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Am I being unreasonable?

Morning Ladies and Gents.

After some guidance as the title suggests.


Bought a 15 month old, 09 plate 159Ti from a dealer. Several problems developed on the car the majority of which were sorted by the warranty. One problem which Alfa wouldnt sort is the tear that appears in the side bolster of the drivers front seat (seperate thread covers this). As we couldnt agree Alfa sent me "as a gesture of goodwill" and to "restore my faith in the brand" £250 in Alfa vouchers to be used in payment for goods and services. Not happy when i recieved the letter as I wanted the seat repaired so the letter and vouchers got filed as I didnt need anything for the car.
The other week the brake pad indicator flashed up on my car so thought ok time to spend the vouchers. Dug the envelope out, reread the letter, looked at the vouchers, all well and good then noticed "see T&C's overleaf". There it stated with all the other bumf valid for 12 months from issue. The vouchers were issued in July 2011. Hey ho I thought i'll have to get these re-issued. Got on the phone and got a resounding "no way" from Alfa Customer services so I decided to e-mail them. This is what I sent:

I had a problem with my Alfa which will be documented in the referred to case (32182857). From this unresolved problem I was issued with Alfa Romeo vouchers to the value of £250. The letter states “as a gesture of goodwill by Alfa Romeo UK”.

The time came on Friday when I wished to buy some parts for my car and wanted to purchase genuine products as I am pleased with how long the originals have lasted. It is only after looking at the vouchers in some detail in preparation for this purchase that I have noticed that these particular vouchers are only valid for 12 months.
This is not stated in the letter or on the front face of the voucher but is mentioned in the T&C’s.

When I contacted the customer helpline I was informed that they could not be reissued. I spoke with the lady at some length but was unable to agree with her interpretation of how this should be resolved. She was unable / unwilling to pass me onto someone with more authority.

I would appreciate it if you could arrange for the vouchers to be re-issued or arrange for me to collect the items that I wish to have. My reasoning that the vouchers or value of the goodwill is still valid is as follows:
• No mention was made in any discussion with regard to the original case that these vouchers are “lifed”
• No mention was made in the covering letter that these vouchers are “lifed”
• No mention is made on the voucher front that they have a life.
• The “valid for one year from date of issue” is in the same font and size as the rest of the text on the voucher rear and does not stand out.
• The comment on the rear says that the vouchers that I have are valid for one year, not that they cant be re-issued.
• Does this mean that Alfa puts a life on its Goodwill?
• The letter states these vouchers are “a gesture of goodwill”. How do you think this is making me feel now?

I have been a loyal Alfa enthusiast for over 30yrs promoting the brand through a variety of channels including motorsport. I currently own 3 Alfa’s, my 159Ti, a classic Alfa Sprint Trofeo and an Alfa 33 which I use for rallying and in which I have come second overall in the Heart of England Rally Championship twice. My wife owns an Alfa 146.

When I was looking at a new car 2 yrs ago for the first time I was not initially looking at an Alfa but fell in love with my 159 when I saw her. Please don’t spoil the relationship that I have with Alfa for the next new car that I want to purchase.


This is the reply I received:

We would like to acknowledge receipt of your email dated the 22nd July 2013 requesting that the £250 vouchers provided in 2011 be reissued.

Is it correct that the £250 vouchers were offered as a Goodwill Gesture but, As per terms and conditions noted on the voucher, the offer was only valid for 12 months.

After careful consideration regrettably, we are unable to extend the offer.



In the meantime, our Customer Service team remains available to further assist you if required, we are open from Monday to Friday between 9:00 and 18:00, on 00800 2532 0000 choosing option number 4.


Am I being unreasonable expecting them to maintain there offer of "Goodwill"?
Is it worth me pursuing this any further or in a different way?

Comments / advice appreciated

rsfruitbat
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A difficult one.

From the manufacturers point of view they could argue quite justifiably that they do not print Terms and Conditions simply to use up surplus ink that they have

On your side I can see how you could justifiably argue that goodwill should not have a shelf life

Personally I would mark it down to experience and leave it
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I received some vouchers and somehow I did realise they would expire from the same standard letter you were sent . Mine were following an error made during a service so I knew I couldn't spend it on the next one 18 months later! I wonder what proportion of accesories are bought using goodwill vouchers.
I sympathise with you and I'm surprised by the reaction from Alfa . It's unlikely to be worth escalating your issue but for £250 ...
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Sorry but the Terms & Conditions have got you bang to rights.

It is not unreasonable for any company to put a time limit on any special offers as it is a way to prevent sudden and unexpected demands on their funds in years to come, which couldn't be catered for in normal business accounting procedures.

The onus on checking Terms and Conditions is with the customer. Regrettably in this instance, ARUK are completely within their rights in not extending this offer.
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I agree that ARUK are technically within their rights......although poor in PR terms.

Cynically I would suggest that as you own a 159 they probably calculate that you won't be in the market for either of their current offerings so they don't really stand any stronger risk of losing a customer.

If you feel sufficiently agitated I'm sure you could get your revenge by ensuring they spend enough time on dealing with your complaint escalations / repeated calls to outweigh what they are refusing you..........

How much did the seat repair cost you, BTW, as in reality that's what they "owe" you?

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What is Alfa trying to protect here?
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Perfectly unreasonable. Its your own fault for 'filing' your vouchers
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Not at all - I think, irrespective of Ts&Cs, that it would be reasonable to expect a gesture of good will would not have a shelf life. Common sense should apply and the vouchers reissued.
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What else can we expect? Does Alfa show ANY interest or commitment to Alfisti? A serious question
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Originally Posted by fiisch View Post
Not at all - I think, irrespective of Ts&Cs, that it would be reasonable to expect a gesture of good will would not have a shelf life. Common sense should apply and the vouchers reissued.
Why?

If your TV breaks a year out of warranty do you still expect it to be replaced/repaired under warranty?
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Why?

If your TV breaks a year out of warranty do you still expect it to be replaced/repaired under warranty?
See what you mean, but didn't Alfa take the matter beyond that boundary when they good willed?
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Alright then, if you're a business person and you issue vouchers which clearly state someowhere about them that the expire on a certain date, would you accept them as payment for goods if they expired 12 months previous?
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I don't think a businessperson was involved in this one, in the context of business reputation
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(Post Link) post #14 of 27 Old 28-07-13 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rgwm View Post
How much did the seat repair cost you, BTW, as in reality that's what they "owe" you?
The seat was repaired by a professional that my wife works with and knows and from memory it cost about £150 to have it replaced with a leather side panel. I did inform Alfa of this. I was also miffed that the car was supposed to have a leather interior but the seat side panels are only vinyl.

GAZ - I understand about the T&C's but what I dont understand is why the Life of the vouchers is not stated a bit more obviously. Being fairly straight I never even suspected that Alfa would "life" their goodwill i.e rather than having an issue date on the front why didnt they put expiry date on the front of the voucher or state it in the letter?

My issue is that the car was in warranty when the seat issue was raised not out of warranty. Despite other people having the same problem they wouldnt replace my seat cover (one guy had had it replaced 4 times, all under warranty).

If I was in business then having recieved cash for a voucher why would you not honour the value of that voucher at whatever point in the future. The cash has been in your bank account for that period and the longer it is left the lower the worth of the voucher.
Alfa chose to give me a goodwill gesture in the form of vouchers, all I wanted was the seat rectified one way or the other.

I would have just expected that after being a loyal customer and supporter for over 30 yrs there would be a bit more thought given to the decision. I would have appreciated a more detailed response explaining why they thought the points I had made werent valid.

Thanks for comments so far

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I'd write to someone at AR UK in Slough, maybe Damien Daily and see what sort of response you get.
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Yeah... the vouchers were not some kind of a special treat.. they were to compensate you for your hassle, so even thouygh the T&Cs might be correct, it's a bit "tight" to not re-issue them. Not good PR, AR...


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Wading in a touch off topic, but you bought a second hand car, there was a tear in the drivers seat, it isn't a warranty claim as it was probably caused by the previous owner. Yet you want Alfa UK to stump up another £250 because you misread a voucher that covers an act of goodwill over some damage that was not the companies fault, nor are they in any way responsible for.

I'm not a business person, but I'd suggest you're asking a bit much!

Alfa offered a voucher that was £100 more than the repair cost of damage they aren't remotely to blame for, you chose not to read it fully, and want more from them? If it were me, I'd say no too.




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Surprised the question has been raised knowing it is ARUK..
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I had £500 worth of vouchers from AR in 2006. Still have a £100 one left, no T&Cs on back and no date mentioned in covering letter.

Wonder what will happen if I try and use it?
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They'll reject it. Send it to me and I'll dispose of it for you in an environmental manner..


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To understand ARUK's stance you have to look at it from an accountants perpsective as whether we like it or not, businesses are run by accountants.

Customer Service Manager to Accountant:" Is it ok if we make a £250 gesture of goodwill to one of our loyal customers?"
Acc: "Yes ok we have a few quid in the kitty this year but make sure they don't hang on to the vouchers - things are looking tough next year with only two models to sell"
CSR: "OK mate, no problem, I will put a time limit on it"

Said Accountant now makes Provision in the accounts for an extraordinary goodwill payment of £250 in the coming years accounts.

I don't expect they make many such payments but at the year end they are written off whether they have been used or not. If the aforesaid payment then crops up in Year 2,3,4 or 5 etc., and there is more than one, it can cause all sorts of problems to the profit and loss balance sheet. Chairman does pointy finger at Accountant and bellows "Where did all these payments come from?"
It is standard business practice to limit the validity of such offers. It has nothing to do with Marketing and Customer Care - its those pesky Accountants again.

And with the economy as it is and Alfa sales so low, even that £250 would be hard to scrape together. As you have maybe noticed, Alfa promotional events are approximately zero in the UK now, where they used to organise regional Alfa Days about 4 or 5 years ago. Times is 'ard.
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They're spending quite a bit advertising the G on the Test Match Show however...
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Wading in a touch off topic, but you bought a second hand car, there was a tear in the drivers seat, it isn't a warranty claim as it was probably caused by the previous owner. Yet you want Alfa UK to stump up another £250 because you misread a voucher that covers an act of goodwill over some damage that was not the companies fault, nor are they in any way responsible for.

I'm not a business person, but I'd suggest you're asking a bit much!

Alfa offered a voucher that was £100 more than the repair cost of damage they aren't remotely to blame for, you chose not to read it fully, and want more from them? If it were me, I'd say no too.




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Hi Andy

I dont think your comments are off topic at all.

In reply to the points you have made:
The car was purchased secondhand from an Alfa Romeo main dealer with the first owner being Alfa UK with 9000miles on the clock. The car was a private purchase and I dont tend to change my cars frequently i.e. AlfaSud 5yrs, Alfa 75 7yrs, Alfa 146 10yrs, Alfa 33 21 yrs, Alfa Sprint Trofeo 4yrs.

I asked for the vehicle history before purchase and was advised that the only work that had been done out of the ordinary was the aerial had to be replaced as it had been stolen.
At the time of purchase there was no indication of a fault in the drivers side panel on the squab. About a year after buying the car was the first time that the tear was noticed. As my wife works at an upholster's they took a look and advised that it appeared to them to be a defect in the vinyl side panel (weren't the Ti's advertised as having a leather interior?). I did a search on the forum and found out that several other people had had the same problem in the same location. Doesnt sound like a coincidence?
It was at this point that I advised Alfa of the warranty issues that I had with the vehicle with 6months still remaining. In fairness the car on second attempt went back to the dealership that I bought the car from and they assessed the car and agreed with everything apart from the seat. They had someone come out and take a look who then left a blue mark on the tan leather interior on the joint of the split. The mesh backing behind the vinyl had no tears or splits that would indicate that I had pierced the side panel causing the tear.
As a manufacturer Alfa are liable for producing a product that is fit for purpose. My dispute is that if a seat tears in 2yrs ish / 20k miles that isnt fit for purpose. They could not explain how the tear had occurred and what I might have done to have caused it.
Alfa were also advised of the seperate quote for repair but declined to either reimburse me directly or have the invoice sent to them so it was their choice what they sent me and how much the value was. I just wanted the seat repaired. If Alfa had done it the Dealer quoted me £440 for the parts.

I dont want them to stump up another £250 I want them to honour the original offer they made or provide me with the goods that I am after (incidently is less than £250)

You are right about not fully reading the voucher. How many of us do? No mention was made in the telephone conversations about the duration of any offer. I read the letter where no mention of a life was made. I read the front of the voucher with lots of big font, flashy graphics stating goods or services to the value of. I didnt read the plain back to the voucher where in the same font as everything else on the back it says "valid for 12 months".
My issue is why wasnt it made more obvious that the goodwill gesture was only valid for 12 months? They were good enough at laying it on thick with the goodwill but didnt highlight their concerns at the longevity of the offer.

In the world of big finance then £250 is nothing to Alfa. They probably blow that on tea and coffee in a week. The bigger the amount then maybe I can understand but accountants also understand averages, God knows I have to deal with them enough. Why dont they highlight the fact that we are doing this but it does have a life. If you havent spent it by then unfortunately you lose it. End of.

Ultimately I dont think that Alfa UK have dealt honourably with me. Perhaps thats a word that doesnt translate or mean anything any more?

RSFruitbat

Last edited by RSFruitbat; 30-07-13 at 09:42.
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Quote:
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They'll reject it. Send it to me and I'll dispose of it for you in an environmental manner..


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OK, if you'll just send me your bank details so that I can verify that you are not some sort of fraudster.
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Caveat emptor (Alfa speak for "read the small print")
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