AAMCO Florida rip-off dishonest fraudulent victimized us Apopka Florida!!
Dear Ms. Wright: I am writing you this letter in regards to work I had done last month and the near immediate breakdown of my truck while driving it from Florida to Arizona. This is a long and tangled tale, but it centers on customer service and the professional responsibility of AAMCO and its subsidiaries. I own a 1977 CUCV, a civilian vehicle (Dodge ton Power Wagon) converted by Dodge for the US Army into a 4×4 Ambulance. Several months ago my right front axle failed and I contacted the Apopka, Fl branch of AAMCO. I had a problem; we were in a pretty bad way financially as I had been unemployed for the last four months. We ended up needing to sell our house so that we would not be foreclosed on, but were going to get some cash out of the sale in order to start again in Phoenix. When I called Jason at the AAMCO in Apopka, I told him basically the same thing. We were not going to have any money until we closed on our house, which was scheduled for November 15. They gave me an estimate for the repair of the front axle assembly, which was around $1500.00. I told them I had about $2500 to spend in order to get the truck in shape to drive cross-country. I told Jason that I wanted every drop of fluid changed in the vehicle and that the brakes had been in pretty bad shape, and that the master cylinder was leaking and may need to be replaced. The transmission was also leaking very badly, the main leak appearing to come from the drive linkage as it enters the transmission. Jason said there was a bushing there that may be bad and that they would check it out when they dropped the pan. I also asked him to inspect the driveline to include front and rear differentials, transfer case, transmission, and anything else that could break or that may need replacement or repair. Because they needed to order approximately $800 in parts, they were not going to start working on it until they received a down payment to cover their expenditures. Again, we had the problem of being poor, being forced to sell our house, it is funny now, but at the time, we did not even have enough money to buy boxes to pack. To make matters worse, I got a call from my father telling me that my grandmother had 2 to 10 days left to live. Prior to that they had given her 3 months, so I thought we would get to Phoenix in time to be able to spend some time with her before she died. I called Jason at AAMCO and told him that I needed them to try to have the truck completed by 11/15 so that we could get on the road right away. Again, no money, no work. I finally asked the owner if I could give them a post dated check for $1500 so they would start. He agreed, and I gave them a check for $1500 on 11/08/02 post dated for 11/15/02, our original closing date. I drove by on 11/13/02 and to my horror, my truck was still sitting out in the parking lot. I stopped by and again, spoke with Jason imploring him to get moving so that we could leave that Friday and possibly get to Phoenix before my grandmother died. His comment was that I should get on a plain and fly out to see her if it was that important to me. Obviously he had no listened to a single thing I had been telling him, remember, we were poor, could barely feed my family, buy gas, we had nothing and my relatives were no better off to lend me anything. So, 11/15 rolls around and my truck is still out in the parking lot. I talked to Jason and he said they kept on running into delays, missing parts, and such that were not available locally. Again, my initial thought was that I had told him there was going to be some domino effects when they started working on things and that was why I implored them to get the truck in the shop to start working on it as early as they could, rather than waiting to the last minute, like they did. As a result, we had to move our closing date to Monday, 11/18/02 (this was the latest the new buyers would go). At this point, Jason called me and told me the AAMCO owners were giving him problems because the check would not clear the bank. Again I reminded him that the check was pending our closing on our house and getting the cash we were owed from the sale. He said there was nothing they could do until they had some kind of payment. That Monday, we closed on our house, I got a check for the balance owed us, went to the bank and cashed it and took them $2000 in cash so they would start working on the truck. At this point we were homeless, so I had to rent a hotel room, we were also paying for a Ryder truck sitting in the parking lot of the hotel. I think that Tuesday it finally was moved into the shop and work started for real. As I warned them, once they started working on it they found other things that needed repair. I had no issues with this, as my main concern was to make sure it was road worthy for the cross-country trip. You see my wife and two daughters were going to be driving in it while I drove the Ryder truck. I told Jason about this many times and even told him how I was going to convert the rear of the truck to hold my girls and a TV & VCR combo so that they could watch movies in comfort during the trip. We had another car, a Dodge Stratus that also had some transmission problems. We originally had hoped the Apopka AAMCO would be able to fix the Stratus, but as you have read, we ran out of time. In the end, they barely finished getting the truck running and had only taken care of a few other items I had asked to be done. It was Thursday 11/21. They had not finished with the truck by that evening, and had not checked or changed the fluid in the differentials of transfer case, so I asked them again if they could please do that and let me know how everything looked. I was concerned about the drive train because of the failure of the right front axle and u-joint. When I came to pick up the truck Friday, 11/22/02 it was still not complete. They had changed the front and rear differential fluids, but had not done anything to the transfer case. I remember standing there when Jason said, has anyone checked the transfer case for oil. No one had, so the owners son removed the plug to find the oil level was so low, they could not get a reading. He ended up adding several quarts of fluid to the transfer case. This was the last thing they did before handing it over to me. By this time we had already spent a week in a hotel with a dog and cat, my grandmother had died earlier in the week, we had the Stratus that had transmission problems and the truck I had just spent $2550.00 to make safe for the drive cross-country. Although I had concerns over what had actually been repaired and checked by the Apopka AAMCO, I felt confident that the truck was fully safe for my wife and kids to drive in. After all, I had been taking my vehicles to AAMCO for the last fifteen years and have never had a problem with quality or professionalism from any AAMCO I had ever been too, in any state. So, as you can tell, our life had been going fairly poorly up to this point and all we wanted to do was get to Phoenix and make a new start in life. We finally had my truck fixed, and we were going to have the Stratus fixed as soon as we got to Phoenix. At least we would have two operating cars so both my wife and I could get jobs. This was kind of important because we had already spent nearly $1000 more for the trip due to the truck delays and extra Ryder truck rental days, but again, at least my truck was being fixed. It was with great shock and disbelief then, when the truck nearly exploded just short of the Texas New Mexico state line. I remember looking in my side mirror and seeing the Dodge truck disappear in a cloud of smoke. My wife and kids were in that truck and I cannot tell you the horror I went through until I had them out of that truck. It was getting dark by this time and my children were still slightly hysterical from the experience. After the smoke had cleared, and the family was safe, I looked under the truck to try and see what happened. I thought that the engine might have blown since it was the only thing AAMCO had not worked on. When I saw the transfer case and transmission still pouring fluid out of them I was confused. I thought there was no way that could have happened. I just paid AAMCO $2500 to make sure all that stuff was good. The nightmare continued as we now had one dead car and one bad car, but only one car carrier. We ended up having to unload part of the Ryder truck on the side of I-10 in the dark to find some of my tools so I could wench the truck up onto the car carrier. We also had the issue of driving the Stratus in its crippled state. At this point we had little choice but to put my wife and kids in the Stratus and the animals in the Ryder truck with me. We could not drive faster than 40mph as the Stratus was stuck in limp mode and would not shift out of second gear. We finally made it to Phoenix a few days later than expected, but we made it. The Stratus was in pretty bad shape by this time. The last 600 miles destroyed what was left of the transmission. The fix went from $300 to $2000 because of it. We had the Stratus fixed at the McKellips AAMCO and I told them of our plight. Kevin told me to bring the truck in and let them take a look at it to see what caused the damage. After the Stratus was fixed, we took the truck up to the McKellips AAMCO. Once we got a look at the drive train the full damage was evident. The transfer case had been snapped off its mount, the transmission was sheared off at the corner, apparently destroyed by the front axle as it swung about wildly before falling off. The force of the spinning shaft caused the transfer case to shift to the drivers side approximately 8 inches allowing the rear drive shaft to gouge a slot into the gas tank allowing gas to spill out rapidly. I am lucky I am not writing you telling you how flames engulfed my family as the gas tank ignited after the drive shaft ripped into it spilling fuel by the gallon. One spark and that is what I would be telling you right now, or my attorneys. The overall damage looked like a bomb had gone off at the transfer case cross member. The front sway bar also snapped during the shake up. My wife told me it was like a bomb had gone off under the car as the truck actually felt like it left the ground momentarily. The rear floor of the truck had been bent up one inch from the force of the break. The damage to the steel under the vehicle is amazing. I tried calling the Apopka AAMCO to see what their take on the issue was and Jasons response was that, and I quote, Trying to drive a rusted out car like that across country I should have known that something was going to break. He also said that they had thought the truck was going to go on the car carrier and that my wife and kids were going to drive the Stratus. This, on his part was a flat out lie. He knew, more than anyone, we were going to drive that truck across the country. That my wife and children were going to be in it and that the original purpose of having it at AAMCO was to make it safe for that trip (the axle obviously needed to be fixed). He also knew that the Stratus needed repair. I knew at this point that these guys were capable of lying, cheating and stealing, and that is what they did to me. Eventually the impression I got from them was too bad, that it was my fault for trying to drive an older vehicle across country. This is funny as I remember Jason telling me he was impressed with my preventive maintenance I wanted done to the truck. That an old truck like this one would run forever if it was maintained like I was doing, by taking it to the professionals. We also talked about it being a military vehicle and the owner, Tom, at one time was in charge of an Army motor pool. We talked about the PMs done to vehicles like this and that getting it from the military was one way to insure it had been maintained properly during its service to the country. I guess this must have been all lies as well, maybe to make me feel better that they were actually fixing something. For my part, I now have a truck in worse shape than when I originally brought it into the Apopka AAMCO, had to spend an additional $2000 to have our Stratus repaired because we needed to drive it the rest of the way to Phoenix, I am still unemployed, and we are out of money. My truck is sitting up at the McKellips AAMCO. I do not even have the money to have it towed to where we are staying. Oh yeah, we are staying in a little travel trailer on my wifes parents property until I can find work. We would have had the money to find a place to live, but it was spent in the travel expenses due to the delays and extras caused by the truck being late and breaking down. I realize that because the work order from my truck does not say check and replace u-joints in drive shafts I am probably going to get screwed over here, but if it needs to be that literal, my work order would have been ten pages long. To check and replace parts if required should be an obvious and standard procedure for AAMCO. In my industry, we have a professional responsibility to identify and inform of any unsafe condition that might result in more damage or injury. I realize Jason was trying to keep the total cost to under $2500 as I requested, but after spending that much money to make the truck safe, another $100 to replace a questionable u-joint would have been nothing to me. In my opinion, the Apopka AAMCO failed to meet standard customer service responsibilities as well as professional mechanical responsibilities as a result in their delay in getting the truck into the shop in a timely fashion and then being hurried because of my move. I remember the first time I was in their shop. They have a newspaper clipping showing their AAMCO sign upside down. The story was that they were willing to stand on their heads for their customers. I was relieved to see that this was a good AAMCO and that I had nothing to worry about, especially after being assured by Jason that they would take care of me and that they were looking forward to working on the truck as it was unusual and out of the ordinary, so they would enjoy it as compared to the standard tranny fix. When I called to talk to them about the truck breaking down and then received attitude from Jason, I told him he should go take that clipping off the wall as I saw no extra effort from them, if anything, a lack of effort. He then got mad and told me he spent hours on the phone trying to find the missing parts and older pieces needed to repair the truck. My thought was, that is your job. How, by doing what you are being paid to do, are you going out of your way to help me? Did he expect me to hunt down my own parts? Is that how they do business there. There was a terrible lack of effort on their part to get my truck in the shop and fixed. At first it had to do with money, but that was supposedly fixed with a post-dated check. Apparently, my check did nothing, they did nothing, and it was not until I gave them $2000 in cash on 11/18 until they started working on it. We ran out of time, but they had the truck for nearly 5 weeks. Then, after trying to talk to them about it, I received terrible customer service and was basically told to [email protected]#K OFF! Not only is this incredibly offensive, but it should be an act resulting in termination like it is in every other business. In my mind, I paid AAMCO to make sure my truck was safe for my family to drive it across the country. In their mind, they were just taking my money to fix the easy and obvious things with as little effort as possible on their part. Their lack of consideration for my needs and requests is the total opposite of customer service. I feel as though I have been taken by one of those shady garages that could not care less about their customers. I have calmed down quite a bit since this originally happened. My original anger was that my family could have been killed and that the response from AAMCO was too bad, or it was my fault for letting them drive it. Not, thats terrible, what can we do to help? Like it should have been. And then talking about it in a civilized fashion instead of getting defensive and charging me with the fault, right or wrong. I truly believe that the fault here is with the Apopka AAMCO. The fact that Jason started lying immediately makes me even more suspicious. I just want my truck fixed, that is it. It is a classic that I was in the process of restoring, starting with its drivability, hence the AAMCO visit. This story is tragic, it sucks that it is my life, but things will get better. If I had my truck, they would get better, quicker. Please fix my truck, I hate to even think about junking it after the money I have put into it. That and I hate to think that AAMCO would screw me over like this after nearly two decades of my support to you, my recommendations to others to use you, and that you would allow this to happen. Merry Christmas Thomas Tempe, ArizonaU.S.A. Click here to read other Ripoff Scamss on Aamco Transmissions