Alfa bad rep? Now I know why. - Alfa Romeo Forum
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(Post Link) post #1 of 41 Old 08-04-17 Thread Starter
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Alfa bad rep? Now I know why.

Where do I start?

Okay, my 156 JTS is going in to have a cambelt change next week. The independent specialist I use is charging £300 incl of VAT and service book stamp.

Just out of interest, I thought I'd get a comparison from a main dealer. I know you're going to say, they are always going to be more expensive but that's not really my gripe.

Anyway, they said they'll come back within the hour with a price: 90 minutes came and NO phone call. 120 minutes NO phone call, so I decided to phone them back. The like-for-like price was £725. Then I said, why didn't you ask fundamental questions? "Such as?", he said. So I was getting a bit peed off with the fact that no one returned a call with the price and asking essential questions: "Ask about the variator and water pump would be a good start," I responded.

"I'm afraid I have no real experience of Alfas," he sounded quite blase about it as if it wasn't important.

I tried another in my area hoping the first main dealer was a one-off. I was gobsmacked by their response... and the second one wasn't any better. Didn't ask any relevant questions and didn't phone me back.

The second main dealer was more expensive (£860) and again stated he had little knowledge of Alfas. By this time I was getting quite angry. "It's because of your attitude and pricing structures that chokes people off Alfas!"

Remember I haven't even called a main dealer for nearly 5-6 years and I hoped they would get their collective acts together -- clearly not. I'm glad there's a great network of small independent dealers scattered across the country. Otherwise I would be driving a Ford Focus or something similar.

I'm pretty sure nearly all these service dept. in the main dealers come off a conveyor belt.

If there's little trust in them doing something as simple as cambelt, what chance have they got of selling a brand new 30k Giulia?

Whinge over.

If the shoes don't fit, change the horse.
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The first owner has moved on before a new cambelt is needed for their Giulia. Audi owners move onto specialists too after the warranty ends.
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That isn't the point, though, is it Cue (although I suspect you're right in many cases).

How can Alfa trade on its appeal to the enthusiast when their own team are sad slackers without a hint of inside knowledge or professional curiosity.

Even from an economic point of view it doesn't work. "When did you last have the water pump and variator changed, Sir/Madam? Ah well, I would recommend doing both at the same time as the belt - saves time and money in the long run, and provides peace of mind. £nnn all in. When would you like the work to be done, and would you like to borrow a courtesy car? Please do help yourself to a coffee while I book it in for you. Card? Of course."

And when they do a free, unannounced mini-valet for when you pick it up, the first thing you do is come on here and tell everyone how Alfa UK have totally transformed their service. Sure it cost quite a bit more than the back street specialist, but they knew their stuff, and the experience was top class.
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The dealer where I bought my previous Giulietta , Allams of Epsom, tried to befriend owners of Alfas with a kind of club and lower rates for older car servicing. They even arranged a Guiness Book of records thing for the longest convoy. They stopped selling Alfas before my car was old enough to benefit from the cheaper rates. As long as the " lots of car for the money" buyers buy any make the dealers will not get a look in after a few years. As a neighbour who was in the trade explained , dealers will outsource a job if bolts are rusted or it takes too long. The main dealers may not get to know common problems or workarounds as they don't get to see cars over three or four years old.
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So, pack in mechanics altogether and focus on product and front end sales? Or would the abandonment of high-quality, technical after sales service have a significant impact on perception of quality etc.?
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You mean the Daewoo "take it to Halfords " approach?
not sure that worked. The obsolescence thing is important to keep new sales going but people overestimate the tradein value so this puts them off the dealers and they keep the cars longer.
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It's disgusting that companies representing a brand should be so complacent. I have nearly 30-years working in sales (not car or automotive related), working for big and small companies. If I ever said to a potential client I would be back within a given time I would honour that pledge. Or if it takes longer I would make a courtesy call to say 'it'll take a little longer than anticipated'. If I didn't honour that they would use another supplier.

Surely that is professional courtesy. Something, based on these two leeches, it seems, they wouldn't know the meaning of the word.
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If you give a high quote for a belt change you don't expect the customer to come back with the work. Whether this comes back with new sales to people with their old car I'm not sure. The question comes about reducing the labour bill for older cars and if the dealers would benefit?
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If you give a high quote for a belt change you don't expect the customer to come back with the work. Whether this comes back with new sales to people with their old car I'm not sure. The question comes about reducing the labour bill for older cars and if the dealers would benefit?

If ever I gave a quote high that it's not competitive, then I would still phone them back and ask what the turnover/delivery time is and whether they are (the cheaper co) up to the task.

But the simple fact is some people will only deal with mainstream dealers. No issue with that but given this recent puzzlement I would recommend anyone with an Alfa to avoid the big dealerships.

The fact is they don't care... they would rather sell their FIAT range and Jeeps. It's an embarrassment to the brand.

Perhaps I'm too passionate about Alfas. But simple stuff like old fashioned communication goes a long way, and exactly [now] why I wouldn't touch a main dealer with a barge pole.
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My last dealings with the local main dealer service department were quite positive , being helpful but not intrusive and probably no more expensive than an independent. It was followed up by a survey from Alfa Romeo but I was not as impressed by the sales department so bought my second new Giulietta at an equidistant dealer. This came with free servicing , even if the dealer was initially happy to take £499 for it.
How do you think your "passionate " attitude manifest itself for a main dealer when you speak to them? Why would they not want your business? I'm assuming they're busy enough without owners of older cars?
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The whole ' I'll get back to you' isn't just Alfa dealer related. It's endemic. I've lost count of how many times this has happened to me in recent times.
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Why are so many normal things such as this , or the effects of gravity for example, put down to an Alfa characteristic?
The number of times people refer to taking their car " to Alfa" is crazy too. Very few of the dealers are actually part of the company. Even the Motor Village is part of Fiat UK. They never called me back after a positive testdrive of a £25000 car. I wasn't hurt by that.
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Alfa probably is.
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or are

or was

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I bought from somewhere else and I called them. Even after I ordered it I was told not to call them as they'd call me when it was in for collection. In the end I had to call them.
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What would 'Pulco do?
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Pyromania is not a good idea on a site where they've got your new car in for the PDI , if that's what you mean?
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targeted strike?
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My local dealer, Northgate Alfa Romeo benefits from a great service manager, Adrian Pile, and also a very good head technician, Dan...and when they were exclusive to Alfa Romeo, they were very good to me and tried to help me as much as they could with servicing and pricing. Now they are incorporated with Fiat and Jeep. Adrian is the overall head of service, but the front team and the parts manager do the pricing....still a good service, but now at £105 per hour, plus full retail price on Alfa parts the dealer is now pricing themselves out of the range for working on my old 166/156es. (previously Adrian used to bill me trade rates).

Even so, credit to Adrian and Dan, who really do have a heart for old Alfas, and when they were "independent" from Fiat, they really did try to keep the costs down for me. Adrian would even give me part numbers so I could look for cheaper prices for parts...cheaper than his trade price he could quote for me... This is because he had a heart for old Alfas that are worth tuppence....and solidarity with someone who wanted to keep an old 156/166 on the road.

Now they have been incorporated with Fiat, that help has gone, and I have to deal with the front desk and the full retail dealer price, so unfortunately the dealer is now no longer viable for me as a service/repair garage. They won't feel the loss as I was very lucky before to get sympathetic service from Northgate, taking the age/value of my cars into account...now I won't get that extra help...and the dealer will make more money servicing Fiat 500s and Jeeps. Thankfully I have a couple of other options of decent specialist independents in Kent....
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That's a dumb move if Northgate has any spare workshop time or a need to get some miles on some loan cars.
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How do you think your "passionate " attitude manifest itself for a main dealer when you speak to them? Why would they not want your business? I'm assuming they're busy enough without owners of older cars?
My passionate attitude doesn't come across over the phone other than a normal person trying to get a quote for cambelt.

My passion comes out ONLY when I think they are wasting my time. If it was Joe Bloggs Repairs down the road, I wouldn't think twice about calling them back. But given they are custodians (if you like) of the brand I would expect better, or at least demonstrate some enthusiasm towards potentially getting extra work. It doesn't inspire confidence IPO.
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Any car dealer functions by the custodian of the cars for as short a time as possible and on a repeated monthly cycle of targets. Some are clearly keen on the type of car they sell but they don't gain a lot by telling to keep hold of their current car for too long! Why do they not want the job of doing your cars timing belt, in your opinion? If they did, I'd assume , they'd quote competitively. I'm not trying to be negative but trying to understand their perspective .
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Quote:
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Any car dealer functions by the custodian of the cars for as short a time as possible and on a repeated monthly cycle of targets. Some are clearly keen on the type of car they sell but they don't gain a lot by telling to keep hold of their current car for too long! Why do they not want the job of doing your cars timing belt, in your opinion? If they did, I'd assume , they'd quote competitively. I'm not trying to be negative but trying to understand their perspective .
It is a bit obtuse though. They either have an alfa badge on the door, or they don't.

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They also have a Fiat badge and a Jeep badge nowadays. Are the customers less passionate to deal with?
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(Post Link) post #25 of 41 Old 09-04-17 Thread Starter
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They also have a Fiat badge and a Jeep badge nowadays. Are the customers less passionate to deal with?
No, but I'd guess their priority isn't in the Alfa direction.
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