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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Eastern Oklahoma
BBB Warns Consumers to be Wary of Online Auto Parts Business
April 05, 2014

Tulsa, OK – Southwest Engines is an online auto parts supplier that offers used engines and/or transmissions to consumers across the U.S. The business has multiple websites using various URLs all offering the same products.  The address for Southwest Engines, 406 S. Boulder Ave. Ste.400 Tulsa, OK 74103, is not a physical location and a Better Business Bureau® investigation determined that this address serves only as a “virtual office”.

Since July, 2012, this business has received over 11,500 inquiries – requests for information – and currently has 94 closed complaints, 41 of which have not been resolved.

During a BBB® investigation of this business, BBB discovered that the complaints against Southwest Engines generally allege at least one of the following three concerns: inferior products, confusion with warranties, and/or unsatisfactory customer service.

 

Consumer complaints received by BBB concerning inferior products allege poor quality of products including cracks and/or leakage; or conflicting information regarding total mileage on the product.

BBB also received complaints concerning confusion with warranties. Often complainants allege unclear warranty terms and/or confusion regarding the warranty provider.

Until recently, SW Engines worked in conjunction with a separate outside company to provide extended warranties on SW Engines' products. According to the extended warranty company, SW Engines sold the extended warranties to consumers at a retail price and collected the funds for the extended warranty. In some circumstances, (not all), SW Engines paid the extended warranty company the wholesale price of the warranty as is customary. When a situation arose where a refund was necessary, the extended warranty company would issue SW Engines credit for the wholesale amount, SW Engines would then be responsible for refunding the consumer the amount he/she paid. The extended warranty company was unable to issue the refund to the consumer as it did not collect the money from the sale of the extended warranty. However, in many complaints, SW engines maintained that it was not responsible for issuing a refund and would refer the consumer back to the extended warranty company. This resulted in what consumers referred to as "the runaround" and much confusion. In the majority of complaints, the consumers requesting refunds for the extended warranty would not receive one from SW Engines.

 

Complaints brought to the attention of BBB concerning unsatisfactory customer service normally allege unprofessional behavior from employees including: inappropriate language; terse or rude responses; unanswered calls, emails, and/or messages; abruptly ended phone calls; and unclear communication resulting in what consumers call "the runaround". Additional customer service issues pertaining specifically to shipping include: failure to ship promised products; failure to ship in allotted time frame (as stated on website); and failure to provide refunds in a timely manner.

In responses to complaints presented to Southwest Engines by BBB, the company's responses are typically short and do not always address the issues of the complaints. In some cases the responses have been unclear and have created more inquiries or questions from both consumers and BBB. In most cases, Southwest Engines is reluctant, or will not respond, to clarify its responses resulting in some complaints being left unresolved.

BBB contacted Southwest Engines concerning the pattern of complaints BBB has and continues to receive. BBB asked for the company to provide steps it is actively taking or plans to incorporate in order to prevent future complaints concerning the 3 issues described. Furthermore, BBB requested the company to provide a first and last name of a designated BBB complaint contact with the company. Southwest Engines has failed to send BBB a written response concerning the pattern of complaints and has not provided BBB with a designated employee contact for BBB complaints.

View BBB’s full review on Southwest Engines: http://www.bbb.org/tulsa/business-reviews/engines-supplies-equipment-and-parts/southwest-engines-in-tulsa-ok-38029281?language=1

 

BBB offers these tips on purchasing used auto parts online:

 1.   Start With Trust® at bbb.org. Search millions of North American businesses in BBB's database. Not only will you find Accredited Businesses that have been vetted by BBB for a history of reliable, responsive and ethical behavior, but also a wealth of trusted information - both positive and negative.

2.   Does the company stand behind their part? What type of warranty does the seller offer if any? If you purchase a part with no warranty and it goes bad, you are out of pocket for the purchase amount for its replacement.  If the seller does offer a warranty, what does it stipulate? Do they pay for shipping if the part goes bad or are you stuck with the bill? How long is the warranty good for? How many miles is the warranty good for?

3.   Read the terms and conditions. A business is not obligated to provide service above and beyond stated terms and conditions, so don't skip this step! Are there delivery guarantees in place? What happens if your order is late? Are refunds offered? Oftentimes, there are no refunds with custom orders, so delivery guarantees and BBB Business Reviews are that much more important.  

4.   Customer Service. You’ve found the engine/part you need with what seems like a good warranty, although you may have a few questions. Does the company offer a phone number they can be reached at or is it just an e-mail that you have to wait and hope someone responds to? A warranty is only useful when you can get in contact with the company to be taken care of.

5.   Is the website secure? Are transactions encrypted? While it's become increasingly obvious that even mammoth businesses and government agencies are vulnerable to hackers intent on cracking protections, that's no excuse to avoid reasonable precautions. Is your privacy protected and what information, if any, does the business share with third parties?  

 

About BBB

BBB serving Eastern Oklahoma is an independent, non-profit business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair business practices and works for trust in the marketplace. For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust. BBB provides services for both BBB Accredited Businesses and non-accredited businesses. In 2013, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. BBB® serving Eastern Oklahoma is one of 112 local, independent BBBs across the United States and Canada. Visit bbb.org for more information.