Consumer Watchdog: GM, Delta and Aspen Dental come to the aid of Wyoming Valley consumers

I have all happy news to report, thanks to a few businesses that decided to do the right thing for customers who felt they’d been wronged.

I’ll start with Kevin Moran of Harveys Lake, who was driving his Chevy Spark on Christmas day when the hood of the car suddenly popped open, smashed his windshield, severely bent the hood and fenders, broke hinges and scraped off paint to the tune of $5,000 damage.

Despite a General Motors recall of the defective hood latch, GM refused to pay for repairs, so Moran was forced to turn to his insurance company to get the car fixed, and he covered the $250 deductible out of pocket. Moran’s pleas (and mine) to GM for reimbursement went unanswered until a few weeks after his story appeared in this column.

On March 20, Moran got a surprise in his mailbox — a $250 check from GM.

“Had GM done the right thing from the start, I could have remained an anonymous, contented Spark owner,” he wrote in an email. “I can only hope that somebody, somewhere at GM, learned a little bit about customer service during this process. Thanks for following up.”

On March 23, I received an email from Jeff Weissman of Kingston, who had booked a trip last June on Delta Air Lines for travel in January of this year. Three days before he was scheduled to leave, a dear friend passed away.

“She was like a second mother to me,” Weissman wrote. “My brother and I spent many days after school at her home, and for many years she had two extra mouths to feed — myself and my brother. She was a Holocaust survivor and raised a beautiful family and was a grandmother and great grandmother. … I wanted to pay my final respects.”

When he went to rebook his ticket on Delta, the price to change his existing ticket was about $400, in addition to the $289 he had originally paid.

“I was able to purchase a new ticket on another carrier for about $100 less,” he wrote. “I have written Delta asking them to drop the $200 change fee and allow me to use the value of my original ticket for future travel, but they have refused.”

I faxed a short letter to Delta, suggesting they reconsider their decision and waive the change fee for Weissman, in light of the sad circumstances. Four days later, I heard from Weissman again.

“I received an email from Delta this morning, telling me they were waiving the $200 change fee. I thank you very much for your assistance.”

Finally, in February, I was contacted by Alex Eckstein of Luzerne, who had been trying for over a year to get Aspen Dental in Wilkes-Barre to fix his $2,000 dentures. He said they didn’t fit right; they were too big, but every time he complained, Aspen told him the dentures had been cut down as much as possible and he would just have to get used to them.

I got in touch with Kasey Pickett, Aspen Dental’s director of communications at the corporate office in Syracuse, New York, who promised to do whatever it took to resolve the problem for Eckstein.

Pickett arranged for Eckstein to visit the Aspen Dental office in early March, and the folks there have been working with him to make his dentures comfortable and functional. Eckstein just had his final appointment this week and tells me he is happy with the results.

Thanks, Kasey Pickett. Professionals like you give us all something to smile about.