The saga of the $706 speedometer repair
The $706 Odometer repair – the good, the bad and the ugly
This past March (2017) the odometer (and trip meter) stopped working on my 1986 Alfa Spider Quadrifoglio. I checked with Aflabb.com and found two recommendations. Powl’s Speedometer in Lancaster, PA and Palo Alto Speedometer in Palo Alto, CA.
Let’s start with ‘the bad’. I made a BIG MISTAKE BY CHOSING POWL’S SPEEDOMETER. I ponied up $24 to ship it to Powl's . The unit was returned within a few working days at a charge of $322 including shipping, claiming to have replaced the stepper motor and a gear, but IT ONLY WORKED FOR 2 DAYS AND LESS THAN 100 MILES before it stopped working. I called and they said to return it (another $24). After 6 days of hearing nothing, I called and left a message. NO RESPONSE FROM POWL’S. I called the next day and left a message. NO RESPONSE FROM POWL’S. I called a third day and spoke to a woman who said Rickie, would get back to me that day. NO CALL FROM POWL’S. I sent an email outlining my frustration and Rickie called. He identified himself as the owner and said he was having trouble finding the parts, now a chip and pc board. He called back about a week later still could not find the parts. Shortly thereafter he asked for $255 more to buy a cluster to get the parts. He said I had no other options so I agreed. A few days later the woman called and said that deal fell through and we were back to the start. I tried to help find the part but failed. In a subsequent discussion I realized they were not Alfa experts when they couldn’t pronounce Quadrifoglio. At that point I realized I did not want them working on my car and requested they send the part back and refund my money.
Now the ugly. Rickie said he would send the unit back but not the money. I was shocked, explaining I sent him a unit with a broken odometer and in the end he is sending me back a unit with a broken odometer and keeping my $300. I suggested that his reputation had to be worth more than that. His response was ‘so that’s how you want to play the game’. That was the last I heard from Rickie or Powl’s. I sent 2 subsequent emails requesting disposition of my money but NO RESPONSE FROM POWL’S.
The good: I called Palo Alto Speedometer. They knew all about Alfas, said they would evaluate it free of charge. I sent the unit to them (another $24). They evaluated it, called, estimated $285 plus shipping and asked if I wanted to proceed. They called again in a few days and confirmed it was repaired and the charge was $285 plus $21 shipping. The unit was RETURNED WITH THE DAMAGED PARTS (including a blown stepper motor). It has worked perfectly for 5 weeks.
Conclusion: My ordeal with Powl’s Speedometer lasted about 5 weeks and cost me $376 including shipping costs and I ended up right where I started with a non-functioning odometer. My successful transaction with Palo Alto Speedometer took a little over a week and cost $330 including shipping and I have a repaired unit. So fellow Alfa aficionados, be careful who you deal with.