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      10-05-2011, 12:56 PM   #1
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Sewickley Car Store - How to lose a loyal customer over $35.

So my friends, I'd like to share with you a little story about horrible customer service. A little background first. My family has been doing business with Sewickley Car Store (SCS) for 20 years. In that time we have purchased dozens of cars - multiple 7 series, multiple 5's, multiple Audis (yuck! ; )), a Porsche, a 3 series, and of course my beloved M3. I'm about to pull the trigger on a loaded x5 diesel. We've also referred online business to them from the forums as well as dozens of local customers. Well all that has come to an end over $35. Yes, you read that right, $35.

So my father recently passed away in February and left his mint 750Li to my brother and I, and my father-in-law is now driving it. I had the car fully serviced and detailed at SCS on June 24th. After that time, my father in law drove it to CT, FL, SC, and then back to CT. During that time, it leaked oil slowly everyday - a few drops per day. It created a small pool when parked for an extended time in SC. I believe he had to top it off once. Not a big deal, but obviously a bit concerning when you are driving a new-to-you car on a long journey. Not to mention that my father never had to top the car off previously. In any event, when my father in law returned to CT, he took the car into BMW of New London to have it checked out.

What did they find? Well, here it is verbatim from the invoice:

"TECH FOUND OIL FILTER HOUSING LEAKING OIL LOOSE
TIGHTEN OIL FILTER HOUSING AND ADDED 1 QUART OF OIL
AND CLEANED ENGINE AND RETESTED ALL OK AT THIS TIME."

Sure enough, my father in law informed me that this took care of the issue, then we both had a nice laugh over what a dumb mistake this was on the part of the tech at SCS.

So one would think that this is straight forward at this point right? Just get the invoice to Sewickley and they will surely apologize to their valued customer and reimburse him. Not so.

Enter Paul Resko, BMW service manager at SCS. This is what Paul tells me:

"I have reviewed your request for service reimbursement from work performed at BMW of New London and have reviewed the service history at this dealer. We changed the oil on June 24th, 2011 at 47,212 miles. The invoice from BMW of New London has the mileage at 52,229. If we had not properly secured the oil filter housing 5,017 miles ago the vehicle would have lost all of its oil. The vehicle wouldn't have made it 100 miles and not left a puddle of oil on the floor. I do not believe we are at fault and I stand by my offer of paying for half of the invoice. If you accept my offer of $35.15 I will gladly send Mr. xxxxxx a check."

To this I reply that he is wasting my time and I think it is pathetic and his explanation makes no sense. I reaffirm that I am an important customer, although it shouldn't matter since his explanation makes no sense. I mean he is essentially saying that there is no such thing as a slow oil leak from the oil filter, BMW of New London are lying, and so is my father in law. No one touched the car between it leaving SCS and arriving at BMW of New London. So who would be responsible for the other 50% ($35) of the bill?

Paul then speaks to KC Kowalyk, the general manager, who stands by Paul and will only offer to pay half of the bill. Keep in mind that during this time I have requested that Paul call me via email, left him and KC a vmail, and they refuse to speak on the phone.

Anyway, so that is how one ends a 20 year relationship and sacrifices millions of dollars in revenue over $35. I called my sales guy Ron Kean, who is a GREAT guy, and told him that I won't be able to do business with them anymore. I then called BMW USA and filed a complaint which is linked to the VIN of the 750Li. The representative from BMW was stupefied at the situation and apologized profusely.

I've worked in customer service my entire career. I've come close to killing myself working all hours of the night to help my customers. This is one of the most idiotic and pathetic displays I've ever seen in my life. So take some advice people in Pittsburgh, steer clear of Sewickley Car Store.

Thanks for listening; have a good day out there!

Last edited by Singletrack; 10-05-2011 at 01:02 PM.
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      10-05-2011, 01:24 PM   #2
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      10-05-2011, 01:28 PM   #3
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1st
Thanks for keeping it at the top ; )

People need to be aware of how they will be treated over trivial things, let alone something more substantial.
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      10-05-2011, 01:28 PM   #4
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wow, unreal really... Good riddance!! Some other dealer will be happy to have your business...
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      10-05-2011, 01:29 PM   #5
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I am confused though at why you didn't take it to SCS first to diagnose since you say they are the ones that do all the work on the car? This would have given you sufficient ammo if they wanted to charge you for their previous mistake. Seems to me that you may have jumped the gun and overreacted.
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      10-05-2011, 01:34 PM   #6
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I am confused though at why you didn't take it to SCS first to diagnose since you say they are the ones that do all the work on the car? This would have given you sufficient ammo if they wanted to charge you for their previous mistake. Seems to me that you may have jumped the gun and overreacted.
The car was being driven across the country and ended up in CT, where my father in law lives. Sewickley Car Store is in Pittsburgh, so it was not realistic for them to diagnose it - 9+ hour drive.
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      10-05-2011, 01:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Singletrack View Post
The car was being driven across the country and ended up in CT, where my father in law lives. Sewickley Car Store is in Pittsburgh, so it was not realistic for them to diagnose it - 9+ hour drive.
Understood. Thanks for the clarification.
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      10-05-2011, 01:38 PM   #8
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Understood. Thanks for the clarification.
No worries; thanks for the concern!
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      10-05-2011, 01:45 PM   #9
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I read this post with interest, and with at first, some degree of sympathy for your situation, until I got to the part that said "I reaffirm that I am an important customer".

I don't doubt that you were mistreated to a certain degree, but really......

My wife and I have purchased many, many BMWs from our local dealer. All of these have been top-of-the-line models - M series, or equivalent (i.e. - the old 4.6is X5...). I would never, EVER, "inform" anyone of my "importance".

Your "importance", is to be determined by your dealer. If for whatever reason, they did not perceive your degree of importance to be sufficient enough to merit that special treatment which you desire, then perhaps the problem lies not just with the dealer... just a thought.

Conversely, is losing a great dealer REALLY worth not just sucking it up for $35? We might wax lyrical forever about the principle of it all, but at the end of the day, perhaps it would be better to simply go over this with the service manager, let it be known that you are not happy with it, and live to fight another day. There is obviously a reason, or reasons for you having purchased so many vehicles from this dealer. Would that not overshadow this recent event?


Just my two cents.
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      10-05-2011, 01:45 PM   #10
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what rubbish. thanks for the heads up. glad you only had a minimal loss though. maybe a good thing you ran into this with an oil filter and not a blown engine.
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      10-05-2011, 01:45 PM   #11
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Wondering why they would only offer half. I mean 70 bucks. Are they that bad off? If they thought they weren't to blame, why offer anything? To offer half implies that they feel they have some responsibility in this but don't want to completely appease you.
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      10-05-2011, 01:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Wondering why they would only offer half. I mean 70 bucks. Are they that bad off? If they thought they weren't to blame, why offer anything? To offer half implies that they feel they have some responsibility in this but don't want to completely appease you.
Exactly. "We aren't responsible; so here is half"? Makes no sense...
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      10-05-2011, 01:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Wondering why they would only offer half. I mean 70 bucks. Are they that bad off? If they thought they weren't to blame, why offer anything? To offer half implies that they feel they have some responsibility in this but don't want to completely appease you.
agreed
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      10-05-2011, 01:54 PM   #14
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I think you're holding your pride up way too high. You're not the only person they have who's been loyal for many years. You CANNOT prove it was their fault for the oil leakage, simple as that. If you could then I'm sure they would pay the full bill. But seriously man there's a reason you and your family went there for 20 years and I'm assuming it's great prices. If you have a good relationship with your SA then just stay. $70.30? I know it comes down to principle but this comes to down to pure stupidity.

My .02 cents.
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      10-05-2011, 01:55 PM   #15
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That stinks. They should have handled things differently.

I had a similar issue at a Toyota dealership a few years ago. I have a Highlander Hybrid that I took in for an oil change. I noticed soon after the service a slight burning of oil smell. I couldn't take it back before leaving for a two week vacation. I kept an eye on the oil and had to add two quarts of synthetic over the two week period.

When I did take it back to the dealer they said it was due to a faulty seal on the oil filter. In other words, the seal was not properly adhered to the filter itself. They were very apologetic , changed the oil, reimbursed me for the oil I added and gave me the next oil change for free.
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      10-05-2011, 01:59 PM   #16
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Sounds like you overreacted and very much contributed to the end of your relationship with SCS. He responded to your request with what he thought was reasonable science and offered to meet you halfway (50%). You really forced a bad interaction when you said his offer was pathetic and a waste of your time. You probably could have recovered all your money if you played it cool and worked it out with them. We all know dealers can be d*ckheads, but so can customers.
yeah but as a dealer they have to take the high road and do what is right no matter if the OP was a dick or not. To be fair the dealer should have anticipated a pretty negative response when they offered to pay for half of an issue they were wholly responsible for.

Customers can be dicks but it is a result of the dealer not providing the level of service that is expected from a brand such as BMW. Yes it is a two way street but at the end of the day the dealer was wrong and should have sucked up the 35.00. As the OP has stated he is a loyal customer. As we all know all customers are not equal.

Great customer service is the floor not the ceiling on dealer with people. Everyone should get treated with respect, but if you have a customer like the OP the dealer really should go out of the way to help him. 35.00 is a small investment in securing future sales. If the OP was hitting the dealer up for 35.00 left and right, they would have to put their foot down eventually but this doesn't seem to be the case.
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      10-05-2011, 02:00 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by TTBear View Post
I read this post with interest, and with at first, some degree of sympathy for your situation, until I got to the part that said "I reaffirm that I am an important customer".

I don't doubt that you were mistreated to a certain degree, but really......

My wife and I have purchased many, many BMWs from our local dealer. All of these have been top-of-the-line models - M series, or equivalent (i.e. - the old 4.6is X5...). I would never, EVER, "inform" anyone of my "importance".

Your "importance", is to be determined by your dealer. If for whatever reason, they did not perceive your degree of importance to be sufficient enough to merit that special treatment which you desire, then perhaps the problem lies not just with the dealer... just a thought.

Conversely, is losing a great dealer REALLY worth not just sucking it up for $35? We might wax lyrical forever about the principle of it all, but at the end of the day, perhaps it would be better to simply go over this with the service manager, let it be known that you are not happy with it, and live to fight another day. There is obviously a reason, or reasons for you having purchased so many vehicles from this dealer. Would that not overshadow this recent event?


Just my two cents.
Agree with TTBear. Seems like a bit of a mountain out of a molehill but I guess that's the OP's call. I could see the story from the other side too.
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      10-05-2011, 02:00 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by TTBear View Post
I read this post with interest, and with at first, some degree of sympathy for your situation, until I got to the part that said "I reaffirm that I am an important customer".

I don't doubt that you were mistreated to a certain degree, but really......

My wife and I have purchased many, many BMWs from our local dealer. All of these have been top-of-the-line models - M series, or equivalent (i.e. - the old 4.6is X5...). I would never, EVER, "inform" anyone of my "importance".

Your "importance", is to be determined by your dealer. If for whatever reason, they did not perceive your degree of importance to be sufficient enough to merit that special treatment which you desire, then perhaps the problem lies not just with the dealer... just a thought.

Conversely, is losing a great dealer REALLY worth not just sucking it up for $35? We might wax lyrical forever about the principle of it all, but at the end of the day, perhaps it would be better to simply go over this with the service manager, let it be known that you are not happy with it, and live to fight another day. There is obviously a reason, or reasons for you having purchased so many vehicles from this dealer. Would that not overshadow this recent event?


Just my two cents.
Appreciate your opinion! However, I was not asking for special treatment.

Honestly, I was shocked at the response, whether I had bought 1 car or 50 from them. I use to know the general manager very well, and he would always take care of any issues that I had. My father and he were friends, and we have a long relationship with the dealer. Unfortunately, he passed this past year as well - not that long before my father.

Uncertain of who was running what or which way this was to be escalated, I felt compelled to make sure he understood that I am not just a regular customer and have gone out of MY way to send them business. Basically, attempting to allow him to do the right thing, which he should have done anyway. When the response to that is to ignore my emails and vmails and reaffirm the same thing, which makes no sense, then the outcome is clear. I have enough problems; I don't need car problems over $70.

I agree with you on speaking to the service manager. Unfortunately, he wouldn't return my calls and had Paul send me an email instead. There are now more dealers than ever for BMW in Pittsburgh, two of them are actually closer to me. I specifically went to this dealer because any issues were addressed properly and I received solid deals on cars. Since they will no longer treat me with respect (phone call) or take care of the issue ($70 LOL), I can try one of the other dealers. Really when it comes to sales these days, with the internet and car transport options, if you can't get a great deal locally, you can get it nearby. So on the sales front I'm not concerned either.
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      10-05-2011, 02:02 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by BMW Fanatic View Post
I think you're holding your pride up way too high. You're not the only person they have who's been loyal for many years. You CANNOT prove it was their fault for the oil leakage, simple as that. If you could then I'm sure they would pay the full bill. But seriously man there's a reason you and your family went there for 20 years and I'm assuming it's great prices. If you have a good relationship with your SA then just stay. $70.30? I know it comes down to principle but this comes to down to pure stupidity.

My .02 cents.
I'll never be ashamed of holding my pride way to high. Haha - thanks for the compliment.
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      10-05-2011, 02:03 PM   #20
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Agree with TTBear. Seems like a bit of a mountain out of a molehill but I guess that's the OP's call. I could see the story from the other side too.
100% agree! It could have been resolved with a simple phone call I'm sure. Unfortunately, that was too big of an inconvenience for them.
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      10-05-2011, 02:05 PM   #21
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That stinks. They should have handled things differently.

I had a similar issue at a Toyota dealership a few years ago. I have a Highlander Hybrid that I took in for an oil change. I noticed soon after the service a slight burning of oil smell. I couldn't take it back before leaving for a two week vacation. I kept an eye on the oil and had to add two quarts of synthetic over the two week period.

When I did take it back to the dealer they said it was due to a faulty seal on the oil filter. In other words, the seal was not properly adhered to the filter itself. They were very apologetic , changed the oil, reimbursed me for the oil I added and gave me the next oil change for free.
Yup, and before getting upset, I made sure that 1. the oil filter was not defective - since that would be BMW's fault not SCS and 2. that tightening it fixed the issue - which my father in law confirmed.
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      10-05-2011, 02:07 PM   #22
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It's good to keep this sort of unacceptable service in the forefront here and let other members know... Thanks for taking the time and doing this. In your case they lost a good customer for a messily $35- shame on them !

I had a very unpleasant experience in the US at a BMW dealership also. In fact I was told lies like our warranty is different in the US and Canada therefore I was given options that in the end cost me $700- something that should have been handled under warranty in the US on the spot.

Anyway ... I no longer speak about it ... bottom line is our plans were to trade in our DD for a x3 BMW this did not happen primarily due to the way my issue was handled ... we got a Mercedes C350 4MATIC instead of the BMW for our DD .... I realize that BMW does not care about this here at a local level if they loose a customer or two etc .. etc... surely somebody at the Head office of BMW should do something about it.

the details can be found here ---->Under IDAHO or go to Post #26

You should copy and past your story in the thread above as well ... not all BMW dealerships are the same, somehow I wish BMW AMG Germany would do something about it.
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