Giving Praise When Praise Is Due: Delta Airlines and Toyota of San Diego

by on August 14, 2014 · 6 comments

in San Diego, The Widder Curry

Photos from the car auction. “Notice the skids,” says Judi.

Delta Airlines

For the past ten years I have not flown anywhere. I think flying everyday when my husband was in training for Ma Bell in Los Angeles and my working in San Diego – good old PSA – took its toll on me. When I was transferred to Maine I found that I was still doing a lot of flying, and, quite frankly, didn’t like the small commuter planes I had to take from Maine to Boston for various conferences, conventions, etc. When we returned to California and finally San Diego, I could not fathom flying anymore and decided to either take trains or drive.

My daughter lived in North Park at the time of the PSA airplane crash and for years I had nightmares about not being able to find her for 6 hours after the crash. (She was attending classes at SDSU and didn’t even know about the crash. Obviously there were no cell phones then!)

One trip that the entire family took to the Yucatan, Mexico City and Guadalajara was a real nightmare in that we took off from Tijuana and in our return found out that due to a bad storm the instrument landing that would have been used was not operable. After attempting to land 3 times we finally landed in San Diego and, to make a long story short, returned to TJ to get our car by bus. There had not been any reason to leave San Diego for the past ten years and I was content to stay home.

And then I met “Cowboy.” I have already written about meeting him; his trip to San Diego and my subsequent trip to North Dakota. If you do not remember I am a native Californian. Born and raised in Los Angeles. A farm (or ranch) was something you visited on a field trip in elementary school. But I was intrigued by Cowboy’s tales of his calves, goats, ponies, horses, etc. and when he needed surgery it was a natural to fly to North Dakota and help him with his recovery.

auction widrcurry 03But… that meant I had to get on a plane. I can’t tell you how many anguishing hours I spent going over the “airplane scenario” in my mind. And I always remembered the PSA crash; the horrible landing from Mexico. But the urge was too strong to stay at home, and donning my new western shirt and boots, I made my reservation – with reservations I might add – to visit the ranch.

And you know what? It was nothing like I remembered it. The plane ride was smooth; the flight attendants were helpful, and I enjoyed the entire experience. And, as luck would have it the flight that I was to board to return to San Diego had mechanical problems and the flight was cancelled. That gave me one more day to learn about ranching.

In fact, I had so much fun, that when it was time for Cowboy to return to the doctor for a follow-up on his surgery, I made reservations to fly back and go with him to the doctor. And I had no feelings of anxiety this time.

A few days before I was to leave San Diego for North Dakota, Cowboy told me he would like to attend an old car auction in another city in Minnesota. “What fun”, I thought and decided to try and stay another day. I called Delta to change my reservation and was told that the fee would be $125. Hell, I wasn’t going to buy a car; just wanted the experience. I told the woman I spoke to that I couldn’t afford it. I was bummed because it was something I really wanted to do and if I had known about it before hand I would have made a reservation for the following day.

She put me on hold for a moment and when she came back she told me she had talked to her Supervisor and they were going to allow me to change my ticket for a very – and I mean very – minimal price. She said that it doesn’t happen very often that someone in my circumstances wants to change a ticket to attend a car auction, and since the flight the next day had several opened seats, I could make the change. I thanked her profusely; called Cowboy and told him I was going with him; and thanked Delta Air Lines for putting a human touch on their services.

(The auction was a blast. I almost bid on a little toy car for my great-grandson, but realized it would sell for more than I could pay for it, and there would be a problem getting it back to him in Australia!)

As I made my reservation for my upcoming trip to North Dakota later next week – this time to go to a horse auction where Cowboy will be selling some of his herd – I reiterated to the reservationist the wonderful experience I had her company, and was so thankful that I was flying her airline. Check out Delta if you have to fly somewhere. They were so accommodating for me.

And today I had another wonderful experience with:

Toyota of San Diego

On March 31, 2012, I purchased my first new car. My 1996 Mercury Sable Wagon hit 180,000 miles and was beginning to need a lot of repair. After checking Consumer’s Reports and checking with a variety of people, I decided that I wanted to purchase a Toyota. I really wanted a convertible, but Buddy, my Golden Retriever, was having hip problems and he could not get over the seat belt in the back, so I settled for a Camry. Funny thing was that he couldn’t get over that seat belt either!

After the first 6 months I received reminder notices to bring the car in for its 5000 mile check-up. It was really a laugh because after 6 months I still didn’t have 3000 miles on it. But I did take it in at 5000 miles, which was only a day short of its 10,000 check. Yeah, I don’t drive a lot. And, of course, I have now been receiving notices to bring it back for its 15,000 check. I waited, and waited, and on the day I hit 10,000 miles I took it in for the maintenance required.

auction widrcurry 01

Judi says: “I’m so glad I stayed.”

There were several things I wanted checked; the blue-tooth was not connecting properly, and the security switch that I had added after I bought the car did not work correctly. As far as I know, the maintenance was completed without any problem but when the car was ready for pick-up, the service man I was dealing with told me to go sit in my car and the blue-tooth representative would come out to meet me and work with me on the connectivity issue. It was 92 degrees that day; I waited 15 minutes and then I left. I also found that the trunk lid still would not open as it was supposed to do.

Two days later I received an evaluation email, asking me to rate their service. And rate it I did. I stated that I would NEVER bring the car back to them; that my time is more valuable than to sit in a hot car while waiting for a representative that never showed up; that it was all well and good to tell me that the trunk worked when, in fact, it didn’t.

Two days later I received a call from “Trisha”, the customer service representative, asking me about my evaluation. I was upset the day she called anyway, because in backing out of a friend’s yard I hit my right back fender on her fence and put a dent in the car and scratched it all up. I reiterated that I would not be bringing the car back to her location; there were other Toyota dealers that I could go to that cared about their customers.

She was very friendly; we talked about the poor service, and she asked me, as a “favor” to her, to bring the car back and have the blue-tooth looked at as well as have the security feature worked on. And, as a caveat, she said that they would look at the dented fender and see if there was anything they could do about it. I relented and took the car in today.

I had made an appointment to meet with Trisha, and she was there to greet me. She was very apologetic and called in Matt, the used car service manager to work with us in taking care of the problems. Matt called in several people to work with me; his service man that worked on the security system; another person that worked with me on the blue-tooth, and the most exciting of all was the service person that would work on the dent and scratches to my fender. Trisha stayed with us the entire time. (By the way, she is delightful. She was truly concerned about the experience I had, and when I returned to pick up my car she was also there.)

Matt gave me a price on fixing the fender in the least expensive way; and believe me when I say it was inexpensive for the damage caused. Trisha and Matt had the blue-tooth and security feature fixed at no charge. I was told it would take about 4 hours to do the cosmetic work, and I took the shuttle back home. Steve, the driver, had driven me two weeks ago, and we discussed a variety of topics on the ride to Pt. Loma.

When the car was completed, Trisha called me and said that you could still see some of the white streaks on the car, but that the dent was gone and it was painted. When Steve returned me to the dealership I was amazed at the workmanship shown. Yes, one can still see the scratches in places, but Matt told me the paint was still wet and if I would bring it in later they would buff it again, and repaint the area where you could see the scratches. And the best part of the entire experience? It did not cost as much as I thought it would cost and it looks fine to my eye. And I was given a telephone number of the person repairing the security system and was told that if I ever have trouble again just to call the number and they would come out to me to fix it properly.

Instead of saying “NEVER” to bringing the car back to Toyota of San Diego, there is no question that it will be returned there every time I get a reminder notice of maintenance due. Their customer concern; the apology; the free coffee all made the experience a good one. It is too bad that was not the original experience, but as far as I am concerned, they rectified the mistake. As I used to tell my students – “you are entitled to one mistake a year”. This was theirs and they handled it beautifully. Thank you, Trisha and Matt.H

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan August 14, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Judi, great article. And I bet your service will stay great at Toyota of San Diego. They’ll be afraid that you will write badly about them. Ah, is this a power of the press?


Debbie August 14, 2014 at 10:11 pm

A company which can admit they made a mistake, then make things right and be sincere about it ….is a good company. One can’t be perfect every time but letting customers know they are important is what every business should do if they want to succeed.

Glad it all turned out well for you. Will “Cowboy” come out your way and get rid of that moocher at your place? assuming he’s healed and ready to protect his lady :-)


judi curry August 14, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Hi Debbie. I wish that Cowboy would come out and get rid of the parasite, but he is pretty wrapped up in running his ranch. But there are some great people in OB that have offered me their services.

BTW – got a thank you from Toyota for the article!


Zach on the side August 15, 2014 at 2:10 am

What tickles me is that, through all your meanderings, you make friends all over the place!


judi curry August 15, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Funny, then, that sometimes I feel so lonely! Oh well…..


judi curry August 15, 2014 at 8:31 pm

One more caveat for Toyota. The first time I used the trunk security system after picking up the car from them, the trunk wouldn’t open. I let Tricia know, and her response to me was: “If that trunk opener continues to give you trouble, I will have them put a brand new one in….”

More than I expected from a dealership!


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