Sunday, March 21, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
I put on the bottom of the last post this would go up on Saturday…I don’t know why I typed Saturday when I meant Friday! Anyway, here is part 2.
Tuesday morning dawned bright and sunny, but with a definite chill in the air after having snowed lightly overnight. ESM and I got ready, and I drove the Buick back to the dealership, with Susan following behind in the Mazda, just in case.
Now, I have to make something clear to you, dear readers. We have not been dealing with your ordinary, run of the mill car dealership. No...this, my friends, is a BMW dealership. The place looks for all the world like a high-end spa. Fine furniture, modern decor, a twelve-foot long fireplace made from stainless steel with the flames seeming to emanate from a bed of ground glass. And liberally spread around are cars that can easily run into the six-figures.
And the dealership does not employ your ordinary car salesmen-types, these are non-commissioned “sales associates”, wearing expensive suits, who make the same money whether they sell a $5,000 car or a $50,000 car. This all makes for a somewhat different car-buying experience.
You may now be asking yourselves, if this is such a hoity-toity outfit, what are they doing with a 12-year old Buick Riviera that sells for less than half of any of the other
used pre-owned cars on their lot? A good question. One which I asked the sales manager about, during one of our early visits. His response...this was such a unique car, given the low miles (69,000 and change), the single previous owner of the car and the (allegedly) excellent shape the car was in. He said they felt the car would sell very well given the price (around $5,000). I really couldn't argue with that logic.
So, I pull up to the service entrance, the garage door rolls up in front of me, and I pull into what has to be the nicest inside service bay I have ever seen. Remember how I said it had snowed lightly overnight? Well, all the cars coming in for service had a little bit of slush on them. There was a guy, riding one of those Zamboni-like concrete cleaning machines, going up and down the service bay cleaning up the drips from all the cars. Constantly. Heaven forbid someone step out of their Beemer into a little puddle of muddy water!
A very courteous attendant met me as I got out, and I explained that I was there to see Andrew, and that the sales manager had set up the appointment. She told me she would go let Andrew know, and handed me a clipboard with a quick form to fill out with my contact info. By the time I had finished, a gentleman in a smart green sweater-vest and khakis walked up and introduced himself as Andrew, the head of the service department! He said he would take the car back immediately, get it on their diagnostic computer and find out what the error code was. I explained about the shifter button not working as well, and he said they would be happy to take a quick look at that too.
We went through the doors into the building and right inside, across from the CONCIERGE DESK (if I'm lyin', I'm dyin'!), were several chairs. So we sat down to wait. After we had sat there for a bit, the attendant who met me at the car came by us. She suddenly stopped, looked at us funny, then smiled and said, "You don't have to wait here. You can go out in the showroom and wait there...the chairs are much more comfortable and we'll come find you!" She graciously walked with us out to the showroom, asking if they could get us water or coffee... I felt like such a bumpkin! In my defense, I'm not used to car dealers like this! These people are SERIOUS about making sure you are comfortable. I guess that comes from the clientele they cater to. *grin*
After waiting about thirty minutes, Andrew came back and said the error code was for the cam position sensor...again. He couldn't understand why this was happening after they replaced it, but obviously there must be something else wrong. He said the shifter button problem was a result of the linkage just being "worn out," and that the linkages are a common problem on those cars. He said he wanted to confer with the sales manager who had been helping us first, but he wanted to keep the car and take it to a GM dealership, to make sure the job was done with all the right tools and equipment. Sounds like a good plan.
We then met with the sales manager, and said we had thought further about our decision to return the car and that we really wanted to see what was wrong before we went to the trouble to reverse the sale. He was relieved, and said he would do everything in his power to make sure we were happy with the Buick and all the issues we found were repaired to our satisfaction.
Now at this point, I found myself a little out of my comfort zone as far as car buying is concerned. A dealer saying he doesn't care what it takes, that he just wants us to be happy? WTF? So, feeling a bit overwhelmed, I told him I appreciated all he was doing for us, but I knew they must be close to losing money on this deal. He shrugged his shoulders and said with a smile of utter sincerity, "Most deals we make money, sometimes we don't." At this point I begin looking around for the 'Candid Camera' crew to jump out and Allen Funt to say "Gotcha!"
After Andrew and the sales manager spoke briefly, they came back and said they were indeed going to keep the car for a few days and take it to GM to be fixed. In the meantime, they would give us a loaner to drive until they could get the Buick back. A loaner? Really? I asked ESM to make sure we only wrote them a check for $5,000... This just kept getting weirder and weirder.
So, what do you suppose they checked out to us as a loaner, in a BMW dealership? Can you say, 'B M W'? I knew you could! They gave us a 2008 black four-door 335i, with just over 16,000 miles on the odometer. Now, I've driven some nice cars in my day, but this was the first time I'd driven a BMW. Three words: what...a...car!!! ESM and I discussed who should have the loaner...and somewhat to my surprise, she said I should have it. She explained that she did not feel comfortable parking it in the school parking lot at night when she went to class, and felt it would be safer if I parked it at my work instead. Given the $40,000+ replacement cost and, of course, always wanting to be the gentleman, I was happy to oblige! So, ESM took the Mazda and returned home, and I took the BMW and went on to work.
Next time, this roller-coaster ride of a story continues. See you on Sunday!