I recently had reason to write to the CEO of Honda Canada, Mr. Jerry Chenkin, to outline why I am less than pleased with my 2010 Honda Fit, and ensure that he, or whomever ends up reading this, has the full story of what our experience with his company has been like.
This was my letter:
In 2009, we decided as a family to replace our aging family car, a 1999 Saturn SL1. In my research I found my way to Honda for your reputation for reliability, even though pound for pound, Hondas are more expensive.
Our needs as a family of four are modest, and gasoline is expensive, so the Fit caught our attention. We decided on a base model with no options. It became our new family car. Our only car, in fact.
Until late 2013, we really had no problems with the vehicle. It worked as advertised. It was reliable, flexible, cheap to operate and easy to drive. We put on a roof rack and camped with it. We brought home wood with it, even a washing machine. I loved this little car.
Then, in late 2013, my key began sticking in the rear hatch lock. I lubricated all of the locks but it only helped for moments at a time. I took the car into Kanata Honda, where I'd bought it.
Initially, they said my keys were worn, and they cut a new key to prove it to me, but this new key failed to continue working on the trunk for more than my visit, after any lubrication had a chance to wear off. I followed up by phone and was told that the lock would require replacing, in a barely 3-year-old car whose OEM tires hadn't worn-out yet. They tried to tell me that this kind of wear is normal, especially with the salt on Ottawa roads. By that logic, Kanata Honda should not be selling Honda vehicles, since they are obviously not suitable for Ottawa's roads.
As I didn't feel like paying for work that should not be required, I paid a ludicrous $70 to Kanata Honda for a replacement cylinder and did the work myself. Now I have two keys, as I did not sync up the tumblers to the other cylinders.
If the problem had ended there, I might count myself lucky. Plenty of people have automotive horror stories. Car quality simply is not very good. But, it did not stop there.
Soon after, I noticed the key sticking in the ignition and the driver-side door. I lubricated them heavily and the problem ceased. Now, the passenger door key sticks so badly that my wife can barely get her key back. After talking to Kanata Honda and having their foreman try to feed me some tripe about it being normal it is clear that I will find no real help there.
After spending over 20 minutes waiting in the Honda Canada customer support phone queue, the woman I spoke with was less than sympathetic. The passenger lock is being replaced Friday at Kanata Honda, at my expense. I haven't a clue if Honda Canada will reimburse me for parts that are so obviously defective, but for obvious reasons, I am not hopeful.
So, what's next? The trunk again? The driver door? The ignition?
I really don't care if it's off warranty. Burning through key cylinders faster than brake pads is ridiculous. They are obviously defective, and if Honda cannot get key cylinders right, how can they be trusted with any other part of the car?
My son is about to turn 13. He'll be driving in a few years and I'll be looking for something sportier for myself. At the moment, my next car will not be a Honda. However, the true test of a person or a company in my mind is not whether they make mistakes. It is whether they take responsibility for them.
I would enjoy having faith in a car company for a change. At the moment, it feels like Honda Canada and Kanata Honda stopped caring after they had my money. The only control that I have is ensuring that you don't get another cent from me, even if the next car company is just as bad.
I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this matter.
Sincerely, Michael Soulier
I mailed this letter today. What do you think the chances are that I'll get a response at all, let alone a fair and favourable one?
I would love to rely on the techs at Kanata Honda, but when they tell me that this is normal, I smell bullshit. There is no way this is normal. I just want them to admit that. Maybe then they lose money on this repair, but I keep coming back for more service, and possibly a future car. But I suppose they don't really care if they lose all of my future business. If they did, would they try to feed me such utter nonsense, and wipe their hands of the matter?
Good customer service, that is not. They didn't make the car, but they were happy to sell it to me.