I Donated a Car to The Volunteers Of America and it Was Terrible.

Back in high school, or just after (I can’t remember anymore) a good friend of mine had this Pontiac Sunbird GT convertible. It was a nice white car, with a white top, and came with a 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder. Peppy car; had a lot of fun with it. Here and there it would have little issues, but for the most part, it was reliable.

My friend drove the car until sometime around 2002, when he parked it because it had blown the turbo, and bought a new car. His old car sat for about a year, and that’s when he and I came up with a trade. I had this laptop that I liked, but didn’t use often, so I traded my friend my laptop for his Sunbird. I towed the car home on my trailer, and throughout the next few weeks, got it licensed and insures and ordered parts to fix the car. Being an older car, the objective was to get the car running and driving and then just have some fun with it. After getting it operational, there were just a few small things with the car:

    • No driver’s side door lock – completely missing
    • The top was all ripped up
    • The heater fan didn’t work
    • There was no radio
    • The car was rusty
    • The e-brake didn’t work
    • The exhaust was shot
    • You had to know *just* how to shift the transmission

So yeah, not a huge list of things wrong with the car, but the most substantial was that it was generally a car you could commute with, but it wasn’t *nice*. It was fun to drive everywhere with the top down, but it was a pain to get into gear sometimes, and in general because the top was in bad shape, it was a little too cold for Michigan weather. In any case, I drove the car to work more than a dozen times over the summer that I got it. The car actually had only like 97,000 miles on it.

Anyway, I enjoyed the car. I drove it out and didn’t care that I left the top down in the parking lot at Best Buy. I didn’t care about it being stolen, or broken into (they could, after all, just open the door) and I didn’t care about the car. It was certainly more enjoyable, but at the time it didn’t matter to me that the car was considered by many people to be kind of a beater. It was fun ūüôā

So, fall came, and I stopped driving the car very much. I started to think about selling it. So, I called up another friend and asked him to sell the car for me. I told him to take whatever he wanted for commission, and get whatever he could for the car. I brought the car over to his house and left it there.

Throughout the next 20 weeks, the car was moved around at my friend’s house, and parked in his back yard. Then, winter set in, my friend stopped really trying to sell the car, and so I decided that since it was a complete beater, I would just donate it to the VOA. The Volunteers of America is a company that accepts donated autos, then resells them to the public, while giving you a tax write-off, and making some money to help needy people. The whole purpose for me, though, was really the tax write-off part.

But, why did I want to get rid of the car anyway? Basically, the car became more of a liability and a cost for me than I was getting use out of it. Sure, I could have kept it, but I didn’t really have the space. I also didn’t feel like paying for insurance, registration, or anything else on it. The car’s total worth was about a grand, on a good day, downhill, with a tailwind. Really, the car just had to go.

So, I went over to find the car behind his house, in 8 inches of snow. I opened the car up, and there was the immediate smell of wet in the car. It also wouldn’t start. That pretty much sealed the deal for me, the car would have to go.

So, I tried to get it out of the 8 inches of snow, to no avail. I couldn’t – it was stuck.

So, I tried again two weeks later, and still wasn’t able to get it out.

And then I tried again. This time, I drove the truck into the back yard, driving precariously on a hill covered in snow, hoping that I’d be able to get into a position to just tow it out. And I couldn’t get it.

So, after weeks of bitching, and a the end of winter, I finally said to my friend that he needed to get it unstuck. Amazingly enough, he did. This was in the beginning of March, 2004. Yes, there was still snow on the ground in Michigan at that time.

I called up the VOA, to setup a time for me to drop the car off. They told me I’d be able to come in at any time. In fact, I’d be able to drop the car out in front of the gates if I wanted to, and then just tell them where the keys were, and they’d bring it inside for me. This was perfect for me, since the trip to get the car, then go to the VOA and drop it off was more than a three hour ordeal. So, the plan was to drop the car off Sunday night, and then call them Monday morning and tell them about it, so they could put it in their auction and get all the other paperwork squared away – title, tax information and whatnot.

So, one Sunday night before March 15th, I head up to my friend’s house about 9pm. The car starts right up, and so I’m happy about that. I pull the ramps out of the trailer, and start to ascend them in the Sunbird. Mind you, the car has no exhaust, no heater, and now has tires that have little air in them. Even with the newfound grip from the low air pressure, I’m unable to load the car on the trailer, because the front wheels just start spinning as the car gets to the top of the beavertail on my trailer. Great, the damn car is fighting me to get on the trailer.

Now, you’ve got to remember, everything aside from the trailer ramps is absolutely covered in frosty white snow or ice.

So, I try again, only faster.

The car makes it to the top of the beavertail¬†again¬†but then starts spinning the front tires again. Suck. This time, though, I heard a loud *thunk* which abruptly made the car stop moving. So, I get out of the car while it’s still on the ramps, and crawl underneath it. The exhaust is hanging down to the point where the catalytic converter is now what’s keeping the car from gracefully driving up onto the trailer. The convertor was still on the end of the exhaust (although there was no exhaust system to speak of after the converter) and it was hanging just low enough to catch the lip of the trailer as the car was driving up onto the trailer. Because of the snow, the tires just started to spin, making ice patches at the top of the beavertail. Great.

So, I pull the car back on the ground, and find some speaker wire to tie the exhaust up. Mind you, I have no Jack, and the car is low to the ground. It’s an absolute pain in the ass to get this accomplished. Not only am I dressed in a winter coat and JEANS, but it’s also now about 10:00 pm on a Sunday night, and my damn car isn’t at the damn VOA, because I can’t get it on the¬†trailer! Anyway, I have to sidekick the converter, because somehow at one point in time it managed to get bent one way off it’s alignment point with the body, so it now wants to snugly rest against the lowest point on the floorpan, instead of up in it converter hole that GM so kindly manufactured into the floorpan of the car. This took some magic, but I finally got the exhaust back up where it belonged, and then had another go at the trailer.

Even wiring the exhaust up where it was supposed to be didn’t allow me enough room to get the car on the trailer. My friend came out at this point with “do you need some help?” written all over his face. “Do you have an air compressor?” I asked.

“Oh yeah, I think Jake left one here” he replied.

So, 10 minutes later, my friend comes out of his house toting my little air compressor. The one that I had lost about 6 months prior. My brother apparently took it, and then gave it to my friend. I didn’t give the compressor back to my friend – it was mine, and I was keeping it at this point. I filled the front two tires up on the Sunbird, which then drove up onto the trailer with ease. Damn Sunbird.

The Fraud at Work

This was passed around at work a long time ago. I’m protecting the names, but man, I have to post it.

Hi [name],
I still cant get your credit card to go threw.
Accounting said we may be flagged by your credit card company as a flatulent charge because of the amount of times I tried to put it threw. So I need you to give them a call and let them know that the $1295.00 charge from [my company] is a true charge so they will let it go threw. Thanks so much and sorry about this.

I was Kicked Out of Best Buy, You’ll Never Guess Why

Here’s a letter I wrote to Best Buy about my story

I’d like to file a complaint against the Best buy store in Brighton, Michigan.

On December 26th, 2005, I went into Best Buy to return a 30 Gig iPod. The plan was to exchange the 30 gig iPod for a 60 Gig iPod. Because it was busy, I decided to give my item to exchange to my girlfriend, and have her wait in the return/exchange line, while I would persue whether or not there was a 60 Gig iPod to replace the 30 Gig iPod that we had brought in.

So, my girlfriend went to the return/excange line. I went to the portable audio section, found a Best Buy employee, and inquired about the iPod replacement. Sadly, Best Buy was out of all iPods (aside from a few shuffles, and I wasn’t interested in those) – So, I asked the employee, since I had the 30 Gig iPod, and receipt from my Mom (it was a gift from her,) if I could bring the iPod back when it wasn’t nearly as busy, and return it for cash. The Best Buy employee assured me that it was okay to return items for cash if I had the receipt for them. I made it clear to him that I did not buy it, that it was a gift, and he stated as long as I had the receipt, I would be okay returning it for cash.

I now understand, after my whole ordeal, that Best Buy’s policy is different than what I was told. That’s not the point of the story.

So, because Best Buy was exceptionally busy, did not have the item I wanted to exchange the item I had for, and I assumed I would be able to get cash for my item (that I received as a gift) – I went to another store and purchased the iPod that I was looking for, and figured I would come in the next day, and return the 30 gig iPod, and everything would work out.

So, the next day, Tuesday, I went in to Best Buy to return the 30 Gig iPod. I went to the customer service desk, and explained that I wanted to return the iPod for cash. I was promptly told that I was unable to do that, because the purchase was originally made on a debit card, and so they were only authorized to either give me store credit, or credit the debit card that was originally charged for the item. So, I was a bit upset, because that was the exact opposite of what I was told the day before. I suggested to the customer service rep, that if the policy wasn’t to refund cash for purchases with the receipt, then other Best Buy employees shouldn’t tell customers that, because it makes them upset to find out otherwise when they go to the customer service counter to get cash for returning items. The customer service rep wasn’t apologetic, or even nice about it. In fact, she seemed to have a very harsh attitude about it. She gave me two options, return the item for store credit, or credit the card it was originally charged on. I commented that the item was originally charged on a debit card, as a debit, so it should be exactly like cash, there shouldn’t be an issue with refunding cash. I then proceeded to get a lecture from the Customer Service rep about how it was a Visa, and it didn’t matter whether or not it was debit or credit. Not wanting to cause a scene, I let it go – there are large differences between debit and credit cards) Okay, I asked her to credit the debit card, because I have no reason to spen $299.99 in the form of a Best Buy gift card.

I had my youngest sister with me – I started talking to her while the customer service rep was getting the credit squared away. I mentioned to my sister that I thought it was ridiculous to be told one thing on Monday, and then the next day, I was told that it wasn’t the store’s policy to refund cash for an item. I felt misinformed of my situation, and I was upset about it. I mean, Best Buy employees should know what Best Buy’s policies are, and shouldn’t tell customers otherwise. The customer service rep butted in rudely, and said “You know what sir, that’s not MY responsibility.” Well, I thought that was rude, so my reply was “Okay, well you should go get someone who’s responsibility it is.” – The customer service rep agreed to do that, and she would after finishing up my transaction.

After the rep finished up my transaction, she went and got the store manager – I think the guy’s name was Jeff. I’m not positive, but I think it was. Jeff asked me what the problem was, and I started to tell him my story: I was told I could return this for cash by a Best Buy employee, and the next day I was told it wasn’t store policy. I explained that I had the receipt, and I had the item – it was paid for by debit, and it shouldn’t be a big deal to get cash for something that was, in essence, paid for with cash. I thought it was rude for an employee to tell me something that was, apparently, very much against Best Buy’s policy. Jeff started arguing with me about Best Buy’s policy. I mean, at that point, I didn’t CARE what the policy was, I was upset that an EMPLOYEE told me something different, the day before, and that it was upsetting to CUSTOMERS that they would misinform someone about returns. Jeff started cutting me off. I couldn’t even finish any sentences. Frustrated, I finally said “Do not cut me off. – That’s RUDE” To which he replied “No, I am going to cut you off. You need to leave. Now.”

I got kicked out of Best Buy because I wanted to file a greivance against the service and the employees there at Best Buy. All Jeff had to say was “You know what, I’m sorry an employee told you that, but it’s not store policy. I can’t do anything about it, but I will try to remind employees about the policies” – or anything that would be taken in a sincere fashion. No, the guy came up, told me off, and then told me to leave the store. This was the CUSTOMER SERVICE counter. Even returning an item, I’m still a customer.

As I go to leave, I was unable to immediately walk out the front door because Best Buy had barriers up around the customer service counter for people waiting in line. So, in order to leave the store, I had to walk to the BACK of the store to get around the barriers. Jeff had walked away from the customer service counter, but apparently looked to make sure I was leaving the store, and saw me going toward the back of the store. He started yelling at me to leave immediately – across the store! I was TRYING to leave the store. So, just to add insult to injury, he was yelling at me, after kicking me out of Best Buy. Bad form. This was embarrassing to my sister, my girlfriend, and myself. The entire store got quiet, because there’s some guy yelling at me across the store!

When I got out of the store, and back into my vehicle, I looked at my receipt. The customer service rep did not refund my mom’s debit card the right amount. She refunded the purchase price of the item properly, but she did not refund my sales tax properly. My mother purchased this item in Tennessee, and was charged 9.25% sales tax. Best buy only credited 6% sales tax back to her account. So, how can I get that squared away? Best Buy owes us $9.75, the difference in sales tax that we paid. Who knows, I wasn’t able to go back into the Best Buy that day, and I haven’t been back since.

Update: 05/2006 I received an email from Best Buy customer service after sending them this email:

I’d like to file a complaint against the Best buy store in Brighton, Michigan. On December 26th, 2005, I went into Best Buy to return a 30 Gig iPod. The plan was to exchange the 30 gig iPod for a 60 Gig iPod. Because it was busy, I decided to give my item to exchange to my girlfriend, and have her wait in the return/exchange line, while I would persue whether or not there was a 60 Gig iPod to replace the 30 Gig iPod that we had brought in.So, my girlfriend went to the return/excange line. I went to the portable audio section, found a Best Buy employee, and inquired about the iPod replacement. Sadly, Best Buy was out of all iPods (aside from a few shuffles, and I wasn’t interested in those) – So, I asked the employee, since I had the 30 Gig iPod, and receipt from my Mom (it was a gift from her,) if I could bring the iPod back when it wasn’t nearly as busy, and return it for cash. The Best Buy employee assured me that it was okay to return items for cash if I had the receipt for them. I made it clear to him that I did not buy it, that it was a gift, and he stated as long as I had the receipt, I would be okay returning it for cash. I now understand, after my whole ordeal, that Best Buy’s policy is different than what I was told. That’s not the point of the story.So, because Best Buy was exceptionally busy, did not have the item I wanted to exchange the item I had for, and I assumed I would be able to get cash for my item (that I received as a gift) – I went to another store and purchased the iPod that I was looking for, and figured I would come in the next day, and return the 30 gig iPod, and everything would work out.So, the next day, Tuesday, I went in to Best Buy to return the 30 Gig iPod. I went to the customer service desk, and explained that I wanted to return the iPod for cash. I was promptly told that I was unable to do that, because the purchase was originally made on a debit card, and so they were only authorized to either give me store credit, or credit the debit card that was originally charged for the item. So, I was a bit upset, because that was the exact opposite of what I was told the day before. I suggested to the customer service rep, that if the policy wasn’t to refund cash for purchases with the receipt, then other Best Buy employees shouldn’t tell customers that, because it makes them upset to find out otherwise when they go to the customer service counter to get cash for returning items. The customer service rep wasn’t apologetic, or even nice about it. In fact, she seemed to have a very harsh attitude about it. She gave me two options, return the item for store credit, or credit the card it was originally charged on. I commented that the item was originally charged on a debit card, as a debit, so it should be exactly like cash, there shouldn’t be an issue with refunding cash. I then proceeded to get a lecture from the Customer Service rep about how it was a Visa, and it didn’t matter whether or not it was debit or credit. Not wanting to cause a scene, I let it go – there are large differences between debit and credit cards) Okay, I asked her to credit the debit card, because I have no reason to spend $299.99 in the form of a Best Buy gift card.I had my youngest sister with me – I started talking to her while the customer service rep was getting the credit squared away. I mentioned to my sister that I thought it was ridiculous to be told one thing on Monday, and then the next day, I was told that it wasn’t the store’s policy to refund cash for an item. I felt misinformed of my situation, and I was upset about it. I mean, Best Buy employees should know what Best Buy’s policies are, and shouldn’t tell customers otherwise. The customer service rep butted in rudely, and said “You know what sir, that’s not MY responsibility.” Well, I thought that was rude, so my reply was “Okay, well you should go get someone who’s responsibility it is.” – The customer service rep agreed to do that, and she would after finishing up my transaction. After the rep finished up my transaction, she went and got the store manager – I think the guy’s name was Jeff. I’m not positive, but I think it was. Jeff asked me what the problem was, and I started to tell him my story: I was told I could return this for cash by a Best Buy employee, and the next day I was told it wasn’t store policy. I explained that I had the receipt, and I had the item – it was paid for by debit, and it shouldn’t be a big deal to get cash for something that was, in essence, paid for with cash. I thought it was rude for an employee to tell me something that was, apparently, very much against Best Buy’s policy. Jeff started arguing with me about Best Buy’s policy. I mean, at that point, I didn’t CARE what the policy was, I was upset that an EMPLOYEE told me something different, the day before, and that it was upsetting to CUSTOMERS that they would misinform someone about returns. Jeff started cutting me off. I couldn’t even finish any sentences. Frustrated, I finally said “Do not cut me off. – That’s RUDE” To which he replied “No, I am going to cut you off. You need to leave. Now.”I got kicked out of Best Buy because I wanted to file a greivance against the service and the employees there at Best Buy. All Jeff had to say was “You know what, I’m sorry an employee told you that, but it’s not store policy. I can’t do anything about it, but I will try to remind employees about the policies” – or anything that would be taken in a sincere fashion. No, the guy came up, told me off, and then told me to leave the store. This was the CUSTOMER SERVICE counter. Even returning an item, I’m still a customer.As I go to leave, I was unable to immediately walk out the front door because Best Buy had barriers up around the customer service counter for people waiting in line. So, in order to leave the store, I had to walk to the BACK of the store to get around the barriers. Jeff had walked away from the customer service counter, but apparently looked to make sure I was leaving the store, and saw me going toward the back of the store. He started yelling at me to leave immediately – across the store! I was TRYING to leave the store. So, just to add insult to injury, he was yelling at me, after kicking me out of Best Buy. Bad form. This was embarrassing to my sister, my girlfriend, and myself. The entire store got quiet, because there’s some guy yelling at me across the store! When I got out of the store, and back into my vehicle, I looked at my receipt. The customer service rep did not refund my mom’s debit card the right amount. She refunded the purchase price of the item properly, but she did not refund my sales tax properly. My mother purchased this item in Tennessee, and was charged 9.25% sales tax. Best buy only credited 6% sales tax back to her account. So, how can I get that squared away? Best Buy owes us $9.75, the difference in sales tax that we paid. Who knows, I wasn’t able to go back into the Best Buy that day, and I haven’t been back since. How can I get the difference back? I also would like to know that this is also being filed as a complaint against that store. Something that shouldn’t have been a big deal, at all, turned into something very different, and it was completely uncalled for.

And they responded with:

Thank you for contacting Best Buy about your recent experience with our Brighton, Michigan location. I’m Jill with Customer Care.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We realize it can be frustrating when you don’t receive the level of service you expect, and we’re disappointed Jeff did not meet your expectations when you returned your iPod expecting a cash refund as you were told. On behalf of Best Buy, I apologize if your experience with our store management was unpleasant.

As a retail business, it is in Best Buy’s interest to provide superior customer service to every customer. We strive to provide our customers with the highest level of service, convenience, selection and value. Employees are asked and expected to give their best effort and treat customers in the same way that they would want to be treated. Due to employee confidentiality, I am unable to provide information on the specific actions that will be taken as a result of this complaint.

If you have future concerns about your experiences with our company, you may contact us toll-free at 1-888-BESTBUY (1-888-237-8289). You can reach our Customer Care department under the option for Store Policies/Questions. A representative will be happy to assist you with your questions or comments. Our department is available by phone Monday-Friday 7am-11pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am-9pm CST. While shopping in the store, you may always feel free to request assistance from a different associate or available manager if you do not feel comfortable with a particular employee.

We value receiving your comments so we may use this feedback to improve the shopping and service experience for all our customers. Please be assured Best Buy will continue to work towards improvement in all aspects of our customer service.

As you have had a bad experience in the store, I would like to send you a check in the amount of $10. If this is agreeable to you, please reply with your return receipt customer service pin number and your complete mailing address.

Thank you for sharing your comments with Best Buy. Please do not hesitate to contact us with additional questions or concerns.

Best Wishes from Best Buy,
Jill and the Customer Care Team

Uh, okay, so they wanted to make things right with a gift card, but the completely skated around just about all of my issues. My reply was this:

Best Buy,

> As you have had a bad experience in the store, I would like to send you
> a check in the amount of $10.

Best Buy credited my mom’s account $9.75 less than what she paid for theitem. You want to send me a $10 check. So, I’d receive $.25 for my inconvenience? I’m sure there’s some sort of tracking on both receipts that I have from Best Buy. How am I going to get that $9.75 that Best
Buy owes me back?

I have yet to receive a response.