Issue Date: Service Advisor Sept 1, 2009, Posted On: 9/1/2009
Seven words to avoid when writing warranty repair orders Nothing calms an angry service customer faster than the words: “I think we can cover this under your warranty. When describing the vehicle condition on the repair order, however, take care to avoid certain words. There are seven words that will virtually assure that the claim is rejected or at least subjected to extra scrutiny.
Warranty paperwork can be a headache. Not only do you have to do the standard things to keep customers happy and satisfied, but you also have to make the repair order live up to the standards of the manufacturer. There is that big policy book with hundreds of pages, all of them filled with rules and regulations about what you can and can’t do when the repair is on the factory’s dime.
In all those rules there are several that you should be especially aware of as the responsibility falls directly on your shoulders. One of the primary responsibilities service advisors have is to determine who is paying for each concern that customer has about the vehicle. As the customer voices the complaint and you translate it into the repair order, you probably are making a decision - is this warranty, customer-pay, internal, other? For most advisors, the DMS prompts you to make that decision so it knows how to account for the transaction.
When making the warranty decision, though, you are evaluating whether the concern falls within the factory’s warranty parameters. Obviously, time and mileage are key factors in that decision, but so is the nature of the complaint.
The customer's complaint must reflect something that is the manufacturer's responsibility, either due to workmanship or the quality of the vehicle and its components. After reviewing thousands of claims that the factory has rejected, DealersEdge has found that there are seven deadly words you should avoid using on a warranty claim. They are:
It’s not that using any of these words would result in an immediate chargeback from the factory. Just be aware that when you are using them, you are treading on dangerous ground that might give the factory a reason not to pay for a claim.
For instance, you should realize that there is a big difference between these complaints:
“Front seat cover is torn"
“Front seat cover has seam splitting"
Lead the complaint to the true concern, one that reflects a manufacturing defect. This was an easy one, but what if one of the deadly words really does best describe the customer's concern.
In those cases, you should consider adding additional comments that help explain the situation. We aren't asking you to be a tech in this situation, but do your best to look for the probable cause. Let’s look at that seat cover again with two more complaints.
“Front seat cover is cut."
“Front seat cover is cut from metal shard on hinge arm"
When you realize a complaint might be questioned, you should investigate a little bit to help clarify the concern. Again, sometimes you can do this, but on occasion it will require a technician to make the determination. If you can’t make a complete judgment about a complaint, at least try to answer the questions you know that someone would ask. For instance;
“Tail lamp broken"
“Tail lamp broken, no visual sign of impact, no marks on lenses, possible stress crack, please check and advise."
At the same time as you write these notes, you are also advising the customer of the situation. It is time to explain that the warranty would not cover road damage or other accidental breakage of the lamp. It very well could be covered under warranty, but if it is determined to be the customer’s responsibility, you will contact them and give them an estimate to repair the damage.
By making sure you guard your words and make them more accurate for the situation, you’ll be doing your part to assure better warranty claim management.