Sometime ago I posted regarding my car, a 94 740i and its windshield trim flying off. What follows is a long post, but I hope to give the details so as to possibly be able to provide help to those who had this same issue.
When I was travelling on the NJ Turnpike some weeks ago, the trim around the windshield flew off (looked just like the pictures on Axel's 750 website). I was fairly po'd when this happened, as to me it was fairly clear that it was a BMW quality issue, because the same thing had happened to my parents' car (a 94 5 series, but the windshield trim clips are of the same design) and my brother in law's car, a 92 735. All are clean, well cared for vehicles.
So I called BMW NA's customer service line and spoke to a gentleman there named John Krissanda (Sp?). He was courteous and professional, and we discussed the issue at some length. I took the position that while the car was out of warranty, to me this seemed like an obvious quality control issue or design defect, due to the fact that I personally knew several people to whom the same thing had happened, and numerous others who post here, and thus that BMW had an obligation to do the right thing by a loyal customer. At several points, I jokingly stated that even if the car is out of warranty, barring something unforeseen like a major accident, body parts simply should not fly off the vehicle. Stated differently, I explained that a good company does not simply define their relationship with their customer by the terms of a written warranty, but rather should ask the question of what is the right thing to do under the circumstances.
John listened to what I had to say, but indicated that he thought an overture from BMW was unlikely. He explained, and I think not unreasonably, that BMW cannot possibly undertake to repair cars out of warranty due to the fact that the care and maintenance of such vehicles will often be a factor in a particular breakdown. I actually agreed with him, based on the fact that I am often horrified by the condition of some of the cars out there, especially cars of the e32's vintage.
However, I persisted and explained that while I understood his point, and thought it was well taken generally, it was inapplicable here because my car is well maintained and kept. We went back and forth on this point, and generally had a reasonable exchange, but were not moving forward on resolution, and we left off as follows: He would raise the issue with his higher up, although he was very non-commital (this was the only point in the conversation where I got a bit angry, as I did not get the impression he was going to raise the issue up in good faith). I also made an appointment at the dealer (Don Rosen BMW in Bala Cynwyd PA) to (a) have the car fixed (it would have to get fixed one way or the other) and (b) to let them see the car so they could tell the area rep that it was clean and maintained.
A couple of weeks went by before I could bring the car in, as I was tied up with things at the office. In any event, I did hear back from John Krissanda and he indicated that BMW had decided to leave it to the area rep and my dealer to resolve. While he was not specific as to the reason, the context of our previous conversation and his general tone indicated that they probably figured (a) the area rep could talk it through with the dealer to see whether I was full of it about the car's condition and servicing, and (b) they could get rid of me and stop my calling them (I can be a real pain in the ass when I want to be, a polite pain in the ass, but a pain in the ass nonetheless).
So I brought the car in on the day of the appointment, and the service advisor told me that Don Rosen had not heard from the area rep on this point. Apparently he was on vacation (I believe him on this point, half my office is on vacation in August) and they had exchanged voicemails. I told him to do what he could do, but that the car needed to be fixed properly (I considered and still consider this a safety issue, hence I did not want to glue it or anything like that). Later that day, Don Rosen called and told me that the area rep had agreed that BMW would pay for the parts, but not the labor. I was generally pleased, as I was told that the trim's cost was about $250, so I thought it was a good faith overture from BMW and told the dealer to do the repair. Initially, the service advisor thought that they would have to pull the windscreen to reset the clips holding the trim, but apparently their installer has done this enough times (sure there is no quality defect here!) that he knows how to do it without removing, and possibly cracking, the windscreen. So my total cost to repair was about $75.00; that's seventy five dollars). I was happy with this figure and with the quality of the repair.
So what do I think people can take away from my experience?
First, BMW is a good company. They are not perfect, but if you are courteous and persistent, and have in fact taken good care of your car and can document same, they will generally do the right thing by you (BMW has done similar with me in the past, so I cannot say I am shocked that they stepped up to the plate here). Also, in fairness to them, they have to protect themselves to some degree. Think, fellow enthusiasts, of the times you have seen a dirty, un-cared for BMW. If the car is filthy dirty, it has always been my impression that the mechanical condition would be similar. Now, what if this car has had no documented maintenance, let alone dealer maintenance, for several years, and then the owner shows up and wants, for example, the transmission replaced for free when the car is out of warrnty? I too would tell him to screw off, in politer words of course.
Second, my dealership, Don Rosen BMW (they also have a Porsche, Audi and Mazda franchise) is a great dealership that pushed hard to help out a customer. Don Rosen really pushed the area BMW rep by being persistent and no doubt telling him that my car was really well kept. This no doubt helped. I know it may be a bit cheesy, but anyone in the Philadelphia area would be well served to buy their BMW there, new or used (I'm sorry, "Certified Pre-owned"). They have an excellent service department because like most dealers with whom I have dealt, they know the product, but they also are not rip off artists. Their prices are fair.
Third, I definitely helped. I, like most of you here, are (a) knowledgeable about cars; and (b) take good care of mine. That helps you in a situation like this one because you are in a position to discuss your car with whomever, whether it be the shop foreman, the service advisor, the BMW customer service rep, etc. They come away with the impression that they are talking to someone who is not necessarily just looking for a freebie, but is an enthusiast who genuinely thinks his or her BMW should be perfect. This helps because they also figure you are likely to be a good future customer.
So, that's the story. My car is nicely fixed for $75.00. I hope it provides a framework within which you can consider the circumstances of fixing your car, if it happens to you--hopefully it does not.