July 18, 2012

Kars4Kids: More Than A Jingle

1...8...7...7...
As promised, I will be posting part two of "Confusion of the Blessed" (or why bad things happen to good people) by this weekend (click here for part one), but I have to get something off my chest. Inevitably you have seen the billboards and heard the incredibly annoying jingle for Kars4Kids. I have actually donated two cars to this organization. My experience with them was not exactly smooth. In fact the experience was remarkablly similar to being tortured by Jack Bauer.

I've been watching lots of 24
 But despite this less than enjoyable experience, I didn't feel the need to broadcast my displeasure all over the web. Then this happened...

This means war
There is no way you completely ruin our summer vacation plans then blatantly advertise on my blog. Consider this payback. Below is an account of my car donation experience.

This past winter my 1996 Honda Accord completely crapped out. I mean royally crapped out. We are talking hole in the gas line and tank, brakes completely shot, all four tires warn out, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. We debated just fixing the brakes but that felt like we were placing a bandage over a sword wound. So we decided to donate the car. Logically, if you even think of donating a car the jingle starts playing in your head (I think Kars4Kids has partnered with Google and Apple and has plans to take over the world). The pickup was incredibly smooth. Well, other than the fact that they called my mom's home in Chicago every time we attempted to arrange a time. I called them five times asking them to change my number in their system to my current cell #.  But I understand. It's incredibly difficult it is to change 10 digits on a computer. But at the end of the day, the car was donated.

R.I.P.
 Then came the vacation voucher. This is where the wheels fell off (no pun intended). Kars4Kids proclaims to the world that if you donate your car you will receive a two-night, three-day travel voucher.

Right...

First of all, they send you a pamphlet in the mail telling you that in order to use the vacation voucher you have to send in a $50 down-payment.  Weird, but not completely unacceptable. So we did this (which by the way was cashed immediately).  Then we attempted to call to actually book our hotel. This is where the fun started. It took us over a month to get a hold of someone. I'm not exaggerating. During this period of silence, I was hung up on three times and transferred umpteen times to a customer service agent that couldn't help me, but informed me that Susan, or Rebecca, or Caroline would be glad to help me when she return from vacation next week.  The complication was that Kars4Kids actually plays no role in booking the vacation. They put you in touch with a travel agent (in Florida I think).

Eventually we learned that one can only book one of their locations (they have places all over the U.S.) three months before the planned travel date. Frustrating, but OK, what can you do. So Sarah and I both put it in our calendars. Three months prior to our 1-year anniversary we are calling this place and booking our room. Eventually we actually got through (it took calling about 10 times). We informed the travel agent of our plans, to which you laughed under her breath and said, "Oh, all those locations have been booked for months. There is no way you're staying there."

So after spending yet another several hours on the phone we learned that their 365 day/year travel voucher is essentially only good for any time except summer months, desirable locations or any day of the week that ends in the letters d, a, y. 


To bring a conclusion to this rant, I would recommend pursuing alternative organizations if you are hoping to donate your car. And when that jingle starts in your head, think of the Krasses and turn the channel.

Part of me loves the ironic inevitability that because I wrote "Kars4Kids" all over this blog Google will place their adds all over 1000goodmornings.net. Great. Please advertise your shotty organization on my blog.

I win.

[Insert evil villain laugh]

8 comments:

  1. Oh man! We literally just donated our car to them!
    Ah! Any advice on this whole process?

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  2. If you are having trouble with the travel agency I would call Kars4Kids directly. Every time we ran into a problem, we just called them. They were able to flex the necessary muscle to get the process moving again. If you get in a real bind, call Kars4Kids and ask for Rebecca in the voucher department. Even though we ultimately were unable to use the travel voucher, she was very helpful.

    In terms of other advice...lots and lots of prayer...

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    Replies
    1. Prayer... Yes I'll make sure to add that. :). Did you get your fifty bucks back?

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    2. We haven't gotten the $50 back yet, but I think it is possible to request a refund. We are still hoping to use the voucher this fall (yes, we are stubborn and slightly indignant over this whole fiasco).

      If we don't end up using it this fall, we will ask for our money back.

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  3. Update: I just got a call from the travel agent. She told me she had a note on her computer to call me today. I explained the situation (again) to which she responded, "OK, I'm not sure why I called you." To which I responded, "I'm not quite sure how to respond to that. You put a note in your computer to call me right?" At the end of the conversation I gave her a couple more dates that may work for us to use the voucher. Right before hanging up she told me, "It would probably be best for you to call me in three to four weeks." Sigh...

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    Replies
    1. Oh. My. Goodness!

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  4. You will never get a dime. Or a vacation. They are a scam. Do your homework.

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  5. We FINALLY booked our vacation! Let's just see if it actually happens...

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