Overheard While Getting My Tire Fixed…

Yesterday while I was at a certain repair shop (not the dealership) I overheard a conversation that blew me away. I was waiting to get my tire fixed (flat) and at the parts desk, I heard the following:

Guy 1: “Did you watch the rebate last night?”
Guy 2: “You mean the debate? I watched it and man John…(pausing because he cannot think of his last name)….”
Guy 1: “McCain”
Guy 2: Yes – man, I do not trust him…he lies so much. I think I even trust the other guy Osama more.

At that point – I decided to go into the waiting area instead of looking at floor mats so I could play some Scrabble on my iPhone.

How I Fix Hardware Problems

If you know me…and have seen me work with hardware, you know my style of troubleshooting. First – read to see if others are having issues. Second, make sure all the connections are working. Third, look for the dumb reasons why something would not work (electrical, buttons). Fourth – use force to beat the hardware. At first step four was out of frustration. Then, Apple made it an official option with my old displays. I quote:

…you can most often break the adhesion between the grid wires by using the heel of your hand to moderately impact the side of your display under the Apple logo on the right, then left side. Using moderate force does not damage your display.

Today I ran into some hardware trouble in my car – my super finicky – already been replaced “CD Error” prone CD changer in my Volvo. Last time I got the “CD Error” my Volvo dealer had to send the changer to Sweden so they could send my back my CDs. Since I no longer have the luxury of a warranty, I had to take matters into my own hands. After getting the error, I decided first to read the manual – no mention of the error message. Then I tried resetting the unit – figuring that some sort of button combinations would do the trick. Third, I powered off the unit, powered it back on, switched inputs…no luck. After this – and the thought of paying way too much money to get it replaced…I started punching it…and wouldn’t you know – I enjoyed listening to a CD on the way home.

Customer Service

I have always found myself sticking with companys that offered really great customer service. Personally, I would prefer to pay more to get good customer service than to pay less and get frustrated every time something goes wrong. On that note, I love Land Rover. Not only does the company make amazing cars, they treat their customers like rock stars. Evan, Amy, and I made a trip to the Land Rover dealer on Saturday to enjoy a complimentary inspection. Not only did they have complimentary inspections, they catered in lunch, had free massages, and had off-road demonstrations. Evan brought his own lunch, but he did enjoy touching the Range Rovers (of course I made sure his hands were clean). Land Rover goes above and beyond to make their customers feel like they can count on a first class treatment and I appreciate that. Thank you Land Rover!

The New Volvo S80…There is Hope

Everyone that either knows me or has followed this blog for awhile knows that I have been very unhappy with what Ford has done with the Volvo line since they bought it. Perhaps times are changing because the new Volvo S80 looks awesome. Why?

  • Ford did not mess up the design, I actually like it. (Think BMW 700 meets Audi with a touch of Volvo…not Ford Tempo meets Mercury Sable). The backend is still not as sharp (in my opinion) as my S80 (2000…see picture in the header above), but it is still very Volvo.
  • You can now get a V8 (311 HP).
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) – you select the desired speed as well as desired time gap to the vehicle in front of you. Amy and I will greatly benefit from this as I always think she drives too close to the car in front of us.
  • Collision Warning – if you get too close to the car in front of you, a warning alert appears on the windshield along with audio alert.
  • Blindspot Information System (BLIS) – a camera in the outer mirror detects vehicles in your blind spot and then uses a warning signal near the mirror to alert you of the vehicle.
  • The Personal Car Communicator (PCC) – you can use this from anywhere to check if the car is locked or unlocked. There is also a heartbeat sensor that can tell you if anyone is in the car. Not to mention, the PCC also allows you enter and drive without a key.

I have been waiting for this day for a long time…to be excited about Volvo again. Great work Volvo! Now I just need to wait for a few years until I *need* a new car.
[tags]Volvo, S80[/tags]

Audi Q7 (Which Leads into a Volvo/Ford Rant)

If you know me, you know that the slogan “Volvo for Life” is perfect for me. When I was in college, my parents bought me my first car so I could have one for my five week archaeology field school in Virginia at Thomas Jefferson’s home at Polular Forest. I then traded that in for a 1998 S70 which I kept for a few years, but in the back of my mind knew I would not be happy until I have a S80 T6, so I bought one of those and drive it today. Sad news came a few years back when Ford bought Volvo, so I have been looking more closely at other non-Ford owned car companies (and have been happy to see Ford and GM sweat it out the last few months). I have been leaning towards LandRover as my next choice of car (Range Rover or an old Discovery), but via my TiVo, a new option came into play…the Audi Q7. Why an SUV you might ask? Try buying a door, or crown molding, or a snowblower, or moving, etc with a car. Amy and I have been through this for multiple years now and it has gotten real old. While I do not think I need a dual wheel truck, I do need something that has some serious cargo space. While I am not a huge fan of the back end of the Audi Q7, the rest of Audi’s new SUV is pretty sweet and definitely worth a look. Too bad their web site is one of the worst I have seen in awhile. Come on! Did I ever mention how much I hate windows that resize to be the maximum width and height as your monitor can handle? That has to be in my top ten design pet peeves….hmmm time to make the list!

PS, since I got all riled up, I decided to leave a comment on another blog.

Volvo 1, Souped Up Civic 0

Well well…if it is not one thing it is the other. I went to pick up Ken this morning at O’Hare and as we were in the first toll booth, stopped, waiting for the person in front of me to pay…smash! I did not know what happened for a few minutes, but then we realized we were hit from the back. No high speeds, no air bags deployed, but I thought for sure I would walk around and see a huge dent or something on my beautiful S80 T6. When I looked around, I only saw a little scratch. Then I looked at the piece of garbage souped up Civic behind me. Their customized front was cracked in half. Sure, the guy did a hit and run (he promised he would follow us to trade info, but never pulled off the highway when we did), but Ken got his license plate. No one got hurt, and we will see what happens with my slight paint issue, but regardless…I will always smile when I think about how my car held up compared to the other “souped up” 4 cylindar piece of garbage. Have fun fixing that repair buddy.

Volvo For Life?

Dear Volvo,

I have been a loyal Volvo owner since I bought my first car almost ten years ago. I know ten years might seem short, but believe me, after I had my first ride in a Volvo, I knew there was no other car I would want to drive and safely get me from point A to point B. This is my Volvo story.

I grew up on a small Native American reservation in western New York. All of my parents’ friends drove Ford and GM cars and trucks. I had family that worked in a GM plant. My parents always told me that I should support our country and buy US made cars, and that these cars were superior to foreign cars. When I left my small community and went to college I began seeing more and more foreign cars, and particularly Volvos. I instantly fell in love with the classic “boxy” 240s that could be seen driven by Professors and students alike. As it turned out, one of my good friends owned a 1982 Volvo 240 – the first Volvo I would ever drive. By the time I had the pleasure of driving this car, it had made it completely across the US and back, had over 200,000 miles on it, and had been passed down through my friend’s family. Some of the interior plastic was faded and cracked, the leather was torn in spots, but the car was solid. I felt safer in that old Volvo than I did in any brand new car my parents had brought home from years past.

When it came time for me to buy my first car, there was only one make of car on my list to look at: Volvo. My parents took me out one Saturday to all the local car dealships. Volvo first…but they did not have any cheap older models, so it was off to another dealer, and another, and another. Finally, when I thought I was never going to find a suitable car, my mother made me stop and look at a Ford dealership. The sleezy Ford car salesman approached my father (of course) and asked him what he was looking for. Before my father had a chance to open his mouth, I said “Do you have any non-Fords here?” He pointed to a corner of a lot, where I found my first car: a 1986 760 GLE. The battery was dead, and it made an awful noise when it started (a new starter was needed, among other things) but I knew it was the right car for me.It was a proud moment for me. My parents warned me about the expenses involved with owning a foreign car, but I did not care. Volvo was a brand that meant quality and safety and I was more than happy with my 760 GLE.

Within a few months of my first Volvo purchase, the new Volvo S80 debuted and I fell in love with the first glance of the back tail lights. It was an amazing and breath taking automobile, but a little out of my price range. In fact, I quit my first job after six months because I knew my pay would never get me to the point, not even after 5 years, to afford a S80. When I told the HR representative that I was quitting my job to move to Chicago where I would be able to make more money, she lectured me on the cost of living. My comment to her before I walked out of her office: “A Volvo S80 costs the same here as it does in Chicago, and here, right now and even in five years I am not going ot be able to afford one here.” Out to Chicago I went…for new opportunities, and the prospect that I would soon make enough to buy a new Volvo.

Within one year of living in Chicago, I traded in my good friend, the Volvo 760 GLE for the Volvo S70. I wanted the S80, but it was still slightly out of my reach. I loved my S70, but it was never an S80 which I had wanted for years…so as soon as I had enough money…I traded the S70 in and finally got the car of my dreams: the Volvo S80 T6. I have driven this S80 countless times, and still each time I open the door and sit down, I think about how happy I am with my car, and how amazing it is.

With all of that said, I was Volvo’s dream of a customer and their slogan: “Volvo for Life”. I never thought twice about taking my Volvos to a non-Volvo dealer. I never thought I would be without a Volvo in my driveway (I did think about adding a Range Rover or a Saab at some point), but the S80 was going to be my car, and the car I would pass down to my kids for their first car. Volvo for life, was more than a company slogan for me, it was my personal slogan too.

The day that Ford announced it was buing Volvo, I still had my 1986 Volvo 760 GLE and I remember thinking about how upsetting that was. Was I going to have to take my car to a Ford dealer to get it serviced by sub-Jen/Volvo standard workers? Was Ford going to just use Volvo’s safety technology for their own line of cars and leave Volvo alone? At this point Ford had already purchased Jaguar, and the Jaguar line was doing ok. No signs of servicing Jags at Ford.

I thought it might be ok. Then the first sign of the Ford buyout appeared: the “entry level” Jaguar. Oh boy. Please. Take a look at that Jaguar and tell me it has distinctive lines of a classic, easy to spot Jaguar, pre-Ford. My eyses spotted something: it looks like a cheap ass Taurus. Soon after I picked up on that, the Volvo S40 was announced. The S40 in my mind was a mistake. Yes, I understand the entry level car concept, but this car was a disgrace to the line. I began to get nervous about the future of the Volvo line. A year or so later, Volvo released their SUV, the XC90. I thought ok, the S40 threw me off, perhaps the Volvo line will be ok, because I really like the XC90. A year or so goes by…and once again, I get nervous because Volvo announces the V50, which makes the S40 look good. The V50 is by far the most Ford-ish garbage design I have seen so far with the Volvo line. At this point the Jaguar line is completely destroyed. I keep the promise of the new Range Rover in my head though…I love that SUV and the new design was released under Ford. Perhaps there is hope?

Turns out I was living in a dream world for awhile…thinking that my next car would surely be another S80 because Ford would not ruin that design. Well, it was made clear to me last weekend, after visiting the Volvo dealer for an oil change. It is my own tradition that during an oil change, I always go to all the new Volvos in the showroom, check them out, sit in them, and find out what is new. As soon as I saw the S80, my heart sunk. It was no longer the S80 design I had fell in love with. It was now a cross between a Taurus, a Ford 500, and a bastardized S80. The tail light design was messed up, the trunk sat lower, and the sides of the car were lower as well. I stood and inspected this S80 for 20 minutes. Standing in the front and looking at the lines, standing at the sides, and a good 10 minutes staring at the back. If I won the lottery or came into some money tomorrow, I would not buy one. If I wanted a Taurus or a Ford 500, I would buy one. I love Volvos because of the Volvo style, design, and safety, not Ford’s lack of style, lack of design, and lack of safety. To further slap Volvo owners and Volvo lovers in the face: The Insurance Institute released their Top 10 safest car list. What car should be at the top? A Volvo. What car is at the top? The Ford 500. What???

What I despise most about the purchase of Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Aston Martin, is that Ford cars are seeing a benefit. They (Ford) finally understands car safety. They finally are starting to pick up on design cues, and the concept of using quaility materials. All of this has a cost though. The high end makes and models (Jaguar, Volvo, etc) are seeing a decrease in quality.

I am hoping that the 2007 S80 redesign is a good one, but I am not counting on it. All I can hope is that my S80 lasts as long as possible…and that Ford backs off of Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover before they completely destroy the brands. Watch out Land Rover, the “entry level” model is out and it sucks as much as the Jaguar X-Type and the Volvo S40.

Volvo, my request to you is to please stick with what you know, what you do best, and please somehow…get Ford to back off. I buy Volvos because I love Volvos…not Fords. When I look at an S80, I want to see an S80, not a modified Ford. It might just be time to learn stick shift so I can keep my options open for me with Porsche.