Thursday, September 15, 2005

A FOUR LETTER WORK THAT STARTS WITH “F” (it’s not what you think)

Those of you who know me or those of you who read the blog regularly know that I’m no stranger to the word fuck. Sometimes there’s just nothing else that will do. Sometimes it’s a bad habit. Sometimes it’s used for its shock value, sometimes just to grab attention.

Today I’ve discovered a great substitute for that sometimes bothersome word. (Bothersome to others, not to me). One that can be used in mixed company…one that won’t raise any eyebrows or make the faint-hearted blush. Amazingly the word I discovered that’s a great substitute for fuck also starts with an “F” and also has four letters. If I tell you we spent all day at the dealership would that give you a hint? Yes, the new word signifying the worst of everything is now FORD.

If you haven’t been following along, back up and read the previous blog. When you’re ready, this is where we pick up our story….

After driving at the incredibly s..l..o..w speed of less than 20 m.p.h. for the entire thirty miles from San Venanzo to the Ford dealership we finally arrived after forty five minutes. Of course being Monday morning there were quite a few people already there, but eventually Art told the service rep our problem and we settled into the waiting room, expecting to be there several hours. If only!!!

After close to two hours we saw our car being pulled into the service area….then we saw the mechanic take it out for a test drive….then we saw the mechanic bring the car back, get out of the car and raise his hands as if to say “WHAT THE HELL’S GOING ON HERE?!” Great….that’s the sort of thing that lets you know the news probably isn’t going to be good….or cheap.

And cheap it was NOT….€595…..that’s about $730, give or take, depending on the current exchange rate. At any rate it was WAY more than the €90 that was currently in my car repair fund. Shit! And if this wasn’t bad enough, we eventually figured out that not only could it not be fixed until tomorrow because the part had to be ordered, we were expected to leave the car there, ready to be worked on whenever the part might arrive.

Okay, we’re thirty miles from home….what do people normally do in this situation? It’s not as if we’d left the car to be repaired….they KNEW we were sitting there, waiting for it. Did they think we’d walk home? NO, they didn’t think that….the service rep suggested we take a bus. Yeah right….that would probably be even slower than the drive in. And then of course we’d have to get back to the dealership the next day. Do you think they enjoy being so mean? Or enjoy seeing people’s eyes bug out of their head when they hear the price of the repairs?

Of course we both had to vent a little, and the poor service rep just had to stand there and take it. But really….this car is LESS than three years old….and the guarantee was only for TWO years. Additionally this car has LESS than 30,000 kilometers on it…that’s about 20,000 miles! (and you know we just had to put new tires on it last spring!) (AND I’m waiting for the batter to go next) Seriously….a car that’s less than three years old with less than 20,000 miles just shouldn’t have the turbo go out, which is apparently what happened. And with a car this new, whatever goes wrong shouldn’t cost over $700.

The service rep explained to us that the warranty was only for two years and that we could have bought the add-on guarantee, which in my opinion is the manufacturer saying to you: “Hey! This is a piece of junk that’s practically guaranteed to break right after the regular (free) warranty expires.” And guess what? They were right!

After we told the service rep how upset we were, how disappointed we were, and how far a way we lived, I finally decided to ask if they would provide another car for us. NO. Great. Art said, “Okay, just give me my car. We’ll come back tomorrow for the repairs but Fords are a bad car and this is the last Ford I’ll ever buy.” Like the service rep gives a damn. (Non si fregga!)

That’s when the service rep looked at us like we were even crazier than he already thought. What did we mean, give us back the car? It was scattered all over the place and apparently they just intended to leave it that way until tomorrow. He then asked us to wait, and we thought maybe he might pull a few strings and give us a loaner car. No such luck…he was just going to put it back together, but they had discovered that they DID in fact have the needed part…it had been ordered for someone else but they’d go ahead and put it on our car then use the ordered part for the other car.

Okay, now all we had to deal with was the price. In our ranting and raving about the unfairness of the repair and it‘s cost, we had mentioned that we should sell the Ford and buy a Toyota because they have a six year guarantee. And then it dawned on us….

This dealership, Ford Montagna is like a small Sam Swope-land….they sell not only Fords but also Jaguar, Hyundai, Mazda and a really great selection of gently used upscale cars like Mercedes and BMW’s. We decided to take a look at the Mazda’s to see what was available. Art also decided to call the man who had sold us our piece of….Ford and he too agreed that something like this shouldn’t happen. He also told us that what HE drove was a Mazda! Anyway, he did agree to talk with someone and try to arrange some sort of discount.

We wandered into the Mazda section and found a cute car, very similar to our current one. After talking with the salesman we discovered that this car was also available with a diesel engine, was slightly narrower than our car although the wheelbase was the same(important on narrow medieval streets) had SIDE airbags and was available with the shift/automatic combination, allowing me to drive it necessary. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

We were amazed at the amount our car was worth the trade-in and called Fabio at the Post Office to see how much we still owed on our car. An even bigger hmmmmmmmmmmmm. Although we did find out that the warranty was five years not six, it was still sounding like a tempting choice.

I asked the salesman it there were any special promotions and he said they had 3% financing until the end of September. Our car is now financed at 8.5%, and if you remember all the trouble it took us to get that loan you’ll understand why we were happy to get it at ANY rate. Hopefully by this time we’ve established some sort of credit history in Italy, although I have no idea if they have credit bureaus that keep score like we do in the U.S.

We left the showroom thinking that this might be worth considering and were feeling rather upbeat….until we rounded the corner and saw that the shop was now closed for lunch! We had missed them by about ten minutes….drat! Luckily they had left our car sitting under the portico and I had my key so at least we didn’t have to sit on the concrete, or in the rain that had just let loose.

The service rep came back after an hour and we thought we’d be ready to go in a few minutes. Oh no, why would we think that? The cashier had a much more Italian style lunch and didn’t return until three o’clock! Thank God I had a (good) book to read!

As soon as the cashier returned the service rep did say to her “Please take care of him’, motioning towards Art. We found out that our salesman had indeed succeeded in getting us a discount….the final bill was now €529, or about $650. Grateful as we were it was still nothing to celebrate.

As we left the dealership the rain continued, sometimes raining so hard that we could barely see, and making me wish that Art would pull over. Eventually we made our way to Wendy’s office and the rain subsided…or maybe it just moved on. I had brought some zucchini muffins for Wendy and her boss and we just wanted to stop by and say hello.

After a short visit we had to get back to San Venanzo. It was now around four o’clock and we’d been gone since eight a.m. I was afraid our bedroom would be flooded since I left the window open, and after all that sitting around I just wanted to be home where I could DO SOMETHING!

As we approached Marsciano it became obvious that as usual the rain had missed our area. At least the bedroom was safe! We made a quick stop at the new supermercato in Marsciano called Famila. We signed up for their discounts, picked up their bargains, ran into neighbors from San Venanzo and headed back home. Unbelievable…another full, exhausting day.

When people ask us what we do all day, just saying that we took the car to have it serviced doesn’t quite convey everything that was involved. Life in Italy can be so much simpler in some ways, so much more complicated in others.


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