Category Archives: Personal stuff

“We don’t have to do that.” Beware GM Financial & Capitol Chevrolet

You can have an 800+ credit rating, pay the monthly lease, but if there’s a misunderstanding about the lease extension, Capitol Ford and GM Financial might come to your house without warning, hook up the car and tow it away. Without so much as a phone call or email. While continuing to cash your lease checks.

“We don’t have to do that.” Perhaps the final word in customer service with GM Financial & Capitol Chevrolet?

We’ve been Chevy Volt people for over 6 years. Leased a 2013 model for 3 years, then a 2016 for another 3, the latter car from Capitol Chevrolet. My wife loved that car. We were hoping to get another until Chevrolet announced there would be no more new models. Our lease was up at the end of December, 2018. I called and received a 2 month extension, at the same terms, so we could have some time to look for a new car. I was told 2 months at a time was the way lease extensions worked (I preferred 4 but that wasn’t an option). We were very happy with the Volt so not in a huge rush; after the two months my wife kept sending them the monthly checks, which GM Financial dutifully cashed, with notes asking that the lease continue to be extended. This continued from March through the most-recent check, dated May 30 and cashed by GM Financial on June 7th.

10pm Sunday night, June 23rd, my wife tells me somebody is in danger of backing into our car and damaging it. I look out the window and see a tow truck hooking up the Volt, preparing to take it away. The guy had a legit repo order from GM Financial & Capitol Chevrolet.

What the heck? Can’t get ahold of anybody at GM Financial on a Sunday night. Call the next morning, get someone who tells me we were in violation of the lease agreement because we hadn’t returned the car when the December extension expired.

The woman at GM Financial told me they’d sent a letter (not registered) on June 7th telling us the lease was expired and they could seize the car. I asked if she could re-send a copy of the letter to me. “We don’t have to do that.” This, I assume, is on their recorded call. It was pretty surprising to hear that.

Even-more surprising is that neither GM Financial nor Capitol Chevrolet sent a single email, or made a single phone call, asking about our intentions with the car. A misunderstanding that wouldn’t have continued had they done so. They were happy to keep cashing the checks, for an expired lease. Since the lease was null & void, does that money go into a tip jar? Obviously not, but one has to wonder, is this any way to run a customer-facing business?

Earlier Sunday, prior to the repossession, my wife had mentioned how much she liked that car and maybe we should just pay the residual and buy it. Capitol Chevrolet and GM Financial certainly ended such thoughts. I cannot wait to see what they’ll be billing us for the repossession, despite getting back a 3 year old car with less than half the expected mileage (13,000 miles in 3 years) in great condition.

If you’re thinking about leasing a car using GM Financing, you might want to ask them whether they’d bother to call or email you if something seems amiss, to try and eliminate any misunderstandings. They legally don’t have to. I get that. But how much effort does it take to pick up a phone or send an email, and create happy customers that give happy referrals, vs have to be concerned about unhappy customers steering people elsewhere? “We don’t have to do that” is something I’ll never forget. A great reminder of how not to treat my own paying customers. Note to Capitol Chevrolet- You’ll find I sent questions about this to you via your website a couple days ago. You didn’t reply, presumably because “We don’t have to do that.”

He would have been 88 today. Hard to believe I’m 6 years older than my Dad when he died.

This should have been my dad’s 88th birthday. Unfortunately, the genetics on my dad’s side of the family don’t seem to mirror that of my mom’s, or at least the women on my mom’s side. My dad died way too young; it’s just weird thinking I’m living through a time in my life that my dad never saw. In my mind, my dad will always be older and wiser than me. But he never got the chance, passing on May 25th, 1988, not quite getting to his 57th birthday.

He did, at least, get to spend some time with my daughter, Becky, who has born 4 months prior. It was a big thing, sneaking her into my dad’s room at Kaiser Hospital here in Redwood City, shortly before he died. Might have even been the night before.

I still have days where I feel like he’s around and I need to run something past him. More often are the times when you wish he was here. After 30 years, those times occur less often, but there are many triggers that bring those memories back to life. I remember very strongly a bike ride I took after hearing from his doctor that he had, if I recall correctly, about 4 months to live. I was riding through Portola Valley, descending Alpine towards Arastradero when it really hit me. This wasn’t hypothetical in any way, shape or form. There was an end game in play and nothing I could do to change it. You grow up believing that success is at least partly defined by being able to change outcomes, and this was an outcome I couldn’t affect.

Pre-Google, I couldn’t even go wild with research; you’d hear about quack cancer cures (laetril anyone?) and clinics in Mexico that desperate people would spend both their hope and money on, because someone had written a story about miracles happening and how could you not want to believe? I remember all that. And I remember in the last month, when the doctor told us it was time to discontinue treatment, and I’m thinking how can you do that? How can you give up all hope like that? But I realized that any treatment at that point would have been because of my need to do something, as opposed to doing something that might make a difference.

Of course, as long as I can remember my dad, he’s still with me.