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Why I don't like Allison BMW

Allison BMW is one of the largest BMW dealers in the South San Francisco Bay area. I purchased my BMW 328 from them a year and a half ago. I've brought it in for servicing five times. There will not be a sixth time. My next car will be a BMW 540, and it would take multiple acts of God combined with massive doses of psychotropic drugs for me to buy another BMW from them.

Allison BMW's sales department is all right. I got treated okay when I bought my car. Although it wasn't anything special like some of the other dealerships do for you (ribbon cutting, lunch, a tour, etc.). But hey, I got a good price.

Their service department on the other hand bites. I've worked with three service reps, and only one of them exemplified an outstanding commitment to work. The gentleman's name is Gus. If you have a choice, do not go to Allison BMW. If you don't have a choice, go ONLY if Gus is servicing you.

Why is he so good? It's not that he throws in freebies, or does you a dozen little favors or anything like that. It is because he does a damn good job. He keeps you up to date throughout the day on what is going on with your car. He calls you when the car is ready, instead of when he feels like it. He listens to all of your questions and answers them to the best of his abilities. He seems like he genuinely cares about resolving your issue, whether it's fixing a coin holder or replacing the brakes. Gus is what a BMW service rep should be.

The other two I've worked with are no better than a service rep at a Chevy dealership. They do just their job and nothing more. They were not patient, nor willing to go the extra mile. I had to call them up to get updates, not the other way around. They didn't walk me out to get in my car when the car was ready. Here's the thing, they didn't do a BAD job. They just did a very average job. The type of response I got when I went to a Chevy dealership.

Here are two posts I wrote on bimmer.org on why I will not go to Allison BMW anymore. It's not that they did a horrible job or treated me badly or threw me out of their dealership. It's the fact that they consistently did a mediocre job, did not double check their work, and except for the time that Gus was my service rep, at no other point did they seem willing to go the extra mile. I'd rather go to Steven's Creek BMW. They don't have loaner cars and their schedule is busier, but they can't be any more mediocre.

First Post to Bimmer.org

I dropped my 2000 328 off at Allison BMW in Sunnyvale, CA, this morning. 7:45am. It's after 3:00pm now and they STILL haven't looked at it. Since the brake pads need to be replaced, this isn't going to be a quick job either.

This is the fourth time I've been there, and this has become a trend. Only once has the car been ready before 5:00pm.

For starters, it takes a while to make an appointment. I'll start calling at 8:30am, leave a message and call back an hour later until I find someone. Around 2:00pm, I'll either find someone, or they'll call me back.

The first time was last year, when I got my alarm installed. Not too bad. A little late, but that's okay.

The second time I went into get my coin changer fixed, and to get the low coolant warning light fixed. They did a bad job of washing the car, leaving water spots.

The third time I brought it in because the car wasn't auto-locking when you inser the key manually. They put in a new lock mechanism and did an oil change. They did a worse job of washing the car, not even drying it at the top. Nobody came out to greet me either.

And now today, the brake pads need replacing, and the window needs adjusting. Also, a new locking mechanism needs to be put in as there was a problem with the one they tried last time.

All minor tweaks mind you. I can understand why they might push off the little jobs like coin holder fixes until later, but brake pads and inserting a new lock mechanism isn't something they should hold off until after 3:00pm, especially if the car's been there since 7:45am. They haven't even looked at it yet. And if they need the car overnight, I don't have much options as I didn't arrange for a rental car or anything, and I'm told there is no service car available until May 21st.

Next time, I'm going to give Steven's Creek BMW a shot. I don't know if they're any better, but I at least want to know for certain whether or not Allison BMW has one of the laziest service departments or not.

This is my first BMW, so I'm trying to figure out if this is even normal or not. I've had Chevys and Fords and I'm kind of used this treatment from them, but I figured with the price you pay for a BMW, you get a little speedier response time.

Second Post to Bimmer.org

I just came back from Allison BMW. I took the advice of folks here, and I slowly and carefully explained the situation.

I purchased a pair of BMW license plate holders. The screws were too long and they ended up digging holes into my trunk. Not large holes, more like pin pricks.

So I wanted to get new screws and I wanted Allison BMW to pay to get the holes covered up.

The manager of parts there was smiling until I mentioned that I was expecting Allison BMW to pay. At that point, he likened this to installing a CD changer and my expecting Allison BMW to fix it if I screwed up the changer install.

I responded that I had in fact installed the CD changer myself, and the major difference is that the CD changer came with all of the correct parts from the factory. The license plate holder did not. If I had purchased an aftermarket part, or was engaging in some heavy duty work, I can deal with the consequences. But a license plate holder I just found galling.

He refused to pay, but (and this is where I actually got annoyed. until then, I was pretty much expecting him to say no anyway) he would give me the screws I need "for free." If I needed a new license plate bracket or holder though, he would have to charge me.

I think that magnanimous offer is what got me. Or maybe it was his wording.

Sigh. Anyway if this was just the first time with Allison, it wouldn't upset me as much. But I've had a history of bad experience at this delership. They've made a lot of money off of me by doing second-hand work, then I would realize it afterwards and then bring the car back again.

Well that's enough. In the month of March I went into the dealership once every week, and only once did I have to go in due to servicing. The other two times it was because the dealership erred in fixing something the first time.

I bought my car from them and that was an okay process, but the service department just bites. And now I can say that their parts department's not really there either.

I'll be contacting BMW N.A. to see what they'll do.

Man, I can't believe this. The repairs themselves can't cost more than half an hour of their time. It's not even repairs, it's just touch up work. It's cheaper for them to do that then for me to request a loaner car from them. I never expected them to move mountains, but I just wanted them to do me a favor just this once.

When I was in there, I asked the parts manager that he should inform customers that they shouldn't be using those screws. He agreed with me. He said they shouldn't have sold those screws and that customers will be told in the future.

Well he lied. I was contacted by another former Allison BMW customer who said the same thing happened to him. He ended up going to Steven's Creek BMW from that point on, like I will.

It's refreshing to hear that I'm not an isolated case. But it's frustrating to hear that they knew about this and didn't do anything, nor will they.

I also forgot to mention this. The clerk at the parts dept. insisted that I had damaged the body because I had to hammer the screws in. He couldn't believe they slid in and out. I explained to him that I did not have to use a hammer and that they fit in perfectly. His response was a skeptical nod of his head. He wouldn't even look at the car.

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