|My new lil' Prius, March 2009|
Over the past month the air conditioning blower in the Prius had been getting worse over time. At first I chalked it up to the unusually hot weather we've been having until around the first of July when I walked out to the car and started it up. The car started fine but the blower refused to start blowing air. The first failure seemed like a short delay; about 30 seconds after the car started then the blower started operating as well. I thought it was some sort of unknown "feature" in the car. I even hit the car manual looking for it.
But it was a slow failure of the blower. The blower failures continued intermittently. As each failure occurred they lasted longer and longer before the blower started to run. And the volume of air coming out of the vents was getting less and less when the blower was operating. Even though the blower would fail when the car was started, its failures only occurred when I would start the car. If the blower started it would continue moving air until the car stopped and was turned off.
I've now driven the Prius over 50,000 miles. I've taken it in for regular service every 5,000 miles or a little longer, but on a regular basis, to Toyota of Orlando where I purchased it. Last Thursday it was time to take the Prius in again, so I dropped the car off at Toyota of Orlando and told one of the service staff about the blower problem. While the Prius has an extended 100,000 mile warranty for the hybrid system, the regular bumper-to-bumper warranty which covers the A/C system is only good for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. The blower was well out of warranty. I was looking at a rather large and unexpected bill.
I left my Prius with service consultant Colleen Sargent last Thursday and explained the situation to her. At that time I asked if the A/C blower might still be under warranty. She looked at the odometer and said no, but that she would look into the blower problem. While Toyota had the car Colleen contacted a factory representative for Toyota, and managed to arrange for the blower to be replaced under warranty via "good will".
The local shop didn't have the part that Thursday and they couldn't get it there until Saturday. Colleen called and told me the good news about the factory's decision on the blower. She let me come back later in the evening to pick up the Prius. The shop had already done some of the work, but she put the paperwork aside until Saturday before settling any of the charges.
On Saturday I drove back to Toyota of Orlando to get the blower installed. Colleen wasn't there but Tony Ferrando was, and he took care of the rest of the repairs as well as making sure that everything else was done. The 50K mile work was done and paid for by me. The blower was installed free of charge via goodwill.
Both Colleen and Tony mentioned more than once what a good customer I've been. You don't know how great it feels to be appreciated by any business, especially if you're a repeat customer and have spent a fair amount with them over a multi-year period. I purchased that car there and I've taken it back ever since to keep it up to spec. It's great to be appreciated and to see a shop return customer loyalty with generosity and a helping hand when you need it. Thanks, Colleen and Tony, for all you did.
I've owned many vehicles over the years, starting with a General Motors Chevy Nova in high school, through two Honda Civics, a pair of Nissan vans, a couple of Volvos (one I still own, a 940 wagon), and a pair of Kias. They've all been pretty good, but the best car we've ever owned has been the Toyota Prius, and the best shop we've ever dealt with has been Toyota of Orlando. As long as the Prius continues to operate as well as it has to date and the shop treats us as well as they have to date, then that's the brand we'll continue to drive. I don't see that changing any time soon, if ever.