I am writing this review in response to the experience I have had with Fred Anderson Toyota of Charleston's Service Department (FAT) over the last week.
My 2015 Prius had been running a little rough, and needed some work after being hit by a flood in downtown Charleston. I had filed a claim with my insurance agent, and called FAT to schedule an appointment for an estimate of damages, and to have the work done. I brought the car to FAT the morning of Saturday 10/24/2020. Upon meeting my service rep (I won't name names because this is a review of the entire service facility) he told me that I would not be able to have the estimate done that day, especially if I was going to wait for it, because of the extensive work in taking the car apart that was necessary to verify water had not got into anyplace that it shouldn't have.
I was also made aware that they do not have a body shop on-site so they could not make the repairs necessary to the body damage. My service rep seemed to be wanting to work with me, so after spending about an hour at FAT and with two phone calls to my insurance company all seemed to be squared away for me to bring the car back later in the week.
We had decided that, as is customary with an automobile claim, this would be a one-stop-style procedure. I would bring the car in for the mechanical work, and once completed they would take the car and contract/sublet the body work to Caliber Collision right up the road. Once all of the work was completed I would come back, pay my $500 deductible, and pick up my car having all mechanical and body repairs completed.
Originally I had rescheduled for Wednesday 10/27, but work and arranging a rental made it not possible. The service rep spoke with me and told me that if I could bring my car in Thursday 10/28 that they would work with me to make sure I had transportation available - at least for the duration of the estimate procedure. I agreed, and made arrangements with my boss at work to be able to take the car in Thursday morning.
When I arrived at FAT Thursday 10/28 I got the process started with FAT to get the estimate going. The service rep told me that he was going to give me a RAV4 as a 24hr loaner, but if I needed it longer I would be able to pay for the rental at a rate of about $42/day. I told him that since I was going to have to pay for a rental anyways, and since the rate was in-line with what I had priced as a week-long rental with Enterprise, I told him that it makes the most sense to just rent the vehicle from them, and I am OK with the rate.
He wanted to take my key, but I told him I have some stuff in my car that I needed for work, and he said that once they bring the RAV around I would be able to transfer my items, then we could swap keys.
A short time later I was approached by another person that had some paperwork in-hand and said he would need my license, proof of insurance, and a credit card to arrange the loaner/rental vehicle. He also wanted my key, and after I explained I needed to get stuff out of my car he said he would bring it right back, he just wanted to move my car out of the way of the regular service lane traffic until the swap takes place.
He did not come back with my key. In fact, I was on the phone with a friend while I was waiting for everything to get finalized I noticed that my car had indeed been moved, but was now being taken away before I could empty it. I went to my service rep and complained. He asked the guy who took my key, and I had to wait almost ten minutes for them to find out who took my car, where it went, and get it back.
The second person then pulled up in a Camry next to my Prius for me to use. Now, this fact alone is not a big deal as I wasn't going to be picky regarding the type of vehicle was going to keep me on the road - just as long as I had one (whether from FAT or Enterprise). However, this would prove to be only one of many lies I was told since my interactions with FAT started the previous Saturday.
I got all of my items transferred, and was prepared to pay for the rental for as long as was needed for FAT to repair the vehicle, get it to the body shop for repairs, and get it back for me to pick it up...
I stopped by Thursday after work, and was actually able to be present when the service rep got the call from the insurance appraiser to validate and finalize the estimate, and parts were ordered so that the work can be done Friday. He told me that the repairs could be completed by/around lunchtime, then the vehicle would be ready for the body work. So I thought all was going well.
Man, was I wrong! I spent all day Friday on the phone between the insurance company and FAT because of the following:
1. FAT wanted to change the labor rates for the repairs from $140-180/hr
2. FAT is refusing a direct payment from the insurance company
3. FAT is refusing to transfer the vehicle to the body shop
4. FAT is denying that there was ever an arrangement for anyone other than me to take the vehicle to the body shop
5. FAT will not release my vehicle until the bill is paid in full, even though it was higher than the $500 deductible I would have had to pay out of pocket and the insurance company was sending the rest of the payment directly to them
6. FAT is refusing to allow me to rent their vehicle, and there was never any arrangement for me to do so - they also said I was never entitled to the vehicle for more than the one day
7. The people at the switchboard and online chat refused to give me the names of the service manager/director and general manager
I went through a series of phone conversations with my insurance company because I would get a message while at work that my car was ready and I needed to come by, pay, and pick it up. The insurance company called the dealership after putting me on hold, then came back on the line to tell me that everything was being taken care of - they were sending the dealership the payment directly, and the dealership was taking/shipping the car to the body shop as agreed.
Every point of the conversations I had with my service rep on Saturday morning AND Thursday morning was an outright LIE. Not an accident, not an error, a straight up LIE
Let me be clear about some things that I was very clear with my service rep about. When all was said and done Saturday I was very clear about the following:
1. I would NEVER have agreed to allow FAT to do the mechanical repairs if they were not going to contract/sublet the body work and take it to the body shop once the mechanical repairs were completed. The whole point of the appointment Saturday was to make sure that this was going to be a one-stop experience
2. $500 plus the cost of a rental is a lot of money, which is why I had arranged for the insurance company to pay the dealership directly for the difference. This way I would not have to worry about paying more than I can afford to have my vehicle released once the repairs have been completed
I will make sure I tell everyone I know to avoid this dealership, at least for service if not also for sales. I have never had such a bad experience when it comes to vehicle service/repairs, EVER! I worked for Crown Automotive Group in NC the past, and this type of xxxx-poor customer service would NEVER had been tolerated.