When Service “Freezes Over”
Being a resident Bostonian, I’ve become pretty well equipped to handle the wrath of Mother Nature – sure, snow is beautiful when falling, but when over a foot of snow falls, well, that’s a different story. Just before the Christmas holiday, I became keenly aware of how paralyzed one can become when your winter wonderland becomes your worst service experience to date.
It was Friday, December 19th when the snow began to fall – and Boston braced for one of the biggest snowstorms in recent years. The snow fell fast and furious through the night, and by the time I awoke on Saturday morning, there was over a foot of snow. I was headed to New York for the weekend, but obviously, there was some major “digging out” that needed to be done before I could get in my car and hit the open road. After a bit of snow plowing, I packed my car (lugging bags of Christmas gifts for the family), got in, turned the key in the ignition, and nothing. My car was dead, and after two failed attempts at jumping the battery, I proceeded to call roadside assistance.
My first call to roadside assistance was at 9am. They estimated the wait time (due to the continuing weather conditions) for 10:30am. Just before 10:30am, my phone rang – and the automated message on the other end alerted me to the fact that my technician would be arriving within the next five minutes and I should wait near my vehicle. I thought, How cool is this? This company seems to really be on their game!
When the technician came he tried to jump the battery on the car to no avail. He told me he would have to tow my car to a nearby garage. But then the technician turned to me and said, “Oh wait, I can’t tow your car, it’s a 4-wheel drive– you’ll need a flatbed truck.” Now I was thinking, “uh, yeah, which I mentioned to the call center rep when I initially phoned in the service call!” (And so began the descent into what I’d like to term the “service underworld.”)
The technician told me he would put a new call in requesting a flatbed – and then he left. The new arrival time for the flatbed was slated for 12 Noon. OK – again, things could be so much worse, I could be on the side of the road in mounds of snow – at least I was in a warm home and could just relax. (You’ll see why this is important later!)
When the next service tech showed up with the flatbed, he said, “Which local garage is this going to?” To which I replied, “Actually it’s going to the BMW dealership on Comm Ave in Boston.” (I can tell by his annoyed glance that the call center person had not alerted him to the fact that he had to take the car 20 miles into the city as opposed to a local garage– wonderful). He proceeds to tell me that he can only take me to a local garage right now, or he can come back in about an hour after he takes care of a pileup of cars on 95 South. I chose the latter and go back into the house.
1pm comes…I phone the call center again, and they tell me that the technician should be back any moment. 1:30pm…. 2:00pm…. 2:30pm…. 3:00pm…. nothing. Finally at 3:45pm (almost 4hours after the second service call) the flatbed arrived back at the house.
At 4:30pm my car finally made it to the dealership and I found out that it was a simple fix…I just needed a new battery. PHEW! I was back on my way. I picked up my car the next day. With a new snowstorm already in full swing, I re-packed my car and started on my way.
I got about 40 minutes into my drive when suddenly my coolant light came on, and my car started overheating …and I was forced to pull over. I will admit that this was not a moment where I would say I was well put together. There I was…stuck YET AGAIN and in need of roadside assistance. At this point I am starting to feel like Sisyphus but instead of rolling a rock up an incline for all eternity, I’m simply trying to drive my car through the snow. I can no longer see anything out of my windows…because the frost and snow is insane. I call the dealership and snap at them for obviously missing something…and then call roadside assistance who tells me that the wait time is over two hours due to inclement weather!! Wonderful…this time I’m stranded on a major roadway and not in the comfort of a warm home. (Guess I should not have thanked my lucky stars from my previous day’s experience – that will teach me).
I waited for roadside assistance for about two hours (feeling much like a character out of some Stephen King novel) and eventually my car was towed to a sister-dealership near the place where my car overheated. Suffice to say, roadside assistance certainly did not prep very well for the onslaught of snow we had received that weekend. I spent nearly a half day just trying to work through my roadside assistance issues – and my car dealership, they could also use a lesson or two about customer service as well! Oh and by the way, if anyone is curious as to who the roadside assistance company was, let’s just say I wouldn’t give them “an A”, (yet alone three) for streamlined service!