PHEV Dilemma and Shitty Ford Customer Service

June 14th, 2023 by Potato

[Let’s just skip the part where I’ve been AWOL for practically a whole year, I honestly can’t believe I missed that much time and I’ll catch you up on the continued suckitude later]

On the car question, I last left you with this post on the decision. I did indeed wait until the spring, and ordered a Ford Escape PHEV in April of 2022.

It took way longer than the 6-8 months we were told to expect, and in October of 2022 Ford made the call that they wouldn’t get some of the 2022 orders built before the roll-over to the 2023 model year. So my dealer rolled my order over — I had to go in and confirm the colour choices. I only had one question “I’m still price protected, right? I’m in no hurry, so you guys could build it as a 2024 for all I care as long as I still get the 2022 price.” “Yes, it’s price protected” my salesperson said — but I unfortunately didn’t get that in writing.

Finally after 13 months my Escape PHEV arrived at the dealer.

That was a month ago. It sat there for a week while we waited for the one guy who can appraise a trade-in to be on-site, and then I brought my Prius in for him to look at. They offered 1/3 of what it’s worth (and I’m not talking private market sale — I had an two offers from dealers that were ~3X what Ford offered). So whatever, I won’t do a trade-in, just a straight-up purchase of the car I ordered, and sell the Prius separately. Then they needed some more time to figure out what the price actually was, because there was supposed to be price protection on my order, and Ford had gone through several cycles of price hikes in the prior 13 months.

Finally they get back to me with a number… and it’s ~$3600 +tax more than we agreed to when I ordered the car in April of 2022. I simply said “isn’t this supposed be price protected? Here’s a copy of the yellow order sheet I signed, showing the price comes to [price].” They said oh yeah, there is supposed to be price protection, that’s long been Ford’s policy, we’ll call them and get back to you.

Weeks have gone by since. For various reasons, Ford didn’t get back to them, or the manager was out of the office, or they can’t find the adjustment in the system. It’s now a full month since my Escape arrived from the factory and I still don’t have it — they still think I have to pay $3600 (+tax!) more because that’s what the system shows, which is price protection back to the time the order rolled over to a 2023 model, but not back to when I ordered it.

I’ve called Ford’s customer support line, but they said they can’t help and anything to do with orders has to go through the dealer. I’ve tried Tweeting at them with no reply yet.

I’m sympathetic to the dealer here — Ford was the one who took more orders than they could make and/or fell behind on production, so it’s up to them to honour the price. And it seems from what little I can see on the outside that there is a system to do that automatically, but it’s not set up for orders that span model years. But I’m the customer, it shouldn’t be this hard/take this long/be up to me to try to publicly shame Ford into sorting this out (as one forum user put it, “Not your circus, not your clowns”) — the dealer and the manufacturer should be able to sort this out invisibly behind the scenes. Ford had my order in hand in April of 2022, and closed new orders not too long after. They had all summer and fall to get parts for the backlog of PHEVs and hybrids. It was probably only a few days worth of production that ended up rolling over like mine (AFAIK, all gas-only orders got built as 2022s), so they should have just extended the run until those orders were filled, rather than stopping production in November of 2022 to roll over to the 2023 model (which was plagued by start-up problems and didn’t really get moving until March of 2023).

But while it’s shitty customer service that led to this situation, this is where we are. So, dear readers (those of you who are left), it looks like I’m faced with a dilemma. I’m being asked to pay ~$3600 +tax more than I expected or agreed to (or about 8% more), after the adjustment. I’m angry about that. But walking away only helps the dealer: they can sell it for several thousand more (the adjustment that is there plus likely a mark-up because people who don’t want to wait for a plug-in will pay it).
Darth Vader saying I have altered the deal, etc. Taken from and credit to Know Your Meme
And there aren’t really any other options, other than continuing to drive the 2010 Prius into the ground. I dislike Toyota’s redesign of the Prius, and the Rav4 Prime is sold out through to the end of its production run. Any alternative involves paying even more and likely waiting another few years just because of where the car market is now.

So on the one hand, walking away doesn’t seem to be a very viable option. Plus there’s the risk they’d keep my deposit — I should get my deposit back given how easily they’ll resell it and that I have a good reason for walking, but you never know.

On the other, part of why I was going to pay up for a new car is the joy of the experience, and that’s going to be tainted by these shenanigans now. Whenever someone asks me about my new Escape for the next few years, I won’t be gushing “oh yes, I do over 90% of my driving completely on electric!” or “check out the heads-up display!” or whatever, I’ll be going “eh, it does the job, but Ford screwed me out of four thousand bucks for the privilege of waiting longer through their production screw-ups so I can’t exactly recommend one.”

Anyway, after letting the blog lie fallow for so long I doubt anyone is going to read this before I just accept this situation and go close the deal on the car, but I welcome any comments below.

Update: I paid the extra and picked the Escape up.

6 Responses to “PHEV Dilemma and Shitty Ford Customer Service”

  1. Netbug Says:

    If you have anywhere at all that it’s price protected and you have all other documentation (as I know you will), take them to small claims court.

  2. Michael James Says:

    Maybe try getting some advice from Ellen Roseman.

  3. Drew Says:

    Sorry to hear about your lousy experience with Ford, sounds incredibly frustrating.

  4. Potato Says:

    They didn’t give me a single scrap of paper in the fall when the order rolled over to a 2023, so all my docs are for a “2022 Titanium” which is not a thing any more. Of course they complicated it by not only changing the model year but also re-naming all their trim levels at that point! So that adds to my screwedness.

  5. Preet Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your situation with Ford/this dealership. With vehicles being so similar across manufacturers (at least in my mind), the customer service and relationships are one real competitive differentiator, and a potential risk for their businesses if they get it wrong – which they have in this case. As a friend of mine who works with automotive dealers has said before, Tesla’s direct to consumer model might urge other manufacturers to reconsider the dealer intermediary models in the future. Don’t know if that would have helped in this case, but hopefully that would lead to less passing the buck around bullshit.

  6. Potato Says:

    Thanks Preet. Though the direct model might work better as a model, Tesla’s not exactly a beacon of customer service, either… (I was going to say I felt “Musked” by the experience)