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Old Dec 10th, 2013, 11:44 PM
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Why I (Sadly) Will Not Buy Another Mini

I have a 2006 Mini S convertible. I have loved this car but unless there are changes in corporate policy, I will not buy another.

I live in S. Cal and my dealer is Bob Smith Mini in Calabasas. The sales staff was friendly and helpful. The problems began when, as the car got older, it needed fairly frequent repairs. I would take it to the dealer who would always have a shockingly high price to do what seemed like minor adjustments. This was because, they told me, that the corporate policy was to replace rather than repair. I generally would spend the money, figuring that they knew more than I did.

But then my roof would not close properly. The estimate I was given was $4,000 because they felt that they needed to replace the roof. (Later, after much wrangling, it was reduced somewhat.) Out of curiosity, I tried realigning the roof by hand - with no tools or training - and, in a matter of seconds, it was fixed! And has continued to work, without incident, for the past year. Surely, any mechanic with any skill at all could have done what I did the first time I brought it in. But that wouldn't have earned them $4,000.

So, recently, I began to wonder if the rapacious attitude the dealer had toward its customers was their own, or, as they claimed, company policy. So, I wrote to customer service online. Two weeks later, I got a call from a nice young woman from customer service who told me how sorry they were and concerned that I was unhappy. So, I asked, is it company policy or not? "I'll have to check," she said, "And I'll call you back." That was about a month ago. A couple of weeks later, thinking it might have been an inexperienced service rep, I called again and got another person. Same result. Clearly, the US customer service can't even answer the most basic questions about the parent company.

Based on this experience, my guess is that the folks at Bob Smith were telling the truth - it is company policy to replace rather than fix no matter how trivial the problem. This means as a customer, I cannot trust the dealer or the company if the car has a problem and must rely on third parties. That invites all sorts of additional problems - I would prefer to have a reliable dealer. When I owned a Lexus I found the dealer trustworthy, consequently, and will probably return to that make on my next car.

I would suggest to BMW that they change this policy, but there seems to be no way to actually contact the people who make decisions, only the US office which, it appears, is simply there for show.
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Old Dec 11th, 2013, 12:12 AM
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I'd wager that almost all US MINI dealerships are privately owned and pretty much operate the way they want.

Given dealer's outrageous labor rates, once your car is out of warranty, you're better off finding a competent independent mechanic to work on your car.
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Old Dec 11th, 2013, 03:11 AM
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Sounds likely. To replace rather than repair only requires a semi competent mechanic to follow the detailed install instructions BMW give main dealers.
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