BMW France – To be avoided

bmwMore fine customer service from the French arm of a large company…

BMW France – you just lost my business. A few weeks ago my wife bought a new car. A BMW. Fine car. Superbly designed and tremendous quality. As a car, we are delighted with it.

Next year I’ll be replacing my car. I had my eye on a sparkling new BMW estate. But so long as I have to buy it from BMW France, it’s not going to happen. Shame, as I really do like the cars. I just can’t stand the company. In the short time we’ve had the new car I’ve had two major issues. Neither concern the quality of the car itself.

BMW France have a typical finance package for new cars: rental for 3 years, then option to purchase. And, like many of their competitors, sometimes they offer that with the extra attraction of a “No money down…” package. Fantastic. We’ll have that please. It’s then that the dealer starts to play games…

Gissus ya focking money

Now I admit that BMW France do not directly benefit (as far as I can tell) from the scam they operate. But I also have no doubt at all that it’s conducted with the full knowledge and connivance of HQ. They need a “deposit” to secure the order. Never mind the clearly printed terms & conditions from BMW. They want 10% of the full purchase price to proceed with the order.

Frankly I was about to walk away then, but since my wife was really keen on the car I kept quiet and paid the money, with the dealer solemnly promising me it gets returned on the very same day the car is delivered. Needless to say that’s a load of bullshit. They lie. They have no intention of returning the money than. It took two weeks of waiting and getting increasingly pissed with the dealer before the money comes back, and then with not a word of apology or explanation for the delay. Still, you can see the attraction for the BMW dealer: not only does he sell a car but he gets the customer to lend him a large lump of money, interest free, for a period of some weeks or months. Good scam.

Dear customer. Screw you.

OK. So the purchase was over. At least she can enjoy the car now? Disaster struck: after less than a month the car suffers a puncture. Bad luck. Hard to tell what did it, but we think it was some large-ish stones that had fallen on to the road. Now, a short detour: like many BMWs, this one has no spare tyre. Also, oddly, it does not have run-flat tyres either. It has a “temporary reinflation” kit to repair the type and get you home or to the nearest garage. Not wildly keen on that, but that’s life. Trouble was in this case that at least part of the tire damage was to the sidewall, kinda where it meets the bottom of the tire. That was clearly visible as damaged. Maybe more – who can tell? Anyway, you don’t try a temporary repair on a tyre with a suspect sidewall.

What to do? Well, we had no worries actually: when we bought the car we had asked about the lack of a spare wheel. “No problem” the dodgy dealer tells us, and he then showed us chapter and verse in the handbook that comes with the car. The BMW handbook assures you that if you suffer a puncture (or indeed any other sort of failure – but it singles out punctures for explicit mention) you are in good hands: just call the number given and all will be well. You’ll be rescued, helped, sorted out and generally taken care of.

Fantastic! So despite being still shaken up by the puncture, my wife (Woman. On her own. Unable to move her car.) calls the BMW care-line for help. Bottom line from BMW: “Go fuck yourself. Not our problem.” I paraphrase slightly – I don’t think they swore. The operator asked for details of the puncture. My wife is a helpful sort and describes it accurately, how the tyre is completely flat and how she can see damage to the sidewall as well. “Oh well, that’s not a puncture. That’s an *accident*. Speak to your insurance company about it. Goodbye.”

It would be funny if it wasn’t true. “That’s not a puncture. That’s an accident.” I am still unable to tell anyone what sort of puncture is NOT an accident. Presumably one you do on purpose?

Hello Audi, Hello Mercedes. Hello anyone but BMW.

So there we have it. My wife has a tremendous car, which she enjoys very much. Maybe you might buy one too? If you’re in France, good luck to you. You are expected to make an interest-free loan of an indefinite period to the dealer before you even get your car. And once you’ve got it the after-care you were promised is just non-existent. They’ve got your money and don’t give a flying shit about you anymore.

When I go car shopping for my new car in a few months time I’ll be anywhere but at the local BMW dealer. Maybe the others are just as bad? Well, we’ll see. They sure couldn’t be a lot worse. You conned me once BMW France. You won’t get a second chance.

2 comments to BMW France – To be avoided

  • They get better and better…

    BMW Finance folks have now asked me for a THIRD time to send them a copy of the car’s Carte Grise. For the THIRD time I’ve done so, only this time paying 6.50 Euros to send it Lettre Recommandée.

    How can a company that makes such fine cars be administered by such incompetents?

  • Don

    Being in a position of living in France I can assure you that it is not just BMW France it is the French service (term used exceptionally lightly) industry as a whole. I’d just say buy what you want & expect no help and to be ripped off, then when someone is actually helpful you will be pleasantly surprised. That last part is still to happen for me but there could be a blue moon coming soon. I had a Citroen where replacing the clutch cost about 3 times the price compared to the UK and it broke down within a week of it being “fixed” with electrical faults (never having any electrical hiccups before). 3 weeks later with the car sitting at the side of the road where it broke down for the full time they agreed to collect the car at my expense (nothing happens immediately – plenty of chasing on my behalf, no call backs etc) then when they get it back and realise they didn’t close the fuse box or something so they fixed it and I didn’t pay but 3 weeks, come on!!! And no appology of note. Also, a friend had numerous problems with his Passat, surely a very reliable car, but he just kept getting fleeced for a thousand here and a thousand there until the cambelt snapped and he gave the car up after a numerous thousand euro bill. Their response c’est la vie even though he had his services carried out on time at a main VW garage. So, as I said, buy what you want and be lucky.

    PS to some up customer ‘service’ one of the times I called Citroen about the above issue I was on hold for 10 mins to get through then at 12 noon I was cut off. No answer on calling back. They had all gone for lunch and weren’t back till 2.
    PPS Beautiful country though