Ford and Bad Customer Service

When it comes to trucks, I’m a Ford guy through and through. I’ve owned five of them in my life. Two I sold, two were totaled in accidents and one I still own.

Crashed Ford F150

My F150 got totaled when another driver decided to drive their car into me at a high rate of speed. While I was in the hospital, my insurance agent asked if I would need another truck, and when I said “yes” he put me in contact with a client of his that runs an asphalt company. That guy buys 15-20 trucks a year, and he and gets rid of them when they are three years old. He had a 2016 Platinum edition F250 with a diesel engine for sale. It was in great condition, and although it had over 200,000 miles on it, it was used solely by a salesperson who drove it quite a bit visiting clients, so they were highway miles.

[Note: you may ask why we need a “Child Killer 5000” truck and the answer is that I own a horse farm. It really helps to have something like this when you are pulling a fifth wheel horse trailer]

It’s a great truck and it has been reasonably issue-free. Recently it threw a check engine light code related to a known problem with these trucks. I was told by my local dealer that they couldn’t repair it under warranty because the truck had too many miles on it. I went ahead and had the repair done and decided to write a letter to Ford asking them to consider paying for the repair, since while the truck has high miles it had been gently used and since this is a known defect I’d like them to cover it. I also sent in a copy of the repair receipt.

I stressed in the letter that if they didn’t pay for the repair that I would still remain a Ford loyalist, as I do like their trucks and I’ve survived two major wrecks in them.

What I didn’t expect is that their response would be so poor that I would reconsider my position on the brand.

Even though I took the time to write, print out and mail a letter, I got back an e-mail. Signed “Carissha” it reads as if it was written by a poorly trained AI.

It starts off well:

Thank you for taking the time to write to us.  You’ve indicated that because your vehicle is outside the mileage limitation of Program 17M04, you are seeking an exception for coverage, and we appreciate you bringing this to our attention.  

Good. They obviously get the reason I wrote to them. Then I get:

Upon careful consideration, we have determined that we are unable to satisfy your request because this program extends coverage to 11 years or 120,000 miles, whichever occurs first, and exceptions to this policy are not allowed.

Seriously? If by “careful consideration” you mean absolutely no thought at all, I get that, but don’t pretend that you even thought about it and then cite the recall coverage limits. If they had written something like “These parts will eventually fail with use, and we determined that they might fail early in these models, but since your vehicle has high miles on it the failure is probably due to use and thus we can’t extend coverage,” or some such, I would have been happy. Heck, I would have been okay with “exceptions are not allowed” but got angry when it was worded as if they put in a lot more effort in the decision than they did. It was like they never even read my letter, which was demonstrated in what followed:

If you decide to move forward with your repair, we recommend saving your receipts in the event Ford launches an additional program that allows for reimbursement of your concerns in the future.

So now it was obvious to me that they didn’t even look at the receipts I sent documenting that I already had the repair performed.

The rest of the letter was “thank you for your feedback [blah blah blah]” but it was already obvious that I didn’t rate a real interaction or response.

Look, the repair was a little over $300 so it isn’t going to ruin me, and I almost considered not sending a letter at all, but I was expecting a little more than I got in response. If I had to sum up the number one cause of customer dissatisfaction it is missed expectations, and my once unblemished view of Ford is now slightly less shiny (and Dodge is starting to make some amazing trucks).

Will that $300 come into play when I need another truck? I’m not sure, but it would have cost them a lot less to just write a real and honest letter instead of what they sent.

Armchair Treasure Hunts

I came across an interesting article today about an “armchair treasure hunt” in France.

These were really popular around the turn of the century, starting with Masquerade by Kit Williams. Authors would publish a book of pictures and the pictures were supposed to provide clues to locating a buried treasure. Most of the time the “treasure” was a token that could be exchanged for the actual valuable object, as I doubt anyone would want to leave something worth tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars laying about. Plus, I’m sure there was the publicity angle of awarding the prize to the lucky winner.

I think I bought a copy of Masquerade and if so I probably still have it around here somewhere. I’m in the middle of a move and the majority of my books are still in boxes but perhaps I’ll find it when I finally get around to unpacking them. I never came close to the answer, which involved drawing a line from the left eye of each character in the picture through the longest digit of its left hand which would then point to a letter on the border. Repeat for the left foot and then right eye to hand/foot and you ended up with an anagram which would point you to the correct location.


The hunt mentioned in the article, On the Trail of the Golden Owl takes place in France, and there is a very complicated backstory involving the still unsolved puzzle. This took me down a Wikipedia rabbit hole where I learned that the person who “won” the Masquerade puzzle cheated, and that there was another game called The Secret that still has outstanding prizes. The Secret was published before Golden Owl but I guess since some of the prizes in The Secret have been found that the claim the Golden Owl is the oldest unsolved hunt is probably valid.

This reminded me of another hunt call A Treasure’s Trove. I never bought the book, but my friend David Somers did. He and classmate Mark Moeglein found a token for a diamond encrusted beetle worth $54,000. As I am an e-mail hoarder I still have the note he sent to me:

I’m having a bit of a Willy Wonka moment and feeling quite like Charlie Bucket. Late Sunday night I solved a sort of visual riddle in a book called a “Treasure’s Trove,” a book for kids and adults that has a real treasure hunt for 12 Jewels worth a total of $1 million dollars. You
may have seen this on the Today show. Anyway, we just found the 12th token! It can be redeemed for a jewel encrusted beetle valued at over $50K or a lesser amount of cash.

The riddle spelled out the name of an Overlook within the Badlands National Park. I immediately called Mark Moeglein, my best friend from college. His daughter Katie is my goddaughter and I had given her a copy of the book and we had all been doing the puzzles with the kids.  Mark is lives in Oregon and I’m in Boston. We both dropped everything and each raced about 1800 miles from opposite coasts (I drove 560 miles in 7 1/2 hours after my flights). By late Monday night we were both in Wall, S.D. By early Tuesday morning we were at the White River Overlook in the Badlands and quickly found the specific tree that we were looking for. After 15 minutes of searching from the ground with flashlights and lanterns, Mark finally climbed the tree and spotted the token in a knothole 8 ft off the ground.

It is quite amazing that decoding 15 characters (BADLANDSWROVRLK) out of a children’s book set us off on this little adventure. It is even more amazing that we pulled it off without a hitch. We knew exactly which tree to search 1800 miles away. Incredible!

There are a few more details in a Boston Globe article (yoinked from the Wayback Machine).

David was always good at stuff like this (I can remember him winning a radio contest with a much smaller prize back when we were in school together). I, on the other hand, am not good at such things, although the fact that one of the prizes still outstanding in The Secret is probably in North Carolina has piqued my interest (grin).