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Go w/Lemon Law or continue to wait? (Very Long)
Just looking for some guidance from the board members. My "success rate" with BMW is poor: I've had 2 lemons out of 3 new BMW's since 2000. First "lemon experience" went well--so well that I bought two more. The last one is another problem child . . . .
I purchased a well-equipped '03 325i (via ED) for my mother in Florida. It's sitting at less than 9k miles, and it's been in the shop seven or eight times. It's left her stranded on the side of the road twice, and had to be towed in three times. It's been out of service for nearly 40 days (and they "lost it" once and told my mom to "Call the police--it's been stolen"). Thus far Vista BMW (FL) has replaced:
Fuel Pump (sender units?)
2 Fuel Filters
Mass Air Flow Sensor
Windshield (auto wiper function was inop due to delamination of sensor from glass; crazy!)
6 Spark Plugs (twice)
Transmission software (harsh shifts when cold)
and some other parts as well--I can't remember them all.
Needless to say, she'll never, ever drive another BMW, or this one either. I don't blame her. I would like to think that maybe it's been fixed, but we'll never know. The car just sits in the garage while she awaits the arrival of her newly ordered car (hint: it's from Japan . . .), plus she has a spare car in the interim.
BMW NA's SoFlorida "aftersales market manager" has offered his version of a "good deal" to buy the car back, providing I purchase another E46. (Amazingly, he thinks that FULL MSRP is a "good deal.") This I don't really need since I have a great '02 330i w/19k miles sitting here in my garage in TX. (It's even reliable!) But, I might as well consider it since the Perf Package, while an outrageous money maker for BMW (add it up--it's probably $3k _pure profit_ with each Perf Pkg sold), should only cost me a few grand over the "trade assist" value of her car. (There are more details in the long letter below.)
Instead, the dealership and BMW NA have been playing an incredible game of what appears to be a case of "Ignore the customer and maybe he'll just go away." On Monday, March 22nd, I FedEx'd the letter below to Tom Purves, BMW NA's head man, along with the dealership's GSM (Vista BMW, FL), and my Customer Support rep at BMW NA. As of today, eight days after they've received their copies no one from BMW NA has bothered to contact me.
Very frustrating, especially since I used to be strong supporter and advocate for BMW. Now . . . well, let's not go there. (Interesing how one of my good friends who used to drive an E36 is likely to order the newly updated G35 in a few weeks.)
My next step is to start the formal Lemon Law process. The question is how much longer should I wait for BMW to respond, or should I start the process regardless? I've tried to take the high road, but BMW NA seems adamantly opposed to doing the right thing. Please review my letter below; your thoughts and comments appreciated.
Mark in Texas
Here's the long letter with all the details (it's straight from Word so the spacing might be off a bit):
March 21, 2004
Mr. Tom Purves, Chairman and CEO
BMW of North America, LLC
300 Chestnut Ridge Road
Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07675
Subject: Loss of a former “Customer For Life”
Dear Mr. Purves,
I am one of the few customers that has given your firm a “second chance” after a very poor initial experience. In early 2000 I ordered a 323Ci. While I greatly enjoyed driving it, the experience was sullied by its infuriating propensity to turn over, but not start, on a remarkably regular basis. Given that major problem, and a host of other smaller problems as well, I grew weary of the continued trouble. After approximately eight or nine repair visits without a successful repair, I called your call center and wrote to your office requesting assistance. After several weeks with no reply from BMW NA, I began the Lemon Law process. Literally days afterward I received a call from your local market manager here in Texas who promised that your field service engineer could fix the car. Furthermore, he stated that if the fix was unsuccessful, he would replace the car immediately. I agreed to give BMW one more chance to repair the car.
Approximately three weeks after that repair the car again failed to start. After several months we agreed to replace the car, going from a loaded 323Ci to a well-equipped 330i, with the agreement that I would cover any cost differential, although I had carefully ordered the new car to within a few hundred dollars of the old one. With the arrival of my ’02 330i I was charged no “offset” or other fee, despite 11,000 miles of use on my 323Ci. While profoundly disappointed with my first BMW experience, I considered it a fluke—a “one-in-a-million” experience. Since then, I have been extremely pleased with the performance of my 330i. (As an aside, I later found out that your firm had sold the 323Ci to another buyer—who had problems with its failure to start beginning three days after he purchased it. You ended up buying it back a second time, and it sat abandoned at Moritz BMW for almost two years. A few days ago I believe it was finally transferred elsewhere for use as a training vehicle in your STEP program. See enclosed photos taken earlier this month.)
Despite my initial experience, I regularly recommended your cars to friends and family members. In fact, I even purchased a 325i for my mother as a gift. Unfortunately, that purchase has turned out to be a disaster. At 65 years old, her car’s reliability is a critical concern—and this car has failed her repeatedly. I have enclosed extensive documentation on her experiences. Sadly, it gets worse. Given the astonishing treatment we have received in the past few weeks I ask two favors of you. First, please review the enclosed letter dated December 19th, and the “‘Poster Child’ for Problem Cars” Talking Points summary created for my March 8th meeting with Mr. Don Feiner, your Aftersales Market Manager. The second favor I’ll address later.
Mr. Feiner agreed that the car easily met the requirements for Florida’s Lemon Law. Based on the current mileage of ~8,500, he calculated an “offset” for use of $2,188. However, based on a “win-win” scenario, he offered a credit of $32,000 for my mom’s car (cutting the offset approximately in half) if I were to purchase another BMW. Such a limited offer surprised me given the car’s history, my mother’s shameful treatment, and my previous familiarity with a BMW buy back, but I agreed nonetheless.
Of course, the second half of the equation is the cost of the new car. Since my mother wishes to never see Vista BMW again, nor will she ever again drive one of your cars, I would purchase the replacement car for my own use. Frankly, this isn’t something I really need to do as I would then have to sell my ’02 330i, and the changes from the ’02 to an ’04 330i are minute at best. Regardless, I priced out an ’04 330i equipped as I would like. The Euro-Delivery invoice was a grand total of $35,550, to which we would add some token consideration for Vista’s “trouble” in placing the order. The first offer from Vista and BMW NA was just under $40,000. Originally, I was told that this was what Mr. Feiner had told Vista to charge me as “part of our agreement.” Negotiations have continued on a sporadic basis to the point that the latest offer was $37,550, or two thousand over ED invoice.
Mr. Michael Elkisch, your customer service representative, called on Thursday asking what my plans were. I advised him that a replacement vehicle priced at $2,000 over invoice was an insult when there are multiple dealers around the country selling E46’s for $1,000 over ED invoice, and that this lemon 325i was sold for $1,200 over invoice. Apparently unaware of what pricing is like in the real world, he advised me that I was receiving a “good deal.” I told him that I would call him back later after I had looked at the numbers more carefully. I have done so and the results indicate this letter to you is in order.
As presented, I have two options:
1. Florida Lemon Law (Full refund, less “offset” calculation, plus the amount of any equipment added)
32,791.79 (Original Purchase Price)
- 2,188.00 (Mileage offset for use of ’03 325i Lemon)
+ 607.70 (Equipment added—the BMW UGDO and Alarm System; “best guess” receipts enclosed)
$31,211.49 (Amount due from BMW NA to me for ’03 325i Lemon)
2. BMW NA “Good Deal”
32,000 (Credit for ’03 325i Lemon)
-37,550 (“Good Deal” price on the replacement ’04 330i)
$5,550 (Amount I would owe to transfer into a replacement ’04 330i)
Amusingly, were I to simply take pursue the Florida Lemon Law (Option 1), and then order an ED ‘04 330i “off the street” from any of the many dealers selling E46’s for $1,000 over ED invoice, the numbers would work as follows:
31,211.49 (Amount due from BMW NA for ’03 325i Lemon)
-36,550 Real World cost of ’04 330i (based on the commonly available price of $1,000 over ED invoice, equipped as previously specified)
$5,338.51 amount I would owe to transfer into a replacement ’04 330i
Thus, the “Good Deal” I am being offered by BMW NA is as follows:
1. For the hours my mother has spent waiting for a tow truck on three separate occasions, plus;
2. The full 39 days without use of her car, plus;
3. The hassles of going back and forth to Vista BMW eight times in less than 9,000 miles, plus;
4. The complete aggravation of having a new car she can’t trust to not leave her stranded, plus;
5. The aggravation (and financial loss) I’ll have selling my ’02 330i with only 18,000 miles;
are worth a NEGATIVE $211.49. That’s correct, in light of everything we’ve endured to date, I am to pay you $211.49 for the privilege of getting a “good deal” from BMW NA and Vista BMW.
When I started this process I stated the following in my December 19th letter:
I hope and expect that a company of BMW’s stature will agree to resolve this matter at the lowest level, especially in light of the absurd repair saga we have been forced to endure.
That has not occurred. On the contrary, my recent conversations with your Mr. Elkisch and Mr. Feiner have only increased my frustration; I respectfully request to not speak with them again. (Also, since that letter was written we’ve had to return the car for repair again with the engine running so poorly as to limit the car’s maximum speed to less than 50 mph. Now, just a few dozen miles after the “final repair attempt,” the steering wheel is making an intermittent creaking sound when the car is hot.)
I am sure you will agree that the offer I have received is absurd. Hence, my second favor: Your office can fix this problem with a phone call. Please do so. Specifically, I feel that the buy back terms I was offered three years ago are even more appropriate here, especially since my mother’s car has only 8,500 miles while my 323Ci had 11,000. I realize the cars in question have a difference of $3,500 in their respective invoices; I am willing to pay that difference. Despite Mr. Feiner’s comments about their insignificant cost, I would expect that the BMW alarm and UGDO would be either transferred or removed from my mother’s 325i. (I’ll absorb the depreciation loss on my ’02 330i.) Otherwise, I will have no choice but to pursue a Florida Lemon Law solution.
Please contact me if you would like any additional information. Thank you for your assistance in correcting what has become an outrageous situation.
cc: Mr. Don Feiner, BMW NA
Mr. Michael Elkisch, BMW NA
Mr. Arthur Dicce, Vista BMW
encl: previous correspondence
multiple 2003 325i service receipts
Florida 325i Title
March 8, 2004 Talking Paper
’04 330i Replacement Vehicle Spec Sheet/Order
Last edited by pylt; 03-31-2004 at 05:39 AM. Reason: X-posted on 3 Series Board too
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It's probably taken them 6 months to read that letter - sheesh - how about getting to the point?
You got it.
In general, however, if you have a problem with BMW, don't waste your time dealing with the South Florida rep. He's atrocious.
To all the thousands w/problem BMWs: GOOD LUCK.
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