Breaking News: Update from Volvo

I had a long and fruitful conversation with Bill Casey at Volvo Customer Care this morning. (He called yesterday as well, but of course I was at soccer practice with my kids.) Here is what came out of it:

1. Regarding Repair of my Volvo: Volvo Corporate is sending a specialized Volvo Engineer to Pasadena on December 9th. His/her mission is to spend a couple of days (at Rusnak) examining my car & my service records with a fine tooth comb, to get to the bottom of all my issues. Volvo recognizes it’s an issue that I have so many problems with my car, despite following recommended service schedules and Dealer suggested repairs, over the years. I’ll keep you posted on what they find.

2. Regarding Volvo Customer Care: In reviewing my case, Bill realized some of my conversations with different levels of Volvo Corporate (like the conversation I had with the President’s office) did not come up when he reviewed my file on his computer. Apparently, some conversations were logged under my name, others under my husband’s name. This is an issue, since Volvo is committed to resolving repeat complaints with due diligence. Bill suggested there may be a need to review Volvo’s internal systems for capturing customer issues. He is looking into streamlining his department. Update to follow.

3. Regarding Rusnak/Dealer Customer Care: The Dealer is really the customer service connection between the Customer and Volvo. If a Customer has an issue with their car, the Dealer’s role is to mediate between the Customer and Volvo to find a resolution. My argument (and apparently many of you out there) is that Rusnak (my Dealer) did not mediate on my behalf as I would expect. I had to try to get my voice heard at Volvo without their help. Therefore, my argument is that Rusnak failed to live up to it’s customer service promises. Volvo does have a responsibility to forward any feedback they receive on individual Dealers directly to them, and if they add up, Volvo will take measures to review how the Dealer is representing it’s brand, both on quality of work performed and level of customer service. But apparently, there is an agreement of confidentiality between Volvo and it’s Dealers, so unless the Dealer is doing such a poor job that Volvo decides to close it down, it may be hard for us individual customers to know what measures have been taken to ensure tougher standards. Therefore, it will be up to Rusnak/the Dealer to issue a statement on how they plan to enhance their level of Customer Service and Quality of Work. I have let Volvo and Rusnak know that I am waiting for Rusnak to issue an Office Statement to it’s Customer Base on these points.

4.  My issues are being addressed. How about yours?: As Bill and I spoke, I told him there were many others out there that feel they are in a similar situation as I am — loyal customers, following service schedules, performing repairs as recommended by the Dealer. However, once they have a serious problem, they don’t feel they are getting the level of support expected. Here is what Bill suggest you do:

If you have a serious mechanical issue you feel needs to be addressed by Volvo, and you are not getting the support from your Dealer:

a) Contact 1-800-458-1552 or email Volvo Customer Care. In your message, mention Bill Casey’s name, and that will be a flag for him to review your case.

b) Send me an email with a summary of your case, and your contact information, and I will personally forward your case to Bill Casey’s direct email address, and he will contact you directly to discuss your issues.

If you have issues with the level of Customer Service or Quality of Work performed at Rusnak, or any other Volvo Dealer:

a) Email your issues and with what Dealer to Volvo Customer Care. You should expect a confirmation email or follow up phone call within 24 hrs, so that you know your voice is being heard. All feedback is being compiled and forwarded to the Dealers. And if one dealer is hitting critical mass, Volvo will review them.

b) Send me an email with the same information, that way I know what Dealer gets what feedback, and I can contact them on your behalf, to ask them to issue an official statement.

More to come.

14 Responses to “Breaking News: Update from Volvo”

  1. 1 Joel November 25, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    HEY! It’s great to see Bill Casey has helped you out so much.

    I’m disappointed that Volvo has these confidentiality agreements with their dealers and we can’t, but it makes sense. Volvo needs to protect their dealers too.

    Anyway, it’s as some of your commenters have been saying all along – your dealer didn’t champion you properly. Hopefully you’ll get the issues with your car resolved now.

    If what Bill is saying is true and there needs to be a ‘critical mass’ of complaints before they can step in and review a dealer fully and completely, then maybe that should be a part of your cause? On the one had you are collecting information about Volvos that have had issues in sort of an Erin Brockovich pseudo class-action style…. how about another collection effort to find other Rusnak customers that have been dealt with poorly. You could get these guys in serious doo-doo with Volvo NA!

    Although Volvo has these agreements to protect their dealers, I don’t suppose Bill Casey could provide you with which dealers close to you have high customer service satisfaction ratings? (no numbers of course…)
    Maybe there is another local/state organization that collects this information? Any Volvo dealer should be able to work on your car equally well, so why not find one that focuses more on customer service?

    • 2 Joel November 25, 2009 at 1:09 pm

      Also don’t forget to go on a test drive with this Volvo technician so you can directly and explicitly point out the problems you’re having – you don’t want anyone making the “I can’t reproduce the problem” excuse on you this time…

  2. 3 Peter H November 25, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Hi Joel,

    I called Bill, it appears there is a communication gap here. Bill said that every dealer complaint is immediately fed to the management at the dealer as well as management at Volvo. They value each and every complaint.


    • 4 rusmackedvolvo November 25, 2009 at 7:06 pm

      Hi Peter H,
      Yes, thanks for clarifying. They do forward all comments right away. If they get repeated complaints about a Dealer, that’s when Volvo decides to investigate. So in this instance, we would assume they would have started an investigation of Rusnak.

      Best, Freya

  3. 5 ILikeMyS80V8 November 26, 2009 at 1:47 am

    Until a manufacturer is willing to provide ratings and disclose feedback on their dealers, I’m inclined to not believe the manufacturers care all that much about consumer complaints about specific dealers. Manufacturers only care about car sales, and for that they need dealers.

    Volvo specifically is on the bubble — possibly sold to the Chinese automaker Geely — and Volvo needs dealers like an alcoholic needs liquor. They both need buyers, but not as bad as corporate needs dealers.

    It’s great you’re now getting attention, but my sense is the dealer can screw up service massively with no repercussions as long as car sales remain strong. Weak sales a get manufacturer’s attention.

    Sure, service to existing customers can affect return sales, but my guess is that there aren’t as many brand loyalists out there for cars as their once were. As people move up the food chain their car tastes change, and there’s a lot of competition for high end cars.

  4. 6 Gordon November 28, 2009 at 6:17 am

    Volvo’s quality has gone down hill – older RWD Volvo rarely had transmission failures – I have owned 7+ RWD Volvos without a single tranny failure (a couple of these had over 300K miles!!!) – admittedly all purchased used. I purchased my first used FWD Volvo a 1998 C70 and transmission failed despite being an Aisin Warner transmission.

    Volvo should be ashamed of S80 GM 4 speed automatic failures (XC90 T6 too) – they tried to go upmarket and screwed themselves with many owners who would NEVER buy another Volvo again after owning a first gen S80 or XC90 T6. Volvo should have footed the cost of practically ALL these transmission failures and offered FREE tranny fluid changes for life for owners stuck with these under engineered cars. Instead Volvo often hid its head in the sand stuck the unfortunate owners with paying to replace these transmissions which NEVER should have been used in the first place.

    Why didn’t they just stick torque limited Aisin Warners in them like they did the automatic R versions (2005 and 2005 model years) ?

    • 7 Joel November 30, 2009 at 7:34 pm

      As I said somewhere else on this site in the comments – Volvo doesn’t make their automatic transmissions – most are made by Aisin (the same company that makes transmissions for Toyota) in Japan, and one was made by GM.

      The same transmission can be found in the Saturn Vue and Ion, and Chevy Equinox, to name a few.

      Aisin : AW50-42 (can’t find wikipedia article)



      geartronic article:

      • 8 rusmackedvolvo December 1, 2009 at 4:55 am

        I wonder if they have as many problems as we Volvo peoples do!?

      • 9 Joel December 1, 2009 at 3:02 pm

        Here is the info on the GM transmission from the XC90 that I forgot to dig out yesterday. (Note: in the orig post I said I couldn’t find a wikipedia article on the AW50-42 – this is a different trans again from this GM unit, though they both have 4 forward speeds)

        The Volvo cars page has a nice list of the various transmissions used by Volvo.

        I am not sure who makes the various manual transmission, though I’m pretty sure Getrag makes some like the M90 (and I’m assuming the M56):

        I have not heard any complaints from the owners of the various groups of owners of those other cars but I have not been paying attention for that either…

        As I and another poster said earlier on another one of your posts, I think you’ll find that this problem was caused by a)no trans fluid changes (it is ‘common knowledge’ on the various Volvo forums that this IS required even though Volvo doesn’t call for them in their maintenance schedule) and/or b) a problem in the radiator which allowed trans fluid and coolant to mix (simultaneously sucking your coolant away and ruining your transmission).

        Please keep us posted as to what the Volvo techs find when they come to have a look.

        Actually if I were you Freya I would take it to an indie today and have them take a sample of your coolant and of your trans fluid for testing by one of the various fluid testing firms out there. I say do it today because if you wait the Volvo folks might change the oil or the whole trans (!) and then you won’t have the oil to test anymore!

        I know of one that will test your Trans fluid for you and sells a handy ‘lemonaide’ kit for doing the testing, and it’s not expensive :

        You can take the samples yourself too, but you have not mentioned whether you are mechanically inclined or not and it would be easiest to have someone else do it for sure. It wouldn’t be much money to have a mech take these samples.

        BTW there are likely more local companies that do similar testing as well that your indie mech might be able to recommend.

        It would be good proof that something is wrong in there (or not actually)

      • 10 rusmackedvolvo December 1, 2009 at 4:28 pm

        Joel, Taking samples of my coolant and transmission fluids is a good idea. It’s like Volvo forensics!

  5. 11 Peter H December 1, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Hi Freya,
    I wanted to let you know that I won’t be watching to see how this works out for you. It appears to me you aren’t concerned with working with Volvo, after these dramatic posts. I commend you for being creative, but that is all. I’m not sure I can trust that you will be truthful in the end. I may be wound a bit tight to Volvo…In 2004 it saved my entire family, from the most horrific accident. It was dark, deer walked out into the road, truck came into our lane, I swerved and was hit on the driver’s side and our car stuck to the truck for a few hundred feet. I cannot tell you what that was like. The accident was so bad that when the state patrolman came to our car, he couldn’t believe we were still alive. Volvo builds very good cars, please don’t forget that! Dealers are like anyone else, and can make a mistake. I hope it all works out for you.
    Peter and Janice

    • 12 rusmackedvolvo December 1, 2009 at 5:25 am

      Dear Peter and Janice,
      I am so happy your Volvo kept you safe during your accident. Your experience is an example of why I feel so passionately about my own Volvo. Thanks for the support.
      Best, Freya

  6. 13 ILikeMyS80V8 December 1, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Hopefully Volvo beefed up the AWTF80-SC transmission in my S80 V8, if that’s the one this car has.

    The Wikipedia article on that transmission and Aisin’s web site inidicates a maximum torque of 331 ft lbs, Volvo lists the V8 motor at 325 ft lbs torque.

    I’m assuming engine output is electronically limited to keep torque below 331 ft lbs, but it kinda makes me nervous knowing I might be running a transmission on the outer edges of its torque limits.

  7. 14 Finola December 10, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    My Volvo S60. I too have had too many unpleasant encounters with Rusnak. I had engine problems at about 50,000 miles and now have tranmission problems. Volvo is currently willing to pay $1,500.00 for an over $5,000 repair. I find the offer offensive. Customer service at this location has been a nightmare, they are like walking zombies at Rusnak. No one there really cares. They can never pin point a problem. I always have to point it out to them. I loved my Volvo so I thought. I think they are great safety cars but run absolutely terrible. Unfortunately, I will never purchase another Volvo after my horrible experiences with repairs and customer service at Rusnak. Extremely frustrated and dissapointed!

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