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When did Customer Service Land on the List of Oxymorons?

Since when did “Customer Service” land on the list of oxymorons with the likes of “Jumbo Shrimp” and “Military Intelligence”?

My Mini (which I love dearly and treat like my child and have named Marvin) needed to go in for service. From my understanding and current education, after receiving “Service”, one is sent the following with a short survey and comment area to be filled out and cover what may have not been covered in the survey. You are asked “If your experience (or your MINI’s) was less than perfect, please let us know! We’d like the opportunity to show you what your service experience should be – each and every time you visit MINI Crowfoot. We’ll make sure you’re taken care of!”.  Kevin Smith – Service Manager

…my day went like this….

**Note, some names have been changed to protect the innocent and some names have been left the same in order to protect the public.

Well Kevin,

Since you asked, let me tell you about my “Mini Experience” because if nothing else, it most certainly was an “experience”.

Firstly, I was under the impression that Mr. Robert Jones was the ‘Service manager’ or are there two of you with the same title? Odd Corporate structure, don’t you think? Perhaps Mini just hands out titles like Amway? My apologies if I am starting this “experience” with a petty thought.

Nevertheless, allow me to share…..

I can not sing the praises of my first contact person, Mr. Pete Batler, enough. I believe that man has done more for me on ONE “Mini Visit” than ANYONE in the 25 years I have been doing business with both BMW and Mini (as well as my past three husbands but that is a different survey so we won’t go down that path right now).

The center console of the GPS and computer system of my Mini Cooper S blew and by “blew” I mean that my blue tooth would not work, my stereo would not work and my GPS was not working. Everything that had to do with that centre console was gone. It is a $2500 part, plus labor, which is CLERALY not made in China. (No offense to the hard workers in a Communist Country working for The Man every night and day.).

In a 5 year old car that has less than 50K on it, I question why something like that would “blow”. My answer was that “No one knows how long they last” and I am the “first person to have the FULL GPS center console in a Mini Cooper S”. I find that interesting and alarming. Had I know I was to be a “test rabbit” for Mini, I would have asked for a cheque. Even in University we received payments for taking small green pills and then trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

That being said, it is disappointing that this VERY expensive “fix” is something that is not covered by Mini and ESPECIALLY for a car that is used so very little and less than 5 years old. I have socks that are more than 5 years old and they haven’t blown.

Shortly after leaving Mini, I get a call saying that my car is close to “Catastrophic engine failure” and the fix is in the thousands. Wow…..I really had NO words. I treat this car like it is my child and am in shock. I reach for my Valium and take deep breaths…..I am then told that Mini will do what they can to “split the bill” with me. All in all I am looking at just under 5K for my portion…..not chump change and so much for that trip to Jamaica I was planning.

After having a small stroke at the estimated final bill, I receive ANOTHER call (maybe I should activate call block from MINI for my own health and your safety?). I am then told that Mini has “recognized” this “Catastrophic engine failure” issue and are indeed willing to split the bill. I feel incredibly lucky but still in the back of my head I keep thinking “Where is the onus for this? Why is it falling on my shoulders? NO car should have this happen 5 years in and most certainly NOT a 50K car that was SPECIAL ORDERED?”.

So, I brace myself for the 5 THOUSAND DOLLARS in total that this is going to cost me. I stress, I lose sleep, I think about selling the car and…… I even think about leaving it unlocked, with the keys, and a 6 pack of “BEER BEER” on the front seat, in a seedy area of downtown. Oh yes…..Mini, you have caused me GREAT angst.

So I am without my precious Marvin for weeks. Mr. Batler did brace me for that and he found me a “Nice BMW X1 ECO” as a loaner. THAT car is a menace on the road. I won’t go into the failings of BMW in that “Eco Design” FAIL. No time for that. THAT is for another email, another time. Clearly we will be communicating frequently.

I have now resigned myself that this is going to be a 5K hit but Mr. Batler has done everything he could for me. He has certainly gone above and beyond what I would expect from ANYONE in the car business. I hate to break it to you Kevin but, the car industry doesn’t have a very great reputation. I know….this probably comes as a shock to you. It’s ok, you’ll be fine.

I then get two voicemails from the ever diligent Mr. Robert Jones who is beside himself with excitement. Apparently, on MONDAY (the day before the scheduled return of my precious Marvin, there was a RECALL on all that EXACT issue and all that was wrong with my precious Marvin…..something about a timing chain and whizzy gadget….I dunno….any who….that whole portion of my bill is gone and warrantied by Mini.

To say I was pleased is an understatement, I am a little perplexed however, as I was told only a week and a half prior, that Mini is “aware of this problem” with the timing whatchamacallit thingy that was going to break my bank, but now it’s all fairies and unicorns and rainbows…..it’s warrantied due to a recall!

Well Hallelujah and praise all the angels! Or so Mr. Jones has projected through the voicemails. (I honestly think he should be the guy that delivers the checks for Ed McMahon when someone wins the Publishers clearing house. He is a REALLY happy guy. Really. Please do not break him of that.).

And again, I am grateful that I do not have to shell out thousands to get my Precious Marvin back. Completely made my day. Completely.

I am however, still perplexed at what changed Mini’s mind or what catastrophic event took place to get these parts/problems RECALLED. Did someone smash into a wall, did a mini explode (God forbid), or…. does a Mini owner (somewhere in the world) have a photo of one of the higher ups at Mini Europe in a Gimp Suit doing unmentionable things with a small marsupial?

Either way it is my “win”. I have indeed learned NOT to question these things as one never REALLY wants to know the answer. As I have warned you Kevin, the car industry is a dirty business.

So, I arrive last night to an excited and happy Mr. Jones (who was just lovely with me) and, after looking over my invoice, Mr. Jones removed a wheel alignment from my bill as I did not ask for it….who knew you could NEGOTIATE a mechanics invoice…….y’all took it upon yourselves to do an alignment (which in my humble and girly opinion should come along with a “Catastrophic engine failure” as it just somehow makes sense that the wheels would be wacky after the engine fails but what do I know? I’m just a silly girl).

We did our little “walkabout” around Marvin and he appeared “ok” for what we could see from the outside on a VERY blustery and rainy day.

Clearly the drive in bay is reserved for the BMW class . Us poor Mini owners that only pay 50K or less are not worthy of such acclaimed, coveted, dry and warm property. Thanks for making me feel sooooo very special AFTER taking my $2500 (yes, that was the final tally).

So, I open the back hatch/trunk/boot as this is ALWAYS the first place I look after Marvin has been in for any kind of check up with you. And lo and behold…AGAIN (I have yet to be let down on this) my boot looks like a rabid Badger has ransacked my car.

Mr. Jones was none too impressed either and I indicated that I have NEVER…yes, NEVER EVER, had my car returned detailed or even with the boot put back together as it was, let alone cleaned of dust. Check the notes,… I ALWAYS check the boot first. Fool me once….

Mr. Jones has indeed placed a note on my file that I am to receive a free detailing…..yep…like THAT is ever going to happen.

Ok….just wait Kevin…it gets better…….I then open the front doors and the dash is covered in “Mechanic Dust” so thick I could write my name in it.

But…the ABSOLUTE capper…….while driving home, I actually had to take off my t-shirt and wipe down the inside of my windshield so I could SEE….yep, the BRAND NEW WINDSHILED THAT I HAD JUST PAID A THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR WAS SOOOOO DIRTY I COULD NOT SEE THROUGH IT.

So, imagine,….there I am on one of the busiest, traffic jammed roads in the city, during rush hour, doing a max of 11km/hr,…..driving in just my Vic Secret Bra, while I wipe the inside of my windshield with my brand new t-shirt.

This was quite the show for a couple of very classy guys in a HUGE 4×4 truck with a set of swinging chromed testicles hanging from the trailer hitch…..The upside is that they did offer to buy me a drink, but, given I am on my fourth husband, I politely, but graciously declined. Sweet of them to offer though…..clearly they could see I was not having a great day.

Perhaps I just have very high expectations but I really would think that a brand new windshield, which is made of GLASS last time I checked, would be transparent, not opaque. Again, Mini has proven my 8 years of University to be completely irrelevant.

So Kev (May I call you Kev, I feel like we are friends now)….this has not, nor has it EVER been a “Perfect Mini Experience”. But you see,…..I am savy…I DO indeed understand how “The Customer Satisfaction Survey” gig goes…..10’s across the board and y’all get a nice “pat on the back”. So, I do my part as a good human and a grateful one on behalf of that AMAZING man Mr. Peter Batler….I have, and always will, give 10’s because I am a good person.

The ONLY thing I have ever asked in return is that you treat ME like a “10”.

While Mr. Batler has certainly fulfilled that end of the bargain, no one in the under ground mystical maze of Mini has, and I am now at the point where I just keep my expectations LOW, thus, I am then never ever disappointed. Gotta keep “The Glass Half FULL” attitude in my world.

That being said, Mini has singlehandedly made the term “Customer Service” on the top 10 Oxymoron term, list. Stay strong, be proud of your accomplishments.

As it stands…Kevin, you owe me one T-shirt and I shop at Nordstroms.

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