I first drove and subsequently purchased my Cooper Chilli D just after they were first released in Australia just over 2 years ago. While I love this car, we have been let down by Mini Australia and the dealer network time and time again.
We were first led to believe that car came standard with run flat tyres. We wanted as tall a tyre profile as possible to reduce any possible rough ride associated with run flats. Because of this we made a rim selection, which while I'm happy with, wasn't our preferred choice. As a flat tyre the day after delivery showed us, the car didn't have run flat tyres, these were an extra cost option as we discovered afterwards. This meant we could have had our first choice of rim. Disappointing. Our second mis-understanding and one that still annoys me, was the complete lack of bluetooth in the car. The phone buttons on the steering wheel and audio system suggested that we had at least a basic bluetooth system and that the catalogue options were for upgraded systems. Mini Australia tells us now that the buttons are just there in case you wanted this option when purchasing. Why it is installed when not actually there still seems ridiculous to me. With no ability to upgrade the system after delivery, these buttons annoy me every time I drive the car and remind me of the poor sales information that we received. It's also something That I have meant to take up with Consumer affairs Australia as I still believe the useless factory fitted buttons are mis-leading
Driving the car is our next problem. Our car began to rattle from the dash, quite literally as we drove out of the dealers lot. Mini Australia approved a fix, eventually, but only after a brand new car had been sitting in pieces at our local service agent for 7 weeks. Our service agent kept us informed at all times waiting for the approval to fix the car. Mini Australia, seemingly dragged their feet because it was a new fault that hadn't heard before. (the rattle came from the heater beneath the dash?) Subsequently over the past 18 months the car has been back time and time again for rattles in the dash. Mini Australia's fix is to have the service agent pack anything that might move in felt tape. Hardly the type of fix one would expect for what is essentially a premium BMW. Our service agent at one stage requested replacing the entire dash, again more felt tape was the approved fix.
A couple of months ago, in the course of a 60K service we were told that the car required front brakes. Not just brake pads, but entire front discs as well. How a car can destroy a set of brake discs in as little as 60 000kms still has me dumbfounded. My other car is a 2 tonne Nissan Pathfinder, purchased as a heavy duty tow car. It recently had the factory fitted brake pads replaced at 140 000kms The discs had an on the car re-surfacing. How can a light weight Mini need pads and discs replacing so quickly? Mini Australia ignored me when I questioned it. Are Mini using substandard parts to begin with as a cost cutting measure?
On our last service we pointed out to the service agent that the leather on the front seats was cracking. They also found a small oil leak on the engine. Parts were ordered and we brought the car back two weeks later to have the parts fitted. That was just over three weeks ago. A new oil pump was needed in the end and the parts requested. Mini Australia, despite sharing these parts with the BMW 1 series, don't hold any in Australia.
I rang Mini Australia's Customer care line to find out if anything more could be done to get our car back on the road. I have to point out that we are very happy with our service agent here in Darwin. They have kept us informed at all times. Usually supplying a loan car without request or charge when required. I have complete faith that if they could get the parts or get the approvals to do the correct work, they would do it.
I spoke with a "Megan" at Mini Australia a week ago late on the Thursday afternoon. She took my details and offered to ring me back the following day. Never happened. I rang Mini Australia back to find out what was happening this week. At first I got a different guy who, once he checked with "Megan" wasn't able to offer any more insight. I asked him to have Megan ring me back as she originally said she would. This time she actually rang me back. Rather than offer to fix my problems, she simply blamed the service agent for not being able to use the "very simple" ordering system and that despite the car having been off the road for a fortnight already, I could expect the parts to take up to 6 weeks as air freight - 6 weeks air freight in 2012??
Are they kidding? When I pointed out how ridiculous this was, I was then told they were more likely to be a fortnight. Again she blamed the service agent, "because they only ordered the oil pump when they pulled the" car apart" - No ***** do Mini expect their agents to be psychic and order parts before they know whats wrong? Megan, for a customer service person, is quite clearly in the wrong department. When I questioned as to how come the dealer can wrongly order parts only when our car comes in and every single time our car comes in, didn't this seem kind of a stretch? I still don't have a suitable answer. I still don't know why the replacement leather seat back wasn't supplied on time, as it was ordered two weeks prior to the oil pump in the first place. Megan in Mini Customer service was unhelpful except to try and shift any blame or responsibility to the service agent
In the past two years our Mini has been off the road, either waiting on parts or Mini Australia's authority to carry out repairs for just over 12 weeks. 3 months off the road, while we have been forced to find alternative transport and continue to make monthly payment to BMW finance for a car they can't/won't fix. Our local service agent has been unable to supply loan cars as long-termers, although they have tried to accommodate us as best as possible. On top of the inconvenience of not having our Mini, we are using almost $160 worth of fuel a week to run a large 4X4, where our Mini would normally use $50. the very reason for purchasing our Mini in the first place.
BMW recently sent me brochures on the new 3 series touring wagons. This was looking likely to be a purchase around Christmas time, however, as a long term BMW fan and supporter who would never have considered alternatives, I'm thinking that this maybe the case. I'm even considering replacing my faithful old K series BMW motorcycle with another brand in the future. How can Mini Australia continue to sell these cars with such lousy back up? In the past i talked my car up and told others to look at the brand. Now I think that a Ford Fiesta Eco-netic with $15K still in my pocket would have been the smarter purchase. At least it came with bluetooth, not just the buttons. If I had got lousy service from Ford, it would have been what I expected, not what I got from Mini Australia.
I seriously hope that Mini Australia sees this and does something to lift their game. I have no faith in their ability to actually arrange to have my car fixed correctly and I guess I'm going to be stuck with something likely to be a lemon with age. A damn shame, as it was originally hoped to pass it on to my daughter as a safe reliable first car in a year or two. An old Datsun 120Y might be a better bet....
If anyone is considering purchasing a MINI in Australia. Think long and hard about it, if it all goes wrong, Mini Australia only seems able to point a finger else where.