Transmission warranty root of customer's complaint
Q: My daughter took her car to Cottman Transmission in Spring Hill last September. She got an estimate to rebuild the transmission and we negotiated the price to $1,700 cash.
We received a warranty for 12 months or 12,000 miles, but no other receipt for the repair. Shortly thereafter, Cottman became an Aamco, but owner Mark Lavigne remained.
The car started having problems in April. She took it to Aamco and was told it would honor the Cottman warranty, but it wasn't finding her warranty in the computer. She left the car anyway, since we had the warranty certificate at home.
We got no calls for two days. On the third day my daughter talked to the manager. He inferred the owner might not honor the warranty because too many other people were having problems, too. They hadn't even looked at the car yet because of this. A callback from Mr. Lavigne was promised.
This wasn't a good sign, so we started looking for another car. When we got no callback from Mr. Lavigne, we went ahead and purchased one, having the dealer pick up the old car at Cottman/Aamco as a trade.
I spoke to Cottman's corporate office. A representative there said she spoke to Mr. Lavigne and he would not honor the warranty. I told her we didn't want to involve the media or Small Claims Court if the matter could be handled professionally. It has not.
We want to be reimbursed.
A: The relationship between Cottman Transmission and Aamco Transmissions Inc. is more complex than first meets the eye.
Both are separate, independent companies, but when Cottman parent company American Driveline Systems Inc. acquired Aamco's assets in 2006, it offered Cottman franchise owners the option to convert to the Aamco brand.
According to American Driveline's director of consumer affairs Michael Pekula, Cottman warranties continue to be honored at those converted franchises.
Anna Wright, administrator for American Driveline's department of consumer affairs, contacted Mark Lavigne on your behalf.
He told Wright that when your daughter returned with the car, there was some question about whether it was under warranty at all, not whether it would be honored.
"Unfortunately, before the situation could be resolved," Wright said, "the Russos decided to purchase another vehicle."
"Mr. Lavigne, in the interest of customer satisfaction, and strictly as a goodwill gesture, has offered to reimburse the Russos $500," Wright said.
It's worrisome that you didn't get an invoice for the initial repair, especially since you paid cash and had no other proof of payment.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates auto repair shops. Call toll-free 1-800-435-7352 before having work done to check a business' complaint history.
The agency also accepts consumer complaints. You can request a form by phone or download one online at www.800helpfla.com/motorveh.html.