Whoopsies and warranty claims

The author explains why honesty is the best policy when it comes to claiming warranty and she provides some insight into common mistakes that make your unit go boom

by Trish Drinkle

A man in a blue shop coat working on a snowmobile.
Pay heed to the unit care instructions given to you at the time of purchase to avoid mechanical failure in the future. Trish Drinkle photo

Honesty is the best policy, especially when dealing with your service department. How many times have they heard, “Oh no, I didn’t hit anything.”

Brace yourselves, people—here are some stories that will make you roll on the ground with laughter and give you some insight into why your service technician may be a little bit suspicious.

“Oh no, I didn’t hit anything”

A customer brought his banged-up Arctic Cat M1000 into the dealership. It had a kink in the tunnel. The customer insisted it was a mechanical failure that had caused the damage. He explained that as he was doing a simple hillclimb, the sled suddenly quit, then rolled down the hill, causing the kink in the tunnel.

The rest of the story: His buddies came in later to rat him out. Apparently, he was going mach chicken across a field when he collided with a clothesline. He ended up cartwheeling across the field, resulting in a kinked tunnel.

Whoops, did I do that?

A customer came in and requested that his snowmobile become jetted for the elevations between 4,000 and 7,000 feet. Carbureted sleds need specific jets for elevation to not only maximize performance but to prevent catastrophic engine failure. So the technicians did as the customer requested. Upon receiving his snowmobile back, he decided to go out for a rip. It blew up. He said he was trying to get up the mountain on the trail and it blew up.

Unfortunately for the customer, his severely intoxicated buddy gave the service department the rest of the story:

“Oh no, man, he wasn’t riding where he said he was. He was in a field—elevations way below 4,000 feet—and the sled blew up. He was wide open!”

Another example: When he pulled up, money was falling out of his pockets. Not necessarily what you would call a seasoned or experienced rider, he was a man with money and was ready to spend it. He wanted to purchase a turboed sled. Set to run at incredible speeds, this high-torqued machine was built for mountain climbing. Elevation also plays a part in this story.

The customer was given the orientation of the machine, and the importance of specific octane requirements and other care for this unique machine was carefully explained. He seemed more interested in the bling on his fingers and stuff hanging around his neck than hearing the instructions for his new turboed snowmobile.

Within a week, the customer was on the phone, screaming at the service and sales department: “I wasn’t doing anything!” Four minutes and the snowmobile blew up. They finally got the snowmobile into the shop. The ECU told a very different story of the events that occurred. It said he had rode this unit for 97 minutes.

Then it came out—he was racing on a lake, had used improper fuel and was fiddling with his fuel control box, something which he had absolutely no experience or education to do. 

Dirty, dirty, dirty

A customer brought in his KTM 150 SX, screaming that the dealership’s tech department was negligent and had caused his bike to blow.

So, the rest of the story: Air filters on a motocross bike must be oiled. This provides a membrane to limit dirt and other particulate matter from entering the combustion chamber. So, apparently this gentleman was servicing his bike. He washed the air filter and hung it to dry, then he put the bike back together. Unfortunately he forgot to put the air filter back in. Bike go boom!

Facebook bashing

This is probably the funniest situation for your service techs. Let's face it, the world is small, especially the world of motorsports. If someone bashes their dealership on Facebook, chances are they will read it. Whether it is customers ratting each other out, or a “Like” providing insight into the bashing, it’s bad news either way. Bad news, especially if you bring your unit in expecting preferential treatment, and a demo unit to bide your time with while your unit is being repaired. It happens more often than you’d think. Think before you type, or it will bite you in the butt. 

It's worth telling the truth

The service and warranty managers agree, honesty is always the best policy. They will work with you if you are honest. Let’s face it, after 40 years in the business, they’ve probably heard it all, and seen it all. Our service guy, Peter, was laughing so hard explaining to me how children can be the most comical tattletales. If you’re planning on lying, leave the kids at home, for they will bust you every time.

Honesty will get you a genuine effort from your service department, and every allowance possible, for trust is key to developing a long-term relationship in any situation.

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