Mixed Emotions (an open letter, pt. 2)

Discussion in 'SRT Hellcat General Discussions' started by LongbowDriver, Nov 10, 2015.

  1. LongbowDriver

    LongbowDriver Senior Hellcat Member

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    [EDIT]: Audited for tone and content to minimize heat of the moment emotion and clarify key points.

    [Second Edit: for further clarity and better articulation of the issue. To anyone who felt like my goal here was to twist arms until I get a sweet deal for being deployed, please accept my apologies for presenting my case so poorly. What I want is to see all customers treated with forthright disclosure and an organized, well-run business model, and if I can help to influence change I feel compelled to do so. If my personal situation remains exactly the same, but I can spark the improvements that make next year's experience a joyful one, I will be completely satisfied with the result.]

    Aloha, everyone. Unforeseen circumstances took me out of the loop for a while, but I'm back with some good news / terrible news and a few more reflections for Dodge. I hope it's worth the read.

    To quickly recap, my current geographical location and work situation makes it extremely difficult to acquire a Hellcat through normal stateside means, and Dodge have been completely silent during the process. Now, when I posted the first part of my tribulations a few months back, the response from members of this forum was amazing - many of you stepped forward to offer your advice or assistance, which was personally touching and very much appreciated.

    Unfortunately, due to the fact that the Army controls every facet of my existence for the time being, it has not been possible to work through dealers back home. There is no telling when I will unable to use my phone or the Internet, or for how long the blackout will last, which makes keeping in contact impossible. And I have no idea, for example, when exactly I'll be returning home... that projected date has changed five times in the last three weeks alone. I also have no idea where I'll be going shortly after I get back, could be anywhere in the US. Tax law gets sticky, as well, depending on which state the dealer is in, and there's the issue of delivery - it is not my intent to use up an allocation and then leave the car sitting on a lot indefinitely, wasting a vehicle that might have gone to a deserving owner. This is the case for most of us who are in this situation. You have a large population of potential customers with only one realistic recourse (unless they are willing to invest a significant amount of time taking another route).

    At this point, I absolutely must offer massive props to Ben Keating, of Keating Dodge in Texas, and forum user Immo, who went out of their way attempting to assist me. You guys are seriously the best. I wasn't able to make it work, but that is entirely due to circumstances on my end.

    Sadly, my "best" option, to purchase a Hellcat through Military Autosource, has been a real exercise in frustration, due in large part to the manner in which Dodge seems to be handling their role in the program.

    First off, the good news: it would appear that I'm in the pipe for delivery of a 2016 Hellcat in B5 with an automatic. Learned from MAS yesterday that the availability was finally announced, and thanks to a very early morning my local Kandahar sales rep was able to secure me a 'Cat. I owe him a beer or two.

    Unfortunately, nothing seems to actually be easy when it comes to dealing with Dodge. They have only offered seven vehicles to the military overseas program this year, and the allocations came with a major caviat: the VIN numbers are locked in ahead of time and options are set. *No custom orders will be taken*. As a result, in order to procure the paint color and transmission I'm looking for, I'm also forced to accept $4,000 in options that I had no interest in adding to the car, while being unable to change the seating type or throw on a $95 engine block heater (which is something of a requirement since my future duty stations include fun places like Upstate New York and Alaska).

    I want to be incredibly stoked about this car, which is almost in reach, but at times it feels like Dodge is actively working against the process. Myself and others far from home who can't just walk into a Dodge franchise to make our purchase got to wait 2.5 months(!) after official release with zero word from FCA regarding whether or not the Hellcat was even going to be available to us. Several servicemembers are thereby (if they desire to follow through on a purchase) obligated to drive to their local FOB MAS office on a regular basis, which is dicey since that drive involves getting shot at most days. Then, when the car is finally offered, there is only a take-it-or-leave-it dump of dealer stock, and prospective customers essentially told to be happy paying thousands of dollars more than they had planned to recieve a car that is not necessarily as desired and asked to be content with buying someone else's build. Something as simple as putting in an order becomes frustrating, and the message I'm getting from Dodge right now really feels like the corporation doesn't care at all.

    Bottom line: until yesterday, the official story I was getting had always been "no word yet, and no mention from Dodge of when we will eventually get allocations, but when we do, you'll be able to place a custom order to your exact specifications." That was followed without warning two days ago by "here's the allocations, they're all set in stone."

    Most of my irritation stems from that; no word whatsoever until long past the release date, followed by what felt like a bait and switch.

    (For what it's worth, although the timing of my post might seem to be cynically chosen by me to land on the Veteran's Day holiday, I assure you that I simply sat down and wrote what I feel shortly after getting the news myself. I guess my first attempt didn't come across well at all, but my issue is not with how I'm being treated as a Solider, but rather how the group of customers buying through MAS are being treated on general consumer principles. If there had been clear communication, say, something like "this extremely limited availability vehicle will have a delayed release date, and no changes will be allowed to factory spec" from day one, I'd have no complaint and would have said nothing.)

    Remember when I mentioned how amazing this forum community was a few months ago? Dodge was less so.

    I did receive an initial message from Dodge via this board that suggested they wanted to reach out to me and discuss how badly this program was running, so I gave them all of my relevant contact information to include multiple emails and even suggested alternate means I could attempt if that failed. And then I heard nothing back from them, ever.

    Dodge, why did you even bother asking to open a dialog if you were going to straight up blow me off afterwards? Doing so feels very much like intentional disrespect. The only thing I have out here in this wasteland to call my own is a tiny amount of free time, and some of it was lost due to your disingenuous offer. I didn't (and don't) want anything from you other than the ability to order a car - I wrote that last post because I saw problems and I wanted you to be aware of them because I have faith in you as a company. I just wanted to give you my feedback from the ground level, and help you improve this sales program for the people who came after me, and instead I feel as if I got made a fool of with another (figurative) kick in the junk from a company I've loved since I was a kid and thought so much better of. It's disappointing and hard to understand.

    The DoD program office that oversees things like MAS contracts has been very willing to chat with me, however. A Good Samaritan with connections to them somehow got wind of my prior post relating the issues we are having overseas and forwarded it on. They got in touch, and their question to me is fairly simple: is FCA dealing with the military in good faith regarding the Overseas Purchase program? I told them I would be taking more time to get a full sense of the situation before writing back. After yesterday's experience, I believe I have a reply. The following is a draft that I'm considering as my response to the MAS program manager.

    "Sir,

    After working with MAS for six months in an attempt to purchase a new 2016 Challenger SRT Hellcat from Dodge, I believe I can offer some insight into the current state of the program.

    Dodge has been an incredibly difficult partner throughout the entire experience, which I can only describe as an ordeal at this point. Their communication has been nonexistent, meaning that servicemembers interested in ordering one of their high-end "halo" vehicles are made to wait inordinate amounts of time with no information whatsoever. As an example, orders for the Hellcat were opened to United States dealerships on 17 August 2016. Servicemembers attempting to purchase from MAS heard nothing until yesterday, 10 November, nearly 2.5 months later. No explanation was offered for this delay. Of the very few vehicles offered, all were pre-built models, meaning that servicemembers will be unable to specify the options their vehicle is built with. In many cases, this forces the customer to accept options they do not want at great expense. A cynical observer might be led to believe that this is an attempt to maximize profit on these vehicles with no regard to the servicemember.

    Dodge contacted me with an offer to provide feedback two months ago, but failed to follow up with their promise and have not contacted me in any form since. It would appear that they are untrustworthy and insincere in their approaches even when feedback to improve their program is given.

    It is my assessment that Dodge is not working with MAS or the DoD in good faith at this time. The strong impression being given is that Dodge is very interested in access to the lucrative Military market, while having no desire whatsoever to accommodate unique needs of individual servicemembers. They seem to view myself and my brothers-in-arms as nothing more than a revenue stream, to be exploited for maximum monetary gain. The services offered are inferior to those available at a Stateside dealership, and they fail to follow through on any contact made.

    From a purely personal perspective, I do not believe I can recommend a continuance of our relationship with Dodge through MAS. Other automakers are perfectly willing to fill their place in the roster with far superior service and genuine respect for their customers. I feel that my brothers and sisters of the Armed Forces would benefit greatly by the exclusion and replacement of all FCA offerings in the lineup going forward.

    V/R,

    [my name redacted]
    CW2 (AV), USA
    KANDAHAR, AFG"

    Still a draft, still unsent. Part of my purpose in posting here first is to solicit feedback from third parties with some distance from the issue before I send my feedback.

    Dodge, my question to you last time was: "why am I driving through hostile fire on a regular basis just to try to give you money that you seem to care nothing about? Why won't you give customers the fundamental, basic level of respect that a tiny amount of communication would entail?" That question never got answered, except with what feels like more stonewalling and disrespect.

    The question is changed somewhat now:

    Dodge, why should I give you a huge amount of money for a vehicle I didn't get to build, with expensive options I don't want, 2.5 months late, after hearing nothing from you for six months? Why should I pay you nearly four thousand dollars *extra* as a reward for treating myself and my comrades like we do not exist and do not matter? Why did you lie to me... why didn't you follow up with me like you offered to months ago? That makes little sense.

    And is there any reason at all that I should not send that letter above to the MAS program manager? I really do want multiple perspectives here.

    Just curious. If this wasn't my dream car, I would have given up months back. If it wasn't my dream car, I would have sent that letter a long time ago. I want things to work out for the best, but some days the situation seems hopeless.

    V/R,

    LBD

    [Edit: as an aside, this lack of communication is reflected in other aspects of the business as well. Take their website - can you go build a 2016 Challenger of any trim level online right now? No... no one can. All of Dodge, including DriveSRT.com, is still on 2015 with very few exceptions (Dart and Viper ACR, last I checked). Is that great customer service at this point in the year? Every other manufacturer I checked has had their site updated for months. Heck, you *can't even order a 2015 model* in any vehicle any more! Is that truly an good way to run a business? It all comes back to a lack of communication across the board, and a seeming lack of desire or capacity to change that for the better. That's what is most upsetting.]
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2015
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  2. jaque

    jaque Silver Member Hellcat Car Club HCC Charter Member

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    dude email tim kuniskis, hes the ceo and tell him whats up man. you deserve a car.. heres youre color bro, my favorite to. IMG_3048.JPG
     
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  3. LongbowDriver

    LongbowDriver Senior Hellcat Member

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    God, she's beautiful. An absolute damn masterpiece. That's what keeps me coming back despite everything.

    Unfortunately, Tim K. is one of the people who asked for my contact info and then never got back to me, so that avenue seems like a dead end.

    Edit: oh, also, just to be clear, at this point they did offer seven of us a chance through MAS, but it's dealer stock, not an order allocation, so we cannot specify options. They're also all loaded with expensive options like brass wheels, sunroof, and black hood, so they are all pushing the far top end of the price chart.
     
  4. jaque

    jaque Silver Member Hellcat Car Club HCC Charter Member

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    hes a busy man, stay the course and put bug in his ear from time to time he's a great guy.. my car had brass monkeys on restriction day i ordered and i reached out to him and boom magically got brass monkeys,, remember hes a ceo running a big company.. stay on it, brother..
     
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  5. jaque

    jaque Silver Member Hellcat Car Club HCC Charter Member

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    just recieved an email from dodge stating they are allowing an additional 500 off coupled with other discounts for military..
     
  6. LongbowDriver

    LongbowDriver Senior Hellcat Member

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    intercooler, excellent suggestion, and it might come to that if I stay on the Hellcat route. Unfortunately, doing so does not improve the program here for everyone else who comes after me, and essentially admits that the Dodge ordering process through Military Autosource is completely broken. I've also been kept on the line by this goat rope for many months beyond release, which would make finding allocations and getting delivery when I need it much more complicated than it would have been in August.

    I mean, sure, I can probably limp my way across the finish line with the gracious assistance of my fellow forum members and upstanding business owners in the US, but the fundamental problem with Dodge and their customer service remains. And I do not want any Soldier who deploys in the future to deal with this nightmare, especially not if I can help to fix it. I owe my comrades my best efforts to make things better for everyone.
     
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  7. Phinatic

    Phinatic Hellcat Member

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    LongbowDriver,

    The only thing that could make your post anymore disrespectful, is posting this on Veteran's Day. Oh wait, it is VD. You're actually playing the deployed service member card to get a Hellcat the way you want it? Please! Deployed service members need all the assistance they can get, but not the assistance to buy a $65K, 707hp car.

    The only thing I see that is amazing disrespectful is this:
    You're actually comparing your perimeter road drive to order a Hellcat to those who have received a PH on the battlefield? Get some perspective!

    You've got to be kidding me. I can assure you, their nightmares are not about their inability to customize their Hellcat.

    God forbid you don't get your engine block heater, what's a deployed service member to do??? Oh the tyranny.

    Obligated to drive to their local FOB on a regular basis? What obligation do they have, other to themselves? The only obligation they have is to their family by being as safe as they possibly can and return home with Valor, not a Hellcat!

    Or, you could go with something like this:

    Dear Sir,

    On behalf of the 2,000 families who lost their loved-one and the 20,000 service members who have been wounded in the war in Afghanistan, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chrysler for supporting the families of service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice and also to our wounded warriors.

    I’m having some MINOR issues with being able to customize my 2016 Hellcat order through MAS. You reached out to me a couple months ago, but I haven’t heard back. That’s okay, because instead of focusing on my situation, I’d rather you focus your time in finding additional ways of supporting our wounded warriors and their families. I don’t have much free time, as I’m currently deployed to Afghanistan, but I would love the opportunity to help with this endeavor anyway I can.

    In closing, I know my continued patience will pay off and I’ll end up with my dream car, thanks mostly to my tax free paychecks, hostile fire pay, family separation pay, to just name a few allowances.

    Sincerely,

    Grateful In Afghanistan

    Disclaimer: I don't take these allowances lightly, as I received them myself and I believe they are warranted.

    And no, this wasn't worth the read.

    Served 30 years active duty, with 47 months of deployed time ISO Operations Desert Storm, Allied Force, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
     
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  8. Aarcuda

    Aarcuda Gold Member

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    dude, just call Superior Dodge in Conway AR and buy the B5 Blue A8 one they have in the showroom. Its sitting there waiting for you. have them install the block heater if you need it. Easy Smeazy.

    B5 black hood and red hellcat challengers avail | SRT Hellcat Forum
     
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  9. chuck

    chuck Gold Member Hellcat Car Club Gold Supporting Member HCC National President HCC Charter Member

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    Read the fine print not for SRT cars

    Chuck
     
  10. BIG DAWG

    BIG DAWG Hellcat, 1st Florida Cavalry Hellcat Car Club Gold Supporting Member HCC National Exec. Director HCC Charter Member

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    Well, this thread certainly went a much different way than I expected. LBD...I get what you're saying and from previous responses to your posts, you know I support you and our military service men and women, being a Veteran myself.

    Phinatic, I get what you're laying down in your post, as well. There in lies the rub, unfortunately.

    For whatever multitude of reasons, the Hellcat purchase experience has been rife with issues, frustrating many, and some more so. The environment in the AO makes everything ten times worse...Veterans know. It's too bad, really, it has to be so convoluted...but it is. However, citing perilous circumstances to pitch a query over a vehicle works once, and that once was professionally put months ago on the initial installment of the issue...going back to the well once more opens a chasm within the support. I get it that it's hard...no need to remind everyone how shitty all of it is in my humble, experienced and clearly get it opinion.

    There is real opportunity, once getting back to the world, to purchase a Hellcat of choice, though it may be devoid of some well earned incentives otherwise offered in theater. Being Active Duty and engaged with the enemy inside and outside the wire, experience is long and deep working around and through issues and the accompanying bullshit. If you want one bad enough, you can and will make it happen. It's unfortunate it won't happen the way you planned, but we all know the plan falls apart as the rounds start flying.

    So along with Happy Veteran's Day, LBD (and all others), I wish you good luck and success on your quest. Getting home in one piece is the key...the rest is gravy.
     
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  11. Phinatic

    Phinatic Hellcat Member

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    OK, the bad cop in me is out of the way. Now for the good cop.

    LBD, I apologize if I came across too harsh, and there was probably a better way to say what I said.

    Having Hellcat fever myself; I can understand the excitement, disappointment, and frustrations you must have. This fever can do crazy things to a person :<)

    Thank you for your service and be safe.

    BTW, I was at KAF a couple times, most recently last year, so I know what you're up against.
     
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  12. BIG DAWG

    BIG DAWG Hellcat, 1st Florida Cavalry Hellcat Car Club Gold Supporting Member HCC National Exec. Director HCC Charter Member

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    We'll said...nothing is easy...

    Happy Veteran's Day.
     
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  13. Aarcuda

    Aarcuda Gold Member

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    Yup. I just saw that exclusion too.

    [​IMG]
    (1) $500 Military Bonus Cash Allowance is to be applied toward the purchase or lease of an eligible new or unused 2015 Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram or FIAT® 500/500C, Abarth and 500L vehicle (excluding Chrysler 200 LX, FIAT 500e, Dodge Dart® SE, all SRT® models and Viper models). Eligible customers must take retail delivery by January 4, 2016. Eligible consumers include: active military, active military reserve, retired military (honorable discharge) and retired military reserve (honorable discharge). Honorably discharged veterans within 12 months of discharge date and 100% disabled veterans are eligible. Eligible branches of the military are: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard. All eligible personnel must present qualifying documentation that clearly reflects
     
  14. Jerrt trapp

    Jerrt trapp Silver Member

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    All I have to say is THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE to this country.I hope you get what you want,but most of all I hope to read posts from you on this board when you not somewhere getting shot at,I hope all goes well and you make home with every thing you left with,again THANK YOU.
     
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  15. LongbowDriver

    LongbowDriver Senior Hellcat Member

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    It's all good; you're certainly entitled to your views, and under no obligation to agree with mine. I'd never begrudge a person their unique perspective on events, and I clearly failed to communicate my primary concern effectively.

    My source of frustration the last six months has nothing to do with whether I get the vehicle, and I certainly don't feel like I'm owed one for any reason, military service or otherwise.

    My issue is that the program itself is broken, and has been for quite some time. And there's no communication, so I had nothing upon which to base a decision to walk away and attempt other means during the time in which doing so would have been most critical and most advantageous. If Dodge had simply told me months ago what the actual terms would be, or if they had come out in August saying something like "none through MAS this year, apologies", I wouldn't have said anything at all. That would have been two-way communications that myself and others could have acted on in a timely fashion.

    Even now, the answer is "it can't be fixed at this time but the system is under review with an eye towards improving the customer experience", I'm fine with that. Heck, hearing anything at all would be an improvement. My post was not born in a vacuum; it's the result of many months of attempting most other methods of opening a dialog with zero success, of burning my time speaking directly into a black hole.

    Saying or doing nothing to help correct the basic issues of communication and accountability coming out of Dodge doesn't feel right to me - walking away and leaving the program as-is would be abdicating my duty to make things better for the next people.

    Anyhow, I'll be editing my OP to dial down the edge as much as I can while attempting to maintain that point. Thanks much for the feedback.
     

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