The day started with little fingers dropping a 22 year old glass trinket, sending shards of skin-penetrating hazards across the floor … and it only got more expensive from there.
Being the second day of the family's 10-day Golden Week holiday, we wanted to head out to a nearby play centre called "Fantasy Kids Resort". There the boy would be able to run around and do what toddler's do best. If we were lucky, he might even remember some of what happened while playing around with the balls, or the blocks, or the slides, or the myriad of other things designed to give parents a bit of a break from saying "Don't do that!" and "Inside voice!". Unfortunately, we never made it the 16.3km because our relatively new car lost all forward momentum along the way. Reiko would step on the gas, the engine would rev up to 4,000rpm, but we would go nowhere. Interestingly, reverse worked just fine.
Fortunately, there was a gas station about 200 metres up the road where we could park the car in order to deal with all the hassles that come with a broken down vehicle. There was just one problem, though: the gas station was 200 metres up the road.
Being the optimistic dolt, I told Reiko to put the car in neutral and I would push the vehicle the rest of the way. This is apparently something that "nobody does" in Japan, given the way passing drivers gawked and slowed down as they overtook the newish Mazda Premacy that was limited to my sluggish jogging speed. However, after a bit of huffing and puffing, I managed to get the car to the nearby Eneos. The crew there was quick to help out, and they even performed a free diagnostic of the car to see what might be causing the problem.
Diagnosis: a loss of power.
Then it was time to call the dealer where we bought the car, call the roadside assistance company we have a contract with to tow the vehicle to the dealer, and try to get things back on track.
Despite the stress and hassle, several things went quite well. The boy was relatively patient despite the obvious boredom that comes from being stuck at a gas station for 90 minutes. The service crew were incredibly helpful the whole time, even though the only thing we bought was a bottle of water. The tow truck arrived 20 minutes before we were told to expect it. The tow truck driver called us a taxi1, which then arrived two or three minutes later. And, fortunately, the first car rental place we went to had a car that we could hire for a couple of days.
We left the house at 10:30am and returned just before 2:00pm absolutely exhausted for all the wrong reasons.
But, as this is a Five Things post, there should be a list. So I'd like to list out all the things that bugged Reiko and I today when we were dealing with the Mazda dealership where we bought the car.
Our Warranty is Only Valid at the Selling Dealership
There are seven Mazda dealerships closer to us than the place we bought the vehicle. The reason we bought the car at the dealer we did was because of how hard it was to find a good, used Premacy2. We wanted to have the car shipped to the nearest dealer as we are already familiar with some of the people there and it would be much easier to pick up the car after it's fixed. Unfortunately, this option wasn't available to us as the manufacturer warranty that we received when we bought the vehicle is apparently best serviced from the selling dealership.
This expectation is stupid.
No Courtesy Car for a Month
Generally when a person needs to leave their car with a dealer or auto repair shop for any length of time, they're given a courtesy car. These loaner vehicles are usually the most basic sort of car money can buy, lacking any creature comforts. We don't need a glamourous vehicle while our car is in the shop, but it would be nice to have a vehicle. While we have been promised a car, we will not see it until May 22nd. As the calendar clearly states, today is April 28th.
A car company does not have a spare car lying around. I wonder if they still have our old Daihatsu Move.
ETA: June 6th
If waiting four weeks for a loaner wasn't bad enough, we won't have our own vehicle back until the first week of June. After a battery of tests, the mechanics at the dealership discovered that our transmission is shot. How a transmission dies on a car that's been driven for 30 months at most is beyond me. It's a family vehicle, not a sports car. We go to the mall to buy clothes and maybe have some lunch at the food court, not perform donuts and practice drifting in the parking lot. Regardless, a new transmission must be ordered from the Mazda plant in Hiroshima. The dealer has said that the average shipping time is four weeks, and this week the factory is shut down for Golden Week. There's nothing we can do but wait.
Hassles and happenstance aside, there were some good things, too.
Free Delivery of the Courtesy Car and Our Fixed Car
The dealership we bought our vehicle from is located a couple of cities over, and we're not going to rent a car at 7.200 Yen (about $70 USD, +/- 10%) per day for four weeks3. Getting there via public transit would also be quite the excursion, requiring about 90 minutes on the bus and 25 minutes on the train. Shipping a car from there to here would cost somewhere in the ballpark of 20,000 Yen (about $200 USD, +/- 10%). The salesperson who took our money for the Premacy offered to have both the courtesy car and our Premacy delivered to us at no cost, saving us the time, hassle, and money.
They Called Back
According to the website, the dealer closes its doors every day at 6:20pm. We were promised a phone call today to know what the problem was with the car and when it would be fixed. At 6:30 we'd heard nothing. The same silence was observed at 7:00 and 7:30. By 8:00pm we had given up expecting a call but, at 8:02, the phone rang. It was the dealer explaining what was wrong with the car and how they needed to perform a full battery of tests to confirm it was just the transmission rather than something else. Despite being the Sunday night before a national holiday, the sales person and two mechanics worked overtime to keep their promise.
This, too, was very appreciated.
Today has been a long day, and a bit of rest is in order. Fortunately, the problems that we faced today are comically light in the grand scheme of things.
Our phone batteries were pretty much dead. The wife's phone was running on fumes, as she never charges the darn thing, and my work's flip phone's battery is 10+ years old and hasn't been used for an hour of phone calls since it belonged to the area sales manager who left the company in 2013.
The car is no longer manufactured, which is a shame as it is a perfect fit for the family. The Atenza is too low to the ground for the boy's car seat. The Axela is too small. The CX series is shaped in such a way that Reiko wouldn't be able to put the boy in his chair.
While it's true that I do earn a little more now than I did when teaching, this doesn't mean that money can be blown willy nilly on things like having a rental car parked somewhere within walking distance for 23 or more hours each day.