On mobile, tldr at the end
Years ago I worked for a major auto manufacturer’s customer contact center. This particular manufacturer offered free vehicle modifications for persons with disabilities. It was my first day live on the line by myself after training and I got a customer with a mid level SUV that needed the climate control knobs modified due to severe arthritis. The knobs on her particular vehicle were slick shiny black plastic with chrome ring accents, what the part number said they were were cheap grey chunky plastic. She called since the dealer had modified these parts for her, but they didn’t match the vehicle or even fit the mounting spindle. She had the original knobs that came with the car, but wanted a couple of backup sets for when these wore out.
At this center, you kept the case for as long as it took to resolve the issue and were responsible for following up with the customer every few days.
The customer was the epitome of grace and good manners. After taking her information and beginning the investigation, I obtained what I thought was the correct part number and had new units sent to her local dealer for modification. It was a simple matter of glueing a small metal dowel to the control knob so she didn’t have to grasp the knob with her hands. Surprise, the send the cheap grey part and not the correct part. So I escalate the issue to the Area Vehicle Manager (AVM), who informs me that is the correct part. This went on for a year. I changed teams and was promoted during this, no longer responsible or this customer’s brand, but I still have to hold the account until the issue was resolved. I dutifully checked with the customer every week, usually to tell her nothing was happening to resolve her issue. She was very kind and understanding, as the original knobs were holding up so far with the modification.
One day I became fed up and started digging. I went to our research department and tracked down the factory code for the part, the code used to locate the part to be put into a new vehicle. This is supposed to be the same as the part code used by the dealer network. Lo and behold there was a mismatch. I ended up speaking with some very high level people in Michigan about the issue and to the companies credit, they finally launched an investigation.
The part code had been incorrectly entered into a data base for the Chinese factory, so there was a pile of these knobs that only get shipped to the vehicle factory, but not the dealerships. I get a call from the AVM who chirpily told me the issue was resolved, that I was getting a bonus for finding the issue, and the part was being fast tracked to the dealer to resolve the customer’s issue.
I called the customer and gave her the good news. She breathed the most honest sigh of relief I’ve ever heard and thanked me profusely for being tenacious. It had been one year and four months since I took her initial call. I followed up the next week and the customer had the back up knobs and was satisfied. I closed the ticket with a smile on my face.
TLDR: Customer has to wait over a year for modified climate control knobs since there was an internal part number screw up. I figured it out and resolved the problem.