Thursday, August 28, 2008

Final Sur Motors Update

Well I gave them a call again as it has been about 25 working days since they told me the parts were ordered to be imported. Apparently Señor Jose Luis Romero (Jefe de Taller) no longer works for Sur Motors. No idea if he was fired for hiring incompetent idiots to work the desk, or multiple complaints about delays and problems in the taller, or if he just quit for some reason. But he's gone now and we spoke with the new Jefe de Taller, Michael Zegarra.

He said that he just took the job recently (within a few days, maybe even today!) and doesn't know what's going on. He said he will look into what's happening with our car and try to have an idea for tomorrow. He asked us to call back at 9am tomorrow.


So the new guy actually called back (first time Sur Motors has actually called us when they said they would). He said that the cables had arrived. Why didn't they ever call to notify us??! He said that the car still would not start, the battery or alternator must be dead. I was pretty upset by this because there was no way that I was going to replace the alternator for no reason. I asked that they do the electrical tests and let them know that I would need to see them myself if the alternator needed replacement.

We called them back a day later and we weren't able to get a hold of anyone in the Taller who we could talk to. The next day we called again and finally got a hold of Sr Zegarra. He said that the alternator was fine but the battery was dead and would not take a charge. He said they could install a new battery for S/. 240 (Etna brand, 11 plates, 1-2 year guarantee). I was a bit surprised by this price, so I told him I'd call back later to confirm. I did some research online and found that ETNA batteries are a really good brand here in Peru and that the price wasn't too bad. So I called and asked him to install the new battery. I also asked about a discount if I left my old battery with them to recycle, but he said that they don't do that and I would have to pay full and take my old battery with me.

So the next day I called back in the afternoon and he said that the battery was installed and I could pick up the car on Wednesday. I was busy all day Wednesday, so we had to wait until Thursday (today) to pick it up.

We had already settled all the bills in July for the transmission, brake cleaning, pressure system tests, etc. We also payed 50% of the spark plug cable costs. In total we had to pay around $400. So this time we should just have to pay the other 50% of the spark plug cables (S/. 80 or so) and then the S/. 240 for the new battery. We called this morning to check on the price just to be safe/sure about it.

He told us that we needed to pay S/. 3,300+!!!!!!!!!!

I've got no idea what all of these charges are. So I am going to call him back now and find out what the charges are for and explain that we've already paid for everything but the cables and battery.


So we just got back from Sur Motors. Most of the employees there are new now as they have fired many of the previous incompetent idiots. There is also tons of construction still going on for their expansion next door.

First we talked to the parts people and payed the last 50% of the spark plug cables. Kind of a pain to talk to them, then run across the place to the caja (kind of like a cash register), then run back again and give them the proof that we paid. Typical Peruvian thing.

Then we talked to Sr. Zegarra. I guess Sr. Romero had previously forgotten to charge us the fee for fixing the transmission in Lima (Gildemeister). So we had only paid for the local repairs and installation/removal. I had thought that getting my transmission rebuilt for $130 was way too cheap. So the fee from Gildemeister was around $900. Then there were the normal fees for the battery and the labor to install the battery and the new cables.

The only major issue we had this time was the following:
We had spoken on the phone and agreed to an ETNA battery with 11 plates. When I had him open up the car so that I could take a look, it was some sort of battery that looked like it was made with some super cheap generic plastic and no real branding. The only things on it were really cheap looking stickers. It looked like some kind of fake battery they make from recycled crap. The guy assured me that it was ALFA Record brand and that the battery shop he went to said it was the 'best' battery available (better than ETNA). I didn't want to leave the car there for more time while I did some research on ALFA Record batteries, so I made a deal with the guy. I took the car now, but said that I was going to check into Record batteries. If they weren't any good, I'd bring it back and he would swap it with a new ETNA battery for free.

So in the end I guess we paid about what you'd expect. But the work took about a month longer than we expected (if not more). I certainly hope to never have to take my car to the shop in Arequipa again.


Well I couldn't find much online about ALFA Record Batteries. It looks like 'Record' batteries either sold or went out of business due to various issues (some including lead poisoning neighborhoods by their factory in El Salvador). ALFA Record appears to be a new company or a new name for the same company. Their yellow pages add in Peru shows a battery that does look exactly like the one I have now. So I have a good idea that it is actually from that company and not just from some guy's garage where he made it himself.

Anyhow, none of the car websites in Spanish or anything else that I could find mention batteries from ALFA Record. I'm not real happy to keep this one, instead of a brand that I know from reviews is solid and will last. But I do not want to take my car back to Sur Motors and have to deal with them again. So I guess I'll just use this battery and see how long it lasts.

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