An Auto Dealer Adventure in Tacloban, Philippines

Live and Learn…Again!

Several months ago, my wife and I were visiting up in Bataan Province where her sister lives and where we also have friends in and around the Subic Bay area. While there, we decided to buy a new car from Mitsubishi. We settled on a compact and sporty little G4 Mirage GLX. Dealing with car dealers here in the Philippines is nothing like haggling with car dealers in the U.S. …well, it’s a different kind of haggling anyway. Car dealers here offer a one price fits all kind of thing and you’d better be good at sales if you want them to throw in anything like floor mats or window tinting. And once they made the sale to us, there was never any urgency to get the deal done and get us out of their hair. For a while, I began thinking we were going to have to spend the night in the showroom because they were moving so slow getting everything ready. We ate up a better part of an entire day before we actually got in the car and drove off.

Because we live in Samar, it is impractical to drive all the way back to Subic Bay to have the car serviced, so we must make the 4 hour trip to Tacloban for scheduled maintenance and service. During our first trip down to the dealer in Tacloban, I walked up the steps where all the new models were sitting and then realized I was standing in what used to be the indoor showroom. Since all the glass and frames got blown out by Typhoon Yolanda, I was now standing in the “outdoor” showroom. Anyway, while getting the oil changed and serviced, we decided to order a rear spoiler for the car to make it look…well, bigger. It had to be ordered and would take two weeks to arrive from Manila.

2014 Mirage with Spoiler
2014 Mirage with Spoiler

Earlier this week we got a call that our spoiler came in and it was painted and ready to be installed. So, we packed up the car and headed to typhoon ravaged Tacloban for what was supposed to be a one-hour installation. Of course when we got there at around 11am, the technicians were all getting ready to head to lunch at 12 noon, and they would be back and ready to install our spoiler at 1pm. So with a couple of hours to kill, we headed to the Robinson’s Mall to pick up a few items and have lunch at Greenwich Pizza. About 2 o’clock we headed back to the dealer to pick up the car. As I stood in the waiting area, I could see the car out in the shop area with two guys standing there looking at the spoiler that had already been attached to the car. So I proceeded to walk into the shop and no sooner did I get through the door, the two technicians seen me coming and they immediately disappeared. As I stood there waiting for someone to return (they never did) I noticed a hole drilled in the roof of the car, in the top-center of the hatchback, just in front of the installed spoiler. I waited another 10 minutes for someone to show and I began to realize that nobody was coming back. NO BODY in their right mind was going to confront me. I bet I could have stood there for hours…by myself…until the dealership closed, and still nobody would have approached me. So I walked back into the office area and went directly to the service manager. After coercing him to come look at the car, he grudgingly followed me into the shop. When I pointed out the 1/4 inch hole drilled into the roof of the car, he literally just stood there, with jaw dropped, for 10 minutes and did not say a word. He was completely dumbfounded and did not know what to do, let alone what to say. By the look on his face I just knew this was an adventure in the making.

After the service manager gathered himself, he began walking around aimlessly, punching whatever onto his smart phone, but never talking to anyone. After a few more minutes, he approaches me and says “we will fix the hole.” I looked at him and said “how exactly are you going to do that?” and he replied, “it will take about two hours.” At this point, the wife comes strolling into the shop and I thought “here we go….let the fireworks begin!” As soon as she seen the glaring hole, I could see that the manager just wanted to run and hide. But he stood there like a man while she dished it out to him. She came down on him harder than monsoon rains in the middle of a typhoon! I must admit though, he handled it well, but now we both wanted to know what he was going to do. First I suggested that we would have to spend the overnight and that he offer us a hotel and meals for our inconvenience and he immediately suggested that we could cancel the spoiler and they would refund us our money. I thought for a few seconds and agreed saying “okay, we will just charge you for the repairs to the car, and our wasted day trip including gas and meals and time..” and he cut me off right there and said, “okay sir, we will fix the car completely, just give us two hours. After another 5 minutes on his smart phone, I noticed the brand new Cool Silver G4 Mirage from the showroom as it was backing into the shop. At this point I realized what they had to do to make this right. They were going to remove the entire hatchback from the new car and install it on our car. Wiring harness, window sticker, window tinting and all. What could I do..or say at this point. It was the only real option.

So the process began. As the 5 “technicians” worked feverishly on both vehicles, I asked one of them “where is the worker that drilled the holes in my car?” After a few quirky looks at and amongst each other, one guy replied “he’s not here!” I took that to mean the poor guy just vanished from his job out of embarrassment. Even the service manager couldn’t find him.

After completely dis-assembling and re-assembling the rear ends of both vehicles, and re-installing the rear spoiler (correctly this time), the rear window sticker and window tinting were re-applied. I just stood there and gazed at the other hatchback door, now with 5 drilled holes in it, and realized that this “patched-up and repaired” Mirage would eventually wind up back out on the showroom floor, offered to the first set of unknowing buyers that came along. Not my problem, I thought.

The Spoiler!
The Spoiler!

I learned one important thing out of all this. Well, maybe two things. First, I won’t take nothing for granted ever again with anyone who is referred to as a “technician” here in the Philippines. Second, I learned that supervising car dealership personnel in their duties guarantees good results and is relatively easy…as long as you do it with a smile! I mean after all, I had to come back here for future service and I did not need to make any enemies this day. I’m pretty sure they don’t want to see my Mrs. again though!

Now our Cool Silver G4 Mirage GLX, complete with correctly installed spoiler package, is back home safely parked in its covered resting place, ready to take us to our next adventure with slightly improved fuel mileage (kilometerage), wherever that may be.

8 thoughts on “An Auto Dealer Adventure in Tacloban, Philippines

  1. Randy;
    Something I learned from Raymond and Denny (Our salesman) you own the Mirage which is the hatchback, I have the G4 Mirage which is the sedan with a trunk, the running gear and everything else is the same, and my can’t have a spoiler because of that and that cause me to have large fits of jealousy.

  2. I was happy when Marie’s Montero went out warranty just recently. It really sucked spending half a day and a huge amount of money for an oil change. It turns out that the dealers oil has very little detergent. I suspected this because the oil stayed clean between changes. When I started using Delo Gold Ultra engine oil I had to change it after one month the first time because it removed a lot of carbon that the other oil did not. Her Montero has a diesel engine so it generates a lot of carbon that needs to be cleaned out by the oil. Now I pick up the oil and filter and bring it to a mechanic that was a classmate of Marie. he charges me 250p and has me done in about ten minutes. With labor I spend about 2k instead of 3500p and a hassle.

  3. Tell me! Having to use the dealer for servicing while under warranty just plain sucks. I would prefer to get my oil changed locally but would be worried that it could void my warranty. I haven’t even received my service book from the dealer in Pampanga yet! I did not know that about the detergent in the oil. I will have to read up on that.

  4. Sounds like an opportunity to me. I wonder if there are enough Mitsubishis around to support a dealership if one was available?

  5. There are no car dealers in Calbayog…well, except for that multi-cab company. A dealership would probably do well here…eventually.

  6. Seems to me there are more cars than ever in Calbayog. A sure sign of the growing economy and burgeoning middleclass, IMHO.

  7. I see more new cars than I did when I first got here just over one year ago. When I was driving around looking for that house you sent me, I discovered so much new construction going on. Now the big concrete beams are coming in daily by truck for the new Gaisano Mall.

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