Q: I recently purchased a brand-new 2013 Ram 1500 Quad Cab with the Pentastar V-6 and eight-speed transmission. Although I love the new powertrain, fit and finish leaves much to be desired, especially on the body. I have three cloud-like 3-by-5-inch blemishes in the paint under the clear coat. Two of them are in the passenger rear door and one on the right side of the hood. They were not noticeable when I picked up the truck, mostly because it was dusk out. I immediately called the dealer where I purchased the truck, which is approximately 100 miles away from where I live. They said it wouldn't be a big deal to take it to my local Ram dealership to inspect the defect.
The service writer and service manager both saw the blemishes in the paint, and recommended that I take it to a Ram dealer with an onsite body shop, which they do not have. Approximately two weeks later, I went to the Ram dealer with a body shop in which the body shop manager inspected the vehicle along with the auto body mechanic, and they saw three blemishes in the paint. The body shop manager took pictures to send to Ram, which after three weeks I was notified the blemishes weren't highlighted enough in the pictures and I would need to meet with the southeast representative when he was in the area to inspect the vehicle.
Upon inspection of the vehicle with the southeast representative, the body shop manager, and body shop mechanic all three blemishes were noticed. The body shop manager and southeast representative had a short private conversation, at which time they individually spoke with me to talk me out of any repairs. The reason given was they could not make it look any better.
This was unacceptable to me, after the purchase of a brand-new truck. After refusing their request several times, I insisted that I was willing to take the chance to get it repaired. At that point the body shop manager and the representative went into the dealership for a short time upon return told me they spoke to the owner of the dealership and their first response to me was maybe I should have it fixed at a private body shop, so that if it doesn't meet my satisfaction they would be off the hook. I agreed as long as they would cover the cost. At that point they representative changed his decision and said they would not do anything to rectify the problem.
I find this attitude absolutely unprofessional, and unsatisfactory for a brand new vehicle. For a major company competing with Ford and Chevy this is not the way to attain customer satisfaction. I have already exhausted all possibilities with Ram customer care. They say it is out of their hands. Do you have any suggestions how to go about getting Ram to notice my problem?
A: That's a tough one. Typically, the manufacturer's regional representative has the final word on warranty repairs. And I'm surprised by your situation. New car/truck paint defects are a somewhat common occurrence, and usually repaired with no questions asked. How noticeable are the blemishes? I've read of other complaints with Ram paint over the past few production years, described as areas of thin paint allowing primer to show through, below the clear coat. If the blemishes are that slight, the Chrysler representative may have a point. Very often, repainting of a factory finish will not be a "perfect" color match, and may include orange peel or particles caught in the paint, etc. And as the truck ages and slight paint fade occurs, the repaint area may become even more pronounced. Take a step back and ask yourself if anyone but you is going to notice these spots. If it still bothers you that much, get a bid on the job from a quality body shop, and go back to the dealership and present it to the service manager. Explain how the spots really bother you, and you're willing to sign a release removing any dealership responsibility, if they're willing to pay the bill. It sounded like they were almost willing to go this route, so it might be worth one more shot. Keep in mind that if the deal goes through, there's a risk you will be disappointed with the outcome.
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