I posted this on the evo.co.uk website & someone suggested I post it here also. From what I've read here, nothing I have said will be new, but here it is anyway.
1 thing I don't think I made clear enough, as someone on evo leapt to their defence, is that I think Northgate Alfa in Canterbury is hte best I have found so far. They really made an effort & my little glitch with them was basically down to them (ironically) trying to help by servicing my car on a non-service day & a bit of a communication breakdown. If I lived nearer I would definitely go back there & may yet if I can't find a decent garage closer.
So far, Basingstoke seem friendly - it's booked in there for hte 25th (jan).
Again, if anyone can recommend a good approved dealer in/nearish west london, I would be grateful...
I bought an Alfa Romeo GTV (2.0L Lusso) about a year ago and it has been fantastic - no trouble at all, very reliable and great fun.
But I have been having a hell of a time finding a decent garage to get work done! I have been using Alfa approved garages for warranty reasons, but have not had much luck.
Here are some experiences, in no particular order:
1. Hayes Fiat/Alfa in West London.
Asked them to check my air conditioning & also leave a spare set of alarm batteries in the car.
Told them that you had to run the car for 45mins to get the air con problem.
They couldn't find anything wrong with the air con but admitted that they hadn't bothered running it for 45 mins.
While replacing the console they also bust one of the console lights.
Did not leave alarm batteries in car. Instead levered open alarm sender (damaging it) & replaced the still good batteries & charged me for it.
Not much of a complaint, huh?
They then left my car on the road outside after they shut for the day, unlocked, with the keys in the boot! In the middle of london - not the safest of areas. During a carnival !!!
Amazed it wasn't pinched.
2. Subsequently booked the car into the same garage (Hayes) to get the console light fixed.
When I picked up the car they said, yes, the console light is broken - they'll order me another. So they expected me to bring it back AGAIN! Hmm.
3. Before I bought my car, arranged to test drive one in North London (Hillingdon, I think). Arranged a day & time with them to drive a recent green GTV.
Got there to find out that the car in question was in the workshop. Workshop shut for the day. Sales guys would not even let me look at it 'you're not covered by our insurance.' They were insistant.
Let me drive an older GTV instead which had no petrol in it - warning light on & all. After about 15 mins they suggested we head back.
I did *not* buy a car from these guys!
4. Booked a service at Northgate Garage in Canterbury. 2 hours away from home, but this is the garage where I finally bought the car & they were *very* good when I did so, so I had high hopes.
Bit of a debate on the phone about getting it serviced during the week & loan cars, then the guy volunteers that they can do it on a Saturday morning, so I go for that.
Told them about the console light that needs fixing ...
Picked up the car after 4 hours & had them say that I needed new tyres, brake pads, etc.
Now, tyres, fair enough. But I would have hoped they would change the pads (or call me then do it) during the service.
Their explanation was that Saturday morning gave them enough time to do the service, but not enough to do any remedial work.
Fair enough, but I wish they had told me that when I booked it in - I would not have gone for a Saturday morning.
Also - console light not fixed - not enough time on a Saturday morning. I had told them about this in advance, so they should have warned me.
Now, while this was not an ideal experience, I still think Northgate are a very good garage & would use them again if I was a bit closer.
5. Booked my car into SGT in Taplow (near maidenhead) to get the tyres changed.
They couldn't do it for about a month, by which time my tyres are getting pretty bald.
Again, tell them about the console light needing fixing. Yes, no problem. Explain that I want it done on the day - pre order the part. They don't seem to show much interest.
Try to discuss tyre choice with them, they're not interested. Try to tell them what I want done, they're not very interested. Hm.
Take the car in & try to review what's to be done. Don't worry, they say, we'll call you when it goes into the workshop.
2pm & no call so, being a bit cynical by now, I call them. Oh, it's *just* gone into the workshop. But we can't do the tyres. The guy who does them has a broken down van. Do you want us to do the other pieces of work?
I said no - I'm not rewarding them for failing.
So I STILL have a bust console light & the tyres could REALLY do with changing.
12 months & I have yet to find an Alfa garage who can do even simple work without screwing up. Seems like Alfa have sorted out their build quality problems only to have a major problem with their after-sales care ...
So, time to try the Alfa dealer in Basingstoke. Let's hope my unhappy story comes to an end here....
Anyone found a decent Alfa dealer in the South of England? I would welcome a recommendation!