead, once Rob had me on the phone it seemed like he was really only interested in having me hear his side of the story.

Here’s the thing: If Rob had called me ASAP and said, “Tim, it has come to my attention that you are unhappy with the service we gave you a few weeks ago, and I want to make it right. You have some very valid concerns. You are correct, we were not very well trained on the R32 and for that I am sorry. But, I want the chance to make it up to you. I will give you my personal guarantee that if you will come back in to Stokes, we will be prepared to work on your R32. We take pride in our work and I want the chance to prove it to you.

To that end, I will personally make certain that the technician who works on your car is up to speed on the R32, and I promise you we will make you happy. We want you to feel confident in us because we want your business and we want you to have a good experience with your car. And as a gesture of good faith, we wish to refund your money, whether or not you choose to use us again. Once again, my apologies. Let us know what you would like to do.”

If Rob had said that, I would have kissed the guys feet. In fact, I would have even been so happy I may have even refused the refund. I didn’t want my money back as much as I wanted to believe in Stokes VW. All I really wanted was the assurance that I could count on Stokes to go to hell and back to ensure that my car got the best care that is available. Instead, what I got was excuses, defensiveness, the suggestion that I was out of line to say what I was saying, etc. and a few obligatory apologies that he was sorry I was dissatisfied.

For the record, I think Rob is a great guy. I think James is top drawer. All the people at Stokes are very pleasant. You could not ask for nicer people. And while I really do think Rob is concerned about customer satisfaction, in this particular instance I think he was more concerned about saving face, or at the very least he went about satisfying me in the wrong way.

In the end, I am still dissatisfied, because I still do not have the one thing I wanted: Confidence in Stokes VW. That is all I ever wanted. Rob is a young guy, and hopefully he will understand what I am trying to say. All a customer really wants is the belief that Stokes is the best place to go for their transportation needs. I am sure Stokes has many of those people. Unfortunately for us both, I did not turn out to be one of those people. Maybe down the road, who knows? Life goes on. đŸ™‚

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January 10, 2005 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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