When a dealership's service goes south... - BMW F800 Riders Forum & Registry



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  1. #1
    flyrider's Avatar
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    So...since 2012 I've been buying (I think 7 so far) BMW motorcycles from a terrific dealership. But a year ago, after many years in business, the owner sold out to a large company, who also deals in RV's, ATV's...stuff like that. The former dealer was exclusively BMW, in a small building and everyone felt like family. When the ownership transferred, I was shocked when I took one of my bikes in for service. The new place was huge, and you had to find your way past campers, 4-wheelers, jet skis, etc. to get to the BMW section. The service at the old shop was personalized and just fantastic. The new shop? Let's just say that my GT has been there for over a week for routine 6,000-mile service (plus a fork seal repair, for which parts had to be ordered from BMW). I get that it's a busy time of year, and I know the fork seals took 4 days to arrive, and that in the interim other bikes needed service, so mine might take another day or two. I get all that. But when I called for an update, I get voicemail. I leave a message...no response. I send an email...no response. OK...as I said, I get that it's a busy time of the season, but isn't part of conducting a business creating good customer relations, which includes keeping the customer informed? Even if the repair took two weeks, I'd live with that (I've got two bikes), but being kept in the dark...not so much.

    I love my BMW motorcycles, but this is like dealing with a faceless bureaucracy. Seriously thinking it's time to move on to another manufacturer, but...what a pain in the butt that would be. We DO have a family-owned Yamaha dealer here, but Yamaha's offerings are...not the same.

    What kinds of experience have you guys had in situations like this? Have you had to deal with a mega-dealer, and if so...am I just being a complainer? I miss the old dealership!

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  3. #2
    Runmyownlife's Avatar
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    Sounds the business plan is growth through acquisition as opposed to organic sales growth through service and repeat customers.

    It's a shame. I've come to appreciate the smaller and locally owned shops in general. It's a shift in mindset but when China stopped shipping their goods and food conglomerates got caught out with their just in time supply chain, I had good motivation to change my habits.

    Maybe a more distant BMW service place, or a non-dealer shop for maintenance?
    Concrete remains undefeated. 

  4. #3
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    Folks. Dealing with any official BMW outlet in Tasmania is an exercise in futility. I mostly buy all my parts from an independent BMW supplier in Western Australia or online from overseas. Usually cheaper too.

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  7. #4
    Lag's Avatar
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    Not necessarily just BMW but lots of the dealers in our area (Greater Vancouver), even the bigger operations have closed down over the years,,. Now when you need work in the high season like right now you can wait up to 2 to 3 wks just to get something looked at,,. The internet has taken a few pounds of flesh out of these guys as well,,. Parts are no where and can take another 4 weeks, even tire work can be problem at the dealers they put you on the wait list just to mount a tire,. A friend cut a tire and managed to tow the bike to an out of state BMW dealer, still took 4 days to put a new tire on,,. A diversified product line is probable the key to year round revenue,,.

  8. #5
    notacop is offline The original Schwartz Wald Troll
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    In So cal we have a couple big box dealers and a slew of smaller BMW shops and independent mechanic operations.
    I go to the big box to look at what they offer and stock. I would go to one of the independents for service. The dealers charge a hefty hourly rate that is out of my price range. Besides I know a couple of the independents personally.
    A smaller multi-brand dealer recently went toes up. They were operating as a repair only shop after they dumped the sales but I noticed the building was up for sale as I went by yesterday.
    Time to find a new shop for tire mounting.

  9. #6
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    i haven't had much need for a BMW dealer yet - but in general, i think all businesses are challenged in some way during this covid crap , especially non-essentials - over the years i've had good luck with non-dealer repair shops - obviously they focus on one or two things, leaving the sales of machines to some other entity -

    does BMW only authorize dealers to do warranty work ? i can only assume the answer would be yes -

    and the industry as a whole is becoming pretty unstable - never know from one day to the next who still is gonna have their doors open -
    '13 F800GT
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  10. #7
    Richard230's Avatar
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    Some years ago the San Francisco BMW franchise was closed and moved to the well-established SF BMW car dealership. The motorcycle area was first located on the ground floor of the car dealership, with the cars at one end and the motorcycles at the other end of the ground floor. But if you were wearing motorcycle riding clothing and walked passed the well dressed-in-a-suit gate guard you would get the stink-eye. (Biker scum.) Not long afterward the motorcycle section shrank and then it eventually was moved to the top floor of the dealership and things seemed to go downhill from there. Eventually a new all-BMW motorcycle franchise dealership was established in the city. Ir is still there and seems to be functioning well. I had my R1200RS serviced there early this year and was quite satisfied with the staff, facilities and the level of service - once you got past the homeless tents on the surrounding sidewalks. In the U.S. (unlike Europe, I believe) motorcycle and car sales just don't mix.
    Richard - Current bikes: 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2020 KTM 390 Duke, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior. 

  11. #8
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    If I were you, here's what I would do (I think): If the technicians are still the same (from the previous shop) in the new dealership, I would likely put up with all the other extraneous stuff and stay with the great wrenchers that I know. But if the techs are unfamiliar, I would likely find a good independent shop.

    Good luck.
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  12. #9
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    Flyrider, does a salesman that you bought from in the past still work at the dealership? As customers, we always lean towards walking away, taking our business elsewhere or getting pissed off and telling someone to shove-it. To answer your question, yes you deserve to be kept informed on the status and progress of work being completed by that dealership. The service manager may not want to deliver bad news, but "that's his/her job". You should not have to call them to learn there's another problem and the bike won't be ready when they committed. Big dealer doesn't mean it has to be a bad dealer. If I where you, I would talk to both the salesman and service manager and let them know that as a long time customer, you see a difference in how they are operating and it's not for the better. See if they will re-earn your trust and business. I was a field service manager and small business owner for over 20 years and if we let a customer down, I would rather do nearly anything to make it right, than lose them. As others have mentioned, the motorcycle industry is challenging and it may be harder to start a new relationship elsewhere than tweak and fix the one you have. Feedback is important and it sounds like they need someone to explain what good, long time customers expect and hopefully they will take that message to upper management. Good Luck! Hope things work out.....

  13. #10
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    I'd look for an independent mechanic that you can trust. I asked around here for some recommendations of where other BMW owners took their bikes. When I got the same name a few times, I decided to give them a try. I had a good feeling about the independent shop when I asked about changing my cooling system fluid. He talked me out of it, saying it wasn't needed any more. He also lost money in the process.

    The F800GT is really very simple to work on. There's nothing magical about changing your own oil and filter. My air filter never seems to be dirty. I blow it out once in awhile, but while other places on the bike collect bugs, the air intake to the filter doesn't. I started changing my own tires, and now I can do it on my schedule and not lose time. Even with only tire irons, it is more a matter of technique, not strength. Doing these things myself, has removed me from having to depend on the dealership for most things.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
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  14. #11
    flyrider's Avatar
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    Let me bring you up to date, but first...thank you all for the great replies. All intelligent, rational and reasonable. I have thought about an independent and might know one or two guys, but that's for later.

    To answer one question...the salesman and the tech from the old dealership are at the new one. If the tech weren't there, I'd be freaking out, because I don't trust anyone else to work on my bike...he's that good.

    Anyway...to today. I got an email that my bike was ready this morning, so that's behind me. I did have to email last night for an update and didn't hear anything then, but - as I said - I got the notification this morning. Went to the dealer and the bike was perfect...the service was awesome (6,000-mile, new fork seals under warranty, fresh brake fluid and new Michelin tires installed. The service guy even took some extra time to clean up the bike (even though it really needed little in that regard). I gave both the service guy and the tech a tip (which I always do with the tech). Both these guys know I take really good care of my bikes, and they have shown every indication of doing the same, when they're in for service.

    So, if I have any complaint it's just about communication. But...given the result, I'm going to cut a lot of slack here. With the bike in the dealer's for a week, I was starting to wonder, but the end result cancelled out my concern. Plus, they ARE hugely busy, and incorporating the BMW motorcycle segment into their work flow has been challenging.

    So bottom line - I'm OK. I might mention to the service manager (or my salesman) sometime that keeping customers informed is just a good idea for all. Customers, I think, are a lot more forgiving when you keep them up to date on what's happening with their bikes.

    Thanks again, guys! My GT feels great after that service, and the new tires...

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  16. #12
    notacop is offline The original Schwartz Wald Troll
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    Well at this point you seem to be a happy camper.
    I never got no stinking tips in the work i did. Don't know where the practice of paying extra for a person doing the job there were paid to do.

  17. #13
    flyrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notacop View Post
    Well at this point you seem to be a happy camper.
    I never got no stinking tips in the work i did. Don't know where the practice of paying extra for a person doing the job there were paid to do.
    If someone does a good job for me, I tip them. They may remember, the next time. It's another way of saying "thanks". Some people just take the money and that's it...but that's on them.

  18. #14
    TheMeteor's Avatar
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    I understand the frustration. Not sure if it the case in your dealership, but I know COVID has meant a lot of other businesses around be are dealing with backlogs due to past shutdown, lost employees, etc. Still..how hard is it to staff for someone to return calls?

    I had to cancel an appointment with my cardiologist two weeks due to sudden, severe chills and growing fever. Initial thought was COVID but luckily the next day we determined a severe diverticulitis. Pains came a day after chills and fever which is odd. Anyway, called the cardio back to reschedule and got a Nov 11 date. She said due to a backlog of procedures from the shutdown, he has little time for office hours except emergencies they accomodate.
    2009 F800ST (Night Blue Metallic) l 1999 SV650 (Naked & Red) l
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  19. #15
    flyrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheMeteor View Post
    I understand the frustration. Not sure if it the case in your dealership, but I know COVID has meant a lot of other businesses around be are dealing with backlogs due to past shutdown, lost employees, etc. Still..how hard is it to staff for someone to return calls?

    I had to cancel an appointment with my cardiologist two weeks due to sudden, severe chills and growing fever. Initial thought was COVID but luckily the next day we determined a severe diverticulitis. Pains came a day after chills and fever which is odd. Anyway, called the cardio back to reschedule and got a Nov 11 date. She said due to a backlog of procedures from the shutdown, he has little time for office hours except emergencies they accomodate.
    After reading this post of yours, my first reaction was - why am I complaining about a lack of communication from my dealer? At least I'm not dealing with the things you are! My second reaction was...I hope you're doing OK.

    You're right about COVID, and backlogs. When the initial lockdown ended, a lot of riders wanted service NOW, so they could get out and ride. I was told the dealership's service department was heavily backlogged, so that's a reasonable explanation for delays. As for returning calls...that's harder to reconcile, but now that my bike's back and awesomely serviced, I'm good. Fortunately, I didn't bitch at the service desk for not calling me, so my relationship with them is safe!

  20. #16
    TheMeteor's Avatar
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    Lack of communication is probably the most frustrating part because it should be easy to fix. It should be easy to add a person to explain backlog and apologize. Glad you bike is serviced.

    As for me, I am OK. I actually had a motorcycle accident in May. First time I rode since the pandemic hit in Feb because I did not want to go to a hospital and strain resources if I had an accident - and my wife has been having her own health issues so i was staying home with her. On Memorial Day we felt it OK to go out for a few hour with friends. I evidently blacked out or had some syncope incident and drove straight off the road. I recall nothing from 5 minutes prior to and accident and when I recall EMS speaking to me. They thought a neurological or cardiac issue but have found nothing from probably a dozen or more tests since. So have a cardiologist monitoring me. All has been good so who knows what happened. That is the good part and the scary part.
    2009 F800ST (Night Blue Metallic) l 1999 SV650 (Naked & Red) l
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  21. #17
    flyrider's Avatar
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    Meteor....that's a hell of a story. I hope the resolution is that you're OK, and this was a "one-off" incident, but if I were in your shoes, I'd probably be feeling exactly as you do. You have my best wishes for a positive outcome.

    Your avatar is suggestive of an interest in astronomy...am I correct? I ask, because I've been an astronomy nut since the early 1950's, eventually (in the 1990's) obtaining a computer-driven Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (since sold to an astronomy club...I value my sleep more than staying up observing these days, though I often think I'd like someday to have an observatory in the southwest with automated CCD imaging systems, so I could photo at night while I sleep, and process during the day!).

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  23. #18
    TheMeteor's Avatar
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    Hoping a one-off and riding is suspended for until we can feel a repeat is not likely.

    My wife and I have shared interests in astronomy and aviation and we both volunteered at one time at our local observatory. Not as knowledgeable as i would like but do I have a good interest. Too much backyard light in my neighborhood for good viewing and thus we have never invested in a good telescope of our own. Perhaps someday when move to a more rural and less densely populated area will it be easier. Getting access to the 26" telescope at the observatory though made for some great viewings.

    My avatar and screen name are an amalgamation of those two interests and our F800s. In aviation, the Glocester Meteor aircraft wore an "F8" designation. So there the name combines elements of our F8, aviation and astronomy.
    2009 F800ST (Night Blue Metallic) l 1999 SV650 (Naked & Red) l
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  24. #19
    flyrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheMeteor View Post
    Hoping a one-off and riding is suspended for until we can feel a repeat is not likely.

    My wife and I have shared interests in astronomy and aviation and we both volunteered at one time at our local observatory. Not as knowledgeable as i would like but do I have a good interest. Too much backyard light in my neighborhood for good viewing and thus we have never invested in a good telescope of our own. Perhaps someday when move to a more rural and less densely populated area will it be easier. Getting access to the 26" telescope at the observatory though made for some great viewings.

    My avatar and screen name are an amalgamation of those two interests and our F800s. In aviation, the Glocester Meteor aircraft wore an "F8" designation. So there the name combines elements of our F8, aviation and astronomy.
    Very cool! We share those two interests (I have my Private Pilot license, but haven't flown for about 10 years). Good luck to you!!

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  26. #20
    TheMeteor's Avatar
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    that is very cool. I soloed in gliders but have not flown in about 10 years myself. Time and money (son was in college) put a halt on me. My wife soloed in both gliders and power. I had dreams of getting back but this latest medical incident put that in question.

    Great to see you have similar interests.
    2009 F800ST (Night Blue Metallic) l 1999 SV650 (Naked & Red) l
    l 2012 G650 GS Sertao l 2012 Can-Am Spyder RT-S (Mrs. Meteor's...) 

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  28. #21
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    WOW quite an event TheMeteor! Certainly good reason for caution. In response to the original post my F800GT is my first BMW, I love the chassis and the way it rides but the engine not so much. I bought it used with 4,700 miles on it. At purchase I bought a 3 year service package with unlimited mileage. In addition to service it also guaranteed a one day turnaround. I bought it as much for that as anything. In my area it is not unusual to see 4 to 6 week wait times at dealerships. I had a Yamaha FZ6 I put 46,000 miles on and did all of the service except for a coolant change shortly after I bought it. It was not hard to work on and I had a lot of fun with it riding it to work most days. After that I had a 2012 CBR600RR, i bought it with 0 miles on it and it never went to the dealer for anything. I did all maintenance including valve adjustment. After the CBR was a Kawasaki ZX6R 636 ABS which never went back to the dealer. I like having the service done but would probably be just as happy doing it myself. When I bought the bike it was still under warranty so the service plan was partially justified as keeping it in warranty. I've had some issues with the service although the 24,000 mile service was excellent. The 12,000 mile service not so much. Currently the bike has 30,000 miles on it and am about to take a long trip somewhere. Canada, Alaska and San Jose are on my list but not this time. After 36,000 mile service I will probably trade it. I talked to a local Yamaha dealership about a Yamaha Tracer 900 and they offer a service plan with a guaranteed turnaround time! For a Yamaha I would probably skip the service plan and just do my own service. If I were to keep the F800GT past the service plan I would do my own service or take it to an independent shop. Most motorcycle dealers in this area make more money selling and servicing 4 wheelers and jet skies and motorcycles are becoming less important to them.

    Tires, I buy my tire from Cycle gear and get them to mount them for me. Keeps some good local folks employed plus I can put my hands on the tires before I buy them. I take wheels off and take them to Cycle Gear to have tires mounted and balanced. Over the years have bought a lot of tires from them and never a problem.

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