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Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 12:45 PM
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Angry Please help! Young female driver being messed about

I'm having a lot of problems with my 2012 JCW which I've only owned for a year. I will attach a copy of my complaint email here to give you an idea of the problems I am experiencing. I would be grateful for some feedback and if you've had any of these problems yourselves. Thanks! Lydia x

To whom it may concern

I am writing to express not only my dissatisfaction but also my absolute disgust at the performance levels of both the vehicle and the service I have been provided with, since purchasing a top of the range, brand new John Cooper Works just over a year ago.

A few months after purchasing my vehicle from Jersey Channel Islands and bringing it to the UK I noticed a huge difference in the performance as the vehicle was clearly lagging with a slow throttle response. On booking it in with Sytner Mini Sutton, they drove it and told me it was fine, as if it were a matter of fact. Clearly I know my own car; more importantly Sytner Mini Sutton should know the cars they are selling.

Needless to say, It was not “fine” and the situation was subject to a painfully drawn out conclusion didn't come about till nearly a year later.

As if that wasn’t enough, I had another issue with the Sutton dealership. I took my car in to repair a kerbed alloy, which happened during a low speed parallel park manouvre. On arrival, I was told I had apparently "buckled" my passenger wheel according to your staff.

Naïve to what I was being told, it was only later on under the instruction of family members that I found out how difficult it is to buckle a wheel while reversing at 2mph. By now it had been replaced and I had paid to the tune of £500. With hindsight, there was no evidence presented to me of the old “buckled” wheel or an explanation of what caused it- again poor service from Sytner Mini, and as a vulnerable customer (a young female driver) I feel again as if I have been exploited by your dismissive dealership, and pretty much been taken to the cleaners on this occasion.

This before I even get to the major problems I have had with the vehicle. My car was parked outside my work place and it wouldn't start. To my dismay, the car was recovered to (you guessed it) Sytner Mini Sutton Coldfield. I was given vague details of a carbon buildup, and was accused of “not driving the car properly.” They managed to get it started and I thought it was fixed. To my surprise it happened again over the Christmas & new year period where again it wouldn't start and was showing all the same symptoms as the previous encounter.

Having totally lost faith in the Sutton dealership, I had the car sent to Sytner Mini Birmingham. It simply felt like Sutton weren't interested in actually fixing the underlying problem or keeping me in the loop, just fobbing me off with erroneous technical answers, accusing me of misusing the car and generally making me feel like I was to blame for these issues. I felt like an idiot; as stupid as it sounds, the service & car began to impact my self confidence and personal life. Why was I such a terrible vehicle owner? I love my car, I wash and clean it every week. Why am I so bad at keeping it healthy?

And so the plot thickens. I had a phone call from Sytner Mini Birmingham whilst it was under their care asking if anyone had messed with the engine as there was "some serious nuts and bolts missing" from parts of the engine.

No one had touched this car apart from Mini garages. After the engine had been stripped back and the necessary work done the car worked fine, even the lag had disappeared, and the car was back to normal.

Or So I thought.

Yesterday I chose to drive my car from Birmingham to London to meet my dad for a trip to the theater. 15 minutes into my journey the temperature warning light came on so I drove to the nearest service station, lifted the bonnet and noticed it was completely out of water. Please bare in mind I filled it up with water just six days prior, last Wednesday.

I filled the car up with water and coolant (which through paranoia I actually now keep in my boot) and then carried on my journey. Another 30 minutes in and again the light came on. Again I lifted the bonnet and it was completely out of water. Stranded on the M40, I filled it up again and carried on with my journey. Having spent £30 on petrol my journey had to stop as the warning light was flashing. I pulled into a service station and the water was literally leaking out of the car so I had to phone my breakdown recovery.

The man immediately found the problem, which was a ruptured radiator pipe bulging against the engine mount. How was this not noticed when the engine was stripped only under 4 months ago? A cynic might suggest that this happened as a result of the “work” your people carried out. I also have photos of the water leaking from the car and photos of the pipe pressed against the engine mount.

I am extremely unhappy with the amount of unnecessary hassle I am having with this supposed top of the range mini. I have wasted a lot of time and money (petrol around £200, days off work around £350, a new wheel for £500, even wasted theater tickets worth £200) on this unreliable car and I am not prepared to waste any more. It worries me that as soon as my warranty runs out, I’ll be paying thousands of pounds for this continuous work. This is the final straw. The truth is, I don’t want this car anymore but I am paying through the nose for it, so I have to keep it. I have been through a lot of trouble with this car and without wanting to sound dramatic, I CANNOT and WILL NOT take any more.

I will not offer you an ultimatum as I hope you will be diplomatic in resolving my complaint. However I will tell you what my expectations are from you, and what the implications will be if they are not met.

I expect a like for like replacement for my vehicle- I do not want any further repairs carried out on this absolute dud that you let roll out of your factory.

I expect an extended warranty on the new vehicle. Five years to cover the time I will own it. I will not be in a situation where I am paying for your failures as a manufacturer.

Since these issues started to arise, I have been in touch with the financial ombudsman and queried a vehicle-related complaint. Based on my discussions there, If we cannot come to a fair resolution here, I will pursue legal action in the confidence that I will absorb no costs in the process.

I also feel it is important to let your prospective customers know what kinds of problems your current customers have with your vehicles. I have prepared a fact sheet detailing my problems which I am willing to hand to everyone that walks into your dealership on a weekend, every weekend.

I trust you will provide me with a prompt and clear solution.

May I just also add I have just been to the Sytner mini Birmingham garage and been told by Ray Daulphin that he is skeptical of this leaking pipe and been made to feel like it is my fault this has happened. He also seems to think I have crashed or someone has crashed into my car to cause this damage. I am sick and tired of been made to feel like it's my fault for your manufacturing issues and this is the last straw.

Warmest Regards

Lydia Nirwan

My reg- LN12 WAN
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 01:39 PM
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Sorry to hear all about you problems.
I have the same model and year, and mines been faultless and Im very pleased with it indeed, theyre not all like yours, maybe yours was one of those Friday afternoon cars we often hear about, who knows, but I know what you mean.
I always wonder when mine goes in faultless whether its going to come out the same.

Ive done work in many garages as an outside contractor doing other work on the premises, including MINI, and the kids seems so young working on the cars, pulling and tugging at this and that, I think glad youre not working on my car mate!

Every time they replace the pollen filter for instance they dont fit the cover back properly and I have do it myself, every time! If they cant do that properly, then what about the rest of it they do?
How many screws are left on the floor to sweep up once the jobs done I often wonder.

And as far as fault finding is concerned, if the computer says its ok then it is, even if its obviously not like say if there was no engine. Del Monte says yes ok.

Mechanics today, well technicians as they are called now, cant diagnose any problems manually anymore like the old school proper car mechanics use to it appears.

Things wont get better I fear. And of course you being female dont know what youre talking about, is how they see it.
Hope you manage to get yours back to how it really should be.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2014, 04:44 PM
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Very sorry to hear. I just want to say that I have nothing but praise for Sytner MINI Slough. I had dismal service from Cooper Reading before and I know how frustrating it is if they same shops selling MINIs manage to ruin the experience with their "Service".

I have to say though that no Customer Service department in the world will give you 5 years warranty as good will gesture. Cars don't leave the factory with missing bolts and semi-dismantled engines. So whatever happened must have been caused by people handling your car after you bought it and that's most likely what MINI will tell you. I hope you get it sorted and that MINI will assist you.
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Old May 18th, 2014, 04:21 PM
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Sorry to hear about yours woes with the mini. Has there been any progress?
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Old Jun 11th, 2014, 08:07 PM
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Unfortunately there are a lot of young people working in dealerships nowadays, many apprentices and newly qualified 'technicians' who don't really know what they're doing. MINI do have a massive problem with cars "coking up", where the carbon build up make the exhaust pop when revving and causes a serious lack of power. It sounds like the first dealership you took your JCW to just has an awful service team who aren't interested in customer satisfaction. I'm glad you finally got the power issue sorted and it is unfortunate that the coolant pipe was damaged for whatever reason and pressed up against the engine(?) mount, though more likely the transmission mount. There are clips for the coolant pipes to sit in, but can easily be missed if a thorough double and triple check isn't carried out on all components in the engine bay before the vehicle is driven out of the workshop. Stripping an engine down is understandably a big job and as humans are not perfect and there is pressure in all work places to be more and more productive, mistakes will be made on occasion and oversights will happen. The only saving grace is that warranty and goodwill should cover most of the costs, if not all of them.
NB: wheels can become buckled from driving over potholes, kerbs and other obstacles. The size of the buckle will determine whether or not the wheel should be replaced. It is unlikely that you would've buckled a wheel severely enough for replacement without knowing that you've hit something quite hard. Always ask for evidence and proof before spending a lot of money on new parts. Many dealerships have video equipment called CitNOW or you should be allowed to enter the workshop to view your vehicle yourself.
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