2016 BMW 340i xDrive: Disappointing Dealer Service for Tire Repair
by Michael Massey, Vehicle Testing Assistant
Content Strategist Josh Sadlier was the first to spot a bubble in the sidewall of the left front tire on our 2016 BMW 340i xDrive. He alerted me to it so I called to make an appointment at Santa Monica BMW. What followed was one of the most off-putting customer service experiences I've had working in the automotive business.
I spoke with the service department operator first. She needed 15 minutes to change the name on our account from that of the editor who serviced our 340i before me. I cut her some slack because obviously this request doesn't happen all that often. Once this was straightened out, I made an appointment for the same day at 1:30 p.m. After arriving on time, a porter introduced me to a service adviser.
Enter my inspiration for this story. The adviser never looked up from his computer and only greeted me verbally. I sat down and started to count. The adviser fired off the regular menu items regarding our service (why was I there, do we have an appointment) but wasn't too enthusiastic about anything. When he finally looked at me, I stopped counting. It took 30 seconds for him to make eye contact. This was going to be interesting.
He printed the work order for me to review. At the top was the incorrect name and contact info that I had asked the operator to remove three hours earlier. I brought this to my adviser's attention and he started making the changes. He asked, "How do you spell your first name? There are so many ways that I've seen Michael spelled. I like to ask for clarity." I appreciated that. The rest of the summary was as we discussed: Replace both front Pirelli Cinturato C7 run-flats and a front end alignment. I gave the OK to start work.
My adviser estimated one hour for the job so I opted to walk back to the office on a beautiful Santa Monica day.
Two hours later a text came through. The car was ready. Tires cost $264.92 a piece. Labor for tire install was $100. The alignment was $200. Throw in a few extra small fees and charges and tax and the grand total settled at $897.59.
I walked in to see the service department cashier. A young lady and young man were behind the desk. Neither greeted me. So I greeted them with a friendly hello. The young man asked me if I was picking up, seemingly uninterested in niceties. I gave him my name, he mumbled something into a radio and quietly took my credit card. As he swiped my card it hit me.
This experience was not the way I wanted it to go. There seemed to be a gigantic lack of customer service from start to finish, unlike at a previous service experience in Fresno. It wasn't the first time we've received such a cold reception at this service center. We continue to give Santa Monica BMW chances because of its proximity to our office, but we also continue to have less than stellar experiences. It's frustrating.
I collected my card and my invoice, but it wasn't clear where I was supposed to pick up our 340i. I turned back around to Mr. Sunshine and asked where I should go. He directed me outside where I crossed paths with my service adviser, who I thanked in passing. While in stride he turned to me, cracked his first smile, shot double finger guns at me and said, "Thanks! And if you see a survey remember to give me all 10s!" He continued out of view behind a car then shouted, "Text me if there are any problems!"
When I returned to the office, I took another look at the invoice, preparing to write this update. That's when I noticed the service adviser, despite specifically asking for clarification, had spelled my name wrong.
It looks like Beverly Hills BMW is just 9 miles from the office. Based on our accrued customer experiences in Santa Monica, I'm going to lobby to have us switch.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever stopped going to a dealership because of poor customer service? What happens if there isn't another dealership nearby to go to?
A text message I received from our service adviser the next day.
A gold foil sticker that's put on the front of all the dealer's final invoices.
Michael Massey, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 22,093 miles