I felt inclined to post this as with the majority of issues with dealers posted on this site the complaining member merely states that he/she is dissatisfied with BMW service etc etc. Firstly when using a dealer it’s NOT BMW UK (or any other country) it’s the dealer themselves who hold a BMW franchise you are complaining about. There are good and bad as in any service industry. Yes you can use BMW UK to assist in resolving matters but your complaint if there is one is with the dealer.
So how can you reduce the potential for things to go wrong?
If you are booking a service make sure you as the owner know what service you want, what you should expect from the service and how much you are going to pay. If you are not going to authorise any other work which they may find during the service SAY SO AT THE TIME! If they find anything which needs attention over and above the service get them to call you and give a number (mobile) you have access to all the time. You can then decide if you want it doing or not, agree prices, times etc. Tell them not to wash it if that’s what you want and endorse the paperwork accordingly. Agree an exact time for collection and out of courtesy make sure you are there at the time. If it’s not ready then time to complain.
HANDING OVER YOUR PRIDE AND JOY OVER
DONT JUST HAND OVER THE KEYS. Take the service rep out to your vehicle and do a quick check round for current damage. It takes 5 minutes. Note the mileage and set the trip to zero. Having been at one dealer for several years they now know that’s what I want and do it every time. When you get it back DONT ACCEPT THE KEYS until you do a similar check with the service rep. Note the mileage and trip reading, yes they may do a road test but only a few miles. If they want your return custom (and in this current economic climate they do) they will do it. All too late when you get home and find damage. Put yourself in their position – you collect you car without checking, several days later you notice damage and take it back to the dealer telling them it’s their fault – ‘Wasn’t there when I brought it in..... etc etc.’ Would you accept that – I think not.
Agreeing service costs and spend limits, handing over the vehicle for service as I have outlined above takes only a few minutes more than just taking it in and handing over the keys. Result – generally satisfied customer and dealer. Yes things do go wrong but at least doing the above you mitigate the risk and can quickly identify who is responsible.
Repairs outside service are exactly the same in terms of handover and agreed cost limits. If they can’t tell you a cost then set a limit after which they should call you. Ask what diagnostics they will carry out and costs. Using this Forum and others gives you a good opportunity to tell them what you think the problem is. I gave my dealer details of the Forum and one relating to the 3 series and they now use this info to help them in their diagnostic process. My 3 series had a problem with the High Pressure Fuel Pump – at first they couldn’t identify the problem – 5 mins search on the E90 forum – problem identified and new pump fitted, problem solved and hours of wasted time (and my money) in diagnostics etc saved. OK so the dealer didn’t make as much money out of it but then again I’m a regular customer and with 2 BMs and a Mini he can’t afford to lose that income.
If you have a complaint make it as quickly as possible. Identify who you are speaking to, date, time etc and follow it up in writing to the Dealer Principle straight away! Don’t spend weeks on the telephone with anonymous people. Be calm and polite (yes I’m sure you will be angry) but it’s the best way to start. Keep details of everything, take photographs of damage etc etc. If the incident cannot be resolved and you seek legal redress then your case will be so much stronger if you have retained full details and a documented history of events. Citizens advice are a good place to get quick legal advice and many will give you details of solicitors who will give you a free 30 minute consultation to assess your case. If you intend seeking legal advice then notify the dealer – this sometimes has the desired effect in quickly resolving an issue. County court is a relatively easy process and plenty of websites to advise you how to go about civil litigation.
PURCHASING NEW OR PRE OWNED
I have already created a thread regarding pre purchase checks but am still amazed at how many people buy without doing the proper checks. Buying a car is perhaps the second largest financial purchase most of us will make – house is first. When you buy a house you get an independent surveyor in to confirm its condition but some when they buy a Zed get so taken over by the moment they just hand over the dosh and get home to be totally disillusioned and disappointed when the faults mount up. Yes and for a new car to. Take time to check it. Try everything to make sure it works. If there is a fault with the car and the dealer agrees to fix it DO NOT TAKE OWNERSHIP OR HAND OVER MONEY, SIGN AGREEMENTS until it’s fixed to your satisfaction. One guy on here recently had problems after purchase and contacted the finance agent (BMW finance) and was surprised at their lack of interest – they just lend you money! If you borrowed money from your bank to buy a car would you expect them to assist if there was a fault? Second-hand car sales are a dealer responsibility not BMW UK although they may assist in sorting out problems.
It’s not difficult to reduce the potential for problems to develop. Just a few simple precautions, checks etc will ensure you get good service to agreed prices, your car purchase new or second-hand goes smoothly and you get enjoyment from you purchase as soon as you turn the ignition key for the first time.