Consumer Alert: When the supply chain mess hit home for one consumer, News10NBC got to work. Here’s how you can do the same.

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Today’s consumer alert takes a look at how the supply chain crisis is affecting all of us. The story of what happened to New Yorker Linda Viertel is evidence of that. Viertel loves her 2018 Ford EcoSport. And she drives it a lot. Her job takes her all across the state. On Aug. 12, she was in Rochester. It was the end of her day.

"By the time I got to the hotel, the lights bells whistles, everything on the car was on,” Viertel said with a chuckle.

She can laugh about it now. But she would soon find out her car problems were no laughing matter. A mechanic at a Rochester Ford dealership told her the engine would need to be replaced.

Her car is only three years old. An engine replacement would cost up to $6,000. But Viertel wasn’t worried.

"I knew I had a full bumper-to-bumper warranty with this thing so that was comforting," Viertel said.

Her extended warranty did cover the costly repair. But then she got some troubling news.

"Ford didn’t have the part! They didn’t have the part until it was like late September," Viertel said.

It was going to take at least six weeks to get the part. She’d fallen victim to the supply chain crisis. Ford, like all manufacturers, is struggling to get needed parts during this protracted pandemic.

But Linda works in merchandising, arranging product displays for stores across the state of New York. She must have a car for work.

“I do 450 miles a day with my car,” Viertel said. “I can’t get an Uber. I can’t get a taxi. I can’t take a bus to work."

Her warranty covers a car rental of $50 a day. But the limit is $350. That’s only seven days and that would leave Viertel paying for a rental car for more than a month, a $1,700 expense she could ill-afford.

So I reached out to Ford leaders. And within days, I got the following reply: “Our customer care team has been working with the customer. We’re expediting delivery of the part to her and we are also reviewing her receipts for reimbursement of the rental.”

"I was contacted by a customer care service through Ford,” Viertel said. “She was very kind compassionate got on it right away and expedited things."

Viertel is certainly not the only one who faced the prospect of being without a car for weeks because parts aren’t available. And if the manufacturer can’t provide the part, then ask the manufacturer for help during that lengthy period you’re without a car.

You can find contacts for the leaders of hundreds of corporations on the website, Elliott Advocacy. It’s a non-profit consumer advocacy group that provides a tool chest of information.

As I’ve advised before, when you’re facing a consumer conundrum take the following steps:

  • First call customer service
  • If the representative can’t help, ask to speak to a manager.
  • If the manager can’t help contact the company through social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. All of the automotive manufacturers have active social media teams.
  • If you don’t get a response, write executives directly using the contact information provided by Elliott Advocacy.