Classic car Fire caused by Johnson Controls

Conyers, Georgia 2 comments
Not resolved

Dear Mr. Walden,

On July 7 2010 I (Mark Bester) purchased a battery for my classic 1986 Mercedes Benz 560 SEL from Walmart in Conyers Ga. The battery came with a 3 year warranty. The battery lasted only 1 year. I returned the battery to Walmart on Oct 3,2011. The service manager stated he would have to test the battery first before giving me a refund and or replacement battery. He stated the test would last at least 1hour. The service tech came back about ten minutes later and said that the battery was defective. The service manager and service tech tried to locate the same battery I had but stated that the battery I purchased last year was discontinued. They asked for the make ,model and year of my car before giving me a replacement battery. There was a $20.00 price increase for the new battery which the service manager waived.

I took the battery home installed it correctly installed the battery. The car started with no problems . About 1 ½ mins later I started seeing smoke coming from the front of the car. The engine was still running. The smoke was getting thicker .I turned off the car. I went to investigate and saw that my car was on fire. I immediately retrieved my garden hose and administered water to my car. I saturated the battery and front area by the battery where the smoke was coming from. I then called the Rockdale Co. fire dept and they came in about 5mins. When the fire dept arrived the car was fully engulfed. I was praying that the car did not blow up. The fireman took control of the fire but they could not fully extinguish it. They cut the battery out of the car and the fire was extinguished. The fire took about 1hr and 20 mins to extinguish. The fire dept stated that I needed to notify Walmart right away and the fire report would be available in a few days. I went to Walmart and informed the service manager about the incident. He had me fill out a claim report. He escalated the report to Claim Management Inc CMI to determine if the correct battery was sold to me or if the battery itself was defective. Two days later it was determined that the correct replacement battery was sold and I had to deal with the battery supplier to Walmart which is Johnson Controls. Shirley Wanken is my case manager from CMI.

(800)527-0566 My claim number is 6448020

My contact at Johnson Controls Battery supplier was Joan Durr (800)701-3007. She asked me for the pictures and fire report. The fire report cleared me of any wrong doing. The Rockdale Co fire dept fire report stated "checked the terminals to see if the positive and negative were connected correctly and they both were installed correctly" I sent the pictures and fire report to Joan Durr. She asked me for more pictures of the battery. I sent those as well. She stated that she was sending this information to the engineers for review and their findings along with hers would determine the outcome of my claim. No representatives from Walmart ,CMI or Johnson Controls physically came out to see my car. This process took about 2 ½ weeks to complete.

Joan Durr stated that she and the engineers findings were that a pre existing short caused my car fire and not the battery. All of our conversations up until that point have been very pleasant. I was very patient throughout all the delays during that period. I was however perturbed about the engineers decision. I stated to Joan Durr that in the 6 years I have owned the car I never had any shorts or electrical problems. Besides the battery

I purchased new from Walmart last year seemed to be working fine until it became defective. I asked her could

She escalate my case to the CEO of Johnson Controls. She said she could not. However, she did say she would escalate my issue to her supervisor Paul Keyser which, is the corporate attorney. I asked her what her position was at Johnson Controls she stated that she was a paralegal. I asked what would a paralegal and engineers know about fire? Why not have a fire expert? Joan Durr stated that I could speak with Paul Keyser about my case.

I spoke Paul Keyser(414)524-2096. He stated that after reviewing the pictures and fire report that he concurred with Joan Durr and the engineers. I explained to him the same issues that I explained to Joan Durr.

I also spoke about customer service and quality product control. I informed him that I was a project manager

And executive myself so I am well versed on how customers with major issues like my should be treated. He then made a customer service offering of $500.00 to replace my battery. I told him my car was totaled and worth a lot more than that. I turned down the offer and asked to speak with the CEO.

The CEO of Johnson Controls is Stephen Roell (414) 524-1200. I contacted his office but he was out of the

Country. The President of the battery division Alex Molina Rolle was not in his office as well . My contact was his executive assistant to the president of the battery division Jennifer Hanson(414) 524-3363. I explained

The issues I was having and she stated that the president Rolle would give me a call. While awaiting a call back from president Rolle Joan Durr had given me a call and stated that a Rich Young would contact me

About my case.

Rich Young (414)524-3821 was very rude ,arrogant , had horrible quality control and customer service skills.

He stated how things were going to be handled and he would have the engineers look at my case. I asked how this would be any different from the same outcome that had before? He stated that this is the way the process would be handled since I escalated the issue. Rich Young called back in a few days with his findings. He stated that he concurred with the previous findings but added that mice and squirrels had eaten my wires and caused a pre existing short which caused the fire when I put the new battery in my car. He also stated that if I had a toaster to catch on fire that I would not sue the electric company. I answered his first statement by saying "That why did the mice and squirrels not eat my SUV wires or my riding mower or my van wires why were they just partial to Mercedes Benz wires. I also stated I do not live in area where mice and squirrels come into my home or vehicles so I do not know what you are implying. I answered his second statement by saying I would not sue the electric company I would however sue the toaster maker for a defective toaster, just like I am taking claim to the battery maker for a defective battery. I stated this is the second battery that was defective. The reason why my car was burned up was the first battery which was suppose to last 3 years only lasted 1 year. Which made me get a replacement battery that caused my fire. Rich young stated that the $500.00 offered to me was now revoked and I would get nothing. I asked to speak with the CEO and he said no. I thanked him and told him I will escalate the issue myself.

Alex Molina Rolle President of the Battery Division(414)524-3363 called after I had explained my phone meeting with Rich Young to his executive assistant Jennifer Hanson. We are now past a month since my car fire. President Rolle stated that from the letter Rich Young wrote about my case that he was only implying of what could have caused my fire and not that it was the cause. I stated to president Rolle that Rich young is not a fire expert nor did the fire report state that there were any burnt mice ,squirrels ,or burnt droppings from squirrels and mice. Which again clears mice and squirrels from eating my wires theory. I stated that example should have never been used as well as the toaster suing the electric company. President Rolle stated that he concurred with the previous findings. He also stated that this is the first time his batteries were involved with a fire situation and they make millions of batteries. I asked what is the percent of defective batteries out of those million he could not answer that. Which again is bad quality control and bad customer service.

I stated that if this was his car or his wife's car this problem would have been solved with a new Mercedes Benz and lots of apologies. I stated I would escalate to the CEO and Board or Directors.

I contacted Shirley Wanken my case manager from Walmart Claim Management Inc. I updated her on the findings from Johnson Controls. She stated that CMI pays or not pays biased upon the findings of the supplier. In my case the battery maker Johnson Controls. She also stated that Walmart does not test their batteries. I then stated so I the customer is the battery tester and quality control? I asked for the CEO of CMI she said she could not give me that number but her supervisor was Ronnie Jernigan (800)527-0566

I spoke with Ronnie Jernigan. He stated that he was an ex insurance adjuster who does not always believe the fire reports. He stated that Johnson Controls are the experts and he does not do customer service, he is a claims adjuster. Which explained his rudeness ,arrogance ,horrible customer service and quality control skills.

What was more deplorable was that Ronnie Jernigan or my case manager Shirley Wanken did not look at my pictures or the fire report itself. The report that came from Johnson Controls stated that mice and squirrels had eaten my wires. It looks like the example that Rich Young used from Johnson controls turned out to be my cause of my fire in the Walmart CMI report. I asked Ronnie Jernigan to speak with the CMI CEO he stated I could not do that.

I contacted Dan Filla office who is and executive at CMI. I spoke with his assistant Linda (800)527-0566 ext 12662. I was contacted by Vince Cullipher (479)277-1843 email He stated he would look into my case. He though was empathetic to my situation stated that the decision to pay or not pay was biased upon the supplier Johnson Controls. I asked to speak with the CEO of CMI and was denied.

I contacted Walmart Corporate office. I was put on hold for 15mins the first call and 12 minutes the second call. I finally spoke with Kirk a corporate CSR. He stated he would escalate my issues it would take 2 days . This case is now going on 2 months.

I met with all the parties involved. I explained that I may be the first to have a car fire from these batteries I am not the first to have had problems with Walmart batteries.(Yahoo or Google Bad Batteries From Walmart) I explained how as soon as someone has a problem they go straight to the media without giving the parties involved an opportunity to resolve the problems. In this case I have given that and more. I know that if I were the CEO of Walmart Mr. Walden ,CMI Mr. Dan Filla ,or Johnson Controls Mr. Rolle I would not have had these issues. I have spent countless hours and money trying to resolve this case. I will turn my findings over to the proper authorities that can solve this issue.

My recommendation is that you should not purchase any automotive batteries from Walmart or Johnson Controls. They both have very poor quality control and customer service skills. I would love to meet with Mr. Walden CEO of Walmart and Mr. Roell CEO of Johnson Controls to help resolve their quality control and customer service issues.

Review about: Auto Battery.



This is the first time I hear that battery causes car on fire. :?


Stop reposting We got the hint first time you posted your complaint.

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