Buick service error? Where do I complain?

The A/C on my '95 Le Sabre (102,000 mi.) was blowing cold air out of the driver's side and hot air out of the passenger's side. It also had
a problem with the airflow changing direction. The Buick dealer installed a new compressor and accumulator to the tune of $1,100. You guessed it. It didn't fix the problem. They finally installed an HVAC programmer ($450, which they discounted from $650).
Does this sound like a mistake to you? That is, could I have needed a new compressor even if the A/C was blowing cold on the driver's side?
If so, where do I go to complain about this?
Thanks,
Ambrose
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No of course not. Clearly it was only ever a fault with the direction the hot and cold air was being channeled in. The fact you had cold air somewhere means the compressor was working. Ask for your money back or small claims court.
Dave Baker - Puma Race Engines (www.pumaracing.co.uk) I'm not at all sure why women like men. We're argumentative, childish, unsociable and extremely unappealing naked. I'm quite grateful they do though.
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Obviously the 2 problems are not related, if the first repair order states you exact problem with the air flow direction only problems, then it would appear something unnecessary was done, did you authorize this ac work first. You need to sit down and review this with the SM first, then you could file a complaint with the BBB, or go to small claims court with an expert witness to back up the technical issues here.

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Ambrose wrote:

Why did you let them change the compressor if it was already blowing cold on one side? Yes, they screwed up. But you'll never prove it and you're not likely to see that $1100 again.
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A cockup, whether by ignorance or design...
You used to be able to contact the Buick zone representative and work on situations like this, but the last time I tried to go this way, it would seem they no longer have this level of representation.
I would first talk to the Buick dealership people in authority, if you get no satisfaction follow it up with a registered demand letter.
If (when) it is ignored, then file a BBB complaint and a complaint with corporate Buick, and sue the dealership in small claims court.
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At first glance it seems like a mistake, but I don't have the complete story. For example, I've repaired many Auroras with cold air on one side only by fixing a refrigerant leak and adding the appropriate amount of refrigerant. While I have no explanation as to why low refrigerant would cause poor cooling only on one side of the car, I do know that this happens. What did they find with the compressor to justify replacement? If it was leaking, then they may have had justification to recommend its replacement.
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There can be extenuating circumstances...certainly.
But $1100 for a guess that didn't pan out? That is a lot of money, with no explanation.
I think that if you are in the auto air conditioning line, you should KNOW why a leak and low refrigerant charge can cause cooling only on one side, if that is indeed the case.
Customers are a lot more accepting of high repair bills when there is communication and assurance that the mechanic really knows what he is doing.
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Actually, I'd love to know why, but at my previous place of employment, no one was able to explain it to me. I was eventually left with the fact that it occurred and that to check the system, I should fully charge it and recheck for the condition.
One of the things that makes me unusual as a technician is that I have a better understanding of how the vehicle actually works and the ability to determine what malfunctions might cause certain symptoms by using logic. This one, however has left me stumped. I've been able to come up with no logical reason why it should be so.
Lastly, I fully agree that communication, knowledge, and understanding are critical to customer satisfaction. As the original poster has not yet replied, I'm left wondering whether the dealer bothered to explain to him what was wrong with his a/c compressor and why that caused the need for replacement. If there indeed was a necessary reason for replacement, then this communication would have helped the customer understand that there was a separate problem.
While in my case the advisor may not have been able to relate why the refrigerant being low would cause poor cooling on one side, he would have had the information that the condition was remedied by charging the system to the proper level and that I had or had not found a leak and the location of such a leak. These would all be important items in the customer's understanding of what repairs were being done and why they were necessary.
I agree that in this case there was likely an error, but I don't know enough facts to feel comfortable about my judgment.
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On Thu, 29 Apr 2004 21:08:40 -0400, "hyundaitech"

On some current Cadillac cars the way the hvac system is laid out the driver side gets heat from the bottom of the heater core and the passenger gets heat from the top. Many people have had a issue where the bottom of the heater core stops up so there is hot air on the passenger side and cold air blasting out on the driver.
Knowing that this problem exists I wonder if on your car the system was low on refrigerant so the bottom half of the evaporator was getting cold but there wasn't enough capacity to cool the entire coil so you were getting warm air from one side and cold air from the other. Heater cores and evaporators are very different but if they used a similar funky layout I wonder if this could happen.
Seems like I'm really grasping at straws here and I may be. GM compressors seem to die from front seal failure while they are young and almost nobody just replaces the seal... Much easier to sell you a new compressor. If the front seal failed you would be low on refrigerant which would cause the system not to cool as it should. Steve B.
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You're to be commended for trying to find out the reasons. There are too many out there that just keep replacing and diddling until they either find the problem or the customer bails.
Of course, if you find a leak in the system and a low charge condition, that is the first thing that needs to be brought into line before attacking the other issues.
Maybe, in the poster's case, there was a reason to replace the compressor. But it is clearly suspicious.
I used to work as a TV technician during college. One old guy brought his set in with an intermittent problem. The only way to approach this was to take the set out of the case, put it under a quilt with a heater, and wait until it started to fail. When it did it, I had to quickly take the quilt off and check what I could until it cooled and went back to normal. I did this in the background, and over a week or so, finally managed to find the paranoid part. Charged the guy $20-30 for labor and a buck for the part. He blew his top. Totally out of line, he screamed.
So, I understand that things are not always what they seem.
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On 29 Apr 2004 05:17:24 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@e-mailanywhere.com (Ambrose) wrote:

It sounds like a mistake to me but we don't know all the facts. Did you pay by credit card? If so it may be possible to contest those charges through the card issuer.
You could try to contact the service manager or owner of the dealership. If you don't get satisfaction small claims court would be the next stop.
Good luck!
Steve B.
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Based on recommendations here, I talked with the service manager. He said that the system was low on freon, and that it was against the law to refill a system that's leaking. So, they had to fix the leak before doing anything else, which is why they replaced the compressor.
Does this sound reasonable?
Ambrose

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This business of not just filling it without a fix is not true if it is R134, with r12, they can put freon in to test the system if you opt not to repair what they then find, they must remove the r12, but I think you 95 Buick has r134, so this is BS. Again, did you pre authorize all this ac work?

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When the service manager said that the compressor needed to be replaced to fix the problem, I said ok.
Ambrose

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If he meant the problem with the condition that eventually lead to the replacing of the control head, I would proceed with what I originally recommended, and/or dispute the chages with the charge card company if applicable.

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