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Old May 5th, 2001, 07:05 AM   #1
Magic Mtn Dan
Posts: n/a
Better Business Bureau warranty dispute info

Self-Regulatory Warranty Dispute Resolution Program

Helps Build Customer Satisfaction

ARLINGTON, Va., May 4 /PRNewswire/ -- BBB AUTO LINE, the nation's largest warranty dispute resolution program, will celebrate a milestone this year when it completes 20 years of national service to U.S. consumers and automobile manufacturers. BBB AUTO LINE began as a pilot program in Minneapolis/St. Paul in July of 1978 in cooperation with General Motors Corporation. The groundwork for the program was formalized in 1981 and expanded nationwide in 1982.

In the period since 1981, BBB AUTO LINE has processed nearly 1.7 million warranty dispute cases and held nearly 250,000 formal arbitration hearings. Those hearings were conducted by a cadre of volunteer arbitrators from local communities trained by the BBB to serve in this important role.

"Most manufacturers participate in an informal dispute resolution program that can be of assistance to consumers," said Ken Hunter, president of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. "If your claim is eligible under the BBB AUTO LINE program, it normally takes no more than 40 days to resolve the dispute, and the consumer is not charged a fee."

According to Hunter, "If you have an automobile warranty problem, you should first contact the dealer's service manager and ask for his or her assistance. If the service manager cannot get the problem resolved to your satisfaction, contact the manufacturer. Your vehicle owner's manual or warranty book should list the toll-free number of a manufacturer customer assistance representative, who can work with the dealer and will often be able to help get your problem fixed."

If those steps don't satisfactorily resolve your problem, contact your Better Business Bureau for additional assistance.

The following manufacturers are national participants in the Better Business Bureau system's BBB AUTO LINE program: Acura, AM General, Audi, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Daewoo, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Isuzu, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, Nissan, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Porsche, Saturn, Volkswagen and Workhorse Custom Chassis.

Consumers can file a claim with BBB AUTO LINE by calling 1-800-955-5100 or file online at http://www.bbb.org/BBBComplaints/autolineform.asp .

"You will be sent a program brochure and all the materials you need to file a claim," Ken Hunter said. "You can also review program details by visiting the BBB web site at http://www.dr.bbb.org/autoline.cfm ."

When a claim is filed, BBB AUTO LINE staff will work with the consumer and the manufacturer to see if the problem can be settled by mutual agreement. If the problem is not resolved, eligible consumers can present their case to an impartial arbitrator at an informal hearing usually held at a local Better Business Bureau. The arbitrator will render a decision -- which may include repairs, reimbursement or the repurchase or replacement of the consumer's vehicle -- that the consumer may then accept or reject. If the consumer accepts the decision, the manufacturer is bound to comply with it; if the consumer rejects the decision, the consumer may go on to pursue any other options (including legal action) that are available.

On a national basis, BBB AUTO LINE handled 31,741 complaints last year. Most complaints were resolved by mutual agreement between the consumer and the manufacturer.

While the following manufacturers do not participate in BBB AUTO LINE, they do participate in other dispute resolution programs that can be reached at the following telephone numbers:

Ford (includes Lincoln and Mercury) 1-800-392-3673

Chrysler (includes Jeep and Plymouth) 1-800-992-1997

Toyota 1-800-331-4331

According to JD Powers and Associates, a global marketing information services firm that benchmarks customer satisfaction, the auto industry continues to improve product quality. JD Powers found initial product quality improved 5 percent in 1999 compared to their 1998 study. In May of 2000, JD Powers reported another 8 percent reduction in reported problems over the 1999 results. The Powers' findings on the percentage improvement in customer satisfaction over the 1998 - 2000 period (13 percent) are nearly identical to the percentage decline in BBB AUTO LINE case filings over the same two-year period.



SOURCE Council of Better Business Bureaus
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