Northtown Volkswagen – horrible service

Back in August, I took my POS VW Jetta back to the dealership where I bought it, Northtown Volkswagen at 1135 Millersport Highway in Amherst, New York, to have the ignition replaced.

When I took the vehicle in, other than the problems with the ignition and the non-functioning 12v power adapters, the car was working normally.

When I picked the vehicle up on the weekend (and I apologize, I don’t remember how long it was at the dealership, but it was at least a few days), the ignition was working fine.  I realized pretty quickly that, when I locked the car with the remote, it didn’t honk.  I didn’t know if maybe when they programmed the new key they changed something so it wouldn’t honk.  No big deal, I’ll ask about it next week.

Then I’m driving and hit the button for cruise control, when I realize that the cruise control didn’t set.  I tried a few more times, tried turning cruise off and back on, nothing.  On a hunch, I tried to honk the horn–nope.  No horn.

Okay.  So my horn doesn’t work and my cruise doesn’t work.  Well, the horn and cruise are in the steering column and they were just working on the steering column, so they probably just disconnected a couple of wires or something.  I’ll call on Monday.

At this point, I’m like, hmmmm, I wonder….  And proceed to plug in my phone charger.  Success!!  The 12v power adapter works for the first time!  So obviously they did something other than the intended work, because two things don’t work anymore and one thing magically does work.

On Monday, I call the dealership.  I was very nice about it, just “hey, I had my car in to get the ignition replaced and I picked it up over the weekend and the horn and cruise control aren’t working.  No big deal, just wondering when I can bring it in to get it fixed?”  They had me bring it in on Thursday.

Thursday I get there, meet the service manager I’d been dealing with, and explain to him what was going on.  I said “so I don’t have to pay for this, right?  Since something happened when the ignition replaced…”  He waffled and said they’d have to look and see.

I go hang out in the waiting room, no worries at all, and then about an hour later the service manager comes out and explains to me that the horn itself (located under the hood) is broken, and that the switch for the cruise control is broken.  It’s nothing that the dealership did, it’s not their fault.  It’s just a coincidence that two things in the steering column break at the same time the dealership is working on the steering column.  Then he informs me that it will cost me $552 to repair the horn and cruise control.  At which point I’m like “are you effing kidding me?”  But alas, no, he was not effing kidding me.  I tell him there’s no way I’m paying $552 to fix my car which they broke and leave.

Look at it logically:  I take my car in to get the ignition replaced.  When I drop the car off, the horn and cruise control are working.  The 12v adapter is not.  When I pick the car up, the horn and cruise control are not working.  The 12v adapter is.  There are two possibilities here:  1.  While the car was at the dealership, the horn and cruise control both broke and the 12v adapter started working, all without any human interference.  2.  While the car was at the dealership, a mechanic bumped some wires or a connection and caused the horn and cruise control to stop working, while simultaneously causing the 12v adapter to start working.  Which do you find more likely?

Now here’s the kicker….  On Thursday, I was told it would cost $552 to fix my cruise control and horn.  On Saturday, I locked my car and the horn honked.  On Thursday (one week later), I turned the cruise control off and back on, then pushed the set button.  Cruise control set.  So the parts of my car that were really and truly broken and would cost $552 to fix ended up fixing themselves, free of charge, in a week.

Obviously Northtown Volkswagen screwed up.  I don’t know if their mechanics are so incompetent that they couldn’t figure out what they did and how to fix it, or if they are so dishonest that they can’t accept responsibility for their mistakes and instead try to rob their customers.  Either way, it’s absolutely unacceptable.

They’ve lost a customer for life.  I had been happy with the service I got and, while I would never buy another VW, I would have gone to another Northtown Auto Group dealership for my next vehicle.  Not anymore.  I will not deal with a company so obviously lacking in honesty, integrity, and decency.

Katie Fox of Volkswagen Group of America is a liar.

Yes, Volkswagen employs liars.

On Friday, August 23 I spoke with Katie Fox from Volkswagen.  While explaining why they would be doing nothing about the situation, she informed me that they do occasionally offer goodwill assistance and several factors are considered, including maintenance (or something like that).

Me:  I’ve done all my maintenance.

KF:  Where?

Me:  [Dealership], where I bought it.

KF:  I spoke to M at [dealership] and he said you have not been in since your 30,000 mile service.

Me:  No, I have been in for the 40,000 and 50,000 mile services.

KF:  Well, M said you haven’t had anything since the 30,000 mile service.

Me:  Then he lied to you and I will be having words with M and finding out why he’s telling you that I have not been in since the 30,000 mile service.


Fast forward to about 30 minutes after I got off the phone with Ms. Fox, M from the dealership called….

Me:  So, I understand that you’ve been lying to Volkswagen about me?

M:  What?

Me:  You told Volkswagen that I have not been in since my 30,000 mile service?  I have been in for the 40,000 and 50,000 mile services. Why did you tell Volkswagen that I haven’t been getting my service done?
M:  I did not tell her that, I told her that you’ve been in for the 40,000 and 50,000; you might not have gotten everything done, but you have been getting the service done.


I have been in regular contact with the folks at the dealership, so I have no reason to think M told me anything but the truth.  There would be no reason for him to lie to either Volkswagen or me.

I find it absolutely appalling that VW employs someone who blatantly lies to customers, and one whose lies make the dealership look bad.

Also, Ms. Fox is apparently unfamiliar with the concept of loyalty.  According to Ms. Fox, another reason I do not deserve goodwill assistance is because I am not loyal to the brand.


Ms. Fox, VW…. this car was my first Volkswagen.  How could I possibly be loyal to a brand that has caused me nothing but trouble?  Are you genuinely unaware that loyalty is something that must be earned?  The first time I contacted VW regarding my problems, they refused to offer any sort of assistance.


I can only assume that Volkswagen wants its customers to behave like battered women, loyal and loving to a partner who does not deserve it.  They sell a lemon, refuse assistance, and then complain that the customer is not loyal.  Who would be loyal?

Volkswagen: Building illogical clunkers for way too long.

When POS Jetta ran out of gas, it continued to use battery until that died too.  What does this mean?

Well, the thing that’s really pissing me off right now is that no battery = no trunk release.  And because Volkswagen believes in making things as stupid and useless as possible, there is no key hole at the trunk.  The trunk can be opened one of three ways:  1.  Using the trunk release on the remote.  2.  Using power locks to unlock all doors, then using the press latch above the license plate (I have no idea what that is called, but you know what I mean).  3.  Using the trunk release inside the driver side door.

You know what all three of these methods require?  Battery power.  You know what I don’t have?  Battery power.

(I know there is probably some way to get in through the back seat, but there’s no reason for it to be that difficult.  There really needs to be a way to open the trunk which does not require power.)

There’s another problem with moronic VW’s car design…  Only the driver side door has a key hole for manual locking and unlocking.  In order to open the other doors, I have to crawl around to open them from the inside.  Okay, fine, I can deal with that.

You know where the real Volkswagen idiocy comes in?  There is no way to lock the doors without power.  The driver door can be locked with the key.  The other doors?  Nope.  You know how cars built by people who are not incredibly stupid have little switches that can be pressed or flipped or whatever to manually lock the door?  Not the VW Jetta!  If you don’t have battery power, you have absolutely no way to lock your car.

It’s both moronic and ironic.  I can’t get into my trunk.  I can’t keep anyone out of the rest of the car.

Very impressive, Volkswagen.  I don’t think I could come up with so many ways to screw over car owners.  If only you would use your creativity* for good instead of evil.

*I have to assume that this is indeed creativity, because surely–surely!–a company cannot be owned by and employ so many incredibly stupid people.  There can’t be that many idiots in the world, can there?

Emails between VW Customer “Care” and myself

As previously mentioned, I contacted VW in July regarding my broken key issue.  I do not have a copy of that email, but it was a summary of the problems with the ignition/keys and the 12v adapters.  I was naive enough to think that VW might actually, you know, do something about the problem with the car they made.

VW’s response to my first contact:

Dear Ms.,

Your Jetta was built to last, and I apologize that you are experiencing concerns with the ignition sticking.

We appreciate that you have taken the time to reach out to us, and make us aware of the concerns with your key breaking off in the ignition.

I understand you are requesting assistance with the cost of the repair. Volkswagen considers all requests for assistance with a repair outside of warranty on a case by case basis.

I have had the opportunity to research your request. The Jetta is 18,000 miles outside of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty. Volkswagen is unable to assist with the cost of the repair. I apologize, as I know that this decision does not meet your expectations.

We look for every opportunity to assist our customers. If you would like, we can follow up with the VW dealership on the diagnosis for the 12v charger, and work with the dealer to ensure all of our technical resources are being utilized for both repairs.

If you need help locating your nearest dealer, you can do that here:

If you’d like us to follow up on your diagnosis and repairs, please reply to this email with the name of your servicing dealership and your appointment date.


Kathleen H.

Customer CARE Advocate


I did not initially reply to this email, as Volkswagen had made it clear they had no intention of fixing their mistakes.

When the car decided that shifting was optional, I did respond with this:

Hi Kathleen,

I appreciate your sense of humor by starting off your reply with a joke (“your Jetta was built to last”), but unfortunately the situation is beyond humor.  My 1996 Chevrolet Silverado had fewer problems than this Jetta–it made it to well over 100,000 miles before requiring any significant repairs.  It could be argued that the Jetta will certainly last if it cannot turn on and be driven, but that’s rather deceitful, don’t you think?  My paycheck would last if I didn’t have to use it.

I would also like to make you aware of a new issue that has arisen.  On Sunday, I left home.  After about a mile, I realized that the engine didn’t sound right and the tachometer was holding rather high.  Apparently, the Jetta decided that 3rd gear was sufficient for everything–stopping, accelerating, going 50mph, etc.  It would not shift, nor would it allow me to shift.  I had to stop the vehicle, turn it off, and turn it back on (always a hassle, given that turning the key requires a complicated dance of holding pliers in one hand and contorting my other arm so the remote portion of the key can be held against the ignition).  The same thing happened yesterday, although I realized what was happening almost at once.

On the bright side, this vehicle will prevent me from becoming a bank robber–a skateboard would make a more efficient getaway vehicle.  Can you imagine trying to make a quick exit in a car that requires two hands and total concentration to turn on, and which periodically goes on shifting strike?  And on top of that, the car is theft-proof!  A car thief would likely sue me for emotional distress caused by the trauma trying to make this car work.

I’m almost impressed by how many problems this car has.  Bravo, Volkswagen!  You must have worked very hard to build a car that is so incredibly terrible.

Bottom line:  This car is a piece of crap.  I will not pay a cent to fix what should never have broken.  Volkswagen obviously does not stand behind their product.  Fine, that’s their choice.  My relentless campaign to make sure that anyone who considers buying a Volkswagen is aware that they might as well burn their money is my choice.  To paraphrase William Congreve, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned by the manufacturer of her lemon car.”

To which I received this response:

Dear Ms.,

Thank you for your response, I’m sorry to hear you are now experiencing shifting concerns.


The Powertrain Limited Warranty covers the engine, transmission, drivetrain, and related seals and gaskets for a period of 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever occurs first, for manufacturer’s shortcomings in materials and workmanship, from the in service date of 6/30/2011.


Due to the nature of your concerns, I recommend making an appointment at your local dealership.  It is difficult to make proper repair recommendations without being able to take a good look at your Jetta.


Once the dealership has properly diagnosed the concern, they will be in the best position to determine if any repairs that may be necessary are covered under the Powertrain Limited Warranty.


If you need help locating your local dealer, you can locate a dealer here:


We’d like the opportunity to follow up on your diagnosis and repairs. If you’d like for us to do that, please reply to this email with the name of your servicing dealership and your appointment date.


I look forward to hearing from you.



Kathleen H.

Customer CARE Advocate


My reply:


True to form, the Jetta decided that temporarily malfunctioning wasn’t sufficient.  When I turned the car on last night, it was not displaying what gear I was in.  Instead, it lit up the engine light and the wrench symbol by the odometer.  Apparently displaying the gear was too much trouble, on top of the engine light and wrench symbol.  It can only put forth so much effort, and coming up with new things to break requires a lot of work. Once in drive, the car would not shift gears.  I don’t know what gear it was in, as Jetta seems to feel that is confidential information.  I’m assuming it was stuck in 3rd, as that’s what it’s been getting stuck in.  On the one hand, I find it unlikely that the car would bother to pick a new gear; on the other hand, I wouldn’t put it past Jetta to screw up as frequently and as variably as possible.  I had a fun drive home, going 25mph in 55mph zones to keep the tachometer from going into the red zone.  Thankfully it was fairly late, so I didn’t have a hoard of angry drivers honking at me.  (Don’t tell Jetta I said that, it’ll make sure it breaks at a more inconvenient time next time.)

I woke up a couple hours earlier than normal so I could get the car to the dealership as soon as they opened.  It was shifting, but the bad lights are still on and the gear light is still off.

So now I’m driving a loaner (yay!  a car that is not a VW!!!) until the dealership is able to figure out what is wrong.  This had better be covered under warranty, or I will be very displeased.  Lucifer will tremble in the wake of my fury.  Because contrary to Volkswagen’s belief, vehicles that are 2 years (and 1 month and 1 day) in use should not break. On the bright side, it was rather entertaining to watch someone else try to start the vehicle.  Hey, that’s an idea–I should bring the car to Volkswagen’s headquarters and ask the head of the company to start it.  If s/he is able to start the car on the first try, I’ll go away.  If not, I get a new car that’s not a useless piece of crap.

The junker is at [dealership] in [city], New York.  I would be more than happy to the scrap the vehicle if that would be easier, because I know how much VW likes doing things the easy way.  Just let me know so I can get my things out.


Volkswagen Sucks: Part 4

Yesterday–Sunday, August 18, 2013–I went to work.  I pulled in, parked, and shut the car off.  Correction:  I attempted to shut the car off.  The key was stuck in the ignition and it would not turn back to shut the car off.  I spent several minutes with my pliers attempting to wiggle and cajole the key into turning without luck.  I had two more people try and fail to turn the car off.

As I had less than 1/4 of a tank of gas, I couldn’t leave it idling for several hours while I did my work, so I took it home and borrowed my parents’ spare vehicle.  I left it at about 7PM.  At some point between 2AM and 8AM, the car finally ran out of gas and turned off.

Now comes the fun stuff.  Trying to get the useless piece of crap to the dealership.  I can turn the key forward, so maybe if I put in some gas and get a jump it will be possible to get it started.

I have been in contact with Volkswagen and have made my expectation clear:  Fix this problem.  I do not hold out much hope, however, hence this website.

Volkswagen Sucks: Part 3

On Sunday, July 28, 2013, I started the car and went to work.  A mile down the road, I realized the car didn’t sound right and the tachometer was showing pretty high RPMs.  Car has that feature where you can manually shift… when it’s in drive, if you push the shifter to the side, it shows what gear you’re in (1 through 6); if you push it forward it shifts up a gear, if you pull it back it shifts down a gear.  So I pushed the shifter to the side to see what gear it was in… 3rd.  Tried pushing forward and pulling back to make it shift… nope.  3rd gear.  Period.

I pulled over, parked, and turned the car off and back on, at which point it shifted normally.

Monday, July 29, 2013, the car started off the day normally.  I made a stop on the way home.  When I turned the car back on, I quickly realized it was stuck in 3rd.  Turned it off and on, back to normal.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013, the car was working fine, but I called the dealership to set up a service appointment for Friday because obviously something is not right.  I made a stop about 7 miles from home.  Upon turning the car back on, the check engine light was on, as well as the wrench symbol that means it needs service.  You know what wasn’t showing?  The gear.  Didn’t show Park, Reverse, Drive, nothing.  It wasn’t shifting gears within drive and it wasn’t showing me what gear it was in.  I imagine it was stuck in 3rd, but who knows?  I tried turning the car off and back on multiple times on the drive home with no luck.

I took the car into the dealership first thing in the morning on Wednesday, July 31, 2013.  The dealership worked on it Thursday, Friday, and part of Saturday.  They were never able to find out what was wrong with it.  The shifting problem has stopped for now, but I don’t fool myself into thinking it’s gone for good.  It’s a Volkswagen.  It’s a piece of shit.

Volkswagen Sucks: Part 2

The ignition on my 2011 VW Jetta sticks.  Approximately February 2013, one of my keys broke.  The keys are the ones where you press a button and the metal part of the key that goes in the ignition flips out.  The sticky ignition caused the metal part of the key to break off the remote part.  I was able to continue to use it by leaving the metal in the ignition and using the slot in the remote to turn the key in the ignition.

This was fine for a while, until the slot in the remote became too damaged to turn the metal.  So I switched to the spare key.  In due time, the metal part broke off the remote.  When I took the car in for service and inspection in late June, I told them about the key issue.  I was quoted over $700 to replace the ignition and keys.  The car was at about 55,000 miles and the basic warranty is only good to 36,000 miles, so I was on my own.  To which I said, oh hell no, I’m not paying that much money to fix something that should not have broken.

Everything was tolerable for another month or so (mid-July) when I was running errands.  My spare remote became too damaged to turn the key.  I had to leave the car running outside a hardware store while I ran in to buy pliers.

I contacted Volkswagen Customer Care (I can only assume the “care” part is VW joke).  They reiterated the “you’re past the 36,000 mile warranty, sucks to be you” line.

Volkswagen Sucks: Part 1

I bought a new VW Jetta on June 30, 2011.  It has been nothing but trouble.

The 12v adapters have never worked.  I know, I know, it’s my fault for not doing anything about it.  Silly me, I thought that a brand new car would be fully functional, so when my car charger didn’t work, I foolishly assumed that the problem was my charger.  I didn’t feel the need to buy a new charger, so the nonfunctioning adapters went unnoticed until July 2, 2013 when I upgraded my cell phone and got a new car charger.  Surprise, it doesn’t work!


What kind of company sells cars that don’t work properly when they’re new?