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I was charged $29.99 by my VW dealership to “ozone spray” my cabin as part of their COVID-19 safety policy when working on customer cars. The dealer did not quote me a price, so I assumed it would be $10 or $15. My invoice after service showed the $29.99 added charge. I was shocked. I called another VW dealership, and they do not spray or charge customers. Have I been ripped off by my VW dealer? And should I call their manager to demand a refund? Or should I just take my future service needs to the new dealership and hope they’re a bit more honest and don’t take advantage of customers?

Thanks,

Kelly C, Woodbridge, Ont.

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I had to visit my nearby Mississauga Volkswagen dealer yesterday for them to perform a warranty service on my personal car, and I inquired about an ozone spray service as you have described. They did not offer any such service. A quick survey of other local dealers resulted in similar negative results. I then called your dealer and inquired about this ozone spray. The service department confirmed that they do offer this service and also confirmed it was optional when I pressed on. I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt, as forcing their customers to pay for this service without giving an opt-out option is kind of like trying to sell hand sanitizer at triple the price. I’m not privy to your exact conversation, but if you felt like you were not given a choice in the matter, you should definitely be calling the service manager for an explanation.


Thank you Lou!

A couple of weeks ago, my e-mail in which I complained about a faulty “kilometres to empty” reading in my XC60 was published in your column. In your reply, you prompted me to stay on Volvo Canada. I thus sent Volvo Canada an e-mail pointing out contradictory advice between them and the local dealership, with the news that my complaint had been published in the Globe. I got a response from Volvo less than 24 hours later. The vehicle is now back in my driveway with a new fuel pump and a new gas tank. I have to think the complaint being prominent in your column grabbed their attention, and I appreciate your role in getting this fixed.

Best regards,

Lari M

Every once in a while, I am required to call an auto manufacturer when researching a reader’s question. I realized early on that when leaving messages, saying I was calling on behalf of this column resulted in a return phone call far quicker than proudly declaring it was the one and only Lou Trottier.

I am very happy that being featured here helped ease your situation. For those of you not as fortunate, my advice, especially when your vehicle is still under factory warranty, is to call or e-mail your manufacturer’s head-office customer-satisfaction division. Ask for answers in writing and, when possible, request the involvement of the district service manager (DSM). The DSM is the manufacturer representative that works for the head office and visits all the dealers. One of their duties is to engage with customers having difficulty, attempting to provide resolution. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, literally and figuratively sometimes.

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Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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