The Checkout

Top 10 Consumer Gripes of '06

It's National Consumer Protection Week and that means every consumer protection agency under the sun releases its Top 10 list of consumer complaints for the previous year.

Mostly, I find these lists somewhat unhelpful in that they're not very descriptive. If I were to make up a list of top 10 gripes of 2006, it would include waiting for 30 minutes to be served at a Verizon Wireless store in Rockville, the ordeal of returning anything at the Potomac Yards Target, E. coli in bagged spinach, and Dreft, which I'm beginning to suspect is part of a conspiracy by Big Soap.

The lists put out by enforcement types are interesting mainly for their minute differences, which partly reflect the responsibilities of the agencies being complained to. For instance, you're encouraged to report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI, while you're more likely to turn a crooked contractor into your local consumer protection agency or Better Business Bureau.

Let's start with the national picture as captured by Consumer Sentinel, a database maintained by the FTC that consists of reports from various federal agencies and consumer organizations, including the BBBs and the Canadian telemarketing and fraud watchdog Phonebusters.

For the seventh year in a row, identity theft topped the list of Consumer Sentinel's complaints. It accounted for 36 percent of the 674,354 complaints received in 2006. Shop-at-home/catalog sales made up 7 percent of complaints; prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries accounted for another 7 percent; Internet services and computer complaints made up 6 percent; and Internet auction fraud made up five percent.

The soures of consumer unhappiness change somewhat at the local level. Take the Washington-area Better Business Bureau's Top 10 list of inquiries and complaints for '06.

Note: BBBs generally become the repositories of complaints for companies based in their geographic area. So there could be thousands of ticked off Dell customers in the D.C. area, but their complaints are most likely reflected in the year-end tally for the BBB in Austin, where Dell is based.

Businesses such as home improvement contractors tend to be local. And with Washington being a hot real estate market of recent vintage, consumers last year called the local Better Business Bureau most often to vet home improvement contractors--generating more than 440,000 inquiries and more than 3,000 complaints.

What provoked the most local consumer ire, however, was telephone/cellular phone service. That sore point garnered a whopping 8,644 complaints. The figure likely encompasses a mix of gripes about local businesses, such as District-based cellphone equipment retailer InPhonic, as well as the more universal ones about service and billing problems with major carriers.

The VA Attorney General's office went a different semantic route, preferring to go with Top 10 Scams of 2006. The list included many of the usual suspects -- sweepstakes, foreign lotteries, etc. The only surprise was No. 1, which it dubbed "federal grants."

Here's a sample complaint, courtesy of the VA AG's office:

I spoke to a guy in Northern Neck Virginia who got a phone call at 10:30 p.m. from a mysterious caller claiming to be with the IRS. He was owed a $12,000 refund for paying his taxes regularly, the caller told him, and wouldn't have to pay taxes in the future. The caller admitted that it sounded too good to be true but assured Robert that it was for real. He already knew Robert's full name and address -- all he needed now was to verify some other information and... you probably know the rest. Robert hung up the phone, dialed *69, tracing the call to a country in East Africa, and then called our office to report this scam.

Hmm. I didn't see any mention of a grant but I do see the crooks invoked a federal agency. Maybe a better name for it is "Uncle Scam?"

Anyway, enough of that! What would your list look like? Post it here!

By Annys Shin |  February 8, 2007; 9:00 AM ET Consumer News
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

I have but one consumer gripe for 2006, and that's a Ford dealership service manager blatantly refusing me service when I pointed out that a recall job wasn't finished. His exact words were "As far as I'm concerned, it's done." Letters of complaint were sent to Ford Corporate Customer Care and the dealership's general manager with no result. BBB, here I come!

Posted by: 23112 | February 8, 2007 9:31 AM

Sushi's Top 10:

1) Cell phone service

2 ) Jiffy Lube telling you that you need more than you actually do.

3) The 3 different methods credit reporting agencies use to calculate your credit score

4) Men's Warehouse tailor pricing methods

5) Telemarketers who insist you needs their product

6) Cable company pricing

7) Metro pricing and service

8) The post office raising the cost of postage every chance they get

9) Best Buy's Service

10) The FCC

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | February 8, 2007 9:35 AM

1) Sushi's top ten list

Thats my only gripe.

Posted by: John | February 8, 2007 9:37 AM

John said "1) Sushi's top ten list

Thats my only gripe. "

But John, you needs [sic] to read it and learn it. :)

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 9:46 AM

only 1 true top 10 list. from 1-10 all the same. NO CUSTOMER SERVICE

Posted by: dianne | February 8, 2007 9:48 AM

A little vague dianne. What the heck does NO CUSTOMER SERVICE mean anyway?

Maybe you and Sushi can get together and share a thought.

Posted by: John | February 8, 2007 9:57 AM

1. Contractors who show up whenever and never come close to working a full day.
2. Higher cable prices but more blue screens interrupting TV me "Temporary loss of signal."
3. Ridiculously long lines at Safeway.
4. Perpetual delays on United airlines.
5. Massive Metro delays.

Posted by: Kelly | February 8, 2007 10:06 AM

Dish companies that want you to pay $29 for service call to replace the defective dish they installed. (not paying it, and they're coming Saturday to replace my dish)

Posted by: DYM | February 8, 2007 10:18 AM

1. Horrible voice recognition software that can't figure out what you're saying but won't give you the option of keying in the number until it's tried 3 times to understand you.
2. Bethesda Safeway (on Old Georgetown Rd) service. I've seen several people in line at the pharmacy/service counter and no Safeway person is there.

Posted by: bethesda | February 8, 2007 10:40 AM

Springfield VW dealers saying you need X service (which costs $$$$$Y) or your car will fall apart. Of course, having a fiance versed in all things car-related protects my pocketbook as he shrugs off their efforts at extortion. Why are there no honest car repair places? I would take my car for every single shake and rattle to the one dealer/mechanic who is honest and not out to take advantage of car owners. I come from Ohio, and we had a small town mechanic who actually fit this bill. I'm tempted to drive to Ohio everytime I need a checkup. It's a sad state of affairs that I can't find any honest mechanics in the whole DC region...

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | February 8, 2007 11:04 AM

The US Airways departure area at National Airport for short hop flights is miserable. There is too little space, it is almost impossible to hear announcements and the staff is arrogant. I wish there was another alternative from DCA for me to get to Knoxville, TN quickly and on time.

Posted by: KJ | February 8, 2007 11:08 AM

Look at the Washington Consumer's Checkbook magazine. They survey people in the area for opinions about lots of different type of service providers.

I found a great auto shop that way 23 years ago and I'm still going there. (Sorry, they don't do VWs.)

And I just had a fabulous experience getting gutters and downspouts replaced with a firm I selected from WCC.

Posted by: to CyanSquirrel | February 8, 2007 11:12 AM


There is. It's called Dulles.

Posted by: John | February 8, 2007 11:16 AM

FWIW, I seem to recall seeing you live in VA or the District proper, if you lived in MD I'd say go to Burdette Brothers in Urbana, MD -- they didn't even take advantage of my grandmother (about as little and old and car-unsavvy-looking as you can get) and my family has gone to them for years (we're Gaithersburg-based, so we're willing to drive the ten or so miles up the road for these guys or make the cars limp to these guys, this should say something). I have lived in Ohio (tiny towns to the SW of Cleveland) & had my car serviced there, I'd compare their service to tiny town-Ohio guy's any day of the week, they know their stuff.

Posted by: to CyanSquirrel | February 8, 2007 11:18 AM

Also Burdette Bros does damn near every type of car we've given them, and not a one was "officially" what they work on, they know the vast majority of car kinds.

Posted by: to CyanSquirrel, con'td | February 8, 2007 11:20 AM

John, I don't drive, so Dulles is very difficult and expensive to get to.

I think US Airways could do better at National; I just don't believe they are motivated to improve.

Posted by: KJ | February 8, 2007 11:28 AM

Thanks Radioactive Sushi and Kelly for actually posting a list as requested.

Here's mine:

(1) Verizon Cellular: Having to use MY cell phone minutes when I receive an unsolicited telemarketer call.

(2) Verizon Cellular again: Being charged for unsolicited text messages from sales people I have never contacted.

(3) Congress: Receiving "Vote-for-Me" phone calls during the last election because the do-not-call registry does not apply to politicians. I can't wait for 2008. Why Congress you ask? Because they wrote the law.

(4) Congress again: Ditto for "Surveys" ... they have an exception from the do-not-call registry too.

(5) Verizon: Not being able to use the call-block feature on my land line because the incoming call is "out of area".

(Anybody noticing a pattern here?)

(6) The Washington Post. The Washington Post stopped delivering my paper because the family with the same last name as mine who lived three blocks away from me cancelled their paper. I paid in advance (stupid me) and they still owe me papers for a month. No amount of phone calls have worked, so I'll just read the free info on the web page. WaPo won't get another dime from me.

(7) St. Mary's Hospital. The idiots had a laptop computer stolen in November 2006 with patient names, birthdates, and Social Security numbers. They started letting people that are at risk know what happened THIS week - three months later. NOW they are going to use encryption for that type of info. Thanks a lot. It is interesting that the Washington Post hasn't bothered to have an article on this.

(8) Loss Leaders to get you into the store during the Christmas holidays, i.e., Laptop's for $249 - but we only have 10.

(9) Food Lion: Having 10 check-out lines but only two registers open with ten people lined up at each register.

(10) All manufactures who design their product to barely meet government safety issues when they could do much better for a minimum price. When it comes to the safety of my family I for one will pay more to get it. Even if the money gets sent overseas.

Posted by: SoMD | February 8, 2007 11:32 AM

My list is mostly anything at all to do with comcast, evil evil people and there tricky billing practices.
KJ- I too fly to Knoxville a lot and am sorry to tell you that you are going to have to go to Dulles. And ever since Independence Air folded we are screwed! Sigh, how I miss them and their Sun Chips.

Posted by: Melissa | February 8, 2007 11:32 AM


It's called a taxi. If you live in this area (close to Reagan National), it not going to cost you more than $35 to get a ride.
If you are buying a ticket to Knoxville, surely $35 is a small expense to get better service.

Posted by: John | February 8, 2007 11:35 AM

1. Contractors who advertise that they want your business but will not even return calls to provide an estimate.

2. Any drug company that advertises a product on any venue - television, magazine, newspaper or other. This money should be spent on the product, not on creating a market for it.

Posted by: vaconsumer | February 8, 2007 11:35 AM


Good news on your number 9. Food Lion is going to be replaced with Bloom and they have MUCH better customer service because they finally pay their employees like that should and hire good management.

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | February 8, 2007 11:40 AM

1. Poor to NO customer service anywhere leading to no real options on where to do business- if everything sucks status quo prevails and the bottom line will keep steady.
2. The burden of fixing large corporation or government mistakes that result in lost time and money being on the consumer.
3. Corruption that holds us back from using advanced technology such as the material that is thinner than paper and stronger than steel, alternative fuels, etc.
4. Automated systems, such as Social Security, that make it difficult to get a real person who can answer a simple question.
5. Data mining and improper safeguards by unregulated agencies.
6. Data mining and improper safeguards and obvious mistakes that screw with ones credit that can not easily be fixed by supposedly regulated agencies.
7. Telemarketers and the FOP who will not stop calling despite me being on the do not call list and telling them to stop- including the Washington Post. I am already a subscriber- no I do not want to upgrade to papers I do not have time to read.
8. People who are supposed to have the authority to deal with your problem, but instead engage only in doublespeak and meaningless prattle without fixing the problem- see number one.
9. Mismanagement of funds and tax dollars resulting in fiascos like the new amphibious vehicle when if #3 had been addressed, this would not have happened.
10. Selling off of American infrastructure to foreign companies and outsourcing resulting in contributions to numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9.
11. People who disagree with this.

Posted by: Chris | February 8, 2007 11:58 AM

8) The post office raising the cost of postage every chance they get

If you seriously think about it, 39 cents is pretty darn cheap for mailing stuff. What can you expect with the price of gas anyway? Planes, trucks, and postal vehicles need fuel to get your mail to you for 39 cents. :o)

Posted by: Columbia, MD | February 8, 2007 12:11 PM

Columbia, MD,

I wasn't complaining about the price of stamps. I was complaining about the raising the prices (stamps included) every chance they get. Prices change weekly there (not stamps)

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | February 8, 2007 12:22 PM

Metrorail's Orange Line.

Posted by: better of walking to work | February 8, 2007 12:32 PM

Post Office -- how about postal employees who pull out large catalogues of stamps when someone asks to buy a book and 12 people are waiting in line? Then they let the person stay in line while she browses! If there is a line, everyone should get the generic stamps. Anyone who seriously wants to browse for stamp designs can go online to order. I've been ordering online for a year and it beats going to the Post Office, although sometimes it's a necessarily evil...

Posted by: lawgirl | February 8, 2007 12:37 PM

My other major gripe is Dell, which I complain about publicly at every opportunity. Here's my story:

My computer guy says my hard drive died and needs to be replaced, and to call Dell since it's under warranty. Customer service is in India or somewhere like that. I can barely understant the rep. The rep makes me do 4-5 hours worth of tests and diagnostics (after being on hold for several hours), even though I told her the hard drive was dead. Eventually, Dell sends a new hard drive, not using any reputable shipping company. Sorry, but I've never heard of DHL and don't appreciate my hard drive being left on my front porch (not hidden) on a windy day.

OK, so I install the new hard drive. It is defective and dies withing a couple of months. Repeat process.

Now, the computer is behaving strangely again, which is historically a precursor to the hard drive going out.

All I can do is back up my files, wait for it to die, and buy a new one since the warranty has now expired. Won't be buying a Dell.

Posted by: lawgirl | February 8, 2007 12:41 PM

1) I sincerely wish there was a `Do Not Call` list for non-profits. Once you donate to any phone solicitation for crippled kids, cops, firefighters, vets, puppies, whatever, they will sell you to the whole world and you get will calls from the Foundation for the Aid of Handicapped Police Dogs in Bangladesh! I have had to just stop giving to anyone over the phone.
2) I am sick of having my intelligence insulted by mortgage companies trying to get me to re-finance my house. They go to the public record and get the name of your mortgage lender and the number of your loan, then send you a letter with `Important Information Regarding Loan #1234-5678` printed on the outside in the hopes that you will open it and read their pitch.

Cyan Squirrel- if you are in Virginia, go to Tonys Auto Repair in Alexandria. They work on everything from Mazdas to Maseratis and are absolutely honest. Never had a complaint there in 16 years. You might also try's Mechanic X-files, which has consumer recommendations for repairs all over the country, including this area. Tonys is in there.

Posted by: crc | February 8, 2007 1:05 PM

Tony's Auto Service is the best place to take a car (any make or model). I've known Tony since before his small shop on Commonwealth Ave.

Tony's Auto Service is a place of outstanding service and it has nothing to do with him being family.

Posted by: Radioactive Sushi | February 8, 2007 1:42 PM

CyanSquirrel - you need to give VolksWerks in Falls Church a try. It's not a cheap as some places, but its cheaper than the dealer and from my experience you get what you pay for there - quality work that holds up with no BS.

Stohlmanns VW out in Tysons are total rip-off artists as well. Whenever my fiancee would take her car in there they would always either claim that there were very expensive repairs that needed to be made, or if something was wrong like warning lights coming on, they would claim they couldn't diagnose a problem. We got sick of the runaround and took it to VolksWerks and they fixed a number of things, confirmed some other things were fine, and the car has not been in the shop 2 years and counting now. (Although now that I said that it will probably break down the next time I get in it.)

Posted by: Rosslyn | February 8, 2007 1:45 PM

My number one complaint until recently has been standing in long lines at any checkout. However, Giant Food skyrocketed to the top of the list last week. I have noticed over the past couple of years that Giant will be out of something that I have on my grocery list. My list never has anything exotic on it. Just the usual, every day stuff. But it never fails... they will be out of something. The lame excuse I get at the register is that they have a hard time getting items from the manufacturer. Right. I thought the manufacturer was in business to sell the product, not refuse to ship something that has been ordered. The problem is more likely the items are not being ordered in a timely fashion. In addition to that, some of Giant's produce has been rotting from the inside out. The aisles are rearranged occassionally to keep us on our feet (literally, since we have to re-walk the whole store because they have shuffled stuff around yet again).

The topper was last week. After working until 6 p.m., I went to Giant to do my usual shopping. I walked the entire store filling up my cart. Of course, there was something that was not where it usually is; and I made a mental note to go to the courtesy desk after checking out to ask where they have put it now. I walked up to a register with the light on; the young lady standing there at the register saw me walk up to her open line and DELIBERATELY TURNED HER BACK ON ME. She fiddled for a couple of minutes with the extra bags on the shelf behind the register. The conveyor belt was not on. I started loading the groceries on belt. She still had her back to me. Running out of room, I pushed the groceries up the belt to make room for more. She finally turned around, turned on the belt and checked me out. She barely said two words to me during the whole process.

I did speak with the lady at the courtesy counter, but it wasn't so much about the article I couldn't find as it was about the horribly rude attitude of the checker. I called customer service in Landover the next afternoon. The lady there took my name and number "in case the district manager wants to get in touch with you." More than a week later there has been no phone call.

I've shopped at Giant for 40 years. I hope they enjoyed the money I handed over to them last week because that's the last dime they will get from me.

As far as my opening sentence regarding standing in long register lines... start doing what I do. Go find the manager and them him/her to open more registers NOW. It works. The reason we stand in long lines is because we allow it.

Posted by: Shelly | February 8, 2007 1:52 PM

lawgirl: Uhhhh, DHL is a major shipping company that competes with UPS and FedEx. They drive the red and yellow trucks. My company uses all 3 and has been for years. Just sayin - that's not something you should knock Dell (or DHL for that matter) for.

Posted by: Arlington | February 8, 2007 1:53 PM

I left Northern Va. over 2 years ago and miss the great customer service we received there most of the time. Now I'm living in Vermont where most businesses could not care less if they helped you or not, especially if you are not a Vermonter. Heaven help you if you need a quick plumber, electrician, carpenter, or car repair here. So remember, it could be a lot worse.

Posted by: cj | February 8, 2007 1:58 PM

Hey thanks! I'll check out WCC. You say you lived SW of Cleveland...I'm from the region near Ashland/Wayne/Medina tri-counties, so if that's where you've lived, I'm not surprised you had good luck. People in that region are as genuine as they come. Rednecked, but genuine :-)

Burdett's...if only I could bring myself to drive in MD. The drivers there are nuts, so if I can stay across the Potomac for this, I will! Hehe...

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | February 8, 2007 2:04 PM

1. verizon
2. car delearships ( given)
3. Apartment Complexes
4. towing companies
5. giant food stores
6. walmart
7. health insurance
8. crappy doctors that make you come in and wait 5 hours to get seen for 5 minutes for something they could have told you on the phone just so they can get your co pay
9. the MVA
10.pentagon federal credit union

Posted by: picturethis | February 8, 2007 2:13 PM

CRC, that's perfect too. Always up to support local businesses. Thanks for the tip!

Rosslyn, LOL! I hope it doesn't break down like the cars in the commercial for Nationwide Insurance (I think) where the actor hits the dash one time too many and all hell breaks loose, literally. Funny stuff! Falls Church is local too so I might call up both and compare prices before trying them out. Anything has got to be better than the dealer. I miss the days of having your local mechanic where you knew him, watched his kids grow up, and celebrated his retirement with hands-on, take-ownership service from him all the while. And I'm only 27...but that's the kind of service I experienced in small town Ohio, that's for sure.

Thanks for the tips guys (or gals!)

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | February 8, 2007 2:17 PM

Most all Consumer complaints can be rolled up into one prevailing concept: Customers get poor service because the Provider chooses to value their profit above providing whatever it is they provide in an acceptable/friendly/convenient/qualitative manner.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 8, 2007 2:19 PM

My major (Consumer ?) complaint these days: I make close to 6 figures and cannot afford to purchase a home in a nice neighborhood (not cool or hip, just nice) within 30 miles of DC.

Cost of living is at such a level that saving to buy will always be outpaced by price inflation. When people cannot afford buy their first home without uber-risky financing, real estate "investment" in the single fam/condo markets should be illegal. Live-in owner purchases ONLY. F all real estate speculators!!

Posted by: F This Entire Area | February 8, 2007 2:30 PM

1. Woodscape Apartments in Newport News. When I vacated after giving proper notice and moved away, I get a nasty letter saying how i owed $950 more for carpet replacement and fumigation resulting from the "final inspection." In my termination letter, I insisted on being present for the 'final insopection'. I was ignored. When I asked for the receipts to justify the $950 expense, I was ignored. They are a cokked deceitful apartment complex and Ms. Angie Hore is responsible.

2. Verizon - wanted to charge me $199 for a tech to hook up my new service in 5 days. Cox did it for free same day.

3. Woodscape Apts. in Newport news - for making all tenants leave their doors open and unsecured during the middle of the winter while they painted the front doors. It was 32 degrees that day.

4. Ted Britt Ford - for not fixing my cruise control that was broken in the new car I purchased from them. I bought the 80000 extended warranty. Never again.

5. Woodscape Apts. in Newport news - for never returning a tenants call/inquiry/compaint - ever.

6. Capital One - who continues to send me those consumer convenience checks for someone to steal out of my mailbox even after I asked them more than once to stop.

7. All 3 credit bureuas for trying to sell me my own data, for even having it in the first place without my approval.

8. Insurance companies for same as #7.

9. Woodscape apts. in Newport News for the criminal element around the their apartments - shootings all time of day, extremely loud music all hours of the night, thugs and drug dealers on every street corner, etc.

10. The BBB for not handling two of my complaints.

Posted by: Michael Graham | February 8, 2007 3:01 PM

nothing revolutionary in my list, but i'll throw it out there for anyone taking a tally:

1) cingular wireless / customer service

2) cox cable / stealth bill increases

3) usairways / getting miles credit

4) united / checking bags at dulles

5) all airlines / customer service

6) excessive credit offers

7) leasing offices / non-refundable move-in fees etc, esp. when they advertise "no security deposit!"

OK that's all i can think of ... i'm sure there are more but those are the ones that have been a part of my life recently.

Posted by: ffx | February 8, 2007 3:40 PM

ooh and (another post reminded me)

8) health insurance / service

although i've had great service from the actual doctors i've been to lately. but the insurance, forget it.

Posted by: ffx | February 8, 2007 3:41 PM

Hey F. This Area-
I feel your pain. I agree. I'd love to settle down into a reasonable abode and start a family and belong to a community close in, but even with four people in our household (and four incomes, pushing us over $100K) we can barely afford rent on a townhouse in Alexandria. Saving to buy anything is out of the picture. What ticks me off the most is that before 2002, prices were reasonable and affordable. I lament that I arrived to the area too late to afford anything...and the communities should be lamenting the loss of the middle and lower class folks that make the city more than just a bunch of soulless streets after 5 pm.

I could buy a single family house custom made with luxury additions where I came from for $250K or less. I don't understand why the housing market was allowed to get a screwed up as it has. It's everyone's loss except the NIMBY snobs.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | February 8, 2007 3:44 PM

...from SW of Cleveland.

I lived in Amherst, so I know exactly where you're talking about. Rather miss the place....

Posted by: to CyanSquirrel | February 8, 2007 3:57 PM

Re: honest mechanics: Do try Pat Goss Auto in Seabrook, MD - Well worth the trip and for weekdays at least, the MARC train is right there to take you to and from Union Station.

Posted by: Richmond, VA | February 8, 2007 4:41 PM

Good luck CyanSquirrel! Here's their website:

I like them because it's a small outfit, they're up-front, and if you have a VW, that's what they specialize in and they know what they're doing.

Posted by: Rosslyn | February 8, 2007 5:02 PM

1) CompUSA has 3 sales clerks joking around and nobody waiting on customer
2) Ditto Best Buy and Home Depot
3) Best Buy wouldn't give store credit for DVDs purchased at their store w/o receipt
4) OfficeMax wouldn't honor terms of their own advertisement for Palm Device
5) Dallas Ford dealership charged $2000 for unnecessary car repair
6) American Airlines plane on tarmac for 8 hours. I think 30 minutes is too long.
7) Roofer would not come back and do warranty work -- guarantee worthless
8) Walgreens Health care has crummy web site -- no way to check order status
9) Red Hat, Microsft wouldn't honor mail-in rebates that satisfied all requirements
10) Stores that rush customers and/or close doors before posted closing time.

Posted by: MadAsHell | February 8, 2007 5:21 PM

CyanSquirrel, don't go to Springfield VW. They are the worst VW service place in the area. For an off-market place, you can try Viking Automotive in Chantilly. I have been very happy with them and Lindsay VW in Dulles. Also, Alexandria VW is good and usually has discounts (free rental this month for repairs over $200). But, whatever you do, don't go to Springfield. I have horror stories to tell!

Posted by: VW Owner | February 8, 2007 5:32 PM

My #1 consumer complaint is trying to return things to K-Mart after the holidays, no returns or exchanges without a reciept! Even though they were gifts and they still had part of the price tag on them so you knew it was from K-Mart.

My #2 consumer complaint - stores that bend over backwards with customer service issues which is creating crazy consumers that think they are always right. Example: a high-end kitchen store that I work at sells cookie mix. A customer bought a bag of the mix, did not follow the directions, called and complained to everyone and anyone who would listen, then we had to not only return the money (which I felt was ok) but we also had to buy her $60 worth of cookies from a catering company - to replace the ones she would have made with our mix. This to me is insane and overboard customer service which creates a "new breed" of customer that thinks they can get away with anything.

I actually had someone threaten me with coming into the store and shooting us when we would not give her money for something she recieved in error and never paid for!

I'm all for good customer service, but some people feel like they are due the moon for slight inconveniences.

Posted by: gs | February 8, 2007 5:44 PM


At the time I looked up their Web site because I'd never heard of them or seen their trucks. It looked reputable. But it is not acceptable to leave packages emblazened with the Dell logo (attention thieves) on my front step when there are big planters and a storm door to hide the package. That is what UPS and FedEx do.

Then I scheduled a pick-up with DHL to send back the defective hard drive the first time, and they did not show up at the scheduled time interval.

I just assumed they were rinky-dink because that's how they acted. I'll stick with UPS. Don't like FedEx for other reasons.

Posted by: lawgirl | February 8, 2007 5:46 PM

Any product that comes packaged in that heavy plastic stuff. You need a chain saw to open it.

Posted by: Patti | February 8, 2007 5:48 PM

I too fly to Knoxville. It was worth the drive to Dulles for Independence Air, but now I usually fly out of DCA on US Airways. The last time I flew to Knoxville, they loaded an entire busload of people bound for Charlotte on the plane to Knoxville. We sat on our bus and watched those poor people get back off the plane and on to their bus to go reload on the correct plane.

When time is an issue, it isn't practical to take a cab out to Dulles as John suggested. I much prefer to fly out of DCA, but I do wish that US Airways could improve their service!

Posted by: Stephanie | February 8, 2007 5:51 PM

Amherst eh? Ashland here. Nice to "meet" ya :-)

VW Owner, I used springfield because I bought a car (not a VW) from them and they were convenient. Sadly, since then, they've proven they're overpriced and underworked. Grr. At 40K miles they told me I needed to replace my spark plugs (in reality the issue was a clogged fuel line, which some fuel cleaner took care of for a pittance). So I believe your horror stories. Betcha we'd love to read them. Misery loves company haha.

I've heard of the auto place in seabrook md. That guy does a column and radio show I think, so I bet he's booked out the ears with customers!

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | February 8, 2007 6:25 PM

John, you don't get the point. Why should I have to travel to Dulles when there is an airport that is closer and more convenient?

I think US Airways could improve the environment at National airport and make short hop trips easier for all its passengers. I also think US Airways has no interest in meeting the needs of its passengers.

Posted by: KJ | February 9, 2007 11:53 AM

For CyanSquirrel: A really good garage in Springfield that I've been to is Lincolnia Garage. An older looking place, but I took my Nissan Altima there last year and they did a GREAT job with it and the cost was very reasonable. My dad has gone to them for years as well and always been happy.

Posted by: ACW | February 9, 2007 12:27 PM

!. Verizon DSL -- mine ALWAYS goes down for 12 hours when ever it rains -- I have called tech support 7 times, every time some guy with an indian accent asks me my computer type, operating system, modem type, and then he tests the line and says its fine. I say, "Of course its fine. Its not raining!"
One time they sent a repairman. He said, "the problem isn't in your house or equipment, its out there on the line. I'll file a report but I doubt they will fix it".
They haven't.

2. Internet purchasing javascript pages that demand my phone number. I always have to make one up. I don't have one.

3. Restaurants that all give me enough food for an elephant. Why can't I get a human-sized meal?

4. People who sell water. Also the fools that buy it.

5. the music industry .... keeps inventing new media and making the old media obsolete, so that they can resell me the same tired old tunes, instead of paying good money to the talented musicians making good new music today ...

6. the radio -- even worse -- WJZW, all their program tapes have been the same for 10 years ... I bet the only real person in the office is the ad salesman ...all their DJ's died years ago ... the only new material they air is ads and AirTran tickets ... I don't want free tickets anywere in the US, thankyou, I want my radio back ...

7,8,9 and 10 ... All the corporate nonsense that preaches to everyone all the time to be suspicious about your neighbor, when the real thieves and terrorists are the corporations and CEO's drawing 30million+ salaries ...

Posted by: John | February 12, 2007 10:37 AM

I can't believe anyone would recommend Lindsay VW in Dulles/Sterling. They SUCK! They have the WORST customer service of all the VW dealerships we've been to on both coasts. Their Service Manager, Phil Robinson, is a jerk and is a poor model for his subordinates. They're a bunch of rude, asinine, ignorant wankers.

Posted by: DBR | February 19, 2007 11:48 AM

I can't believe anyone would recommend Lindsay VW in Dulles/Sterling. They SUCK! They have the WORST customer service of all the VW dealerships we've been to on both coasts. Their Service Manager, Phil Robinson, is a jerk and is a poor model for his subordinates. They're a bunch of rude, asinine, ignorant wankers.

Posted by: DBR | February 19, 2007 11:49 AM

I can't believe anyone would recommend Lindsay VW in Dulles/Sterling. They SUCK! They have the WORST customer service of all the VW dealerships we've been to on both coasts. Their Service Manager, Phil Robinson, is a jerk and is a poor model for his subordinates. They're a bunch of rude, asinine, ignorant wankers.

Posted by: DBR | February 19, 2007 11:50 AM

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