What Possibly Could Go Wrong? Our Toyota Sienna Service Experience


It started when I noticed that small piece of plastic sticking out of the front windshield of the Sienna van. We took a picture of it. I said to DH we can just fix it with some sugru. He said no, I want Toyota to fix it. This shouldn’t happen to a new van. I didn’t want to deal with the drama of going to the car dealer for something so incidental. It’s not like you can just drive in and show them the defect and they say, oh we have that part, let me pop it in place. No, that would be too simple. It’s going to involve calling and not being able to reach anyone who can actually do anything.

So, DH calls to find out what to do. Courtesy Toyota tells us to bring in the van for a look see. He asks can I email you a picture to avoid that trip to the dealer? No, they reply – a certified technician needs to inspect it to determine if it’s a warranty defect. So, we make an appointment on Saturday afternoon when we were kind of in the area on our way to another event. We stop by at our appt time, and the service advisor who we had an appt with has already gone for the day. Strike 1. The nice guy Kevin, helped us anyway and just took a picture of the defect, filled out a service request form and we were on our way in 5 minutes. That met my expectations. Ball 1. The dude said he didn’t know if they had the part, but if they had to order it in, it could be there in two or three days.

It’s Monday morning and DH gets a call from the original Service Advisor, Angie. She can’t find our van key. DH is confused. We have the van, we’re waiting to hear when part is in. Oh, She says, we  have the part. Ball 2. DH is like okay, lets do this. Make it tomorrow Tuesday. He talks me into foregoing my biking to work, so I have to drive the van to work and drop it off at lunch at the dealer. Get a shuttle ride back to work, then uber back to dealer to pick up van at the end of workday. Quite the hassle if you ask me, when I could have fixed it with a pinch of sugru.

Tuesday I drive the van, for about the 5th time since we’ve had its since January 2018. I just don’t drive much. Actually, I prefer the old Camry – don’t have to worry about dinging it up, not that I do. But, I digress. I get to the dealer and drive into the service bay where its crowded with about ten other cars. I get out and nobody approaches me by the van.  So, I go into office and the cashier tells me the service advisor Angie is around but she doesn’t know where, and tells me to just wait by my vehicle and someone will help me. When I get out there again, more people have arrived behind me. The service advisors are buzzing around directing cars in and out, writing on their clipboards and greeting others, including the guy who drove up behind me. But there I stand solitary. Looking around helplessly. Finally, a dude comes up and puts a plastic number hat on the hood of the car. Number 2. Five more minutes go by, cars are leaving the service area. The dude switches out my number to number 1. Goodie, maybe I’m next. Nope, the dude behind me is walking back with a service advisor and is exchanging information and getting his form on his clipboard filled out. I’m starting to get upset now, its been over 10 minutes. I start my yoga breathing to calm down. Breathe deep. Now another advisor is walking up to me, asks how I am. I’m pissy now. I tell him this is pretty unorganized here. Strike 2. He apologizes. Asks how he can help me. I show him the defect and explain that Angie has the part ready to install today, I’m dropping off van for replacement and I need a shuttle ride back to work, and I’ll pick it up after four pm. He’s quick and efficient as he fills out his form on the clipboard, and I tell him to call DH when its ready since that’s the phone number they have already (I don’t want to confuse them with too many different numbers).

Now its been over a half hour since I left work and I’m hating this stupid errand. I tell the cashier I need a shuttle ride five miles back to my office. She says the two drivers are out and there are three people ahead of me. It might be a while. So, now I have to yoga breathe again. I’m not sure if I should just Uber back to work (it will only cost me $1.24 since I have a $10 credit on Uber), but then I have to get back here later to pick up the van. So, I call DH. Tell him I’m at the dealer and waiting for shuttle. He can tell I’m upset. He asked if I talked to Angie. No, I didn’t. But I can see her through the window, she’s at her desk now. DH tells me he wants to talk to her. So, I go in there to her, ask if she’s Angie, she says yes, and I identify my self as Ms. Andrews and the Sienna. She remembered the discussion with DH and then I said "he wants to talk to you", handing her my phone. DH says to Angie “What’s going on there? My wife is upset". Angie assures DH that she has the clipboard and the van will be ready later. Not really sure what else was said, but Angie says to me “Well, we'll just get you a loaner car”. I’m surprised by this, but totally cool with it. So, she hands me back the phone, I tell DH "I’m getting a loaner, gotta go". Grounder, First Base.


I go to the rental car window and wait behind the guy who pulled up behind me and was served first and now see him getting a comp loaner too! Is it because he has a tie on, he got served before me? He didn’t have any expensive car, it was a little one, maybe a Scion or something. Maybe he has a personal relationship with the service advisor and when he pulled up he knew to just his guy hook him up quick. Anyway, it didn’t sit well with me. You know how sometimes, some places a guy gets better service than a girl? I felt the female discrimination factor was slipping in here at this dealer. I dreaded coming back.

Its been at least an hour now, but I drive away in a shitty little Corolla. It was a new car with only a few thousand miles on it, but compared to the van, it was a shitty car. I call DH after getting back to the office and tell him I dread going back. He offers to come to my office after work and switch out the car, and drive the rental to the dealer to pick up the van. I readily agreed.

I’m so relieved to be home after a stressful day with the stupid dealer. DH is not home yet, so I call and he answers; he’s still at the dealer. I ask "What’s happening there?" He is in the middle of a pow wow with the service advisor Angie and two of her managers. The technician fucked up.  And the service advisor fucked up. DH had turned in the rental, got in the van and was about to drive out when he glanced over and noticed the defective piece of plastic was still sticking up on the passenger side. Strike 3. Out.

There were no moving parts, and the van didn’t need a lift or any service that would require a master, genius tech. No. I think they probably put their least experienced guy on the job. The tech replaced the piece on the wrong side of the van. He took off a perfectly good piece of cowling, and replaced it. The bad one – still there.

DH gets out and calls over Angie. He is mad. How did this happen? She looks at the work order to see who did the work. She tracks down the technician and starts talking to him like he screwed up. He glances over at DH and says “I don’t have to listen to this” and walks away. DH tells Angie he needs to speak to her supervisor. She goes into one of the offices and starts talking to two guys, while DH stands outside looking in. He hates when staff people try to explain away problems to their bosses instead of letting him speak directly to the boss. He is mad, but a calm mad. He decided he needed to be heard, so he joined the little trio whether they wanted him to or not. They were in spin control now.

DH says “In case you can’t tell gentlemen, I am livid.” They could tell. “This is not the first screw up at your dealer. This sort of stuff happens every time I come here for service. I learn from past situations, and try to clarify my expectations before bad things happen, but that didn’t help this time. I want you to fix the defect and have your best guy do it. I don’t want to see any damage on my new vehicle from repeated attempts at the repair.” The repair on the driver side was noticeable, there was glue visible. The discussion continued, and they determined they have the parts in stock to replace both sides of the cowl.

Now for the CYA, please give me a five star review show. The managers tried to be all friendly and started throwing perks at DH. We’ll wash the van. We'll detail it. And we'll fill it up with gas. Plus we’ll let you have the loaner overnight, and we’ll deliver the completed vehicle to your wife’s office so you don’t have to come back again. How bout that? Angie says, will that get me a five star review?


Wednesday the van should be ready. DH calls the dealer to confirm the deal – clean it up, fix the defect and deliver it to my office. Supposed to happen before noon, and it does. Pretty anti climatic ending, the driver manages to find the office and park the van. It sparkles in the sun, cleanest its been since we bought it. The molding looks good, both sides. We switch keys, I point to the loaner car. He opens it, but then decides to have a smoke and watch the horses in the pasture a minute, enjoying the beautiful day. Then he's off like a thief in the night, speeding through the parking lot. I hope that's the end of Toyota in my life. At least until the van gets to ten thousand miles. Next year.


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