It is the law of the jungle that the first line of defense has to be strong, and that's why many consumers get what amounts to a runaround. Warranty work doesn't pay the dealer as well as straight labor, and, understandably, manufacturers don't want to pay out any more in-warranty claims than they have to. What's more, the service people we know admit to having seen so many scam artists with obviously raced and/or abused motorcycles coming in for warranty work that they're primed to resist taking in more. Because of this, you need to be better than most--more levelheaded, better prepared, more reasonable--so that the dealership will take you as a serious consumer and not a sleazeball trying to get something for nothing.Magnuson-Moss may put the law in your favor, but getting warranty work done still takes effort on your part. Here are our recommendations:
1.Take care of your bike and document all work done to it. Naturally, you do want the best for your big purchase, but if you're fond of burnouts or on-the-clutch wheelies, is it really reasonable to expect the manufacturer to keep you in clutch plates? As for documentation, build a log of all maintenance performed on the bike, citing date, mileage, the nature of the work and who did it. Retain your receipts for oil and oil filters or any other consumables. If you have a problem and can walk into the dealership with a thick folder showing that you have changed the oil at (or even more often than) the manufacturer's recommendations, you will be in a much stronger position to negotiate.
2. Do your homework. Chances are you're already part of some model-specific chat group or mailing list, and odds are equally good that endemic problems are well known among the cognoscenti. Find out how many others have had your problem, but be ready for the dealership to say, "We've never heard of that before."
3. Look up recall notices and Technical Service Bulletins. Recalls are available in their full text from www.nhtsa.org, and the TSBs are available in summary form. (You can get the full TSB, but it'll cost you.) In any case, the summary is usually enough to identify the problem area. If there's a TSB regarding your problem, bring it to the attention of the dealership. They're supposed to have these on hand. There may be other technical bulletins issued from the manufacturer to the service sector; it doesn't hurt to ask. (More likely, someone in one of the owners groups will have one.)
4. Be reasonable with the service staff. They're only human, and if you go in with a chip on your shoulder you'll have to work just that much harder to get what you want. If you're rebuffed by the first service writer, ask to see the service manager. If that doesn't work, talk to the general manager--and remain calm. Still stonewalled? Follow up with the manufacturer or distributor's customer-service division. Make it clear to everyone that you will not disappear; you intend to stay the course and get your problem solved.
5. Document all conversations and phone calls with the service department and ask to have denials of warranty work in writing. Create an accurate, thorough paper trail.
6. Don't threaten to sue at the first sign of trouble. Nothing turns off service personnel more than an outwardly litigious customer. Besides, the way the system works, you've still got a lot of steps to cover before you can reasonably file suit. Once you have broken through and the dealership has undertaken the warranty repair, it's still in your best interest to keep calm and document all conversations. And don't worry if your warranty is about to expire; once a problem has been brought to the dealer's attention, it must be repaired or the broken parts replaced until you are satisfied. If the dealer doesn't get it right the first time and the problem recurs, you have the right to go back and have it remedied, regardless of the status of the original warranty. Moreover, Magnuson-Moss stipulates that the time period and number of visits to complete the repairs must be "reasonable," or the warrantor is on the hook for the replacement or refund of the product. Although "reasonable" is difficult to define, it's generally considered that if a problem can't be fixed in three tries, "reasonableness" has run out. On top of that, many states have more specific "lemon laws" that might be even more stringent than Magnuson-Moss.-SR