Help me work out how best to deal with a dealership.
April 28, 2009 4:34 PM   Subscribe

We bought a brand new car a couple of weeks ago but the windscreen is scratched. We're pretty sure that the dealer did this but we don't really have any proof. What are our options?

About three weeks ago we bought a brand new car from a respectable Toyota dealership. When we picked the car up, the salesman showed us all the features and how to work all the nobs and switches and so forth.

This involved testing the windscreen wipers. It wasn't raining at the time and when he turned them on we heard a bit of a scraping noise, and both my partner and I have since discussed how we (silently) wished at the time that he hadn't done that. But we were pretty excited about getting the new car and just wanted to get out of there and drive so we didn't pay it too much mind.

Anyway, about a week passes and we're driving the car and my partner realises there's a big scratch along the front of the windscreen, following the path that the windscreen wiper would have taken. Obviously we're a bit pissed off.

But the truth is, apart from our suspicions, we really have no proof that this is how the scratch got there. It has rained a few times between now and then, so our wipers have been used, but when we did we didn't hear the same screeching noise we heard before.

We want to take this up with the dealer, and see if we can come to some kind of arrangement. But since we have no hard evidence that they're responsible, we're pretty sure that they'll just say something like "well how do we know you didn't do it sometime in the last three weeks?" And that would be a fair call, to be honest. However, I'm hoping that since they are a large, respectable dealership they might be willing to meet us halfway on this.

Should I bother taking this up with them? If so, what do you think should be my plan of attack? Do we have any recourse at all here? I'm in Brisbane, Australia, if that means anything at all.
posted by Effigy2000 to Grab Bag (6 answers total)
If there was debris when you first got the car and used the wipers (without cleaning the blades), chances are the scratches are going to get worse, even when wet.

It never hurts to ask the dealership, and they may have some product that will help with the scratches.
posted by wongcorgi at 4:39 PM on April 28, 2009

call your car insurance company first- if glass is covered, it's not a big deal to get it changed out, and is unlikely to change your premiums.
posted by jenkinsEar at 6:02 PM on April 28, 2009

Best answer: It doesn't hurt to try. Speak to the salesman's boss and maybe there's something they can do to make the scratches less noticeable. I highly doubt that they would change the whole windshield just for that. Note that if you speak to the salesman directly, he might get defensive about it, so you should probably speak to his manager directly.

But, in reality, it comes down to a he-said she-said situation where there's no way to prove the scratches happened before (or after) you received the car, so you're pretty much at their mercy.
posted by Simon Barclay at 6:25 PM on April 28, 2009

Depending on who your insurer* is, you might as well just go straight to them. And then never use that dealer for servicing. They tend to like the mark-up they make on the services.

*I am with Shannons and they "will pay for the repair or replace of your windscreen with no excess applying to the first windscreen per year", not sure if your insurer will do the same.
posted by threeze at 10:51 PM on April 28, 2009

I've had a similar experience. Although its not going to help you, I'll tell the story anyways ...

Awhile back my wife had a Volvo. We took it into the dealership for routine maintenance, including new wiper blades. A couple of days after we picked it up I noticed that there was a crack in the windshield. The crack originated from a point directly where the wiper arm contacted the windshield (if there was no blade on it). So basically it appeared that the person who changed the blades allowed the arm to snap back onto the unprotected glass.

I went back and spoke with the manager and made my suspicion quite clear. He refused to do anything. I threatened him with never visiting the dealership again, etc. He still refused and I eventually had to have my insurance company replace it.

When I went to renew my insurance the next year, my premiums went up approx $20 because of that single incident.
posted by Dave. at 6:41 AM on April 29, 2009

Response by poster: I ended up following Simon's advice and talked to the dealership. I was lucky enough to have the sales manager answer when I rang. I told him the story I told all of you and he said he'd check with the salesperson when he returned from holiday. If he corroborated my story, he (the sales manager) would pay for a new windscreen. I didn't hold out much hope for the salesperson admitting to damaging the car but I thanked him anyway and waited.

When the salesperson returned from holiday he did, amazingly, fess up to doing what he did and so the sales manager arranged for Toyota's service area to get me a new windscreen. They even paid for a hire car while my car was in the shop! Pretty sweet deal!

Of course, it didn't all go smoothly. The seal around the windscreen looks kind of dodgy now and my windscreen wiper seems to be making a funny noise on the downward stroke when it rains... but Simon's advice was the best nevertheless! Best answer goes to him and this one is resolved!
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:07 PM on May 22, 2009

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