So long... and thanks for all the fish.
Just wanted to post an official "goodbye" and thanks for all the help and advice. Our Spider LE was finally collected last week. After the eighth attempt to resolve the same fault also failed, we felt we had no option but to finally reject the car. Very emotional tbh, since we both really loved the car and despite everything were sad to see it go.
Seems like a good time to summarize our experience of Alfa:
Early May 2008 - Went into HRO to buy the car. Were subjected to really unpleasant "hard sell" on everything from "superguard" to "tyre insurance" before being told they had a car coming in 2 wks (someone's finance had fallen through, apparently). HRO also tried to completely change the terms of the contract hire deal, until ARUK stepped in. I gather there's been some changes made to HRO's sales team since.
July 2008 - Car is delivered (8 weeks late).
July 2008 - Hood mechanism craps out (one week after delivery).
July to October 2008 - Car goes back six times to three different dealers trying to fix the hood problem, constant battles to get loan cars, parts ordered, etc. Wheel and tyre trashed by one of the dealers and fixed by ARUK. Car's convertible function is restored just in time for the winter.
July 2009 - Hood mechanism craps out again (same fault) just as summer weather begins.
July 2009 to October 2009 - Car goes back twice to try and fix problem, in between dozens of calls to ARUK customer relations trying to make sure it's a permanent fix and the right parts and technicians are available. Car's wheel and tyre are trashed again (by a different dealer this time). Car eventually back to HRO late October to have this and the original issue fixed.
November 2009 - Hood mechanism craps out again (same fault) after 9 days. As agreed with ARUK, we reject the car.
The car was collected last week and the guys that collected it immediately started identifying "damage". The car is absolutely immaculate - I've spent hours waxing and polishing throughout its short and painful life. I asked them to point out some of the "damage" - which wiped off with a damp finger!!! We made the appropriate notes on their form, and luckily I'd taken dozens of detailed photos of the car before collection. We also took the precaution of relaying all this to FGA Contracts so hopefully they won't try anything on.
Still really upset at the car going, it was sooo beautiful and there's nothing else out there I like any near as much... but it just doesn't make sense to continue to pay for a car that will clearly never be right. I did think about replacing with another in the hopes that it was just our car that was a lemon, but I know quite a few Spider owners here have had similar problems.
And all in all I've had my fill of Alfa for now. I'll miss the car, though, and the great bunch of people on here. I'll check in from time to time.