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To the Packard Motor Company
December 26, 1936 Vancouver Barracks, Washington
In September I purchased a new Packard 120, touring sedan, from your Oak Park, Illinois agent. I was extremely careful to drive it at less than 25 miles per hour for the first 200 miles and at less than 35 for the first 1000. It was serviced by the selling agent at 500 miles, by your Springfield, Massachusetts agency at 1500; by the Oak Park agency at 2700 and by your Joplin, Missouri agency at 3700. As a matter of fact, I was on a brief tour in the East and then left Chicago for station at Vancouver Barracks. During this travel I several times went out of my way; altering my itinerary, in order to secure proper Packard service at the right time.
Notwithstanding these precautions, I found as I was approaching Amarillo, Texas that something was wrong in the differential. J. M. Wise, your agent at Amarillo, examined the car and found the differential almost completely lacking in grease and the gears injured. He, or rather, his mechanic and foreman, stated that evidently the differential had not been properly filled at the factory before delivery to your Oak Park agent. Also, quite evidently, the differential had not been properly checked at the successive servicing examinations. I asked Mr. Wise to put this in writing, but he told me that that was wholly unnecessary as there could be no possible question about the Packard service making good the damage. As he had no differential assembly he telegraphed ahead to your Albuquerque, New Mexico agency to secure the necessary parts and have them in readiness (see attached telegram). I then proceeded at less than 30 miles per hour to Albuquerque. There, Roland Sami and Company installed a new differential assembly. But, I was required to pay $9.40 (see attached bill and report indorsed on back).
I submit that no charge should have been made against me in this instance. Through the failure or oversight of the Packard Service, I had been delayed two days, with the expense involved for three people, and seriously inconvenienced.
Furthermore, at the time of purchase of the car I inquired particularly as to whether or not I would be charged for the routine 10,000 mile servicing at agencies en route—explaining where I was going. I was told that I would suffer no loss by dealing with the different agencies involved. Yet each agency imposed a charge, stating that I was only entitled to the free service in the local district in which I had purchased the car.
Furthermore, at the 500-mile servicing, after oiling and greasing, nothing was done to the car but stamping the plate under the hood. I, by accident, discovered this omission and only then secured, supposedly, the required service inspection.
I mention these details because they have pretty much destroyed my faith in the Packard service, which had been one of the determining reasons for my using a Packard since 1927.1 The delay in reporting this affair was due to the papers being mislaid.
Very truly yours,
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Vancouver Barracks, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Packard advertisements at the time said: “We sincerely believe that the Packard 120 is the most service-free car in America. Its finer materials, its better engineering, and the greater precision of its parts combine to reduce the need for service to an astonishingly low level." (Saturday Evening Post 209 [July 18,1936]: 51) The automobile cost between $950 and $1,150, depending upon optional accessories. No reply to this letter was found in the Marshall papers.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 1, “The Soldierly Spirit,” December 1880-June 1939 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981), pp. 518-519.