Above and Beyond
November 5, 2018
We didn't originally buy our two Toyotas from Longo, but the 2005 Prius we purchased new from another dealer has its full service history at Longo. To that end, our experiences at Longo have always been professional and friendly, but it wasn't until last week that, for us, Longo really pulled out all the stops. Last Friday my wife was leaving work for the weekend and pressed the power button to start the car. The entire instrument panel lit up like Macy's Herald Square on Black Friday. When the car started, but refused to accelerate past 25 mph, she realized it wasn't just a few stray electrons: It was a major failure of some sort, so she drove it at a crawl, hazard lights blinking, to Longo. The diagnostic confirmed our worst fear: The first and only brand new car we ever bought, with less than 74,000 miles, had burned out its main battery. The repair estimate: $4,134.55. Considering the car was only worth $8,000 (at best), we looked at alternatives to spending half the value of the car on a repair. Options ranged from $400 for reconditioning the existing battery with no guarantees, to $2,200 for replacement with a "remanufactured" pack with spotty long term customer reviews. None were particularly confidence-inspiring, especially since my wife needed a reliable car to commute to work. We even entertained the possibility of just selling the car to a junkyard and replacing it with a new one. In a last-ditch effort to avoid such a drastic (and expensive) solution, we contacted Toyota USA with our predicament. The HV battery warranty was 10 years or 150,000 miles, whichever came first. Since we were a year out, Toyota was not obligated to help, and if they offered anything at all, it would be decided on a case by case basis. So on Monday, we sent an email to Longo CEO Brendan Harrington asking him, if he had time, to put in a good word for us with Toyota as we had done all our maintenance and repairs with his dealership. We weren't actually expecting a response, but to our surprise he replied a few hours later and said he'd see what he could do. The next day, we received another email from him saying that he had heard back from Toyota, who were willing to cover the cost of the battery as a goodwill gesture while our only out-of-pocket expense would be labor, or $730. Longo's parts department happened to have one new battery in stock, and a day later (yesterday), my wife's car was back in her possession with a clean bill of health for a much less painful financial hit than originally expected. As a family of five with limited resources, and trying to save for a down payment on a modest house after living in a rental for the past 15 years, I'm not sure if Longo realizes what a huge favor they did for our family. When doing business, there's no better feeling than being in a transaction with someone who has your back. We're Toyota customers for life, and we'll be buying them all from Longo as long as they sell them.