Chesterfield resident Chris Poole bought a brand-new Chevrolet Silverado truck June 25, 2005, for $28,800. It was the first new vehicle he'd ever bought. He liked it.
For a while, at least. Ten days after he bought it, Poole says, the CD player broke. So he took it back to the dealer (which he won't name, since his display prompted a cease-and-desist notice from the dealer's attorney. The dealer has no comment).
Poole's version: They told him they'd order a new stereo. They ordered the wrong one. Then they installed the right one. Then the battery died. They installed the wrong battery. Then they installed the right one but forgot to replace a small metal support piece. He found it lying on his windshield and had the dealer reinstall it. Then the front alignment went awry.
Nearly a year later, after 10 trips to the original General Motors dealer, the truck has 7,706 miles on it and the cab has started to leak in heavy rain, Poole says.
GM's response, Poole says, has been that the truck was still under warranty and he could continue to get it repaired at the dealership.
Chris Preuss, a Washington, D.C., spokesman for GM, says the company treats incidents like these on a case-by-case basis, examining the nature of the problems and the customer's expectations.
"Sometimes vehicles have too many issues, and we work it out through an arbitrator," Preuss says. He proffered his own office number for Poole to call.
Virginia's "lemon laws" allow car buyers to file a claim with the Office of Consumer Affairs within 18 months of purchase if they've tried unsuccessfully to have a new vehicle repaired three or more times for the same problem or if the vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 days in one year. It's not clear if Poole would qualify.
The truck-bed display was first inspired "by anger, to shame the dealership," Poole says. He removed the name of the dealership and now considers his display more of a public service message.
Poole says the giant letters reading "Thanx G. M. SEE," with an affixed white-and-red cane, mean "You're blind. This is a lemon."
Other symbols include a red vise holding a blue bottle of Bawls, a guarana drink ("Your balls are in a vise") and a toilet with dollar bills taped to the rim (the money Poole paid for the truck).
The lemons are easy to decipher. Poole replaces them "about every two weeks," he says, "because they get dried up." SClick here for more News and Features