The list of chronic catastrophes endured over the years by my car seems to stretch longer than the 100,000-plus miles on its fragile frame.
A 1998 Ford Frankenstein stitched together of parts new, old and otherwise, I’ve ponied up for new brakes, a new transmission, parts of a new engine, dozens of less damning repairs and a new Visa to pay for most of them. As the decade-long owner of a used car, I expect those issues.
Nick Gushka didn’t expect his so soon.
Gushka, from Exeter, in July bought a brand-new, fresh-off-the-lot, 2015 Dodge Dart from the MotorWorld Auto Group in Wilkes-Barre. Only on Thursday, Gushka was staring at a door handle that was without a crucial component — a door.
The handle detached and landed in Gushka’s palm when he went to open the rear passenger door. I asked him if he spends a lot of time in the weight room. No, no. It wasn’t anything like that, he said. It just snapped off.
Not even two months since he spent about $23,000 on the car, Gushka was miffed. He called MotorWorld to schedule an appointment but was told the soonest he could bring his car in was mid-October. Unacceptable, he said. The supervisor Gushka was transferred to next followed suit: mid-October was the best they could do.
Thinking back to the hugs, handshakes and fist-bumps exchanged at the dealership after the sale, Gushka said he expected more. His mood didn’t improve when he next called Dodge Consumer Complaints. There, a woman called MotorWorld on his behalf and she, too, was given the same response: The dealership wouldn’t budge.
Gushka’s next call was to me. It was the last one he had to make.
Perhaps fueled by the multitude of headaches surrounding ownership of my car, I hung up and reached out to MotorWorld. I told them to call me regarding the issue. This customer deserves better.
Not an hour later I got a call from Shelley Puzzetti, MotorWorld’s customer relations manager. She asked for Gushka’s name, number and issue, and assured me she’d take care of it. She did.
Gushka dropped his car off that night. A mechanic told him the fix was likely minor, that the handle probably popped off as the result of a screw that wasn’t fastened. It would be covered under warranty, Gushka told me.
He was happy with the dealership’s response, though not at first.
“Initially, they didn’t do anything for me. You’re the man who got something done,” he told me.
It was part of the job, I told him. I was glad to see it get resolved. Better yet, I was glad to see how, in the end, it was handled.