full complaint sent to ALFA and DEALER by post
8th April 2003
Dear Sir / Madam
I write to make a complaint with respect to both the quality and delay in repair of our vehicle. We purchased a new import Alfa Romeo 147 2.0 in November 2002 from Motorpoint in Derby. When we got the car home, we realised that:
1. The satellite navigation system was not working correctly (it doesn’t detect any satellites, and thinks we are in Luton, when we are in Nottinghamshire)
2. The clutch was squeaking.
Due to these faults, we took the car into the local dealership (Co-op motor group Nottingham) to be diagnosed on a Saturday morning. On arrival, we were greeted with “Oh, you have the Motorpoint car don’t you? We don’t like them in here.” You don’t like them? Well that put an air of confidence in the service we were about to receive. At the time we did not point out that:
a) We would not have been able to afford a car from the dealer; hence they would not have had any of our custom.
b) We actually had a 2-year warranty, so it didn’t matter where we bought it (they obviously knew this).
The outcome of this diagnosis was:
1. The technicians did not know what was wrong with the satellite navigation, they had never encountered this problem before, and they would have to speak to Alfa Technical for advice. We were told they would call us on the Monday and let us know what they had found out.
2. They had stopped the clutch from squeaking.
Well, by the Monday, the clutch was already squeaking again, and there was no phone call from the dealer, which we were promised. We waited patiently until the Wednesday, before we made the call to them. We were told on the phone that they could not get in touch with Alfa Technical and that:
“Trying to ring Alfa Technical is like trying to get through to PC World,
you just can’t get through sometimes.”
This again made us feel extremely uncertain of the service levels Alfa provide, and we were told that they would let us know as soon as they had heard something. We advised them that the clutch was again squeaking.
In the meantime, whilst waiting for this phone call, the next problem decided to rear its ugly head. This time the doors stopped working correctly. The remote locking and alarm stopped locking and unlocking the doors correctly. Sometimes the doors lock, sometimes they don’t. They never open. Central locking had stopped working, and the doors have to be opened individually by the key. The back doors have to be opened from the inside. The function to lock the doors from the inside of the car is malfunctioning. Not good considering the amount of car-jacking that is heard of today… We don’t like being in town, in an expensive, desirable car with the doors unlocked and no way to lock them from inside.
By the next week we had still had no reply, so we phoned them again, letting them know of the new problem that had surfaced with the central locking. We were told that they had still not got through to Alfa Technical. We did not find this satisfactory, and decided to phone Alfa customer services to complain. We explained what had happened up to this point, and the gent on the phone said he would speak to the dealership. Ten minutes later, he phoned us back and told us that he had spoken to the dealer and they had said the technician who was dealing with the problem at the dealership had been off sick, and he would be back the next day, so we should get a call then. This is what we expected, especially as the technician was on holiday… About another ten minutes later, the dealership called to say they had now spoken to Alfa Technical (This we found amazing. After not being able to get through for over a week, and having the technician off sick who would sort it out when he got back to work, ten minutes after the dealer had been called by Alfa Customer Services it was sorted. (At this point, we understood what they meant when they said they don’t like Motorpoint cars.)). Alfa Technical were apparently not sure what the problem was, but suggested a few things that might cure it; if these things did not work, they would have to order a new satellite navigation unit. We booked the car in for the dealer to see if these suggestions would fix the satellite navigation, for them to assess the problem with the central locking, and the clutch to be fixed again.
We took the car into the dealer on Saturday 11th Jan 2003 for this inspection. On picking the car up at midday, we were told:
1. The suggestion for the satellite navigation fix did not work, and that they were ordering a new satellite navigation system, and a new aerial. We were told this should fix the problem.
2. The technician had encountered the problem with the central locking before, and a new body computer was required to fix this.
3. The clutch was fixed, and was not longer squeaking.
Because the parts being order were significant, we were advised to book the car in for a whole day (so the work could be completed) so we would need a courtesy car. We agreed with the dealer to book the car in at the start of February, to give the parts enough time to arrive (they were ordered by the dealer on Monday 13th Jan 2003). Scott then booked the day off work so he could bring the car to the garage (we live 25 miles away from the dealer) for the work to be completed. At last, after all the waiting we could see our car fixed and working, as it should be on the horizon. How wrong we were…
The day before the car was in, Scott received a phone call to let him know that the parts had not yet arrived; they were not even in the country! They had been put on Back Order and they had no ETA. At this point, a day was booked off from work, and all Scott’s arranged meetings cancelled. The dealer said they would keep on the case, and as soon as the parts arrived let us know so we could book off another day and take the car in. We were gradually becoming more and more incensed by the situation. This was in early February.
Since then, we have constantly been left to phone the dealer to chase things up. Still there was no ETA. Still they were not in the country.
In mid March, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope… The dealer phoned us! The satellite navigation system and aerial had arrived, but there was still no ETA on the body computer for the central locking. We cannot afford to take a day off for one fault to be fixed, and a day for the other, so the only thing we could do was leave it until all the parts had arrived. We are sure at this point you can appreciate our disgust, and anger.
After still not hearing anything for a further two weeks, we decided to phone the dealer again. This was on the 3rd April 2003. Two and a half months after the parts were ordered. 81 days after the parts were ordered. 81 days! We were told on the phone that the body computer still had no ETA. They told us that if the part had not arrived by Monday 7th April 2003, they would reorder the part… We suggested that if the part had taken this long to arrive, couldn’t it be the same situation again? Wouldn’t it be better to just wait for the existing part to come in? Up to this point, the dealer had never mentioned the amount of time a part should take to arrive, but on this occasion we were told that these parts should have only taken ten days to arrive and:
“Sometimes when Alfa put a part on Back Order, they just cancel it and don’t tell us (the dealer)!”
So they have now admitted that:
a) The parts should have taken 10 days to arrive, but they are only prepared to investigate and reorder the part after it hasn’t arrived 85 days later!
b) Alfa sometimes cancel parts orders and do not tell the dealer!
c) Knowing this, the dealer has left our part on back order for 85 days!
This left us in the situation of waiting until Monday 7th April and see what happens.
The icing on the cake is:
1. On Saturday 5th April 2003, for the first time we had three people in the back of the car. For the first time we tried the third rear seatbelt. It does not work.
2. On this journey, we nearly had a crash with two people in the back (we wouldn’t let the third travel illegally) because the cruise control malfunctioned, briefly stopping me from slowing the car down! Using the cruise control now, speeding up and slowing down the car is erratic, and does not always work (we only hope we don’t need to order another part).
We have just spoken to the dealer (Tuesday 8th April 2003), the day after we were told they would get back to us. We were told on the phone that Alfa had not got back to them, and they will now just reorder the part. This also involves cancelling the current order (again, we had to phone them for this action to be taken; what would have happened if we hadn’t phoned for two weeks).
And we haven’t forgot that right at the outset, when these parts were ordered the dealer told us that it should fix the problem, not would fix the problem.
This situation is totally unacceptable. The standard of service is appalling and is not what we expect from Alfa Romeo or those who represent the company.
The choice was made to pay extra for a car of the specification purchased, to date we have effectively lost money as we have a car that has no satellite navigation system, is susceptible to damage and even theft when left unattended, cannot legally carry three passengers in the rear, and now has a faulty cruise control.
We understand that from time to time there are issues with maintenance but a brand new vehicle to fail with this regularity is totally unacceptable.
Since having the car in November 2002 we have lost 5 months of our warranty and feel that this should be compensated for due to the lack of effort and service regarding the repair of our car.
We at this time haven’t taken advice regarding this outstanding issue but will be left no alternative if we have to continue to wait.
I look forward to receiving a written response within the next 7 days to advise what steps will be taken.