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Good news at end of headlight tunnel



Updated: November 6, 2012 6:34AM

Dear Fixer: I divide my time between Orland Park and Las Vegas. My problem began back in October 2011, when the high beam/DRL bulbs went out on my 2008 Toyota Avalon. My car had 62,447 miles on it at the time.

I had this fixed on Oct. 6 at a local Toyota dealer in suburban Chicago. The cost was $161.46.

After I got it fixed, I received a “warranty enhancement notice” pertaining to high beam/DRL bulbs. It said that if the consumer had already had repairs done, they could apply to get their money back.

I did, and I received a check from Toyota for $161.46.

Now comes the problem. In the spring of this year, I was in Las Vegas and by now, my car had over 91,000 miles. I had the same problem with the lights.

So I looked at the warranty enhancement notice and saw that it applies for 72,000 miles or five years from the date of first use, whichever occurs first. It said, “If the vehicle’s High Beam/DRL Bulb(s) becomes inoperative during the warranty extension coverage, any authorized Toyota dealer will replace the driver and passenger bulb housing assemblies. The new assemblies contain a different type of bulb.”

The dealer I went to in October 2011 did not do this. They only put in the same bulbs. This was when the car still had 62,447 miles on it — under the 72,000 miles specified.

I went to a different Toyota dealer in Las Vegas. They said it would cost over $2,600 for the assemblies and bulbs (the bulbs are in the assemblies). So I made more phone calls and sent faxes, all while being unable to drive at night.

Finally, the manager of the service department was able to get a district manager to agree to only charge me for the labor and Toyota would supply the parts. That left me paying labor charges of $243.89.

I paid it so I could get the lights fixed, but I feel that Toyota should reimburse me for the $243.89 because if the first dealership would have installed the assemblies the first time, I would not have had the second problem.

The corporate office did offer me a $100 coupon, but I would have to submit all my bills to get it, and I really think I should get the labor charge refunded.

James Utz, Orland Park

Dear James: The Fixer could see your point right away. Like you said, if this repair had been done right the first time, you would not be in this situation.

But after so many years of hearing stories of unresponsive corporations, we weren’t quite sure if your point would be heard.

Well, we have happy news to report: Customer service is not dead!

We got this to Curt McAllister in Toyota’s corporate communications, who took it to the customer relations folks here in the Chicago area. They agreed with you, and are sending you a check for the $243.89.

They’ve also given us their phone number in case you need to follow up.

More election season scams

As if it weren’t enough to sift through the claims and counter-claims of various politicians, now voters have to worry about scammers taking advantage of them.

In our last column, we told you about the robo-calls people were getting in which they were asked to take a political survey in exchange for a “free cruise” (they were asked to provide a credit card for supposed port fees and taxes).

Now comes word that other scam artists are calling and emailing voters, saying they are election officials who need to verify the person’s voter registration. They ask for a Social Security number or financial information —which you can bet will be used for identity theft.

Even those who want to donate to their favorite political party need to be careful: ABC News reported last month that a Massachusetts man had put up two similar websites, one for Democrats and one for Republicans. Both had a prominent “DONATE” button people could click to send money — except the funds were going to him, not to the candidates’ campaigns.

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