The New GM…Now Even More Sleazy!

Written by Scott

Topics: Archives, Uncategorized

[updated at bottom]

A little background first: from 2002-2005 GM’s Saturn division sold VUEs (2003-2004 for their ION cars) with VTi transmissions that have been since found to be poorly designed or engineered, and subject to early–and sudden–failure. So much so that a class-action lawsuit was filed and culminated in a decision in which the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California granted final approval on April 16, 2009 of a Settlement with General Motors regarding the Saturn VTi transmission. The settlement provided specific, additional coverages for owners of those vehicles, of which I am one.

Less than two months later, in that carefully orchestrated move effectively forced by the federal government, GM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Guess what one of the decisions of the “new” GM was? That it was no longer bound by this legal settlement (and likely others). That’s sleazy. But they’ll gladly take taxpayer bailout money. (That’s sleazy too, IMO).

While there are current legal proceedings seeking to clarify the situation, it leaves owners of those vehicles in limbo.

This past week I was trying to clarify policies with GM’s social media folks via twitter, and then directly by email when they emailed me, but to little avail. As a matter of fact, the answers I got were less than clear. Here are the responses (stripped of identifying info):

Me: since GM decided to sidestep the Saturn VTi settlement they signed in April 09, what’s the current “incentive” for us owners?

GM: Is there a particular vehicle you’re interested in? [explanation: the “incentive” GM has sent info out about is a credit of a certain amount toward a new vehicle…a route I do not wish to go, because I would walk than buy a GM vehicle at this point, because of not just this issue but the bailout itself as well…]

Me: nothing considered yet.

GM: We currently have the GM Owner Loyalty worth $1000 towards purchase/lease of most models for the owners/lessees of 1999 or newer GM vehicles (non-core brands included). Program runs until 2/28/11.

Me, completely unimpressed: so is the $5k inventive for the Saturn VTi transmission folks off the block now as well? [was one of the previous offers GM had mailed out to VTi owners]

GM, who had switched to DM at this point: Hi Scott, the Customer Credit is still available. I just need your contact info and VIN to begin the process.

Me, having no idea how the program even worked: is there some place i can get all the details first? the letter sent out back then was kinda vague…

GM, who now had switched to email: I figured this would be a better method to discuss the Customer Credit. I’ll be happy to anwser [sic] any questions you have about it with the information available.

Me: Sounds good. Are there additional details about it?

GM, who now has a Thread ID in our emails: The main thing is that the vehicle needs to have the transmission issue diagnosed by the dealership for us to start the process. Once that is done we can look at either coverage of the repair or the customer credit depending on the age and mileage.

Me: So…i have to wait until the transmission fails completely, possibly at highway speed, and possibly with one or more of my kids with me, before GM will step up on a known issue? Just trying to clarify what the policy is, since GM decided they didn’t have to honor the settlement…

GM: I can’t comment on the settlement, but the vehicle must be diagnosed by a dealer before the option of the Customer Credit can be considered.

Me: Ok, fair enough. But does the diagnosis require the transmission to fail before said diagnosis would be performed?

Waiting to hear back on that. Regardless, my point is this (on the back-and-forths): rather than refer me to a written policy addressing the issues, there are only vague answers, nothing that either makes me comfortable with their stance or heck, even understand what their stance is.

And that’s definitely not helping me consider my stance on never, never, ever buying another GM vehicle.

What’s your take? Feel free to let GM know at either twitter (@gmcustomersvc) or Facebook. If you contact them because of this post, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Here’s the latest email from the social media team in reference to the last question in the string. This might get ratcheted up, since I also sent an email into GM Customer Service. But here’s the response:

GM: You can take your vehicle in for diagnosis at anytime, however the dealer will likely charge a diagnostic fee. If the dealer finds a possible issue we will proceed as necessary.

Like before, not all that settling…considering the design flaw of the VTi transmission *IS* the “possible issue”.

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