Easily my worst experience ever while getting repairs and maintenance done on a vehicle; not necessarily the people involved but the process.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2014
My Mini Cooper is overdue routine maintenance and servicing. I call up my Mini dealership to schedule an appointment for October 13, 2014. Appointment secured for 7:15 AM.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2014
I arrive a little before 7:15 AM. I wait for a little bit as my service representative is busy helping someone else. No problem. I’m not in a hurry because it’s a company holiday and I don’t have to work. Check in goes smoothly. Since I’m here for routine maintenance (lube, oil, filter, tune up, vehicle inspection and such), I make my way to the waiting room. Should only take a few hours, right? It’s nice outside, so a little later I head to the outdoor break area to vape.
About 8:45 AM I get a voicemail notification. Phone didn’t ring; not sure why, but it happens sometimes. It’s my service representative; needs me to come see her. Outside was the only place she didn’t look.
Service technician found some problems during the initial inspection, one of which is a small leak in the coolant system. Likely undetectable except under pressure with a cold engine as it’s above hot pipes/hoses. Since it’s apparently a small leak, the coolant evaporates on the hot pipes/hoses before it can reach the ground. Not advisable to drive the car with the leak. Fortunately, we purchased extended warranties on our Mini Coopers a month ago.
I’m told the process is as follows:
- Dealership notifies warranty service.
- Warranty service sends an inspector to inspect the vehicle. Inspector has 48 hours (2 days) to complete the onsite inspection.
- Inspector files a report and approves/disapproves the repair claim under the warranty within 24 hours (1 day) of completing the inspection.
- Dealership is notified of the decision.
I get my house keys and remotes from my car. I check with my wife to see if I can use her car while mine is getting repaired. She needs hers, so I tell my service representative that I need a loaner/rental. The warranty covers the rental, BUT not until the claim is approved. She calls Enterprise. Within a few minutes, an Enterprise agent picks me up and takes me to the nearest office, which happens to be across the street. They give me a Nissan Sentra. Ugh.
By 9:30 AM I’m on my way driving a vanilla Nissan Sentra. The only things I can say about it is that it’s got four wheels and goes. The door locks automatically lock when the car reaches about 15 miles per hour and automatically unlock when the engine is turned off/key removed from the ignition. Nifty. Has a softer ride than my Mini. But those are the only two things I remotely like about this car. I’ll never buy one.
Based on the process timeline above, I figure I should hear back by Thursday afternoon with the results of the inspection and claim decision.
- Why does this inspection have a two day window?
- The inspector isn’t onsite?
- From where does s/he have to travel?
- There’s only one Mini dealership in Las Vegas (actually in all of Southern Nevada). Wouldn’t the potential warranty repair volume for the entire Southern Nevada region (possibly even into southwestern Utah and northwestern Arizona) warrant a full-time onsite inspector?
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2014
I hear nothing from my service representative.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2014
4:59 PM – I still haven’t heard from my service representative, so I call. She tells me she called early in the morning to find out what was going on and was told the claim had to get management approval. She received claim approval not long before I called her. Would have been nice if she had called me late yesterday or earlier today to give me an update. She gives ma a laundry list of the repairs that will be covered under my claim. Seems like there are a lot more problems with my Mini than they told me about on Monday morning. My Mini should be ready by late Monday afternoon. If it’s a slow Saturday, maybe it can get done on Saturday. Not holding my breath for Saturday completion. Told my service representative that I’m disappointed with the length of time it’s taking to get my car fixed and serviced.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2014
No call, but I wasn’t expecting one.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2014
Day passes into night and no call from Mini despite the fact that I was told my car should be ready late this afternoon. Getting irritated. Dissatisfaction with Mini is growing.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2014
10:12 AM – I get a phone call from my service representative. Final work is ongoing and my Mini should be ready by late afternoon. She’ll call me back when it’s ready. She doesn’t call back… naturally. I wouldn’t have been able to pick it up tonight even if it was ready. Tuesdays are one of my bowling nights.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2014
10:27 AM – I’m in a meeting at work. Phone rings. My Mini Cooper is ready. FINALLY! Not going to leave work in the middle of the day and have to make up the hour or two spent getting gas, dropping off the rental car and picking up my car. I’ll go after work.
5:30 PM – Pay the repair/servicing bill (20% of the total thanks to the warranty – 40% of that was for the warranty deductible). No rattles. Running fine. No issues with the repairs, competency of the service technicians or even the actual amount of time the repairs took (3+ days) not including Sunday when they are closed.
I have never had to wait this long to get a vehicle repaired under warranty. EVER! Not even for crash repairs (not my fault) in a little town with a population of less than 5,000 (at that time) in Alabama (Fayette). Not with Ford. Not with Chevrolet. Not with Nissan. Not with Subaru. Not with Toyota. Not with Mazda. Not with Isuzu (remember them?). Not with anyone. I repeat. NOT EVER!
Here are the process breakdowns as I see them.
Claim Inspection – I get that they want to get a second opinion on warranty claims. Claim fraud prevention – I get that. But a two day window for the inspector to arrive onsite and complete the inspection? I don’t know where this inspector is based, but with only one Mini dealership in Southern Nevada, wouldn’t it be cost effective to have an inspector onsite or at least in the local area? Rental cars cost Mini $40 per day.
Management Review – Again, I get that they want to prevent claim fraud. But it seems that my service representative didn’t know that a management review might occur. Is this an internal communication problem or my service representative’s lack of warranty claim process knowledge? Both?
Communication – This is the big process failure. Starts with a lack of internal communication. No one from the warranty claim department informed my service representative that the claim needed management review and that claim approval would be delayed. Beyond that, my service representative didn’t communicate with me. Thursday evening or Friday morning, she could have called me to let me know that she hadn’t heard anything yet, but that she would get some information as soon as possible. She could have called me Friday morning when she found out that my claim was under management review. She could have called me Monday evening to let me know that the work was taking longer than expected and my Mini wouldn’t be ready Monday as expected. Tuesday evening, she could have called and told me that the work was taking longer than expected and it would be done on Wednesday. But she did none of that.
If you had asked me 2 or 3 months ago if I would buy another Mini Cooper, I’d have said “Yes” without hesitation and without looking at other brands. But now? After spending approximately $5000 for repairs and servicing on two, low mileage 2010 Mini Coopers, I’m beginning to question Mini’s reliability and quality. Combine that with my dissatisfaction with Mini’s warranty claim approval process and the time it takes, I’m not so quick to say that I will definitely buy a new Mini Cooper when it’s time to buy new cars. Instead, perhaps, I’ll look at different brands, as well as Mini, before deciding on which car I’ll buy.