The recall and the rental car

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Seven On Your Side
April 8, 2011 6:00:50 PM PDT
Every day's become a logistical challenge for Trish and Paul Murphy.

He drives 40 miles to work in the Bronx. Her office is 20 miles the other way.

Their Ford Windstar was one of half a million recalled last Thanksgiving for cracking axles. Earlier this year, more bad news for the Windstar came a second recall, this time because of corrosion.

"I got a call from the dealer. They were going to offer us a buy back," Trish said.

Ford had been paying for the Murphy's rental car since the first recall. The automaker is unable to fix the grounded mini-vans because of a backlog of replacement parts.

Last November, 7 On Your Side got rental cars for several customers who complained Ford promised free rentals, but then didn't deliver.

The second recall made it clear if the Murphy's accepted the buyback offer ($74-hundred), the free rental was history.

"We had five days to accept the offer, sign the paper. We had to return the rental car," Trish said.

"We went there on the fifth day and we sat down and figured they would have a check for us," Paul said.

But Ford's checks weren't coming for 4 to 6 weeks.

"We said, 'Well, what are we supposed to do for a vehicle now until we get payment?'" Trish explained. "We got no answer. They had our back against the wall and they knew it."

Down to one car, with their eldest daughter heading off to college this fall, the Murphy's knew without Ford's buy back check, they couldn't afford another car.

So they unhappily agreed to give up the rental and wait.

"I was very upset. I lost sleep over this. How am I gonna get to work? I have a new job," Trish said.

All of this has left the dealerships in a bad place between frustrated customers and Ford Motor Company. At Bell Ford, the service manager told us that they asked Ford to cut the checks for the buy backs quicker. He also noted the company was offering way more than these minivans are worth.

The Murphy's tried several times but failed to get a rental extension. We presented their situation to Ford Motor Company.

"The phone rang. It was the dealership and they said, 'Mrs. Murphy, something miraculous happened. We got a rental approved for you," Trish said.

While Ford said it can't provide rental assistance for everyone, the company said it would now make exceptions on a case by case basis.

A week after we explained the Murphy's case, Trish was back on the road in a new rental courtesy of Ford.