How To Lose Customer Brand Loyalty … a Story of BMW Service Failure

I consider myself an extremely loyal BMW customer, having owned nothing but BMW products for over 20 years. In the last week I had my worst BMW service customer experience in those 20 years. It has put a serious dent in my customer brand loyalty.

One negative service experience to lose a customer’s brand loyalty, you say? Not so, one trip to a service department, resulting in 8 different issues. Let me explain:

I took my car to a central Florida dealership to have a nagging squeal noise from under the hood investigated on a 18-month-old Series 1. Although I have never purchased a vehicle from this dealer, I have used them for service on numerous occasions over the last 8–9 years.

Here is a summary of my resulting issues:

1. I was refused an offer of a substitute car during the service of my vehicle, although the dealership is 30 miles from my home while. The reason? Never bought a car from them, though I have owned nothing but BMWs for 20 years, all purchased new. Note that this service has been previously granted on several occasions by this dealer.

2. The first problem they discovered was an inability to reset the oil service light, after my oil service. They claimed the fault was caused by a chaffed wire caused by animal chewing. Could not show me the replaced or repaired wire (which is standard industry practice) and insisted it was chewed and therefore not covered under warranty.

3. The service manager required payment ($216) for me to take the car and insisted I take up my problem of non-warranty up with BMW, NA.

4. Car was dropped off to service department on Tuesday PM … and the return promise date was delayed twice.

5. Service department took 2 days to discover the noise problem was caused by a transmission seal covered by one of the service bulletins. Claimed the problem was the corporate service bulletin issue because the bulletin did not list my car’s VIN number.

6. Was to pick up my car Friday AM (scheduled to return to NY with the car late Friday evening). Service called Thursday evening to say car would not be ready due to fact part had not arrived and did not know for sure when it would arrive. I was promised a status call Friday am on the part situation. Never received a call, though. I called at 1 PM and received voice mail. I finally received a call around 3 to tell me the car would be ready around 4 PM.

7. I had no way to pick up the car and requested that the car be returned to my home. This request was refused. The dealer did send a driver to come to pick me up to bring me to the dealership.

8. I called BMW, North America after one week from when I sent my e-mail to them describing my problems and was told that the issue was between me and the dealer, despite not haven been shown the defective part (which I had requested). Requested that the BMW, NA customer relations manager call me back after he attempted to find out if any part/wire had been replaced. After 1 week, no return call has been received..

My Takeaways

This was an extremely negative experience and not what I have grown to expect from BMW. As a senior businessman, it is my belief that not all customers are, or should be treated, equal … I mean that is what customer loyalty is all about, right?

Clearly, this incident demonstrated that this dealer and the BMW customer relations manager cared very little about loyal BMW customers. In my mind brand loyalty has a higher significance than dealer loyalty (where the auto was purchased) … but that was not the case here.

Mike Schoultz writes about improving the performance of business. Bookmark his blog for stories and articles.