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Help I'm an owner of a blue and silver Ford...

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Dear Tom and Ray:


Help! I'm an owner of a blue and silver 1988 Ford F-150, and I'm not proud of its ugly peeling and flaking paint job. In July '93 I heard from other truck owners that the paint of certain years was defective and Ford was repairing them at no charge. Then, last August, I read this column you wrote, and believed that a solution was near:

"DEAR TOM AND RAY:
DO YOU KNOW A 1-800 NUMBER I COULD CALL ABOUT THE PAINT ON MY DARK BLUE 1986 FORD F-150 PICK-UP? THE PAINT IS PEELING OFF ALL OVER THE PLACE; HOOD, FENDERS, ROOF, SIDES, YOU NAME IT. I WAS TOLD THAT THE PAINT JOB WAS DEFECTIVE, AND THAT FORD IS PAYING TO REPAINT THESE VEHICLES.
PAUL

RAY: FOR THOSE F-150 OWNERS WHO HAVE BEEN IN THE WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM FOR THE LAST FEW YEARS, HERE ARE THE DETAILS OF FORD'S F-150 REPAINTING PROGRAM. FORD IS RE-PAINTING ALL 1987-1991 F-150 PICKUP TRUCKS WITH DEFECTIVE PAINT JOBS. FORD WILL ALSO PAINT YOUR DEFECTIVE 1985 OR 1986 F-150 IF YOU'RE THE ORIGINAL OWNER.

TOM: THE PEELING PROBLEM SEEMS TO AFFECT BLUE, GRAY, AND SILVER TRUCKS THE WORST, AND THE MORE SUN A VEHICLE GETS, THE MORE IT SEEMS TO PEEL.

RAY: FORD HAS BEEN WRITING TO THE OWNERS OF THESE TRUCKS, BUT SINCE IT'S BEING DONE BY A LONE, ELDERLY MONK WITH A QUILL PEN, IT WILL PROBABLY TAKE UNTIL AT LEAST THE END OF 1993 TO WRITE TO EVERYBODY. BY THEN, FORD HOPES THAT AT LEAST SOME OF YOU SELL YOUR TRUCKS OR OTHERWISE DISAPPEAR.

TOM: SO, PAUL, IF YOU'RE THE ORIGINAL OWNER OF THIS 1986 TRUCK, AND YOU DON'T WANT TO WAIT FOR FORD TO WRITE TO YOU, THE FIRST THING YOU SHOULD DO IS GO TO YOUR LOCAL FORD DEALERSHIP. THEY'LL WANT TO EXAMINE THE TRUCK TO MAKE SURE THAT THE PEELING ISN'T DUE TO SAY, WASHING THE TRUCK WITH PAINT REMOVER. ONCE THEY'VE CONFIRMED THAT THEIR PAINT JOB IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PEELING, THEY CAN AUTHORIZE THE REPAIR.

RAY: IF YOU'RE NOT SATISFIED WITH YOUR DEALER'S RESPONSE, OR YOUR FORD VEHICLE IS PEELING AND IT'S NOT COVERED BY THIS PARTICULAR PROGRAM, WE SUGGEST YOU CALL FORD'S CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE CENTER AT 1-800-392-FORD. THEY CLAIM TO BE WILLING TO HELP ALL FORD OWNERS, AND ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT PROBLEMS WITH FORD CARS."

After reading your column, I went to a dealer, and he told me I certainly qualified, but due to the large response, I would have to wait for Ford to notify me. I noted that the lot and body shop were full of trucks waiting to be repainted. I contacted the dealer over the next few months. I asked "are you sure Ford will find me?" They assured me Ford would. "Please be patient." Last month, I concluded that the "lone elderly monk with the quill pen" must have died, so I called 1-800-342-FORD. A voice took my name, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and mileage, and told me I didn't qualify because the truck had over 12,000 miles on it. They repeated the same canned answer every time I asked a question. I was given the brush off. I called a couple of more times hoping to get a more reassuring response. I got different voices, but the same rude treatment and answers. I made another trip to the dealer and he said his hands were tied until Ford would cooperate. He acknowledged that the most persistent individuals had "butted" in line and got their trucks repainted. I was patient, he said he was sorry. I walked around the lot and looked over 10 of the trucks waiting to be repainted, and noticed that all had well over 12,000 miles. What's going on?
Darrel

TOM: Ford goofed, Darrel. We called them about your truck and they have no good explanation for what happened. They said you are definitely eligible for the repainting, and they say they have no idea where the "12,000 mile" story came from either.

RAY: They apologized and said they'd call you and make arrangements to get your truck repainted. And they said if you have any additional problems, you should call 1-800-342-FORD.

TOM: And considering the run-around you got last time, you might want to keep Dial-A-Prayer's number handy, too.

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