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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This spring I purchased a CPO 540i from an out of town dealership after first trying to get the CPO salesmen at EBBMW interested in helping. They couldn't be less helpful, and three months later I found the car I wanted at cars.com.

After a few weeks I'd accumulated a list of things that needed attention (WTF good is a CPO if they don't fix what's wrong before delivery?) and took it to EBBMW, the dealership closest to my house. I walked into the SA area and stood around trying to figure out how to make contact for almost five minutes before a SA asked if he could help me. I went through my list with him at the car, and he impressed me greatly by accurately recalling each item as he typed them into his computer terminal back in the office.

A couple of days later I dropped the car off for the service appointment, at which time I had a different SA "helping" me. We reviewed the work, and I was told I'd get a call the next day with an estimate for any work that was outside of the warranty. I didn't hear anything back, so I called the third day and found out that the car was ready and that there would be a charge.

I picked the car up later that afternoon, and against my better judgement paid the fee. I got a lecture from the SA, imploring me to give them all 5s in the survey. In my mind just making that kind of a request guaranteed that they weren't worthy of 5s in any category.

The next day I noticed that one of the interior wood grain panels was cracked, and it and the corresponding panel on the opposite door were fogged. They weren't like that when I dropped it off. I also noted that the ABS warning light was on, another "it wasn't like that before" item. Both items were in areas where work had been done on the previous visit. I called the SA and explained what I had found, and he asked me to drop by and show him the problems.

When I dropped off the car the next day I felt like I was getting the 3rd degree about the panels, and the implication was that I'd screwed them up myself, expecting BMW to pick up the tab for replacment. But just short of me losing my temper, the SA asserted that the replacement would be covered under warranty, no worries. I took the SA aside and explained to him that I thought we'd gotten off to a bit of a bad start, and that I'd have difficulty awarding "5's" to the survey crew based on my experience so far. He seemed astonished that I'd hold such a reluctance. I explained that my expectation was that I'd get my car back when promised (the next day), that it would be repaired correctly, and that there would be no additional damage when delivered. I told him that I didn't appreciate being charged for work without the oportunity to approve it in advance, as promised. I also reiterated that I was very uncomfortable with his request (and the subsequent letter from the Service Manager) to rate them all "5's", as in my view it fundamentally compromised the integrity of the rating system. That really set him back on his heels.

I then proceeded to relate my experience last year of purchasing a new BMW motorcycle, one of the worst sales experiences of my life. I made the mistake of responding honestly to the survey on that occaission, and was rewarded with an irate phone call from the salesman the very next day, berating me for telling the truth, and attempting to guilt trip me for compromising his rating. I made it clear to this SA that I had no wish to repeat the experience with what I was hoping would be my new BMW car dealership, that I valued the relationship I was trying to build with him and the dealership, and asking him how he'd like to proceed from here. His immediate answer was "give us all 5s", to which I responded by asking what he was going to do for me. I told him that I expected the work to be done correctly the first time, and that as my representative at the dealership, my hope was that he would take whatever steps would be needed to ensure that. I didn't get the impression that I'd gotten my point across, but at least I'd made the effort.

I left the car, going home in an Avis rental. Not the 7 series loaner I was hoping for, but better than walking.

I got a call the next day from the SA, too late in the day to swing by on the way home from work to pick up my car, but early enough that I could make a special trip over there after I got home. My SA was nowhere to be seen, and when the car rolled into the delivery area it was filthy. Not just a few hand prints, but covered from end to end with black soot. It's a white car and that made the dirt really stand out, but what really frosted me is that I'd put three coats of Zanio on it the previous weekend, and it was immaculate when I dropped it off. I asked the lot boy why the car was so dirty, and he replied in broken English "You want wash?" I asked how long it would take, to which he replied "10 minutes." Five minutes later the car was back dripping wet but cleaner than it was. I figured "what the heck" and that I'd blow most of the water off on the way home.

As I walked into the house from the garage after parking the car, I noticed some odd marks on the hood. When I looked more closely I found that the hood was full of scratches from one end to the other, as if someone had used a piece of 60 grit sandpaper to wash it. I couldn't believe it. This was work from the dealership, the same folks that had the nerve to charge $400 for a detail job. And this guy had just ruined the paint on a car I'd only had for a month.



I also found that the tint of the replacement wood grain panels didn't match the rest of the wood in the car, especially in direct sunlight. The new panels are substantially lighter, and make the old wood look dull and weathered in comparison.

I took a few pictures of the scratches, drank a beer to help settle down, and resolved to call the SA the next day. I didn't get the idea he was either surprised or concerned when we spoke, and again he asked if I'd bring the car by. When he saw the paint he at first didn't find anything wrong. I had to show him how to use the reflection of a light to show the scratches, but on a white car in direct sun they just weren't very noticable. He had is detail lead look them over, who assured me they'd polish right out. I've been painting cars and bikes for thirty years, and there's no way those scratches were going to come out under a compounding bonnet. But I had to let them try. And sure enough when I picked the car up the next day, they were still there. I got the same response when I directed his attention to the wood panels, but this time there was no offer of a solution.

Now I need to figure out if I want to press the issue, risking getting on their **** list, or just let sleeping dogs lie and risk rust coming through the paint when it starts raining again this fall. I'll be talking to my paint guru tomorrow and will decide on what direction to take based on his council. The longer term issue is where to take the car for the remainder of the maintenance warranty. The work I've seen so far has been sloppy, and it's clear that there's at least one mechanic there that doesn't check his work.

This is exactly the opposite experience I'd expected when dealing with BMW. But it confirms what I've long suspected: Service is dead in the USA. Everyone in the so called service industry is just out hustling a buck, and just because BMW charges more for it's product there's no reason to believe that the customer experience is any better than that at the local Ford dealer. The best approach is to purchase a vehicle that never needs dealer service, which has been the case with the Toyotas I've had in the past. Guess I should have purchased an Avalon instead of a 5 Series. Or at least checked this list before trusting my car to East Bay BMW.
 

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SVSCME
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Sorry to hear about your mis fortune with EBBMW. I had a 2001 540 and never had to bring it in under the original warranty except for oil changes and only brought it in once under the extended warranty. I've always been treated well, and like yourself, I'm very anal about the way my car is handled. When I received my 650 from Euro delivery I noticed some bubbling in the paint in front of the sunroof which everyone missed except me. I took it to their body shop around the corner and was completely satisfied with the results.

I hope that you pursue the problems and get them resolved as you paid for it by buying a CPO. That was part of the purchase price. Don't give up, and post your continued experiences. I know it can be frustrating but the reward is worth it when it gets done :thumbup: If worse comes to worse, you can always try another dealer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
UPDATE:
This weekend I had the door panels off to upgrade the speakers. When I pulled the front driver's side I found that the speaker for the nav system was disconnected, several of the clips that hold the panel to the door were broken, and a couple of fasteners to other components under the panel were missing. Oh, and the chrome strip on the inside of the window fell off when the panel came off because it wasn't installed properly onto the top of the door. The rubber/felt seal n the strip had also come out of its track. Either the mechanic that did the repair in the window sensor/wood trim is one sloppy SOB or it's payback for calling the problems with the trim to their attention. Either way there's something very wrong with the way business is done at EBBMW. Unfortunately when I ask other BMW owners about their repair experience at Bay Area dealers it hasn't been much better.

Like I said before: I think the best strategy is to own a car that never needs dealer "service". From what I've seen the warranty covered "free" service is worth exactly that - nothing. And even though the maintenance warranty is still in effect I'd have real issues taking the car back to these butchers. If they can't deal with something as simple as a door panel, why should I trust them with something as critical as the oil drain plug?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
East Bay BMW: The Last Straw

When we last left our hapless 5 owner he'd just discoverd busted door panel clips and sloppy assembly work after having East Bay BMW minister to the car's needs. I decided to bite the bullet on that one and replace the clips myself rather than risk another "adventure" at the dealer.

A few weeks went by and a growling noise started coming from the front of the motor, and the Check Engine Light came on. EBBMW replaced a belt tensioner pully and "smoked" the evap system, finding nothing wrong. They cleared the code and returned the car. A week later the CEL lamp was on again, and the car reeks of fuel after a fill up. So much so that I park it outside the garage, which also houses a gas operated hot water heater. This time EBBMW replaces a bad fuel pump gasket, the same gasket they disturbed to replace the fuel pump a few months previously. No more fuel smell, but the following weekend when I go to vacuum the carpet I find a cup holder laying in the driver's side rear passenger foot well. There's a corresponding empty spot in the back of the console that faces the rear seat. The cup holder is broken in two places, worthless. The fuel pump is located under the rear seat, and I guess the "mechanic" hit the cup holder, causing it to deploy while he attended to the pump. Not noticing it, he promptly smashed it, then left it on the floor for me to find. The next day I talk the SA into handing me a new one so I don't have to risk having another of their ham fisted mechanics work on the car. But I finally have the problems worked out, and enjoy the vehicle for the next couple of months without any issues.

In December the yellow oil change interval light illuminates, so I drop by EBBMW for service. The car's still under the original maintenance warranty, and I figure how badly can they screw up an oil change? I ask the SA what else is supposed to be covered under the warranty, since it will soon expire. He shrugs and mentions something about the wiper blades, but since they were renewed back in January he seems reluctant to replace them. I point out that January is almost a year ago, that the blades are streaking, and that is a safety concern. He puts new blades on the list and I go have some breakfast while the work is done. I pick the car up about an hour later, and on the way home notice that there's an arc shaped scratch low on the driver's side of the brand new windshield, and finger smears on what had been clean glass. When I get it into the garage I check the oil. It's about an eighth of an inch above the full mark on the dip stick. Then I check the cover on the oil filter housing, which seems tight, but find one of the rubber mounting buffers that hold the housing to the fenderwell broken. Either the buffer was busted before the oil change, or the mechanic busted it when he removed or reinstalled the cover. Either way it should have been replaced. And as a finishing touch they neglecte to stamp the service manual that was in the glove box.

A few days later I get an automated telephone call from the service manager imploring me to give them all 5s during the service rating call. I'm supposed to call him back if I feel I can't. So I do. After a voice mail run around over the next few days we finally connect and I explain the reasons I can't give them all 5s, and tell him they'll never see the car again. He says he's sorry for the problems, and offers to fix whatever is wrong. I explain to him that they seem to cause more problems every time they touch the car, and ask what he's going to do to ensure no further damage occurs if I bring it back to him. He has no answer. I ask him to review the service history of the car and ask him if he'd patronize a business that provided a similar level of "service". He says he can't answer a question like that. I suggest that we stop waisting each other's time and wish him a nice day.

A week later when the survey folks call I respond with 1s in the appropriate places, stressing that my SA has done a wonderful job of interceeding on my behalf, but that the EBBMW mechanics can't be trusted to work competently or even check their own work. After a while I get a letter from BMWNA appologizing for the problems, with instructions to return to EBBMW for resolution. Fat chance! I drained half a quart of oil and replaced the broken buffers myself, with parts purchased from another dealer on line. I figure it's fifteen bucks well spent to save the car from EBBMW's ham fisted clutches.

I had a Ford pickup once, purchased new from a local dealer. When it developed "driveability" problems 20K miles later I struggled with two local service departments to resolve the issue, finally replacing it with a Toyota. My hope is that the problems I've had with the 540i are behind me, but if it continues to have issues I'll not hesitate to replace it with something with better reliability and backed with a competent dealer.

Bottom line for me is just because you pay more for a BMW than other cars doesn't mean they're any better. They just cost more.

YMMV,

Scot
 
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