Nightmare Service Experience [Archive] - Bimmerfest - BMW Forums

: Nightmare Service Experience

11-22-2004, 11:15 AM
So this is the last draw. BMW has just lost a customer for life (before this I was almost sure I was going to buy the new E90, my third BMW and first to buy new).

Here are the facts and chronological series of events:
Car: 1999 540i 6-speed
Purchased: Used, October 2003, 55,000 miles

November 2003: Water pump replaced by La Jolla Indpenedent (Carl Nelson) with better model w/ metal impellar.

November 13, 2004 (Sat.): Driving from San Diego to Los Angeles, engine temp starts climbing toward red periodically. I pull over and call AAA, and have it towed to Crevier BMW (Santa Ana, CA). This is at night, and they are closed with no gates open. BMW Roadside nor security has any idea what I should do, as street parking is illegal. I finally leave it on the street risking it getting towed again and hop the fence to drop my keys in the drop box. A friend drives me the rest of the way to LA.

November 14, 2004 (Sun.): I call Crevier and eventually speak to a sales manager. He is very helpful and has the car brought from the street to the service bay (which is closed) and says I'll be first in line Mon. morning.

November 15, 2004 (Mon.): I talk to a Service Advisor (really nice guy) and he says they are taking a look at the car. A little later, he says the water pump and thermostat will need to be replace. Cost will be $850 for the pump plus $160 for the thermostat. I authorize repairs. I then call other dealers in the area to get a price estimate for a water pump replacement and am less than shocked to find that $590 p/l/tax is the norm. I leave the SA a message asking about the discrepency. He later calls and offers $180 off (so I am only being gouged about $80).

November 16, 2004 (Tue.): The car is ready, but I am in LA, taking the subway to and from work. I don't have time to pick it up, so I make arragements to pick it up Friday evening, since I will be on my way back to San Diego.

November 19, 2004 (Fri.) Morning: I make arrangements with Crevier Service to have the shuttle pick me up at the Tustin train station at 4:55pm.

November 19, 2004 (Fri.) Evening: My train gets into Tustin at 4:50pm and I wait patiently in the cold at the pick-up point. 5:00 passes, 5:15 passes, I call Crevier. They say the shuttle is on its way, but has one pickup before me (even though I am only 2 miles down the road). 5:30 passes, 5:45 passes (I am REALLY cold), I call Crevier. They say they will send a customer service person in her persnonal car to pick me up (keep in mind I am 2 miles away, on the same street). 6:00 passes, I call Crevier. The say she just left and is on the way, while I am on the phone she shows up in a Pontiac Aztec. She radios ahead to make sure my car is washed and all the paperwork is ready. I get to the dealer and it is a madhouse. It takes another 20 minutes and my having to ask twice to get to see an SA who goes over everything with me and I leave (the car was kind of dirty as it had probably been washed days before.

November 19, 2004 (Fri.) Late Evening: I drive to San Diego without incident. I reach my destination, get out and smell something burning. Is it the clutch? Nope, not quite the right smell. Then I hear a boiling sound coming from under the hood. I open it and water and coolant is boiling everywhere on the front passenger side, dousing my Dinan CAI. The engine guage is fine, so hoping there is enough fluid left, I drive toward BMW of San Diego. Halfway there, the needle comes alive, so I pull over and call AAA. I have it towed where security is there to open the gate and put a lock box on the car.

November 20, 2004 (Sat.): I get a ride to the dealer and it takes about 20min to see a SA. He tells me they will take a look, but it will probably be Monday before they get to it. They offer me a loaner which I take. I see X3's and Toyota Corolla and Camrys. I ask the girl for an X3 and she says that those are reserved for 7-series customers because BMW requires that they get BMW loaners. I explain my situation and she ends up giving me an X3 for a loaner.

November 20, 2004 (Sat.) PM: I get a call from the Service Director at Crevier who is eager to find out what dealership my car is at. I reluctantly tell him (I do not trust these guys) and he says to have my SA give him a call so he can take care of things. SHOULD I DO THIS OR ARE THEY GOING TO FIND SOME WAY TO SAY THIS IS ANOTHER PROBLEM ALL TOGTHER???? SOMEONE PLEASE REPLY WITH ADVICE!

Today (November 22): I am now in LA with my X3. Called and left a message with my SA, and waiting to hear back. I will update as things progress.

11-22-2004, 11:40 AM
Hey Brett,

Man, that sucks :banghead:

I've bought parts from and had service done at Crevier; they are expensive, but I have no reason to believe they are crooks. Good luck :)


11-22-2004, 01:23 PM
I am really hoping that is the exception, and not the norm for BMW service. I have a new E60 which shall be making it's first trip to the service department for rountine maitenance. :eeps:

11-22-2004, 02:13 PM

November 22, 2:05pm: After not hearing back from my service advisor at BMW of San Diego, I called back again and spoke to another SA. He said that he is out to lunch and probably didn't call because there is no update on my car. He offered to transfer me to his voicemail. BMW NA, are you listening!!! I can't wait until I get to answer the survey questions and comment on these clowns.

11-22-2004, 02:24 PM
Duh! Vatkens doesn't step in when it's should know that by now!

11-22-2004, 02:31 PM
Duh! Vatkens doesn't step in when it's should know that by now!
Tell 'em you have a brake dust problem :p


11-22-2004, 03:42 PM
November 22, 3:30pm:

I finally get a hold of my SA and he says that the expansion tank burst. I asked about whether the water pump and thremostat replacement could have caused this and he replied that that is just between me and Crevier. I said its actually between me and BMW because as the customer I see him representing BMW. He says "No! Absolutely not! I represent the people that own our dealership, and BMW has no interest in what we do from the service level." I ask about the surveys and he says (paraphrasing) "Well, in that case we do care because BMW will hold out things such as cash, etc. from us if we get bad ratings." I am so shocked I'm laughing. My parents have been buying BMW's since 1981 and I'm on my second one. They really do not care! I gave him the number of the Crevier service director who wanted to work things out, so we will see what happens.

This may cost me extra in the short term, but I guarantee that this experience has cost BMW much more in the long run. I had the leaked E90 BMW brochure printed out on my desk and would drool on it daily. :) It was going to be my first and probably not last new BMW purchase. I have now given it to a friend. I used GS430 or equivalent may be in my near term future. Also, my parents are in the market next fall for a new car to replace their aging 5-series (they are keeping their X5). If I buy the Lexus I guarantee you my mom will fall in love with it... draw your own conclusions.

11-23-2004, 08:28 AM
I can understand your frustration!

It's bad enough that BMW has placed plastic POS radiators in our cars but, to not govern the work being completed and allowing certain SA's/Dealerships to taint the BMW name and company with poor service and workmanship is an abomination. The sad thing is most of the customers don't have a clue.

There are a lot of green mechanics working on our cars at the dealerships now and they need more supervision to verify their work is warranted and done correctly.

I purchased my 2001 540 new. When I take her in for things I don't feel comfortable fixing, I always speak with the SA and tech working on my car. It is the SA's job to sell you stuff and keep you happy. Most of them are worthless and not completely honest. The tech is the guy you want to discuss the issues with.

I'm fortunate to have had great service and quality work completed at Cunningham BMW since Nov 2001. Most of the SA's have moved on but, Terry is part of the foundation. I can give you the name of the TECH that works on my car just shoot me an email (

I know most of the customers who come in are NOT enthusiasts and do not speak with the techs. It's not something that's common with bringing in your car for repairs for most customers. If your SA won't allow you to speak with the tech working on your car then, I would take my business elsewhere.

My rad went out last year and left me and my wife standed. This year, my expansion take went and last week my vent screw broke and I had a geyser under the hood:)

When the Rad is replaced they should replace the expansion tank and vent scew at the same time. BMW should authorize this under warranty. After all, they're the ones who allowed defective plastic (POS) radiators to be installed in expensive vehicles.

Recently, I just checked out a 2005 stang and I must admit I liked it. It was much more roomy than the previous model and the muscular lines of the car appeals to me. The 5 speed manual is smooth as butter with a very short shifter and throws. Not bad for 26k 300hp & 315 Torque and cheaply and easily modded to go really fasttttt! Quarter mile stock is 13.9 very close to the 540i. The 2006 model will be supercharged with 450-500 hp.

Hope everything works out for you!


11-23-2004, 08:37 AM
Yeah, I was tempted to tow it to Cunningham instead, but AAA only gives you 7 miles. Ideally, I would have rather taken it to an indpenedent shop like All German Auto, but they were too far. My SA never called me back yesterday after we talked so I assume they are still working on the car.

I used to own a V6 mustang and hand colling system problems with that car too. I love the look of the new one too. I test drove a GS430 last night and it was way to "old man" car for me. The IS300 is sporty but too underpowered. I have no idea what kind of car to get as a replacement. I would hold on to my car until next summer when all the new models come out, but I'm afraid of everything going downhill fast with it. BTW, I looked at a used SC430 to, but that's just not practical enough, is it?

11-23-2004, 09:27 AM
This is probably on the bad side of norm, but it IS closer to the norm than the exception. Getting the same kind of service from 2 dealers shows that. And it's not endemic to any particular region, since you hear stories like this from all over the country.

IMO this all stems from an attitude that BMWNA and the dealers have built from years of increased sales(profits). BMWs sell themselves. Sales are growing in a marginal market. Dealers and NA are both making money. The cars need servicing (hey, they're not exactly a Honda or Toyota) and customers have to go somewhere. No matter what, the dealers are going to make money on the repair side, despite NA's best efforts to deny warranty work reimbursement (this seems to be complaint #1 coming out of dealers' shops). Who suffers in all of this? Us, the customers. We get dicked around by the dealers who want to turn cars around as fast as possible (especially at a madhouse like Crevier) and in turn can't get reimbursement from BMWNA, and we get no response from BMWNA since they're not making money on repairs, and the 'dealers are independent businesses' is an easy-out excuse for them so they don't have to deal with customer complaints.

EVENTUALLY if BMW starts losing sales(money) NA will do something. Until then, or someone else with more brains than Tom Purves heads the place, things will NOT change. Period.

11-23-2004, 10:29 AM
November 23, 10:00am: Got a call from my SA (Steve) at BMW of San Diego and he said that Crevier is sending them a check and taking full responsibility for the incident. The only thing I need to pay is $10 for the loaner (well worth it to play with a 6-speed 3.0 X3 for a few days). I feel much better then I did a while ago, but I still am very nervous about the general attitude and independence of BMW dealerships. With the competition that BMW will be facing next summer with new models, there is a good chance the E90 may not be the one I choose. If BMW had the reliability or, if not that, the philosophy of a Lexus it would be a no brainer and I would probably already have a deposit put down just for fun.

Its very frustrating to see the potential of BMW, if they would upgrade their new interior quality and be more customer oriented, and that of Lexus, if they would make sportier cars with more transmission options (i.e. 6-speed manuals).

In the end, since BMW is covering this incident they will still be on my list of cars to consider for the 2006 model year. Before this incident I was going to get the E90 most likely, now its just another choice where I will be factoring in the dealer experience. If Crevier had not covered this fiasco, BMW would be blacklisted from my choices as a matter of principle.

Future 2006 A3, IS330/350?, TL, 330i, or G35 owner.

11-23-2004, 10:41 AM
Yeah, I was tempted to tow it to Cunningham instead, but AAA only gives you 7 miles.
Get the AAA extended coverage... up to 100 miles of towing... Costs a bit more (IIRC, around $80 a year) but one tow and your covered... I once had my VW Bus (loaded full of household goods :eeps: ) towed from my old house to my new one (about 55 miles), no problems... :thumbup:

11-23-2004, 11:02 AM
Get the AAA extended coverage... up to 100 miles of towing... Costs a bit more (IIRC, around $80 a year) but one tow and your covered... I once had my VW Bus (loaded full of household goods :eeps: ) towed from my old house to my new one (about 55 miles), no problems... :thumbup:

I wanted to do that, but I let my membership last and they said I have to be a member for a year before they let me upgrade.

Auly's 99 540iA
11-30-2004, 03:45 PM
Hey Brett...
I think you should maybe go to an ACURA dealer and check out the NEW RL. 300hp AND AWD! Does this sound tantilizing? I have had 2 Acura's. The dealers were GREAT and so were the cars.
Good Luck

11-30-2004, 10:56 PM
I wanted to do that, but I let my membership last and they said I have to be a member for a year before they let me upgrade.

They told me the same thing but less than a year later I get something in the mail saying they've upgraded me to AAA Plus. :dunno: :confused:

BTW... it seems they now have "AAA Platinum" which gives you one even longer tow than 100 miles for a little more money yet again. I wonder what they're up to with this. :confused:

12-01-2004, 06:42 AM
BTW... it seems they now have "AAA Platinum" which gives you one even longer tow than 100 miles for a little more money yet again. I wonder what they're up to with this. :confused:
I'm still at "Plus" level at this time... will have to see if there is any value in the "Platinum" level for me... :thumbup: