Friday, June 30, 2006

BMW Battersea

My Mini Cooper S, photographed just after I took delivery of itToday my Mini Cooper S went in for its first servicing. It's nearly three years old but with only 8600 miles on the clock it didn't qualify for its first service until now. The first service for a Mini becomes due when it reaches 10,000 miles or 3 years - whichever occurs first.

When I was sold the car I was told about MiniCare coverage which gave me "free servicing and warranty" for three years for just £100. With the three years about to elapse I decided it was time to get the car serviced at MINI Battersea and, in particular, get a couple of irritating problems fixed:

(1) the in-built GPS system which hasn't been able to connect with a satellite for over two months and has become useless because it thinks the car is located about 3 miles from where it actually is. Presumably the GPS receiver tries to guess its position based on the last time it "spoke" to a satellite and the wheel turns and mileage that have been done since. Over the weeks it has got seriously out of wack!

(2) the air-conditioning (which has always been weak and ineffectual) had a light that started flashing a couple of weeks ago.

The car went in under warranty and I received a call to say that the flashing light problem was down to the need for regassing which was not covered under MiniCare and would cost TWO HUNDRED AND ELEVEN POUNDS.

Coincidentally I received a renewal notice for MiniCare - the renewal wants £560 for 12 months cover. And that £560 would not cover me for the £211 charge for air conditioning gas! Do you think I'll be renewing??!!!

When I queried the outrageous charge, pointing to a post on the Mini2 forums from February this year complaining at the 'rip off' £99 cost another owner had been charged, and asking why I was being charged more than double this I was advised that labour charges varied from one dealer to another!

I was then told the car should have been valeted but the rep had just noticed it hadn't been and they'd "do it next time it's in for servicing". How often is this car going to need servicing given that its first one was only due at three years or 10,000 miles, whichever happened first!

I asked how the problem with the GPS had been fixed and was told they'd upgraded the software. "How does that affect the fact it just suddenly stopped working?", I asked. "I don't really know. Software's very funny like that" the Service Manager replied.

I asked to book an MOT (they hadn't been able to do it while the car was in for servicing because "we can only do four MOTs a day and we're all booked up"). "I'll have to talk to Yvonne about that. I'll go and get her". A few minutes later I was given a date (next Wednesday) and said I'd prefer one a couple of weeks away. I waited for confirmation. And waited. And waited. 10 minutes later nobody had come back to me. Lots of staff around, no customers but no interest or action from anybody. I just decided I'd leave and make a phone booking at some other time which would be more convenient. Traffic was building up.

Of course I drive out the dealers and NOTHING has been fixed on the GPS at all. It still thinks I'm miles away from my real location, making it completely useless.

The air conditioning is as weak and ineffectual as it always has been - but at least the blinking light has stopped now!

My receipt for service tells me the car has done 2918 miles - no big deal, but yet another example of the sort of 'care and attention' BMW are always promoting but never delivering on

I wonder what it is they actually did for the "service" other than charge me £211!

I rang my "service manager" when I got home, just after 6pm (before 6.05pm) to complain that the GPS had NOT been fixed. The advertised opening hours of the servicing area are 7.30am-6.30pm. I know this because I got a phone answering machine reminding me of this and telling me that the service area was now closed!

Yuppie-fied entrance areas with "free drinks" are NOT recompense for charging the earth for doing a really shitty job. Needless to say, what with the constant problems I've had with the Mini (five callouts because if the car's left for more than two weeks it won't start) and now this, my next car WON'T be a Mini or a BMW. Or if it is it won't be one from BMW Park Lane (the company that took over my original sales shop) or BMW Battersea (who run Park Lane's servicing).


Brian Sibley said...

Make sure you send someone at BMW HQ a link to your blog!

Apalling and dreadful... yet why are we never surprised?

Ian said...

I sent an email with the link to BMW Customer Services on Friday, and also to the BMW Battersea Sales Manager who served me, along with my phone message of course complaining that they hadn't fixed anything.

Needless to say I haven't heard a word back as of late Monday night, and the car is now booked into BMW Wimbledon to get the job done properly. I'll no doubt post a new entry when the Wimbledon service is out the way, but I'm already far more impressed with their phone booking service than I was with Battersea's.

Davidwastingtime said...

I am worried now. Just bought a BMW from an estate and AA towed it to BMW Battersea. Their communication is terrible. I stuck around in London (I live in Essex) all day yesterday -- they told me the car would be looked at by 11am and the mechanic didn't get to it until past 4:30pm. I can't get in touch with them on the status -- the mechanic's phone is always busy and he never calls back. Grr...

Anonymous said...

So sorry it is not just me. They charge exhorbatant rates for work which is not done properly, are impossible to get hold of and cut you off when you are put on hold.

Anonymous said...

OK, I think it is the area or yet it could be the country. It seems that car service in Park Lane is terrible. I had a BIG problem with the fox at Lexus Park Lane (a block from BMW).
It could be the presence of that ugly power plant nearby...

Ian, Can you try making your complaint to BMW UK or headquarters in EU?

Good luck!

Ian said...

I contacted BMW. Twice! Never got so much as an acknowledgement in return.

I've sold the car now. When I buy a new one BMW won't be top of my list!

Anonymous said...

I haven't even got a mini yet and already I am very dissappointed with Park Lane Mini, called them five times to try and arrange a test drive of a new Cooper D and not a word back so off to buy a new A3 least Audi give their customer base true care and attention. Mini lost out big time as I was going to buy 2!

Anonymous said...

I have used BMW Battersea a number of times and they have been exceptional. I have owed BMW's and MINI'S and never had a problem with the Battersea garage.
I take it everyone with a bad comment about Battersea BMW will not be using them again ?

Ian said...

Às already indicated I went to BMW Wimbledon but my real problem is with BMW full stop. Two letters to their customer support and no response at all.

I sold my Mini Cooper S a few months ago. A car that won't start unless it's been taken on a decent length journey every 2 weeks is no use to me and Mini Support convinced me this is a very common problem. I won't be buying BMW again.

M. R. Hughes said...

I read this thinking he's going to tell us what he did to get the service he should and how he demanded something - and what did I read? Just whingeing, threatening not to buy another car etc and how they would sit up and take notice by you writing it on your blog. This is not the way to get things done. Go and park outside their doors and refuse to move until it gets done and if they do anything call the TV channels. Sorry if you don't like what I wrote but really.

Ian said...

Wow! Thanks for the advice. Having written to BMW Central (twice) and not even had the courtesy of any kind of reply I'm not sure what else I should have done?

I wrote an update post a few days after this one. What I didn't do was post one about the final outcome (basically pretty much all the BMW dealers seem as bad as each other) Things were eventually fixed free of charge by the original dealer (after I paid the money the air conditioning stopped working again 2 days later, forcing them to admit there was a real defect after all) and the first opportunity I got I sold the car.
I won't be buying a BMW car again.

I probably lost 5 days wages getting the mess sorted out and OBVIOUSLY should have spent even more time contacting TV companies etc instead of whinging in a public place to act as a public warning to would-be purchasers and others!

By the way (sarcasm mode on) thanks for the constructive reply. So glad to see that it's so devoid of the "whinging" you accuse me of. (sarcasm mode off).