Some Dealerships Unable To Assist Drivers Referred By Marathon

By Dina Kaplan

(LOUISVILLE, May 24th, 2004, 5:30 p.m.) -- People already frustrated with malfunctioning gas gauges caused by tainted gas ran into a roadblock when trying to fix the problem. Several callers looking for help from Marathon Ashland's hotline were referred to dealers who refused to service their vehicles. WAVE 3's Dina Kaplan explains.

A broken gas gauge was only the beginning of Linda Lee's car troubles. That was her first problem. Her second problem was getting through to someone on the Marathon Ashland help line. "It takes 45 minutes -- very aggravating."

Her third problem came after she finally got through and was told to take her troubled Toyota to a Pontiac dealer, but when she got there "he wouldn't accept my Toyota."

So Linda dialed Marathon again. She says she spent another 45 minutes on hold before being referred to Bill Collins Ford where technician Steve Ashcraft told us "it's been mayhem."

Bill Collins Ford can fix 100 cars at a time, but Mayhem admits they're partial to Fords. "Our first priority is to our Ford people and our Ford customers."

And Linda says a serviceman at Bill Collins Ford made a good point. "He says, 'we can't take care of Toyotas because we don't have the parts for them.'"

After hearing from people with similar stories, Marathon has made two changes: first, an email address so people with computers and Internet access can avoid long waits on the phone: You can still call 1-888-263-3778 to report a claim.

Operators have also been told to stop referring people to the nearest dealer and instead to a service station accustomed to handling the make of car the customer owns.

Of course you can still drive cars with broken gas gauges, so if you're waiting for your car to be repaired, Marathon officials recommend monitoring your mileage and keeping the gas tank close to full.

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Online Reporter: Dina Kaplan

Online Producer: Michael Dever