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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi fellow forum members.

Public knowledge is power.

I'd like to get your opinion on an experience I had with my local AR dealer.

Here's the background...

I took the Giulia in for a software update on 4/20/2018 with 1143 miles on the odometer (slight surge at low speeds when cold).

When I returned to pick up the car on Saturday, 4/21/2018, I noticed, on the right side rocker panel below the passenger door, a fresh scratch through the paint. (When I went to the dealer to pick it up, I pulled into the parking spot on the RH side of the car; had I not pulled into the parking space on the right side, I'd have probably never noticed).

Needless to say, I was quite upset. The car was at the time all of six weeks in my possession and virtually no mileage on it.

I spoke to the service advisor about not only the new scratch, but also about the fact that the car was left unlocked and unattended in their parking lot for who knows how long. Poor quality control and security indeed.

The service advisor said I'd have to speak to the service manager about the manner, which I understand. I told her I'd be writing an email to the service manager and that I'd cc her onto it, which I did when I got home. In the email I expressed the fact that with my own 20 years of dealer service department experience, in various roles, I do understand that things happen, but was unhappy in their collective failure to address the manner to me and try to make it right, rather than just hope I wouldn't notice.

My email was responded to on the following Monday morning, as expected, with an invitation to bring the car over to inspect the damage and talk.

This is where things went all the way off the rails.

The first defense from the service manager was that he had personally known the Alfa tech for 6 years and knows that said tech would never do such a thing as damage a car and not address it. I cannot know the character of the tech and would wish not to call his character into question, but 1) history is littered with countless examples of people doing things their acquaintances would not believe they are capable of doing and 2) this assumes that the tech is the only person who can possible be anywhere near the car while in the dealer's possession. Anyone with any experience with dealers knows that this is rarely the case.

The second defense from the service manager was that if this happened to my car at their facility, it would happen to every car at their facility, and since there was no similar damage to the car that was currently in the shop while I was speaking to him, [it follows] that it is not possible for the damage to my car to have occurred at the dealership...

Do I even have to explain the patently false logic of such an outrageous claim?????

At that point I could clearly see where the discussion was headed, so I told him I'm giving him an honest opportunity to do the right thing and handle this privately; if I have to take this up with AR I would. The service manager responded by accusing me of threatening him. I find this to be completely ridiculous as this is the exact path that is recommended in the dispute resolution booklet in the owner's manual document set. I reminded him that it is not a threat but opportunity to take care of this without making it public. His response was that I'm giving them an ultimatum to (paraphrasing here...)"fix it or else".

I was also told that the damage had to have been caused by me hitting something on the freeway, which has a few customer-insulting implications of its own...either 1) I'm a liar trying to get them to cover damage that is my problem, or 2) I'm a completely oblivious driver who has no idea when they've hit something on the freeway and am blaming the dealer.

Also-if it's possible that I hit a road hazard, isn't it equally possible THEY hit a road hazard when test driving??? (the mileage was higher when I picked up than it was when I dropped off-the only logical conclusion is that the dealer test drove my car, as they said they would do when I dropped off)

1) I can assure all of you that I can handle a minor dollar value problem in my life (see below for just how minor this is) without needing to lie about it-this is purely about principle at this point, and 2) I washed the car/wiped it down two days before bringing into the shop; if the damage were there previously I'd have noticed it at that time. I parked the car in the garage immediately after the wash/wipe down and did not drive it until I took it straight to the dealer on appointment day (I don't drive it to work most days-I live less than 3/4 of a mile from work).

At that point I turned around to walk away, as it was clear that I was not going to get anywhere with this guy.

As I walked away, the final (really the only) offer I got was to have a look around to see if I could find anything in the shop that could have caused the damage in question. Another nonsensical argument as 1) this places me in a position to conceive and prove or disprove any and all possible ways that they could have damaged my car, and 2) if such evidence did exist, they would have had ample time to remove it from the scene prior to my arrival and inspection.

I said to him, on my way out, that I think I'm done talking to him.

Then came the next outrage....

I placed the call to Alfa to describe the events leading up to my dissatisfaction, the discussions with the dealer, and the estimate I got for repairs ($403.84 from my body shop contact here in San Diego [not an AR dealer], just north of Miramar, for those of you keeping score)

I was assured that the $403 would not be a problem, but that the vehicle needed to be inspected by a body specialist from within the Mopar network to be a solution that Alfa would be able to support. Fine, now we are getting somewhere, right???

I took the car back to my selling dealer in National City (Let's be clear...not the servicing dealer at the root of the problem) for a body shop estimate to repair the damage.

The estimate from the National City dealer...$833.36. I knew the doubling of the estimate would make things more complicated, but this was an AR dealer that I had estimate the damage as a result of the AR case worker's advice. My non-Mopar body shop guy is fine for me. He did great work on my wife's Cayenne when the neighbor backed into it.

I called back in to AR to provide the estimate data that THEY HAD REQUESTED, and was told that they would be able to take care of the damage as a one-time event. That is an important distinction, as AR was at first firmly on my side but now seemed to be getting weaker in their commitment. Still not a problem right????

WRONG!!!

A day after receiving a verbal commitment that AR would take care of the problem, the agent called me back and told me that his boss told him no, they would not provide assistance.

Key take-aways:
I cannot disprove the dealer's statement and they cannot disprove mine. I'll go to my grave without abandoning my position though.

The only issue left not considered is the lifetime value of a customer, which, by the dealer's standards, is less than $403.84. I'd actually argue half of that, because my wife's Cayenne is due for replacement in the next 18 months or so; the Stelvio was on the short list but is now a hard NO. I'll also never go back to this dealer unless God forbid the car breaks down in my neighborhood and is towed to the dealer closest to my home in Kerny Mesa against my will.

To AR, I think I've established the lifetime value of a customer at somewhere below $833.36 (again, actually half, as I will ABSOLUTELY be cross-shopping the Giulia when my lease is up-something I did not do when selecting the Giulia this time around, and my wife is definitely OUT. It's another brand for her-a direct result of my experience).

I love the car, and find it tragic that AR cannot get its dealer network under control or salvage its customer relationships. AR will have a VERY difficult time staying in the US market if this is the position it's going to stake out.

I have also given both the dealer and AR EVERY opportunity to take care of this in private; apparently they prefer to have this out in the public square.

So to the court of public opinion I requested earlier....am I wrong here? It's an honest question-I really want to know if I'm being unreasonable here.

And yes-I understand that this is what we'd call a "first-world problem". I also understand that the final outcome is not going to make a big difference in my life one way or the other. Despite the problem at hand, I'm still fortunate enough to drive a very nice car, but as I stated earlier, this is now about principle on my part and business savvy on AR's part.

Final thought for this post---Good luck to all of you!!! Know what you are getting into if you go with an Alfa product!!!!

-Rob


P.S.
Try not to hold this against the car....driving one is an experience like none other!
 

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Every time I take one of our cars to the dealer, they do a walk-around and write down any damage that might exist prior to them excepting the car. I then get a copy of that. This is not my doing, it is their policy as it helps prevent certain situations.

Since you've already contacted AR, I don't really have any suggestions. I was going to suggest calling FCA, but it seems that's already happened.
@AlfaRomeoCares is another resource you can try. PM them: AlfaRomeoCares and see what they have to say.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Racer Z.

I may reach out to ALFAROMEOCARES in the forthcoming days, but at this point I don't have high expectations. I hope the public airing of my experience incentivizes the correct response from AR, but from what I've seen from other posts, I'm not going to hold my breath. The agent at AR clearly was cut off at the knees in this case and this is not his fault. In the end it's the dealer at the root of the problem, but AR absolutely owns the dealer customer experience and has the most to lose.

I just wish they did not make promises they are not empowered to keep, and could provide enough incentive to their dealer network to get them back in line.

As they say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. I hope my anecdotal evidence is another piece of the puzzle that will help AR get its house in order, because it would be a shame for them to get kicked out of our market by our consumers again.

There is an old saying in the dealer circles---the sales dept. sells the first unit to a customer; the service dept. sells the rest of them.

FWIW.

I suppose time will tell.

-Rob
 

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It sounds like you're absolutely sure the damage must have been done at the dealership. I'm pretty stubborn, I'd continue to pursue a repair on their dime in that case. Messaging @AlfaRomeoCares would probably be my next step. Though it wouldn't repair your relationship with AR, you shouldn't have to pay to fix (or learn to live with) damage that they caused. I accidentally stepped on my side skirt a while ago, causing a vertical scratch, and I see that **** thing every time I get in the car now. I need to get it fixed soon before it drives me insane. Anyway, I'm curious about the degree of damage, could you share a photo?
 

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What a joke of a dealer. I took my car in for my 10k service and pointed out a little scrape that i did to the back fender in a parking garage. They said they would see what they could do. When I picked the car up they had fixed the damage. I got my bill in the mail for the service (not free where I am) and noticed that they didnt charge to fix the scrape. The excuses your dealer gave you were stupid. Instead of arguing with you they should have said that they don’t think they caused the damage but in the interest of making you a happy customer they would fix it or split the cost with you. I assume it is something they could fix in less than an hour.
 

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My dealer takes photos of the car to avoid this problem. Your Dealer sucks.
 

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Is this an Alfa/Maserati dealer or an Alfa/Fiat dealer? Just curious.

I have no solution, but a few comments about situations like this. Frankly some support you and some support the dealer.

◘ We don't know the size, location or extent of the damage, so it isn't really possible for us to gauge whether this is something that could have been done unknowingly by either party.
◘ You are sure you didn't cause the damage, but then the dealer is sure he didn't either. One of you is wrong.
◘ High end car dealers regularly get customers who want free repairs and try to trick the dealer into doing things. I'm not saying you are doing that, just that the dealer probably sees a lot of that and has become jaded. In other words, don't take it personally.
◘ If you told the dealer you would be going to Alfa before he had refused to fix it, that was a mistake. That is practically guaranteed to make the dealer fight. No one likes to be, well, threatened. It was a bit like holding a club in your hand and giving him the "opportunity" to do the right thing.
◘ In the future insist on a walk-arounds before and after service. It protects you both.

But there may be a partial solution. You got a $400 estimate and the dealer got an $800 estimate. Within that range is prime negotiating room. I suggest you go to the dealer and offer to split the difference. Do it over free cappuccino in the lobby. Ask if they will agree to pay $300 of the repair cost. That saves them $500 and saves you $300. If they accept shake hands and either never go to that dealership again or forgive and forget - up to you.
 

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All dealers should take photos of the cars when they are brought in for service. That would solve most problems. Lexus did this for years.
 
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You are totally in the right here. This dealer is a moron. And the "your threatening" me thing from him is nonsense. He is in the customer service business, seems like he does not enjoy that.

"Alfa Cares" is an oxymoron if there ever was one.
 

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I had a similar experience with my leased Audi, but a completely different outcome.
I brought my Audi in for its scheduled service about 3 months before my lease was due to expire. It was pouring rain and dark out the night I picked it up, so I didn't notice anything.
The next day, my wife said, "Did you notice the scratches all over the car?" When I checked it out that evening, I noticed the car was covered in scratches on the roof, hood, doors and the column between the driver and passenger window. They were more than just surface swirls. Clearly something had gone wrong in the dealer's car wash machinery.
I brought the car in the next day. The service department said they didn't know what could possibly have caused it, so I was getting nervous. I had no way to prove they did it other than my word. I would have gotten whacked on my inspection at the time I returned the car. But the manager called me later in the day and said they'd take care of it. It ended up taking a full week to repair, and the service guy told me they got a $1,500 bill for the work. They never doubted or questioned me. I don't know if that is because I was so close to needing a new car, that they wanted my business. Or perhaps it had happened before to another car so they knew it was their fault.
I would gladly buy or lease from them again just because of that experience. I felt a little guilty not doing that, but the Giulia was calling my name!
 
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I hate when dealers do this to cover their butts. I have worked as a Cadillac tech for 30 years and we always did walk arounds before taking a vehicle in for service, and as you mentioned, the tech is not the only one to touch ur vehicle..
I see that Fiat is starting to do the same bs that they did back in the 80's and 90's with the dealer network that they had and the ability to service the vehicles and the customers... I hope they change and understand that if they want to succeed in the US market they need to train their advisors, managers and especially their techs to make the experience the same or better then lets say Audi, BMW, Mercedes and so on... These Alfas are not $20k cars that everyone can afford...
We need to have a post that will rate service experience at the AR dealers so we can have some control over how they do business.
I hope Alfa Romeo FCA is reading these posts and are taking notice of how customers are treated at some dealers..
 

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How awful. I completely sympathize.

I loathe the arrival process at my servicing dealer:
• You are directed to pull into an alignment jig that presents an unnecessary door ding opportunity.
• Then the glass chip guy descends on your car unrequested (and he always finds something).
• You have an appointment. So where's your service advisor? Don't worry, one of the others will page him.
• Who is that person that just hopped in your car and drove it from the arrival area. Must be copacetic; he's wearing an official dealership shirt.
• Oh, and at pick-up I'm guaranteed either a poorly-washed soaking wet car or one covered with water spots. But the T57 recall was performed.

I should remember to take pictures. It's not as if I'm ever without a camera these days. Thank you, Apple.
 

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I received a scratch on my hood when picking it up.. thankfully I spotted it getting in the car and went right back inside (as I knew they'd been working in the engine replacing seals). They agreed to fix it right away and I got it back PERFECT the next day.. I think they swapped the hood though as there was a gouge out of the paint and it looked like it never happened under a super intense light :D

Point being sounds like the dealer for OP is a total $$$
 

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It's a tough call as to the scratch. It could have been them, could have been you unknowingly.

That said, there is a correct way for this to have been handled. From a customer service point of view, they should have offered to split the bill with you. It makes for a less jaded you and a less jaded them. It cant be proved where the scratch came from, both side should give a little.

The only recommendation that can be made it to take photos of the car when it is dropped off. This should probably be part of the service departments routine and part of the owners routine. Dealers like you to sign to say you've received their loaner car in good condition, they should also do this for customers cars. The BMW dealership does a walk around the car whenever I take it in. I don't do this with the land rover/Jaguar dealership, but I trust them and they trust me. I got a killed rock chip on a loaner windshield on a RR Velar, cost me a $1000, but I know if they mess up our cars, they will pay too. And they have helped me of an issue with an E-type, so they are good guys.

Based on my interactions with my AR dealer, I fully expect them to be trustworthy or at least willing to find a solution.

Best of luck to the OP getting a resolution.
 

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First really sorry to hear this and you had that whole experience. I think you are totally in the right on this one. I don’t understand the dealer here. It’s such a small thing to have a happy customer. Can’t blame you if you walk away from the brand after that experience, something like that ruins the whole thing some time. I’d keep the long game in mind, that is the car didn’t do this and if you are happy with the car don’t let the dealer kill it for you. But I do think Alfa could have and should have done a better job as well.
 

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Every time I take one of our cars to the dealer, they do a walk-around and write down any damage that might exist prior to them excepting the car. I then get a copy of that. This is not my doing, it is their policy as it helps prevent certain situations.
This is a great idea and I will request this when I bring my car in for the T57 recall. When I took my Lusso with its white interior in for a new battery, there were black scuff marks on the door when it came back.
 

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This is a great idea and I will request this when I bring my car in for the T57 recall. When I took my Lusso with its white interior in for a new battery, there were black scuff marks on the door when it came back.
Yep I am going to take pictures at the dealer. I am usually sitting in the lane for a bit anyway. I might hand them a sheet pointing out all my flaws (not me the car I have way too many) and we can review it. I am sure they are going to love me but I am not opposed to being the "typical female." Has nothing to do with gender it has to do with trying to avoid things like this from happening and then the who dunnit can be avoided.

I think they have my number anyway. When my husband came by to meet them for the first time one of the other service managers not the one helping us today, stepped out and said oh you are Cindy, you called about the maintenance warranty before you got the QV. That was a month or so ago. I guess they don't get many questions about "will you honor the Alfa Service / Maintenance plan." It is just to cover the normal maintenance. I am glad I called because the warranty for the service/maintenance only covers a fraction of the service. Apparently Alfa and the dealers have not all agreed on the pay back from Alfa. The Mopar bonnet to boot is good and honored and worth it. Service plan check with your local dealer if you are buying out of state.
 
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