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Old 1st June 2004, 20:07   #1
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It happens. And its sad that it does.

Your dream does go sour at times. And how? Read these 2 stories and you'll understand that great branding and machines cannot replace service and customer care. Read how two BMW M3 owners had to pay the price for their love for THE ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE.


I know that my switch from the BMW camp to the Porsche camp seems rather sudden, and truth be told, I loved my M3, but the ordeal that I experienced in getting the dealer that totaled my car during their joyriding to do the right thing, and BMWNA's usual lack of customer service attitude really made me rethink what I thought was going to be an easy decision of simply ordering another M3.

Here's how it all happened:

I custom ordered my M3 with SMG and Xenon only. It was Carbon Black, it had no moon roof, and had the cloth seats instead of leather. I simply did not want options I did not need and wanted a unique car. As some of you who have custom ordered your cars might recall, it takes about 3 months from 111 status to picking up the car at the dealership.

Part I, The Customer is Unreasonable:

On 7/28, I brought my 30K mile 02 M3 with SMG to Savage BMW for a routine oil change. They put me in an E46 330Xi loaner, and sent me on my merry way. The next day, 7/29, my service advisor (SA) called me and left a message with the office receptionist informing me that my car was ready for pick up. I did not get the message until almost the end of the day, so I called my SA back the next morning (7/30) and told him that I'd be there after work to pick up my car.

At 3:42PM on 7/30, my SA called and informed me that my car was crashed by their test driver while out on an unauthorized test drive. How do I know that it was unauthorized? Well, my SA admitted it, saying that the car was already QC'ed on 7/29, which was why he called that day to inform me that the car was ready for pick up. In fact, the test driver, in his early twenties, did not even have a tech sheet with him. He apparently wanted to see what an M3 could do. I was told by my SA that I should come by the next morning to check out my car and meet with the owner, Peter Savage, to discuss a solution to the situation.

So I called Raffi, who?s a lawyer, told him what happened, and asked him to come with me to the dealership. I brushed off that nagging negative feeling of not getting a call from the owner of the dealership for something this major, and I thought that based on my previous experience with Savage BMW, that Peter Savage would make it right. Up to this point, Savage BMW had been a great dealership in service, always providing me with loaners and taking good care of my car. They were always able to fix whatever issues I have with my car, and were always pleasant to deal with. On top of that, I have never met another SA as upstanding as Eric Hall. Based on that, I thought that I'd show up, they'd apologize, and if the car were badly damaged, we?d work out something reasonable.

The next morning, 7/31, Raffi showed up at 6 in the morning, and we drove over to Savage BMW. My SA greeted us and led us to the car for us to inspect the carnage.

As best as I was able to determine, the test driver lost control of my car turning right. The car went into a very fast oversteer, the driver could not correct it and the driver-side rear wheel hit the concrete curb so hard, it broke off. The rear control arm snapped off and the impact caused the panel behind the driver door to be pulled in by the frame, breaking the welds. The momentum then carried the car along the concrete curb and rashed the front wheel, damaged the front suspension and twisted the front bumper. In the process, both the driver side door and head airbags deployed.

Upon further inspection, we discovered that the driver side front quarter panel rivets securing it to the engine bay were knocked out of alignment by a good 5mm. Furthermore, the driver side partitioning wall near the strut tower was torn all the way down, and the rear driver quarter panel was gouged by the trunk lid hitting the panel, all due to the sheer force of the impact. None of the panels in the car (doors, trunk, hood) were correctly aligned anymore, all from a ?QC test drive.? The rear half of the car was twisted upwards and towards the passenger side a good half inch.

Does that sound like a BMW prescribed QC test drive?

So at around 8 o'clock, we met with Bill Smith, the service manager. After seeing the condition of my car, I told him flat out that I didn't want the car back, as it was obviously totalled and would never be the same. He labeled my request as totally unreasonable and even countered by asking "If you get into an accident on the track, do you automatically get a new car?" The service manager then figured out pretty quickly that Raffi was a lawyer, and advised us that we would have to speak to the owner, Peter Savage himself, and ended the meeting.

So after an hour, we were finally able to meet with Mr. Savage. However, upon learning that I had a lawyer with me, Peter Savage was not even going to meet with me, unless Raffi was not present in the meeting. It was clear to me he was trying to take advantage of his business skills, and get me to agree to whatever he put on the table. After some stern words from Raffi, Mr. Savage finally agreed to meet with us. In the meeting, I told him that all I wanted was to have them buy my car back at Blue Book retail, and give me a new M3 at invoice, and something to drive in the mean time. They could then deal with my old car as they wished. I was obviously going to absorb the difference between the used car blue book and the new car invoice, since after all, my car was not brand new. Mr. Savage, who looked very uncomfortable by now, thought that I was being unreasonable, and retorted with irrelevant questions, such as: "Let me ask you this, if you had crashed my loaner, do I automatically get a new one from you? and "I know that Andy takes this car to the track, and that he did not exactly baby the car" and, best of all, "I heard from the service guys that the tires were bald" (to which we have photographic evidence showing otherwise). Mr. Savage refused to even acknowledge liability for the joyride incident, and brushed the problem off by telling us to deal with his insurance company. Only after Raffi brought up the issue did Mr. Savage at least allow me to keep the 330xi loaner until their insurance company found us a suitable rental. He told us to pick up a copy of their insurance card from Bill Smith to file the claim, then sent us on our way and ended the meeting.

Now what would you do if you were not fortunate enough to have a lawyer friend like Raffi who also happened to be a car nut? I would be left to deal with insurance companies which, as we know, are not exactly the quickest to pay and would try to drag this matter on forever until I gave up and accepted a lowball offer. This alone is the reason why even though we settled the property damage claim in October, I feel compelled to share my story with you all.

Part II, We'll Fix Your Car:

Before we left Savage, I decided to chat with their on-site body shop. The estimator told me that based on visual inspection, the car had sustained about $20K in damage. Unfortunately for him, I have clients in the body shop business, and I also happen to be very familiar with both Ultramate and Pathways, the estimating programs for body shops. The car was totaled, without question, a tweaked front, wheel broken off, airbags, torn off bumper, and miscellaneous other damage, and he thought there was only $20K in damage?

We then left the dealership, feeling "savaged." At 2:31 PM, I got on the phone with Sania at BMW NA customer service, and told her what had happened. Sania apologized, took my complaint and filed it under my VIN number, fed us the same line of "we can't do anything because the dealer is an independent company" and ended the phone conversation. I was looking for some help and guidance from BMW NA and all I got was a bland apology.

I then called my SA and requested that the car be towed to Marco's Universal City body shop for a neutral third party estimate. Savage BMW seemed reluctant to relinquish the car, so I had to call again on 8/1 and finally the car was towed to Marcos in Universal City. I had to be firm and insist that the car be fixed elsewhere, so that there would not be any possible influence by Savage.

After 3 months of back and forth with the insurance carrier for Savage, the car was finally totalled. What would have happened to me if I didn?t know anyhing about the body shop business? I would have allowed them to fix the car for $20K and gotten a car that is basically worthless because it is now tweaked on both the front and the rear, with a severely affected resale value. To this day, however, Savage BMW and its insurance carrier insist that this was just an accident, not the result of a joyride. Now, again, if the car was ready for pick up on 7/29, how could my M3 be wrecked while the QC tech was on a "scheduled test drive" on 7/30, one day after the car was already ready for pick up? Why would my SA admit that it was a joyride? And if I didn't retain a lawyer, and didn't have any knowledge of the body shop business, I am sure that I would have been suckered into getting my car fixed, which would have taken several months, and would have ended up with a 30K mile E46 M3 with a severely tweaked frame that was allegedly "good as new."

Moral of the story? Be wary of Savage BMW.

Read the whole story here

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[b]STORY NO.2 [/b]

Check out this story...It's a beauty!

Is this guy the unluckiest person on earth or what?

Sent to us by one of our readers...

And you think you have troubles!

Please excuse the length of this post:

Please take serious precaution before deciding to buy a BMW. My story could happen to you and your family and is intended to provide some real life insights which might help tilt your decision when considering the long term ramifications of owning and servicing a BMW. First I am a real owner and would be happy to discuss my experiences with anybody in person or over the phone. I?ve purchased now two new BMW?s in my life, 00 328CI &amp; 01 M3.

One of the first things that many new owners feel after purchasing their car(s) is an overwhelming sense of support from BMW. This support is apparent from the second you walk in the dealership to the time you get home and are asked for feedback from a BMW customer support representative. This support, as I?ve come to find out, is more intended to convey a ?feeling?, not necessarily the ?reality?. First I want to separate the fine people whom are employed by BMW from the corporation itself. They are not one and the same. BMW sets the policies and their employees follow them with little or no exception. This fact, that BMW North America is actually completely detached from its dealers and takes no responsibility in handling customer issues with regard to dealers should be your first red flag. It?s one thing to be called repeatedly for customer feedback after a routine trip to the dealer for an oil change and quite another to actually count on BMW when something serious occurs.

Recently, when asked to be in California for business, I decided to take along my M3. I had a couple free days and thought it would be nice to have a car with me so I could drive at sea level and check out the coast! The day before my business meetings were to take place the car broke down. I was near a neighborhood and had to knock on someone?s door to call BMW roadside because my cell was out or range (this was near Half Moon Bay,CA on the coast). I?ve used BMW roadside assistance before and was feeling good that I was going to be taken care of, boy was I wrong and this was just the beginning.

Roadside told me a towing service had been called and that I should wait. The people I was bothering, at 5:00pm, were really nice and we spoke for a while as I waited for help. An hour later the towing company called and said they couldn?t make it until the next day because the traffic was bad and by the time they got around to it the dealer would be closed (I later found out that BMW Roadside is supposed to take your car to another dealer or some other guaranteed safe place as long as it?s within 50 miles of the first dealer but BMW never offered this option to me. There were dozens of dealerships within 50 miles of the first dealer, whatever). My cell still wasn?t getting any reception and I didn?t know of any hotels in Half Moon Bay so for the next two hours I struggled pushing my car out of the ?private? driveway in which I had unknowingly parked and loaded as many of my belongings as I could on my back, arms and neck and I walked back to the house from which I had called BMW. Thank god for this couple, they were so nice that they actually insisted I stay on the couch for the night as it was already past 11:00pm. The next morning, at 10:30am, after the entire household had already gotten up, eaten breakfast and left to work/school I was still there waiting there, like an idiot. When the towing service arrived I finally thought everything was going to be alright, it wasn?t in fact it was just beginning.

The towing service said they were taking my car to Peter Pan BMW and that they (Peter Pan) would call me with info on my car. I gave them my cell, home and office numbers along with my email. After thanking the couple I called a taxi and showed up late for my meeting and had to catch myself before attempting to explain why it?s not my fault that my sports car broke down, not good. I found a hotel and stayed there a couple nights. I waited patiently for a call about my car but never received one. On Monday I called Peter Pan (car was towed on Friday morning) and asked them what was wrong with my M3 and they said they didn?t have any silver M3s brought in on Friday. Ummm excuse me? I figured the flatbed took it to another place so I spent the rest of Monday calling every dealership in the Bay Area looking for my car, nobody had it. On Tuesday I called BMW again and they again insisted it wasn?t there. I called BMW roadside and they claimed it was dropped off at Peter Pan. I called the towing company and couldn?t reach anybody for hours because the guy who towed my car wasn?t in the office. Let?s just say that I didn?t get a lot of work done on Tuesday as I frantically tried to find my car (BMW was no help).

Finally I spoke with the owner of the towing company who told me it was in fact dropped off at Peter Pan on Friday around 11:00am. I called Peter Pan and they sent someone to ?walk the lot?. They again said it wasn?t there and that it?s not their fault if the car was gone. I begged and pleaded with them that it had to be there and finally, they found it. They blamed the tow truck driver for dropping if off without telling anybody, although he said he did. Peter Pan then called back and said they had video to prove it so I went down to find out for myself. Why not? my trip was already in the toilet and my boss was questioning my character so at least I?ll find out some answers. The people at Peter Pan were so proud of themselves for finding the exact moment my car was lowered from the flat bed, only TEN FEET from their service bay, on their security monitor. They kept pointing out that the driver dropped off the car and left it without telling anybody, except they never seemed to pay attention to the fact that it was literally 10 FEET from the service bay where dozens of servicemen, salesmen and other staff are constantly walking around. The part of the video they didn?t show me was the time between when my car was dropped off between Friday at 11:00 (when it was dropped off) and late Tuesday when it was supposedly found (unlocked with the keys in it).

This brings me to the actual incident that has shattered my relationship with all things BMW for ever, as if the above mentioned wasn?t enough. Up to this point I just wanted my car fixed but since it was found on Tuesday it had just been put in the queue meaning it was going to take another few days, I told them how important it was that I have my car so I can get back to Colorado and they said, ?eh, we?ll see.? I explained to them that the EML light, check engine and some other lights went off and that I was worried about the brakes. They seemed soft and I was concerned about the ridge around the rotors which indicated they needed to be changed. When I picked up the car they told me the car misfired because of a separator in the gas tank which wasn?t allowing gas to flow freely and that the coils went out, whatever. When I asked about the brakes and my concerns they said according to their measurements they had a little more than one millimeter left on them and that until there was less that one millimeter they couldn?t fix them. I asked how long until they need to be replaced and they said soon, maybe a month or sooner but not to worry because they, or another dealership, would replace the pads and rotors for me. That made me feel better, but not for long.

Soon after I found out my company lost the client we were there to meet with. Whether it was my fault or not when I spoke to my boss he didn?t want to hear my excuse and fired me. I was indeed late and I can?t blame him for that, he has responsibilities also. So jobless and still in CA I decided to go to LA and see some friends for a couple weeks through my birthday. When I returned to the Bay Area I figured I?d call Peter Pan to get my brakes fixed because they still weren?t feeling normal and they already knew about the problem, and, since I had more miles on the car maybe they?d be ready to change. Peter Pan informed me when I called that because my maintenance warranty had expired they couldn?t cover the brakes. That?s when it hit me that it was around the time of my birthday when I bought the car and that my 3 year warranty was coming up soon. Nobody at Peter Pan ever mentioned this to me including the part about never being able to renew my maintenance protection EVER AGAIN if I hadn?t renewed it BEFORE the day it expired. It had expired 4 days earlier, two weeks after I had my brake service denied by Peter Pan. I asked them why they didn?t tell me about the maintenance and they replied it wasn?t their responsibility. When I called BMW North America the ?customer service? lady said there was nothing they could do and that the 2K brake job that I was weeks away from getting was now my responsibility. I asked why BMW doesn?t send out any letters to warn us that our maintenance program is ending and she said they didn?t have to. I asked why they constantly call and bother us for feedback about their dealers, every single time we stop in, but not warn us that our upcoming 2k dollar break jobs might not be covered? She said it?s not their obligation. I asked why, when I specifically mentioned my breaks as being a problem at the time I brought in the car, (while still under the maintenance contract) they wouldn?t perform the service while, in the same breath, tell me to come back in a month to get the service done, and then not cover it? She asked if there was anything else she could do to help me. I said you have to be kidding, after what you?ve put me through this last month you?re denying me my mandatory 2k break service and she said there?s nothing she can do? Nothing she can do? BMW can?t do anything? I?ve lost my job because of BMW Roadside assistance didn?t tow my car when they were supposed to. Peter Pan loses my car for 4 days then pushes me out the door claiming I?m still one month away from getting the break service only to deny to me because while living out of my suitcase, in hotels, with no access to any of my files at home they?re claiming it?s my fault for calling 4 days too late?

I finally found out just how important I am to BMW. I finally found out just how interested they are in making things right and treating someone fairly who had already been through a nightmare of their creation. This is what I mean by not being able to count on BMW when it counts. The dealers protect themselves and so does BMW North America. All of their ?customer service? is a fraud. I feel completely isolated and alone with my problems with BMW and that?s why I?m writing this. I?ve read letters like mine here before but never thought I?d be ?one of those&quot; unfortunate, disgruntled and overly-picky owners but here I am. The worst part is I?m not a jerk whose out for blood, I?m an extremely tolerant and understanding person, and I?m also a huge car nut. It?s clear to me that if you possess or display any of these qualities BMW doesn?t want you as a customer because they will always toss you aside if it means they'll save a few bucks. I will never buy another BMW again and always refer to them as the greedy corporate snakes that they are! Thanks for reading this.

Sounds like the stuff of urban legends to us...Hopefully, he still has his health!


Moral of the story? Buying an exclusive car that you've really worked hard for and dreamt about since you were a kid doesn't
always turn out the way you want it to. No matter what the car and what its cost, always make sure that your dealer doesn't take you for a ride. Give him a piece of your mind... let him know that you know cars really darn well.

Keep Revvin ™
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Old 1st June 2004, 20:52   #2
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And im sure even if BMW knows about this they havent really done much to the dealer,
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Old 2nd June 2004, 03:47   #3
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&amp; i thought my experience with linkway was bad ! goodness this kind of service(!) is not expected from BMW...
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