Car owner calls 12 after keys stop working, frustration with dealership

Car owner calls 12 after keys stop working, frustration with dealership

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - All he wanted was a spare car key in case he lost the original. Gene Barnes says his attempt to buy one from the dealership, and get two others programmed for his Volkswagen Passat, evolved into an experience that required 12 On Your Side's help.

Barnes had a receipt showing what he paid and what he wanted. He was out $265.00 and couldn't drive his car.

We went to his home to check out his complaint. Barnes was one frustrated customer over a newly-programmed key from West Broad Volkswagen and Audi that was stuck in his car's ignition.

"It won't start. It still won't start. I can't even get the key out," said Barnes.

He claimed the key never worked. It wouldn't lock or unlock the doors, and he says even before the key got stuck, getting his car to start was hit or miss.

NBC 12 got Barnes to show us the problem.

"See, like this. It's supposed to start. When you get out of the car. You press in and it pops out. But it's not popping out."

He says the dealership told him there was nothing more it could do.

"Instead of working with me and try to resolve the issue, they kicked me out of the office. The big manager told me 'bye.' They told me bye."

We got Barnes to try starting his car a few more times, and surprisingly on the sixth or seventh try:

"Oh, it started that time. Let me see if it comes out ... and it came out."

It worked, but the recurring problem quickly wiped that smile off his face. His car was inoperable once again. None of the keys he had taken to the dealership could be computer-coded to his car.

I called the dealership and had helpful conversations with the general manager, service manager and a mechanic. I was told Barnes' original key was broken and couldn't be programmed, and neither could a key he bought online.

We still don't know why the dealership's key didn't work, but Volkswagen called and told me they would get to the bottom of it and provide Barnes with two new keys that work.

"I didn't think it was the same man, because his attitude was different," said Barnes. "He comes out the office, 'Mr. Barnes. Mr. Barnes.' I have not stopped laughing yet. I'm in shock."

Barnes picked up his car and of course tested the keys for us.

"I drove the car yesterday for the first time and wasn't afraid. Thanks to Diane Walker and Channel 12, I'm as happy as I can be. I can drive my car again. I've got a backup. I'm good to go."

Barnes got his keys on his birthday. We thank West Broad Volkswagen and Audi for seeing this through. NBC 12 got a message that said the keys were not the problem - the dealership says the car had an ignition block module problem. They say they fixed it and gave Gene new keys too.

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