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Old 02-12-2008, 04:14 PM   #1
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Frustration with Aristocrat Motors in Kansas City

So, a little background: Last week I managed to hit some debris on the highway at night, which managed to scrape up and crack my GT3 bumper, chunk a wheel, and throw the alignment way out. I threw my other wheels on the car after, which were just road force balanced 100 miles ago.

So, I drop it off for an alignment yesterday. I also ask them to check my interior door handle microswitch, as the driver door stopped lowering from the inside a few weeks ago (works fine from the outside, and lowers properly when door is open or you activate the top). The service writer calls me a few hours later to tell me the alignment was quite off, but nothing is damaged. He also mentions that my driver door needs a new regulator. I ask why I'm feeling vibration at speed if nothing was bent or damaged, and he says "well you have a bent front wheel," to which I responded "those were just road force balanced and were true, I haven't even hit a bump in the car since, but can you give me the runout numbers on the damaged wheel?" He tells me that he "can't do that" but that you can "see that its bent by looking at it" (which would have to be a pretty sizable warp to be visually seen). So, I'm going to have the tire shop re-spin these on the Hunter this week.

I drive away from the dealer, and first thing I notice is my stereo sounds horrible (to those who don't know, my car has a pretty ridiculous audiophile system installed) and that my GPS nav head unit has been switched from "CD" to "FM" (which takes several executed keystrokes on the touchscreen, not like bumping a button by accident) and then on the drive home I notice the alignment is still off (and the steering wheel is off center) and that I still have vibration.

I call him first thing in the morning to explain these problems (I figured while they had the door apart to inspect the window system they didn't plug something back in right). He tells me that the tech didn't have the door apart at all, so he can't imagine what could have happened. I run the car over to an audio shop here, and we dig around this and that and it turns out someone swapped the left and right inputs on one of the power amps (which are located in the front trunk) and then all is well again.

So, this brings me to two things: First, as far as I can tell, they have no reason whatsoever to be playing in the front trunk while doing an alignment, maybe to access the strut tops from behind the front trunk, but not in the front trunk. Secondly, how exactly does one diagnose a window regulator without taking the door apart?

All in all, I'm considerably less than pleased by the experience, which I made very clear to the service writer today. We'll see how they want to handle this.

Patrick
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Old 02-12-2008, 04:59 PM   #2
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Patrick, sorry to hear about your bad experience. But really, your first clue to-steer-clear should have been the name of the dealership! Who in their right mind names something "Aristocrat".
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Old 02-12-2008, 06:04 PM   #3
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Detective Jeph is on the case!

Perhaps while replacing the window regulator, the battery was disconnected? That justifies entry into the front trunk. Could that also reset some of your stereo settings? Or will cutting of the power leave it exactly how it was? I don't know.

And this may be a stretch, but perhaps while removing the battery cover or something the wires were unplugged some how on the amp -and when reconnected were swapped.

Just a possibility...

(Now I want to see what your trunk looks like to see if I can get to the bottom of this. Post a pic if you're REALLY bored.)
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Old 02-12-2008, 08:49 PM   #4
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I agree on the name, but like most cities, they're the only show in town, and the guy from my insurance company wanted it done at the dealer (still not sure why on that, if anything, that just costs them more money).

Anyway, with regard to the electrical things, I'll post a pic tomorrow when I get a bored moment, but, let me explain that a) they did not replace the regulator, as I wouldn't let them without showing me documentation of testing to determine that it is, indeed, the culprit (correct me if I'm wrong, but there is no way you could determine if the regulator was bad without taking the door apart- and also, since the window works properly from the outside door handle, when the door is open, just not from the interior handle- leads me to suspect the interior switch) and, b) they did not disconnect the battery, as the head unit would have been in suspend mode and require a DVD to re-set itself. It took deliberate action to go "menu," "source select," "FM," and then tune a station is. There was no reason whatsoever for them to be playing with the audio hardware (its all in the front trunk, basically where the spare tire would be, i.e. nowhere near anything mechanical like suspension bits), and for Christ sake, if you absolutely have to go unplugging things, either make sure you label things so you can put it back together properly, or CALL ME and ASK!

Think I'm going to have a nice long talk with management tomorrow....

Patrick
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Old 02-13-2008, 06:27 AM   #5
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There are a lot of good independent shops in the area, typically I would avoid the dealer unless it is warranty work. Your insurance company has no right to tell you where to get your car repaired.

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Old 02-13-2008, 04:04 PM   #6
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I agree with Todd. There are plenty of shops, I would take it to IA.
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Old 02-13-2008, 06:13 PM   #7
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Wound up flying all day so didn't get a chance to take pics. In any event, I have dealt with IA since I moved here, and from now on will only deal with IA. The insurance company rep just suggested Aristocrat, and having not dealt with them before, thought I'd give them a chance on something as simple as an alignment.

Aside from delivering sub-par service, they have completely violated my trust and are never seeing me again as a client.

Patrick
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Old 03-06-2008, 04:50 PM   #8
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So, heres an update on this story of frustration. After the Aristocrat fiasco, I spoke to the service manager who fully refunded my service bill, so +1 for them for at least trying to salvage the situation somewhat. For the record, Aristocrat charges $185 for alignment.

Took the car to Imagine Auto last Thursday for another alignment, since things were still not right after the Aristocrat alignment, which I explained to the gentleman when I dropped off the car. I was under the impression that Imagine had their own rack, but apparently they do not. When I picked up the car that afternoon, I asked the tech who as there how the alignment turned out, and he said "oh I don't know, I wasn't the one who did the work." When I asked for the alignment print out, he responded that "we don't have our own rack, we outsource our alignment and wheel mounting/balancing. A friend of Steve's (Kaspar, Imagine's owner) is the lead tech at Baron VW around the corner and is really a Porsche guy so he does the work for us." He said all he was told was that the alignment was way out, but it came in within specs (which I found very interesting, considering thats exactly what Aristocrat had told me less than a week prior). OK, if all turns out well thats good enough for me and off I went. Imagine billed me $305 for a "Porsche Factory Alignment."

Well, after all was said and done there, the car still had front end vibration through the steering wheel, as well as was making creaking sounds from the front end. I also had a nice, new dent in the left front fender. So I spoke to Steven at Imagine early this week to try to diagnose what could be causing this. We talked about swapping wheels with a set he had at the shop (which I considered a very nice gesture) but then told me that they had no free lift to throw my car on, so that I was welcome to pick up the other wheels but they would not be able to swap them on my car at their shop. I asked if they had a floor jack and that I'd be happy to swap them myself even, which Steve said due to insurance and OSHA bla di bla he could not allow that. Since I am new to KC and the Box is my only car, that would have been a real pain to ask a favor from a friend with a truck, etc. so we thought about another option. Well, Steve suggests having Chris (at the VW around the corner, whom I understood had done the alignment) spin the front wheels for trueness and balance, and gives me their contact information.

I call them today, explain the problem, and during my explanation I mention "you had my car in last Thursday for an alignment and we still have front end vibration." He tells me that they did not align my car, and had never seen my car at their facility. "Interesting," I thought. They schedule me to come in this afternoon to spin the wheels, and before I get there they talk to Steve at Imagine to clarify things. Well, turns out both fronts are, indeed, true and round, but one front wheel had thrown a weight and so was out of balance. Well, after all 4 are balanced (which they charged me $180 for, most I've ever spent for tire balancing, by far) the vibration is gone, but the creaking is still present.

After this, I drove over to Imagine to discuss the chain of events here. Apparently Steve had been over at VW to drop off a 997 for an alignment while Chris was balancing my wheels and noticed that they were true but that one had thrown a weight, so immediately upon my arrival Steve proclaims to me "I saw your wheels, one was out of balance!" I responded "yes," and that that seemed to cure the vibration, but that I still had the creaking and, further more, wanted to know who had worked on my car since VW said they hadn't seen it. He said "we outsource to both VW and to Aristocrat for alignments." I mentioned that I was told that Baron VW performed the work, and in a shocking display of rude and antagonistic behavior, Steve re-enforces his stance that they "outsource to both companies, that its none of my business who they have perform an alignment on my car," and that I "accused his employee of being a liar and that I should tell that to his face" as we walk from the shop to the showroom. I simply explained that while any decent shop with a decent alignment rack should be able to do the work, that I found it very interesting that if, indeed, Aristocrat had aligned the car twice over the course of a week, that it could be "way out of whack" both times, and neither time was I shown the before and after geometry. Steve says, in a very raised tone "I'll get your alignment numbers for you." Furthermore, clearly Aristocrat is the last place I would want the car going, considering they just saw it and had proved completely useless. This continued, with Steve almost yelling at me now in the showroom that I should not be "jacking with his suppliers by calling them directly" and that I was making his job more difficult. In summary, I don't think I've had anyone be more rude to me after taking my money in a very long time.

So, in retrospect, here we are, with the car allegedly being aligned twice now, apparently by the same shop, who cannot provide me geometry measurements, a dented fender, and a car that still doesn't drive right. I also find it very interesting that Imagine is profiting at least $125 on the outsourcing of their alignments.

Unless I receive a very sincere apology from Steven Kaspar over this incident, they will not be receiving any of my future business, nor will I see any of you fellow KC area Porsche guys at the Imagine Auto event coming up

Sorry for the long post.

Patrick
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Old 03-06-2008, 04:56 PM   #9
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On a side note, can anyone here recommend a quality independent shop in the KC area that specializes in German cars? I hate to say it, but if the case is that I can't find anyone to work on the Porsche here, I think I'm going to be forced to trade for a BMW since the BMW dealer here is excellent.

Patrick
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Old 03-06-2008, 06:04 PM   #10
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I've been given the run around by Aristocrat before. Several times. And they refused to honor Warranty Direct, saying "we didn't sell it so we don't honor it". un huh.

I had my car aligned by Imagine last year before a DE in Topeka. I was under the same assumption as you , that they had their own rack. Nope. Baron BMW does their alingments, I was told. And I was also charged $300, so at least they're consistent in their charges. I thought that was outrageous and haven't been back. (A lot of the guys at the track swear by Imagine, but I suspect they're friends with, or long long time customers) A subsequent alignment by Aristocrat was 185, and I got the before and after measurements. I had to ask for them but the service tech handed them right over.

As far as another independent....about the only one I know of is Das Autowerk on Merriam Drive not far from Aristocrat. 913 236 4477 They installed my Row M030 suspension (and another alignment!!) last August and aside from being a little pricey did a good job. Not the cleanest, neatest, most impressive shop in town, but they've been around for EVER and seem to know what they're doing. You might check them out.

Bob
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Old 03-06-2008, 06:16 PM   #11
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Dont expect the shop you go to has to be a german specialty shop. Maybe for some things, but mostly anything youd need you can get done at any mechanic. Trust IA with the high end stuff like rebuilding your engine/transmission for which they have special parts and experience. And find a mechanic you like, there are plenty. Just do some "shopping around".
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Old 03-07-2008, 06:46 AM   #12
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Steve from Imagine emailed me and offered to refund the second alignment, and I will be taking up the remaining issues directly with Aristocrat. So, I suppose that's a step in the right direction and I thanked him, though I'm still extremely frustrated with everything as this should not be that complicated of a situation.

Patrick
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Old 03-07-2008, 07:44 AM   #13
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Wow, Patrick, that's quite a story. The rude behavior was truely uncalled for. That's decent of Steve to try to make things right after-the-fact, but in the end he should never have treated a customer like that.

I'm surprised you couldn't get your geometry numbers ever. I was able to get the numbers from Pep Boys when they aligned my Hyundai. One would think a Porsche dealership could do the same.
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Old 03-07-2008, 08:59 AM   #14
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It might have been best to request a printout of the alignment data when writing the workorder. But that might have put IA in the uncomfortable position of having to admit they were charging you $180 to drive your car over to aristocrat. Since IA apparently has a good niche in specialty work, it would be alot more confidence inspiring for them to just ask you to take your car elsewhere for work they don't do. And this ethical lapse is why Steve became indignant when you caught him lying. Steve was right that you should not have to be concerned with who did the work, but they need to stand by that work, as well as assume liability for the dent in your fender, if thats how that happened.

Making 2 trips to a garage, inflated prices, combined with the frequency of bad experiences, is why I do almost all my own work. By the way, rusnak porsche in pasadena quoted me $400 for box a alignment.
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Old 03-07-2008, 02:38 PM   #15
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All sounds crazy. Not sure who to trust. I've had my Boxster for about nine months and had a couple of things done at BHR downtown. So far I'm happy with the work they've done for me (axle boots, ignition switch). Good Luck.
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Old 03-07-2008, 03:23 PM   #16
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Crazy and not sure who to trust is right. "Frustrating" comes to mind as well. I have just recently heard of DAS, who is BHR?

Related to this mess, the creaking/ squeaking I'm hearing only becomes an issue after the car has been driven 20 min or so, which typically involves highway driving. Any thoughts anyone?

Patrick
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Old 03-07-2008, 03:50 PM   #17
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BHR = Bob Hinson Racing. They are on Gillham Rd (I think). Its been a while since I was there and I forgot about them. It's a shop you should check out. They've been around a long time.
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Old 03-08-2008, 07:19 AM   #18
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Bob Hindson Racing. About 27th and Holmes, original location.

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Orginally started by Bob Hindson around 72-73. He was Art Bunker's race boss and raced factory 914-6s along with Kendall Noah back in the early 70s.

The shop is now owned by Aaron Holstrom. Aaron worked for BHR since he graduated from high school—a while ago. Good guy. I'm having them weld new rear sway bar mounts on my 911 next week.

I was going to have Aristocrat change the oil on my Boxster since they do it for about $60 including oil and filter, but now I'm not so sure. Probably should do it myself.
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Old 03-08-2008, 01:48 PM   #19
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Thanks for the help guys, I am going to pay BHR a visit. I live downtown, so their location would be very convenient. It took a bit of refreshing, but I do know who Bob Hinson is. I hope Aaron has the same good business sense.

As far as Aristocrat changing your oil, I've noticed the $60 price, but after the fiasco I've had with them, they're never seeing my car again. I think I forgot to mention in the previous posts that the problem pertaining to my audio turned out to be cross wires on one of the power amps. Only cost me $300 in diagnostic time by the audio shop to figure that out, and furthermore, Aristocrat had no reason whatsoever to be unplugging leads from a power amp while doing an alignment! I also have two calls in each to both the service manager and the president of the company- no call back from either of them. Not exactly a company I want to do business with.

Patrick
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Old 04-01-2008, 06:04 PM   #20
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Just an update on things. I have a meeting with the President and Service Manager this week to discuss the fact that they clearly attempted to defraud me on my service visit and damaged my car.

I have documented proof of their attempt to defraud me pertaining to the brand new wheel they told me that was "visually bent" which was spun a few days later by another shop on a Hunter 97XX and found perfectly true, as well as the fact that they tried to scam me by telling me my window regulator needed replacement ($600 parts and labor), after apparently disconnecting the microswitch to the interior door handle.

With regard to their ability (or lack thereof) with respect to operating as a competent shop- they completely missed damaged suspension bits and their alignment was horribly off, after two tries.

Depending upon the outcome of this meeting, this matter will either be resolved by financial settlement, or will go to my attorney for further action and PCNA and the BBB will be involved.

Patrick
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