>> Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Kia Corporate Office Headquarters
11 Peters Canyon Rd.
Irvine, CA 92606 USA
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing this letter to protest the pricing policy your company apparently has with regard to repairs.
On August 22, 2013, I took my 2007 Kia Spectra in to be repaired to the Family Kia dealership in Dickinson TX. I went because that the airbag light was on. I was perfectly aware of what was behind the problem (I am an engineer and can do research on the web) and that I would personally have no use whatsoever for the fix, since the switch is intended to protect children whose parents place them in the front seat so they aren’t injured by the airbag. As I would never do so with my children or allow anyone else to do so in my car, the switch is superfluous. I know this, but recognize why it’s necessary (I’m actually a safety engineer) and also that my safety inspection sticker, due in September, would require the problem to be addressed. I was expecting some level of extra surcharge for a switch likely worth a few tens of dollars (which I have since verified with research). I was expecting to pay a few hundred for the privilege since I have to have a Kia dealer fix it.
I was NOT expecting to be charged $1200, $1088 for the entire bottom seat assembly (which inexplicably must be replaced entire and unbelievably costs about 1/15 the original price of my car) and expected hundred or so for labor. Since it's a safety matter, I have no choice to get it fixed and no choice but to use a dealership.
Which of course provides the rationale for the monstrously overpriced part I have to have for my fully functional car. I have no choice so your company has chosen to use that monopoly to gouge me shamefully for a ridiculously high profit, taking advantage of a safety regulation for your own enrichment.
While I can accept this behavior to a reasonable level, this clearly goes beyond all reason into the fantastical, insulting, and reprehensible. Effectively swindling, with perfect legality, even those who are well aware they are being cheated does not sit well with me. More so, in that I can do nothing to prevent it. Not only did I have no choice but to accept the unreasonable offer, but I left empty-handed (having ordered the ridiculously priced part) and am still awaiting notification that it has come in (I’ve been waiting for 13 days so far for the part that should come in in about a week) so I can have it installed for the quite reasonable labor charge (or at least that’s theory).
I’m a single mother of two special needs children. Fortunately for me, I’m a professional making a good salary and can weather this kind of financial impact, though not entirely painlessly. But my children will have to wait longer for a cedar playset in the back yard. I will not have to wonder how I’ll make the house payment or get my children the medicines they need. No one will go hungry. But, someone, who might be attracted to the relatively low prices for family friendly cars as I was might be devastated by a sudden intractable bill for more than thousand dollars. I’m outraged on their behalf as well as my own.
I am thoroughly disgusted. It doesn’t matter at all that other car manufacturers likely have similar policies. I have not run into this level of price gouging before and, if I did, I would cease all business with them as well. I cannot condone such practices and, although I cannot prevent the fact I’ve already been gouged (but not yet repaired), I can make damn sure it doesn’t happen again.
So, though I have no choice but to fix my car, you can be assured I will never buy any Kia or Hyundai vehicle again nor work with a dealership that sells them. That may not be much of a threat, but I’m letting you know because I’m unlikely to be the only one to have that reaction. While gouging someone because you can is good short term strategy, I maintain it is bad in the long run. Two weeks ago, with a seven year old car (less than 60K miles) that had virtually no functional issues except for a few little blips handled early, I would have been the first to recommend, with gusto, my Kia or something similar to a friend or family member. I shall now be just as vehement to recommend against it (and have already convinced one friend not to purchase a Kia).
Because what I buy next and into perpetuity, what I tell my friends who respect my opinion, is within my control. Your practices have lost you what would have been a very loyal customer.
I don’t expect my opinion to make any difference to you or to have any effect on your practices. But I thought I would give you the opportunity. Most people I know, they’ll just never have dealings with you again without a word.
Note that I’m also posting this letter openly on my blog and passing it along to as many layers in the Kia organization as I can manage.
Have a nice day.
I think that says it all