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Daniel's complaint against BMW

Daniel ROse


Major Problems with BMW's Approved Used Programme

Complaint against BMW

I have been a loyal BMW group customer for a number of years having owned a Mini Cooper and BMW 3 Series in the past. Last year I became a father and decided to sell my BMW Series and purchase a much larger BMW 5 Series Estate. I couldn't afford a new 5 Series Estate so I started looking for an 'Approved Used' model. The Website of BMW UK Ltd makes a number of claims about this programme - it states that each and every approved used vehicle is subject to 120 checks by BMW mechanics in addition to a full on-road test drive before delivery. Above everything it promotes peace of mind. With this in mind I made my first enquiries with BMW in Croydon. In the showroom I met an Approved Used BMW salesman who had a series of fresh diagonal scars on his face. Without me enquiring he offered up an explanation of the scars, saying that he had got home late from the pub and his wife had attacked him with a kitchen implement. This salesman explained that their computer system was down and took my contact details, as well as the details of the car I was looking for. He said he would email me that evening but didn't. Because of this experience with my local dealer I decided to expand my search radius. I went to the website of BMW UK and using their approved used search engine I located a suitable model within my budget located at BMW in Boston, Lincolnshire. Due to the distance I purchased the car over the phone and agreed that I would aim collection late the following week. I made the payment, but over the next few days I became frustrated with the responses I was getting from the dealership. For example, I needed to make 3 requests to obtain copies of the service history etc. When it came closer to collection day I called in the morning and asked if I could collect the car that afternoon. The salesman responded to this by saying that she was 'too busy' to hand over the keys. I felt that this wasn't good enough so I called the dealership switchboard and asked to speak to her boss. I spoke to her manager who explained that the car couldn't be collected because it had in fact been damaged in the dealership car park! At this point I had lost faith in the dealership and requested a refund. I received all of the money back the same day. Christmas as fast approaching by this point, so I quickly went back to the BMW UK Ltd website and its approved used search engine. By increasing my budget I was able to find a vehicle much closer at BMW in West London. I went into the dealership and after a bit of quibbling I agreed to purchase the vehicle. This was on the 17th December, and we agreed that I would collect on on 21st December. On the 21st December I went to collect the vehicle and drove it out of the showroom. The dealership is located next to the A4 and M4 in west London and shortly after reaching the motorway I noticed some strange vibrations coming from the car - I felt something was perhaps wrong with the transmission and then immediately returned to the dealership. The salesman at the dealership was surprised to see me again and immediately got in the car to establish what the problem was. He drove the car a few hundred meters around the dealership and then there was a bang and the car leant down on one side. We quickly exited the vehicle and I discovered to my horror - ONE OF MY REAR WHEELS HAD FALLEN OFF! I took photos of the event in case I ever needed proof of what happened. The salesman suggested that I call the BMW Emergency breakdown number. I did this from the roadside but unfortunately no one answered the phone. It was very cold so I was advised to return to the dealership whilst the dealership attempted to recover my vehicle. The incident had already created a huge traffic jam of people who were trying to get home during the London rush hour and the Police were now on the scene. The dealership were apologetic but clearly hadn't dealt with this kind of thing before. They told me that I would have the use of a loan vehicle whilst they were 'sorting things out'. From here things actually got worse before they got better. As a new father I was very concerned and completely at a loss as to how an approved used BMW could not have the wheel attached properly. I kept asking my self 'what if my wife and baby were in the car and the wheel fell off at speed on the motorway?' I asked several times how this event could happen, but but I was constantly told that because no one was hurt I should just collect the vehicle and move on. It wasn't until the 8th Jan, 19 days after the incident that the dealership admitted that it had used an external, non-BMW company to part-prepare the vehicle and this company had 'probably' not tightened the wheel nuts properly. The dealership had repaired the car by then and they offered me £1,000 of compensation for the 'inconvenience and upset' caused by the incident, but this was conditional on me taking re-delivery of a car that I had no trust in. I also had the option to take a full refund (without compensation). After taking advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau I decided to reject this offer, for the simple reason that I had already spent more than 30 man hours over the Christmas period trying to sort this out. I made several requests at this point to meet the owner of the dealership, but all of these requests were rejected. To add insult to injury I then received a letter (sent by recorded delivery) from the dealership's 'customer experience manager' stating that if I didn't collect the car within 7 days they would start charging me for 'storage' and then eventually sell it on my behalf. Surprisingly, at this point, things got even worse for me. As a loyal BMW customer, and seeing as I had trusted the claims of the BMW UK website about its approved used programme, I decided to contact BMW UK directly and ask them to step in and help to solve the impasse with the dealership. I was utterly shocked by the response by BMW UK - they told me that there was absolutely nothing I could do for me because I had purchased the car from a dealership not owned by BMW UK and therefore there was nothing they could do. I protested strongly against this, and they made a calls to the dealership in an attempt to broker a meeting between me and the dealership owner. They were not succesfull in doing this and suggested that I take legal action against their own franchise. I again protested, and I told them that there MUST be someone within BMW UK that cares about the safety of its customers under its own approved used programme. They told me that they couldn't transfer my call, but did give me the name and address of the CEO of BMW UK. To speed thing up I guessed the email address of the CEO ([email protected]) and wrote to him about my safety concerns. To my surprise he wrote back saying "customer satisfaction is important to me", and he told me that one of his customer service managers would be in touch. I was encouraged at this point that BMW UK were taking things seriously, but later the same day the customer service manager responded by saying "....this is a contractual matter between yourself and the centre who are an independent business...." He also suggested that I progress this further with the dealership, even though he knew that the dealership had rejected a meeting with me on a number of occasions. I was naturally infuriated by this response, I felt that I had been mislead by the claims on BMW UK's own website and I was very disappointed that they didn't have the ethical principals to stand behind these claims and attempt to retain the business of a customer that had been loyal to the BMW brand for many years. I followed up with a 51 minute telephone call to the customer service manager. During this call I was told that BMW UK would investigate the issue of the wheel falling off with the dealership, but they couldn't tell me when this would happen, and they refused to let me know the outcome of this investigation when if/when it happens. This was their 'process' I was told and this could not be altered in any way - I felt like I was being fobbed off. Amazingly, they also told me that safety events like this had not happened enough times for them to suspect that there a problem with their approved used programme, so I am really not sure how many times BMW UK is prepared to risk the lives of its customers before it takes customer safety more seriously. I was also told that there is no individual working within BMW UK that is responsible for safety in general, or specifically the safety of its approved used programme. All of these statements made me feel very uneasy. From here I was a bit stuck. BMW UK refused to help and the dealership refused to meet with me to discuss. After another sleepless night turning this over in my head I decided to take the situation into my own hands by walking into the dealership with my family on a Saturday morning and demanding to meet with the owner. I was told that the owner was playing golf, but after 4 hours the duty manager managed to get him on the phone. He passed the phone to me and thankfully he agreed to meet the following week. I kept a video diary throughout the 4 hours I was waiting in the showroom. From here, without the assistance of BMW UK in any way, things did improve when I was able to meet the owner of the dealership. He was very apologetic, and made a concerted effort see me satisfied as a customer. This was eventually achieved by the owner offering me a£13,000 off a new BMW 5 Series estate and giving me an addition £3,500 towards a deposit, so a benefit of £16,500 in total. Whilst I am happy to resolve the issue with the dealership, I am uneasy at my remaining as a customer of the BMW brand and indeed BMW UK considering the way that they dismissed my concerns. As mentioned above, BMW UK makes a number of strong, positive claims on its website about its own approved used programme and I have explained in detail how they will not stand behind any approved used vehicle sale unless they 'contractually' involved in the sale. I was therefore astounded to learn that BMW owns and operates just ONE DEALERSHIP in the UK - 'BMW Park Lane'. This is not a large dealership and sells less than 1% of all approved used vehicles in the UK. This means that the customers of 99% of all approved used car sales in the UK do not have the support or control of the BMW group in any way whatsoever. To me, this is completely unethical and most certainly does not comply with the 'peace of mind' BMW promotes on its own website. I don't doubt that the majority of Approved Used BMW's on the roads in the uk are safe, but I think that the public at large should be aware that when they are paying a significant premium for an approved used BMW they will have absolutely no support from BMW UK (unless they buy it in Park Lane!), and as my case shows BMW UK has no control over approved used vehicle preparation within its 150+ franchises.

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