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NEWS: November 15, 2010 - My car has finally been returned to me - but I do not have satisfaction.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

BMW: An Offer is Made?

It's been a little while since I've written, been out of town and engaged in other productive activities whilst BMW "considers" my case.  Last week BMW made an offer to Levy to compensate me, which is at least a basic step in taking some kind of responsibility, but is still entirely impotent compared to the extent of my damages.  All told, in estimates, and reducing BMW's responsibility to only three months instead of five as a good faith gesture - this event breaks down into:

Lease Payments: $1710
Insurance Payments: $435
Auto Registration: $200
Car Rental: $2750
TOTAL: $5095

BMW's offer: The equivalent of two months of lease payments ($1140) + $500 for legal fees.

Apparently they have "carefully reviewed my case", and found no fault for BMW.  If they found no fault, why offer me anything at all?  And if they are offering to reimburse my lease payments - why wouldn't they also offer to reimburse my car rental for that time, too?  This seems like a very lopsided offer, and only furthers my opinion that this corporation cares nothing about its customers - only wants to get the squeaky wheel off their backs.

This offer from them also would, of course, include my necessarily signing a release that would likely include some kind of non-disclosure that would prevent me from continuing to publicise their actions.  At this point, $1100 isn't nearly enough to shut me up.

And so, the fight goes on.

Below is the most recent communication from Avery, BMW's legal council:

From: "" <>
Sent: Fri, December 10, 2010 12:25:44 PM
Subject: Joshua Logan, 2009 BMW Z4, E160844
December 10, 2010

Re:  Joshua Logan
       2009 BMW Z4 SDrive30i, VIN:  E160844

Dear Counsel:

Per our communications up to this point, we carefully reviewed the service records, it is our position that this vehicle does not qualify for repurchase and is not in violation of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, as there is no defect in material or workmanship.

Please let me know by December 15, 2010 if your client chooses to accept this offer of two lease payments and  $500 for attorney’s fees, pending a signed and notarized release.

Kind regards,

Avery Dawson
Executive Customer Assistance Manager
BMW of North America, LLC
Customer Relations and Services

(201) 263-8244
(800) 831-1117 ext. 8244
(201) 930-8484
Postal Address
P.O. Box 1227
Westwood, NJ 07675-1227

Friday, November 19, 2010

BMW: Dead Ends

Over the last week, while Levy continues to press BMW (he sent yet another letter to Avery yesterday) I've done a ton of research trying find out if there are any laws in place that protect a consumer in my position.  I've sadly thus far come to the conclusion that I've been stuck in a legal corner that seems to have no remedy.  I've read the entire text of the Lemon Law and the California Consumer Protection Act, and neither of these laws seem to be applicable in my case, and this is probably the reason that BMW has not been responsive to Levy's letters.  Not only do they not care, but it seems that they must know that I have no obvious legal course of action.

I spoke for a while yesterday with a very kind man at the Bureau of Automotive Repair who was incredibly sympathetic, but said there was no avenue he could think of that I could pursue to take this any further.  I very appreciated his call, though.

I also got an email from the producer of the Judge Judy show, which for a moment sparked hope - but I wasn't confident that they would actually be able to do anything for me as getting Corporate BMW to appear on a television show seemed like a very long shot.  I spoke with the producer today, and she confirmed that fear.  She was also incredibly nice and sympathetic, but agreed that BMW would never come on the show.  It was very nice of her to take my call in any case.

It seems like I've been getting a lot of sympathy from a variety of sources, but no one yet has been able to provide suggestions for any further action.  I guess I'll just keep pressing and trying to get this case public, and continue to hope that somehow they respond to Levy's letters.

Outlook is bleak, but I have not in any given up.  There must be something I can do.  Anyone have Schwarzenegger's phone number?  I wonder how they would take a call from Arnold.  It's the least he could do after leaving my state in shambles...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

OFF SUBJECT: Dr. Benjamin Lesin, M.D.

I've often imagined what a real-life experience with someone like the doctor from "30 ROCK", Dr. Spaceman, might be like, but I didn't honestly believe that this kind of thing existed in the real world.  Until now.

About two years ago I discovered what felt like a single grain of sand underneath the thin skin of the under-side of my right wrist.  Over time, this tiny nodule grew little by little from a grain of sand to perhaps the size of half a BB.  It seemed to be attached to the underside of the skin and was not at all interesting or troubling except that if it was bumped or pressed it felt like a sand granule being pressed into the soft tissue underneath.  I am right-handed, and because of the continuous activity of my right hand I found that it got bumped with expected regularity.  Eventually it started to become a little inconvenient for normal life activities or even wearing a watch (yes, I wear it on my right hand though I am right-handed, I don't know why and that is outside the scope of this article).  It was in no way incapacitating, but it did hurt and so upon my exciting qualification for Motion Picture Industry health insurance I figured this was something I could have resolved fairly easily.

I went to see my excellent doctor at the MPI health center, she poked around at it and said it was a little cyst and would likely present no trouble, but because it was indeed causing pain she said she would recommend me to an orthopedic surgeon for further analysis.  A simple extraction could be a little dangerous due to all the complicated biology that occurs in that corner of the body, and we definitely don't want to do anything dangerous in so critical an area.  I received the referral in the mail, and this is what led me to the doctor that is central in this story.  It would be irresponsible of me to mention the name of this doctor to avoid slander, so I will simply call him The Buffoon.  This is, after all, a public format and we must all be cautious in our litigious society.

The Buffoon's office was quite a far drive for me, but since I wanted to have this situation resolved I made the trek to Van Nuys in rush hour traffic for my appointment about a week later.  The office was clean and appeared to be well run, and I was sitting in a patient chamber within minutes of my appointment time.  The Buffoon was about sixty, medium height, pudgy and pasty faced with splotchy reddish skin that didn't look it had seen sunlight in a decade.  His head was topped with thin, salty hair, white wisps of which were pulled over his shiny dome in a last, desperate attempt to maintain the comb-over he had probably had since the seventies.  He shuffled in with a flurry of distracted apologies, he'd been busy that day, and staring at me with his blue/gray eyes that seemed glazed in a translucent haze of red, yellowed teeth chewed as he asked me what the trouble was.

After prodding around at my wrist he determined that the offending fleshy nodule was "a lesion of some kind", and signed me up for surgery at the MPI hospital in Woodland Hills - but first, some x-rays.  The medical assistant shot two sets of x-rays, sent me back to The Buffoon for review (revealing nothing of note) and I was told that I would be called for an appointment at the hospital.  This seemed a little over the top considering the tiny problem that I had, but in these cases it usually seems best to let the professionals guide me.

A few days later I got a call to schedule the surgery, as well as schedule my pre-op appointment and blood tests.  Pre-op and blood tests?  Again, this seemed a little heavy handed, and even though I told them I had a yearly physical only weeks before this apparently was inconsequential as a pre-op, and they needed more blood tests in order to determine what my anesthesia reaction would be.  "Anesthesia?" I asked, "he wants to put me out?"

"Yes," the nurse replied, "but just twilight, no need to put you all the way under. It's just a little complicated of a procedure and some people might freak out a little."  For those of you that don't know me, it takes quite a lot to "freak" me out, and I am certain that I have sustained far worse accidental injuries in my life than this minor surgery would entail, and even with considerable pain and blood streaming from these traumatic injuries I did not "freak out".  But I must concede to a doctor that is supposed to know more than me.  I scheduled the pre-op and blood tests for about a week before the surgery.

When I showed up for the appointment, I mentioned that a work obligation had gotten in the way of my current surgery appointment and I would need to reschedule.  They said it would not be a problem.  After the compliment of weighing, temperature and blood pressure taking I was put into a patient room, asked to disrobe and wait for the doctor.  This was not my normal doctor as she was unavailable, but Dr. Tran was delightful and put me through the half-hour process of what essentially amounted to a physical.  Which I'd had only weeks before with my regular doctor.  Once complete and satisfied he asked to take a look at my cyst and I pointed it out on my wrist.  He felt around the base of my thumb and once he found a mass of muscular tissue asked, "is this it?"  I replied that it was not, and then pointed more specifically at the tiny offending lump.  Dr. Tran blinked, looked at me and said, "that little thing?"  I could see immediately that he was just as puzzled as I was about why a full pre-op had been required, but that is what The Buffoon had ordered and they were obligated to carry it through.  Anesthesia can be testy, you see, and they need to have a complete picture of my health before they know how to treat me.

The fact that I had been put completely under by my dental surgeon for a wisdom tooth extraction (read: violently pulling bone out of my head through my mouth) earlier in the year without this kind of attention was irrelevant, I suppose.

After Dr. Tran ended the appointment with a wordless exit, as doctors are wont to do, I trundled down the hall to have my full panel of blood tests.  The Buffoon had ordered a massive blood panel, never mind that I had just done this as part of my physical as I mentioned before, and again they were obligated to his orders.  Four tubes of my blood were taken for analysis.

As I mentioned, I had to move my surgery appointment for a work obligation and once I did I was then informed by The Buffoon's assistant that I would need to back in for more blood tests, as the tests are supposed to be no more than seven days before the surgery.  I pleaded with her to relieve me of this responsibility as all of my tests over the last year had showed nothing less than a picture of good health - but The Buffoon had spoken and his word was law.  Grudgingly, I went in for a new panel a week later.

It was my first time at the MPI hospital, and I have to say that it was without a doubt the most pleasant hospital experience of my life.  It is a lovely oasis-like facility with a massive outdoor garden and retirement community in the rear, lined with winding paths amongst beautiful old trees, and while I waited for my appointed time I wandered around in the perfect weather, wishing I had time to take a nap in the lush, green grass.  Everyone I spoke with was extremely kind and helpful, and they made me feel like I had found some kind of Utopia amongst medical facilities.

Even though it was an outpatient procedure, I had been assigned a patient bed, and was asked to put on my hospital attire.  I donned the padded paper gown, a plastic hair cap, they taped my earrings to my head to avoid catching them on the medical equipment during surgery, put me in a wheelchair and covered me with a warmed blanket for my roll down to the surgery pre-op room.  Again the staff was incredibly courteous and kind, easy to talk to, and I felt like I was receiving totally personalized attention.  A rare treat in the medical community.  A very friendly male nurse took over the wheel chair and put me into the prep room, equipped with Direct TV, painfully but apologetically installed an IV into the veins on the back of my hand (he said that I had perfect veins - damn right, mister), and left me to enjoy a slow hydrating drip until the doctor arrived for the surgery.

All this time, it must be remembered, I was here to have a tiny cyst removed my wrist, and I felt like I was being prepped for a kidney transplant.  It was like being treated with a medical bazooka when all I needed was one of those little pull-string popper things that shoot a tablespoon of confetti at parties.  It was a really interesting experience, that's for sure, but all the while I'm looking around and thinking about the dollar signs attached to all of this, ka-chink-ing away as I relaxed watching the Discovery Channel.

The big moment finally came, and I was wheeled by a crew of five people into the operating room, which was everything you'd expect a major operating room to be.  Bright overhead lights, cold, and lots of machines going "ping" that I was immediately connected to.  I had a chance to take a look at my own brain waves for a short time, and my last mental image before the lights went out was of a grinning anesthesiologist looking down on me with an expression of unmasked envy.

The surgery went perfectly, and I was shown my extracted flesh in a small vile as I woke up on the table.  The entire event resulted in exactly three stitches, and after a short post-op and a croissant sandwich I was sent home to recover on my couch watching "Dexter".

The wound healed quickly and very well, and two weeks later I returned to the Buffoon to have my stitches out.  It was during this appointment that I resolved to write this article.

I trudged my way back to Van Nuys and waited almost forty minutes before being ushered into the patient room.  After ten more minutes of waiting, The Buffoon joined me in exactly the same state as I had seen him the last time, again apologizing for being so busy.  He looked through my paperwork, which declared that the biopsy had come back with nothing evil contained within my now absent BB of flesh, and that it had been determined to be a DERMATOFIBROMA.  I asked The Buffoon exactly what that meant, and I must admit that this was a loaded question because I could tell from his expression that he didn't know.  I was gratified with a stammering explanation that I could have come up with myself, and it was enjoyable to watch him fumble around with an explanation that attempted to break down the word into its components using simple reason to piece together a vague meaning.  Eventually it came down to "we don't know", which I had already determined.  Interestingly enough, after some home research, that definition is almost exactly what DERMATOFIBROMA means: "a cutaneous nodule of unknown origin" occurring underneath the skin - and no one knows what causes it.  The somewhat ironic difference, however, was that he didn't know what it meant, not that it meant they didn't know.  It's most often found in women, however, so I'm not sure what that says about me...

But aside from that, I was there to get my stitches out, and shortly he began that procedure.  The first two stitches were removed without incident, but as he held on to the final suture with tweezers, pulling it up to be snipped with the medical scissors, the head of the stitch suddenly flew off, leaving the rest of the suture still intact underneath my skin.

"Shit!" exclaimed The Buffoon, "I can't remember the last time that happened."  Immediately it was clear that there was no easy way to get the rest of that suture material without excavation, it was fully buried under my skin.  I could see the small black line of it left sitting perhaps 1mm deep.  He pressed around on it, trying to push an end into grabbing range, then jabbed at it a little with the tweezers resulting in a muffled yelp from me for which he apologized.

The Buffoon then explained my options: "Usually in a situation like this we just wait for the suture material to work its way out, which it will usually eventually do. Or we can dig into it, which I'm not really thinking I'd like to do right now."  But I had come to get my stitches out, dammit, and I wasn't going to stare at this little black line on my wrist for however many years it would take to "work its way out".  "Let's dig, doc," was my decision.

He left the room and the assistant brought in a syringe of clear numbing solution, some rubber gloves, and a cotton ball, which she wet with alcohol.  My friend waited for about as long as it took for the alcohol to on the cotton to completely evaporate before returning to continue.  He wiped the now dry cotton on my wound impotently, the blood pulling off strands of cotton which stuck to my skin.  He then grabbed my wrist and roughly began injecting my little cut with a full CC of numbing solution for my 1/2" cut.

"That sure is a lot in that syringe for such a small area, doc," I observed as he squeezed the syringe hard enough for the fluid to come squirting back out of my skin, generously splattering the table and opposing wall.  "It's not as much as it looks, if I had a larger syringe it would look like less", the Doctor of Medicine observed in return.  He left once again while the solution did its job, leaving me waiting.  With no Direct TV.

I didn't want to tell him how to do his job, but I could have told him that using a tiny needle as a prod to exhume the lost suture was not going to work very well, but at this point my wrist felt like rubber so I was content to watch just how far he would go with this.  He pressed with fingers and tweezers, tried to dig into the now freely bleeding hole, blindly groped with the sharp tweezers, but all to no avail.

"I don't want to send you away with stitches to get your stitches out," he said.  I agreed. 

At one point he even tried to convince me that there actually wasn't anything left to pull out.  I was not satisfied with the explanation as I could easily point to the very obvious black line just under my skin.  The lighting was poor on his little table and he tried to turn on a lamp to improve the situation, clicking the switch back and forth with no result.  Helpfully, I plugged it in for him.

Then, while the needle was probing around the innards of my wrist, the very place that they had been supposing to protect by going all the way to hospital for this surgery - the cell phone in his pocket rang loudly enough to stun small animals in a one mile radius and briefly change the air pressure of the entire office.  Startled, The Buffoon and I both jumped, and all I can say is that I'm glad I was numb at the time.  Without word or acknowledgment, he took the call and left me there.  I could hear his conversation down the hall, and he was gone for such an inordinately long time that I actually began a countdown from sixty at which point I decided I was just going to leave.  Five.  Four.  Three.

And he returned to continue the mission.

Eventually the tweezers tweezed successfully, and the 1/4" piece of suture material left inside me was finally disinterred.  Now complete, he did not bother to clean or sterilize the wound, and his final act was to cover the site with Neosporin directly from the tube on to my bloody skin.  Not on to a cotton swab or other medical type applicator.  Sure glad I don't have anything contagious in my blood for the next person to be serviced in that room.  A butterfly band-aid and that was that.  I was elated to now be finally free of this man.

Until he mentioned that he wanted to see me again in a month to make sure I was healing okay.  "Really?" I blurted, unable to contain my surprise.  "Yes, make your appointment at the desk."   With that The Buffoon's job was done, and off he went to his next life-saving venture.

The woman at the desk asked if I wanted to make the appointment now or call in with a time.  I told her I would call.  This was the final straw for me, and a blatant grab at as much money as the insurance would pay for my case.  A clear abuse of insurance benefits so he could get a few hundred bucks for my next visit to inspect a wound that has clearly, cleanly, and completely healed.  I can't imagine the thousands of dollars this entire event has cost my insurance plan, and if there were a way to apologize to them, I would.  I just wanted my painful dermatofibroma to be removed, not to become part of the insurance problem.  I needed to draw a line.

So, here I will admit to all who have read this far that I lied to the desk lady.  I will not be calling in.

Special thanks to Andrea and Sam for their clever observations, which I have stolen and included here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

BMW: BMW North America Doesn't Care

Yesterday I got my car back, and it drives like nothing happened.  But something did happen, and after extensive research it seems like there are no apparent laws in place to protect me.  Levy has been as vigilant as ever, but if no actual laws have been broken or contracts violated it doesn't seem like there is much either of us can do.

So I'm going to try and go public.

The following letter has been sent to: The LA Times, CBS News, FOX News, NBC News, ABC News, NPR Radio, Car Talk, Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, The People's Court, and the CW.  I will continue to research news venues that might find this story interesting.  I sincerely hope they do.

Hi there, I have a story that I would love to get covered as public announcement seems to be my only course of action at this point.

On June 1 of this year my leased 2009 BMW Z4 was hit and run by a drunk driver while parked on the street in North Hollywood.  I was not even in town at the time, but returned to find my vehicle substantially damaged.

I called BMW SOS, who sent a tow truck and had the car sent to an authorized repair shop, and of course this damage was fully covered by my insurance.

Over the next several months, my car was continuously held up by parts delays as everything had to be sent on an 8-to-10 days from Germany by BMW North America.  The damage could not be clearly assessed from first inspection, and every time either cosmetic or mechanical parts were discovered to be damaged the car would have to sit and wait for at least 2 weeks to be sent from Germany.  This is a new, stock vehicle (no customization), and these parts delays started to become ridiculous after a while, especially when my rental car insurance ran out.  When the repairs were finally completed at the end of August (meaning it took 3 months to be repaired despite the best efforts of the repair shop), it went to Center BMW (Van Nuys) for final inspection upon which it was discovered that a minor part was damaged, and the dealership could not approve the inspection or release the car to me until this part was received and installed.

The part in question, I discovered later, was a $3.00 plastic connector, and while promises that the part had been ordered and shipped by BMW North America, the part was finally received by the dealer and repairs approved last Thursday, November 11.  This means that my car sat at the dealer for 2.5 months waiting on a $3.00 connector part that could have been taken from another vehicle or off the assembly line in Germany at any time, but the dealer claimed that they could not guarantee this part unless it came from their specific source.  Meanwhile I'm spending money on the lease payments, insurance, and registration on a car I'm forbidden to drive, as well as footing the rental car cost.

I tried to talk with BMW "Customer Service" as well as the dealer where the car was quarantined extensively during this time to find some kind of remedy, but was met with walls and indifference at every turn.  They simply didn’t care and provided me absolutely no help, flexibility, or even apology that this parts delay was costing me so much money (all told over $7500), even when in the last month of waiting during which they could not even give me an estimate as to when the part was going to arrive.  All the while I’m bleeding money.

I have retained a lawyer to speak on my behalf with BMW as my own voice was not being heard in any way, but because this is an accident situation (whether my fault or not), I cannot claim any law breach through the Lemon Law or the Consumer Protection Act, and further inquiries with the Bureau of Automotive Repair and The California Insurance Agency basically ended with them saying there are no laws in place to protect the consumer in this situation.  This is a new, stock vehicle, and apparently they could essentially could have held my car indefinitely, telling me they were doing everything they can – all the while I am bound by my lease contract and payments.  With no remedy, they could have easily, and apparently legally, held my vehicle for a $3.00 part until the term of my lease was up.

This is obviously completely unreasonable.  I am not a greedy consumer going after a large corporation for personal gain, I just want them to make this situation right, and they have not even given me a fair venue in which my matter can be heard.  So I must turn to the news room.

With no other apparent action available to me, it seems that in this situation any judge, jury, or mediator would find their irresponsibility to be negligent, and the only responses that I've gotten from them have been the embodiment of apathy.  Because they know there is nothing I can do.  Even months of letters from my lawyer have incited only responses that say that BMW is in no way responsible for my expenses.

I asked if they could take the part from another car, or off the assembly line in Germany, and they said they couldn't do that.  I asked for them to give me a loaner while we waited (which I get no questions asked if I need so much as an oil change), and was denied without consideration.  No matter what remedies I've sought with BMW, no matter how reasonable, have been wholly denied.

I would love to get these guys in the news paper, on the TV or radio and have them explain to the public how they are justified in this situation, and how this is entirely fair to someone willing to pay for one of their Ultimate Driving Machines.

I don't know if you guys cover this kind of story, but I think that America and the world should see how this big corporation has treated their customers, all the while selling cars to people that think they are getting not only a car, but a lifestyle.

If you want any detailed information I've started a blog to chronicle this journey, and it contains all my interactions/emails with BMW as well as my lawyer.

Thanks for your time and consideration, any help would be greatly appreciated.

Josh Logan

Monday, November 15, 2010

BMW: Calling Any Good Researchers

I got a new email from Levy today chronicling a discouraging exchange with BMW Legal.  On friday he received this email:
From: "" <>
Sent: Fri, November 12, 2010 1:23:06 PM
Subject: Joshua Logan, 2009 BMW Z4, E160844
November 12, 2010

Re:  Joshua Logan
       2009 BMW Z4 SDrive30i, VIN:  E160844

Dear Mr. Levy:

I am in receipt of your letter dated October 21, 2010 proposing BMW of North America, LLC reacquire the above-referenced vehicle from your client.

After carefully reviewing the service records, it is our position that this vehicle does not qualify for repurchase and is not in violation of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act, as there is no defect in material or workmanship.

Kind regards,

Avery Dawson
Executive Customer Assistance Manager
BMW of North America, LLC
Customer Relations and Services


Levy replied thusly:


Sent: Sunday, November 14, 2010 5:22 PM
Subject: Re: Joshua Logan, 2009 BMW Z4, E160844

Dear Mr. Dawson:  While I do not agree with your assessment of the qualifications of this case for purposes of the Lemon Law-  there is certainly the issue that the public is entitled to have parts for their vehicle available from the dealer within a reasonable period of time.  Further, the the evaluations of the vehicle would have been comprehensive and thorough so that the parts being ordered were not spread over months of time.

I would ask you to consider what you might be able to offer my client for the egregious conduct and unreasonable delays.

This was disappointing as my situation does not seem to be covered by these laws as they refer mostly to manufacturing defects or corporate misrepresentations.  While Levy does his thing, I decided to do some cursory research on California laws that might protect me, but didn't come up with much.

My first hit was to the California Bureau of Auto Repair, which seemed to at first be an agency that might be able to help, so I sent them an email stating my case.  Very shortly afterwards I got an email back from them saying I should contact the State of California Department of Insurance to see if they could help.  I went to their website and was forced to send them an email limited to 500 characters describing my situation.  Needless to say I wasn't able to say too much, but now I guess I'll wait to see what they have to say.

It is amazing that I continue to hit these walls in my search for justice as this is so clearly an unreasonable situation.  I'm sure that I'm not the first person to encounter this problem, but so far in my search there doesn't seem to be any legal remedy for this egregious lack of responsibility.  Under these circumstances it seems like BMW would have the right to hold my car indefinitely all the while I'm still tied to my lease and insurance responsibilities, as well as any ancillary costs.  If this part were just wholly unavailable, under the apparent law, they could have the right to hold the car for the full term of the lease and just be able to sit and watch me bleed.

Anyone out there who might know if there are any laws or regulations that might protect me I would love to know.

As of 3pm PST I still have not received word that my insurance company has approved the final claim approval.  I'm still waiting.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 12, 2010

BMW: I Almost Can't Believe It

My mechanic called me yesterday to let me know that Center BMW finally received the connector, and they had finished work on the car.  As I spoke to her the car was on its way back over to their shop and the State Farm insurance adjuster was being scheduled to come and approve the car and the final repair invoices.  As soon as that happens, either today or Monday - I can actually go and pick it up.

If I get the car back today, this whole process will have taken FIVE MONTHS and TWELVE DAYS - or ONE-HUNDRED-SIXTY-FIVE DAYS from the time the car landed at Best Car.  This is only a couple months shorter than the length of time I had the car from the time I got it.  Amazing.

I'm rather torn about getting the car back, now, as this has been such a prominent issue for so very long - it has taken up almost half of this year.  I feel disgusted with BMW, and I don't ever want to get back inside another one - but I'm going to try my best not to hold it against the car as I drive it for however long it takes my legal proceedings to unfold.

This process has been so brutal that the very concept of actually getting the car back seems foreign.  It's hard for some part of my brain to accept that I will finally be able to get out of my series of rental cars and back into something that I enjoy driving, but I'm worried that every time I get into that car it is going to remind me of this struggle and bring on nausea rather than excitement.  It will always represent a somewhat traumatic experience that I've tried to handle with good humor - but has now bled into the rage of one that has been unjustly punished and damaged for something entirely out of his control.  At first it was anger at the moron that hit me, then at the mechanic, then at Center BMW, then at BMW North America and logically to the BMW corporation as a whole - and now I'm having to reason with my internal demons not to hold this event against Germany itself.

I'm happy to have stopped the bleeding, but at this point it's going to be a hesitant relationship with my poor, limping car until I can hand it back to BMW and get into something shiny, dependable, and Japanese.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

BMW: Robert Levy Is Heating Up

There has still be no word from BMW USA despite the letters that Levy has been sending them.  No communication since their last form letter - which was basically an extension of my experience with Stephan when I was dealing with Customer Service and his weekly calls to tell me the matter was "still under review by senior personnel"...

Levy is tiring of this, and sent the following letter.  Man, I do love this guy.

Sent: Monday, November 08, 2010 10:04 PM
Subject: Re: Joshua Logan, 2009 BMW Z4, E160844

Mr.Dawson: I do not understand the continued delay.  The only conclusion that can be drawn is that BMW is intentionally delaying action on this matter in an attempt to force my client to ultimately accept a damaged product.  My client is entitled to Lemon Law arbitration and without a prompt resolution this course will be mandated.  You have had this file open for months and there is no justification for any "research" delays etc.  Unless I get a tangible answer and plausible response it will be assumed that the delay is actually an intentional act intended to cause my client additional financial and emotional strain.  You are aware that he is renting a car at considerable personal expense and difficulty.  This must stop and action must be taken.

Your prompt attention is expected.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

BMW: Looking For The Socket Housing

On Friday I decided, since it seems apparent that I am the only one with a sense of urgency about my situation, that I would attempt to locate this mysterious part myself.  I was able to get the part number via Lara, and now I finally have a name for the culprit.  It was not as exciting as I had hoped.

"Socket Housing: 611C9141893"

This was the elusive part that is costing me so much time and money, and I set off on my research to find out if there was anything I could do to locate one.  I was very hopeful about my search, I'm a pretty good researcher when I set my mind to it, and as I began the hunt my mind was filled with giddy fantasies of finding the part instantly on the first attempt, and the mud that I would be shortly rubbing in Center BMW's face.  After an hour of searching, however, these fantasies had drained away and left my hope of being able to say that I took the problem into my own hands and solved it in minutes as empty as BMW's promises.

The part number that I had would not show up on any database or parts supplier, even those that claimed that they had "every part since 1967".  I could not find any reference to this part, it was as if it did not exist - which is consistent with everything I've heard since August.  Out of desperation I sent a couple emails out to likely candidates begging them to help me locate this part, and these were the responses I received:

From: Sales BimmerSpecialist
Sent: Thursday, November 04, 2010 7:14 PM
Subject: [#ZEL-263119]: obscure part?

Hi Joshua,

Thank you for your email.

Connectors are sometimes a problem as the BMW part system doesnt show all connector part number for specific application but they show a bunch of connector that are installed on the car without specifying where they are installed.

Most dealers do have a box with general use connectors and in many case they can match it.

The part number you gave (611C9141983) is not a standard BMW part number as there is no letter in a BMW part number. I did try to replace the C with a number and doesnt seems to match anything.

Here is a website with the same part system as the BMW dealer use.

If you want to see all the connectors, go under "electrical system" --> plug and connectors. You will see all of them.

I hope this help a bit, most of the time they (dealer) should take the sensor and then check witch connector match there general use connector. Its also possible that its not easely available, hard to say to be honest. They (dealer) would probably have to check with there technical contact a BMWNA and get some help from them to find the good part number from BMW germany.

I understand your frustration and hope they will find a solution for you soon.



I thanked Eric for his prompt response, it was very kind of him to spend so much time responding to me.  So, from this, it seems that this part (with a "C" in the part number, which BMW apparently does not do, normally) isn't even normally listed on their parts list, only in a generic "connector" list that comprises the whole car.  I can appreciate that in a machine comprised of thousands of moving parts must have a very impressive schematic - but to not list a part so critical that the car cannot be driven without it seems pretty ridiculous to me.  Additionally, another kind soul emailed me a similar response:

From: Ken Brown
Sent: Friday, November 05, 2010 9:58 AM
Subject: RE: 2009 BMW Z4 sDr30i


Thank you for your inquiry.

The part number you have is not an actual BMW number. You have the correct number of digits but there are no letters in BMW numbers. Usually we can look things up by just the last 7 numbers but that doesn't bring anything up either. But considering this is an electrical plug on a later model car I'm actually not surprised it's tough to find. Most of these part numbers are BMW dealer only items and can only be sourced as part of a repair order. I ran into the same roadblock trying to look this part up for the car in the parts program. So chances are it's back ordered from BMW's supplier and the dealer simply hasn't been able to get it to repair the car. If this is just for the brake lining sensor wire (what tells you your pads need to be replaced) the system can be bypassed by simply installing a jumper wire in between the two terminals. It's not a proper fix but I'm rather surprised they haven't attempted this to get your car back to you. Of course maybe it's not that particular sensor.

Ken Brown
Bavarian Autosport Web Services
275 Constitution Avenue
Portsmouth, NH 03801

I guess Ken had a similar reaction to Eric, so this does seem to be consistent theme with BMW.  I do like his simple, elegant suggestion of how to get the car back on the road.  Install a jumper wire.  Hmmm... just as simple as pulling the same part from another Z4 that is not for sale...  If only Ken knew.

Thanks to Eric and Ken for their time with this.  The hunt continues.

Friday, November 5, 2010


I've just published a new Saga about my recent experience with Identity Theft.  I've been deeply embroiled in this process for more than a month, and the aftershocks will continue to ripple through my life for at least the next seven years.  Everyone should read this and do everything you can to protect yourself and your numerical identity.  I'm extremely careful with my information, but somehow along the way some clever crook managed to siphon off enough information about me to take more than a dozen creditors to the cleaners, and make my existence in our modern world even more difficult in way that will affect the rest of my life.

Please read it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

BMW: Robert Levy Replies

Here is what my awesome lawyer wrote to BMW yesterday in response to their pat form letter.  He has paraphrased exactly how I feel about it in legal terminology.  I think this might be my favorite letter of all time.

Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 2010 6:26 PM
Subject: Re: Joshua Logan, 2009 BMW Z4, E160844

Mr. Dawson: Thank you for your prompt response however, time is of the essence and my client continues to incur expenses for a substitute vehicle and legal costs, just to mention two of the expenses.  Your company has had this file for many months without a resolution.  I am not clear what further is required for you to be able to realize that my client has not had his car for months and this is simply not acceptable.  The failure of BMW to take action and compensate my client for the full cost of his car plus the expenses is tantamount to an intentional act due to the apparent lack of concern or simple gross negligence on your part.  I do not think it is appropriate at this late juncture to be providing empty phrases intended to mollify my client.  That time has passed and I must ask for a prompt resolution in my client's favor.  I believe that formal proceedings under California law would provide all the above damages and more considering the egregious facts of this case.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

BMW: Three Weeks Overdue

The $3.00 plastic connector that has been holding my car up since August 31 is still MIA.  The part is now three weeks over due, and Center BMW still has no idea when they might be getting it in.

A $3.00 plastic connector is costing me thousands of dollars in wasted money.

In other news, Robert Levy Esq recieved another email from BMW Legal yesterday.  I guess they haven't finished their coffee break, yet.  At first I was impressed with their prompt reply, but this sounds like no one has even looked at it.  It would take one hour to make some phone calls and research this.  Seriously.  One hour.  Maybe they are looking at the wrong car, they didn't even get the year right in the text of the letter.

November 2, 2010

Re:  Joshua Logan
       2009 BMW Z4 SDrive30i

Dear Counsel:

Your office contacted BMW of North America, LLC on behalf of your client Joshua Logan, regarding a 2008 BMW Z4.

Senior Members of BMW's management team are still reviewing the owner history and service records for this vehicle.  We will soon contact you to discuss the findings and recommendations.

We thank you for your cooperation in bringing a fair and prompt resolution to this concern.

Kind regards,

Avery Dawson
Executive Customer Assistance Manager
BMW of North America, LLC
Customer Relations and Services

(201) 263-8244
(800) 831-1117 ext. 8244
(201) 930-8484
Postal Address
P.O. Box 1227
Westwood, NJ 07675-1227

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Known Issue" - Martini Shot by Rob Long

I just heard this amazing "Martini Shot" on our awesome local public radio station KCRW ( here in LA.  Rob Long completely encapusalted my feelings on our customer service frustrations brilliantly in this little monologue.  I've transcribed it for you here:

Known Issue
By Rob Long
Martini Shot, broadcast on KCRW

If you’ve called me any time since early last week I probably didn’t get the message.  If you left a message there is no way of knowing I have a message waiting for me.  My visual voicemail isn’t working.  Now this has meant long calls to AT&T customer service during which I’ve been treated politely and with a robotic commitment to the language of customer service. 

“It’s my intention to deliver excellent service today”, said one person on the end of the line.  “I understand how frustrating your problem can be and I do apologize for the inconvenience”, said another before launching into the same speech the first one did about how we can, “go ahead and perform some trouble shooting actions to better determine the source of the problem”. 

Now, I’ve been thanked for my years as an AT&T customer, I’ve been surveyed and questionnaired and thanked again; I’ve been placed momentarily on hold, asked if the customer service representative can call me “Robert”, apologized to for asking for the last four digits of my social security number, twice; thanked for being patient, told that AT&T values my loyalty, educated on the benefits of an international data plan, and asked if I had received excellent service today. 

What hasn’t happened, what seems unlikely to ever happen, is getting visual voicemail back.  Apparently providing customer service isn’t part of the customer service training.  Now, when pressed near end of the fourth call and half way between one of the “thank you’s” and one of the customer satisfaction surveys, I was told this about my voicemail problem: “it’s a known issue”. 

A known issue.  Meaning it’s a problem, it’s network wide, it’s random, and they know all about it.  Being a “known issue” means never having to stop saying “sorry” long enough to fix the problem.  Personally I’ll take rude-and-effective over polite-and-impotent any day of the week.  But, on the other hand, I’m gonna start using “known issue” in the rest of my life. 

“Rob, we think the script could use some work in act 2.”  Yes, that’s a known issue.  “Rob, we’re not crazy about the opening sequence”.  Yes, that’s a known issue.  “Rob, it seems you owe a huge amount in back taxes.”  Yeah, yeah that’s a known issue.  “Rob, you hit my car pulling out of Whole Foods!”  Yes, that’s a known issue.  “Rob!  There’s a dead body in the room and you have a knife in your hand and you are covered in blood!”  Yes, that’s a….  known issue.  Well, obviously that last one is a step too far.  For the rest of the week, at least, I’m gonna see what I can get away with by saying “it’s a known issue”.  I mean I’ll have the time. 

It’s not like I’ll be returning any phone messages.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

BMW: Day One Hundred and Fifty

That's right!  My car has been in the shop for an even 150 days today!  Wondering if I should throw a party... ?

Still no ETA on the part.  The $3.00 part.

However, I did get a forward from my lawyer yesterday, and BMW North America has already acknowledged the situation!  Somehow I thought, with legal matters seeming to take undue amounts of time in many cases, that it would be weeks - but evidently they have decided to move a bit more quickly.  Dare I hope?  Dare I dream?

Here is what they had to say:

October 26, 2010

Re:  Joshua Logan
       2009 BMW Z4 SDrive30i, VIN:  E160844

Dear Counsel:

Your office contacted BMW of North America, LLC on behalf of your client Joshua Logan, regarding a 2008 BMW Z4.

Senior Members of BMW's management team are now reviewing the owner history and service records for this vehicle.  We will soon contact you to discuss the findings and recommendations.

We thank you for your cooperation in bringing a fair and prompt resolution to this concern.

Kind regards,

Avery Dawson
Executive Customer Assistance Manager
BMW of North America, LLC
Customer Relations and Services

Monday, October 25, 2010

BMW: Launching Legal Action - Car Is Still Not Done

My lawyer, Robert Levy, has sent and excellent letter to the BMW USA Legal Department, so my journey with Customer Service is over.  Legal can only be contacted via posted mail, so we will be waiting for their response.  His letter demands that I be released from my lease and for them to take the car back.

I've been spending $575/month on the car lease, $150/month in insurance, plus what will total more than $2000 in car rental during this time.  I also just renewed my registration for $825.  He will be demanding that BMW reimburse me for these expenses as well as his own legal fees.  I hope this rattles the trees well enough that they take the time to listen to my case.

As some of you may remember, the mysterious brake sensor part (which I found out over the weekend is a $3 part (THREE DOLLAR PART), and they had already refused my mechanic taking that part out of another BMW that isn't for sale while they wait for the new one - this seems to be the most logical course of action) which was supposedly shipped on September 27 and was due no later than Oct 22.  As of today, this part is still MIA - and there is currently no estimate for arrival.

I think I should have learned by now that these estimates are worthless, but my hope continues to be raised.

Lara from Best Car has been continuously going all the way down to Van Nuys and Center BMW because she's been unable to get anyone on the phone - but even that has not shed any new light on the situation.

I wish someone could explain to me what in the world is going on....

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

BMW: Legality

Under advice from a good friend, last week I contacted lawyer Robert Levy, Esq and described my case with BMW to him - and he immediately signed on to help!  He feels that there is definitely gross professional negligence involved in this case, and he is going to begin his inquiries immediately!

It feels so very good to know that corporations can't just do this to people as they feel like it, there will be ramifications for their inaction.

Thank you, Robert Levy, you are awesome.

Monday, October 18, 2010

BMW: Yet Another Week to Wait

I got a call from Center BMW over the weekend to tell me that they've finally spoken to someone about the status of the brake sensor; and they've been told that the soonest they can expect the part is this Friday, October 22.  Amid all of this they keep telling me that this is an obscure part, and even the parts place in Germany doesn't carry this part.

Yet still, it makes me wonder just how many Z4's roll off the assembly line each day, each one with that part installed.  While on hold with Center BMW I was forced to listen to their sales loop, all claiming that they put "YOU" at the "center" of their business.  That BMW is a multiple award winning automobile, and it is their customers that make it great.  Somehow, when they make these statements, they must feel that a car sitting on their lot for seven weeks is how they are putting me at the "center".

I'm going to call a lawyer today.

Friday, October 15, 2010

BMW: Center BMW Still Has No ETA

The final part to complete the work on my car was supposed to have shipped on September 27 with the refrain "eitgh-to-ten days from Germany" attached - and the dealer still does not have any word from the manufacturer even though the part is now five days overdue.

I put in a terse call to the Service Rep at Center BMW this morning, and he said that the part has still not arrived, still has no ETA, but he said he'd call the parts rep and find out what the latest is.  When I hadn't heard back from him in two hours I called and left a message for the Service Manager, Chris.  I got a voicemail back from him within the hour in which, while very friendly and professional, he stated that both he and my Service Rep have been trying to get some kind of word on where this part is - but even his own phone calls and emails to the manufacturer have turned up so answer whatsoever.  His hands are tied, and he has no idea what's going on.

Yet another step in this absolutey incompetent process, which is now, as far as I'm concerned, criminally negligent.  I've spent more than $800 in car rental in the time my car has been at Center BMW, and still no one can tell me what's going on.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Personal Musing: Smoke Free... ?

I've noticed recently from Airports to Amusement Parks that there seem to be, at many locations, entities that pronounce themselves to be "Smoke Free"... except in designated areas.

Intercom announcements, posted signs and posters, and Magic Mountain even has all the employees wearing buttons that make this announcement:

"Magic Mountain is a SMOKE FREE park!  Smoke only in designated areas."

LAX even has a sign that says that LAX is a Smoke Free airport only feet from another sign directing you to the smoking area.

Anyone but me see a problem with this language?

BMW: Center BMW Still Doesn't Have The Part

Spoke with Mary at Best Car this morning, and as of today, after promising 8-10 days for shipping from Germany we are now on day 13 and there is no word on the part, yet.  Mary tried to find out what was going on, but Center BMW gave her the story that it takes time for parts to clear customs, et cetera.  Not their fault.  Not their problem.

Day 136 and counting.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

BMW: 135 Days And Counting

That's right folks, 135 days and no new ETA for my car.  Ten business days from when the (hopefully) final part was shipped from Germany was last Friday Oct 8, and returning from my trip today there is still no word from Center BMW.

On the semi-bright side I did receive a message from Stefan at BMW USA on Monday to let me know that the higher-ups have received my information and they are still in consideration for some kind of compensation, though Stefan did mention that it is very rare that anything comes of a situation like this.  I really do appreciate his perseverance, though, and the unprompted phone call on Monday to update me on my status was definitely a step in the right direction on the customer service front.

This Blog now has 305 unique hits, and 19 followers - so thank you to everyone that has joined and viewed my Blog.  I very much appreciate your intention and let's keep it going!  A Laurel and Hardy hand-shake to you all!

Thanks for reading.

Friday, October 8, 2010

BMW: More Disconnect from BMW...

Got a hilarious email from Pacific BMW today, that's the place where I leased the Z4. Oh yes, Steve, I have been enjoying my Z4 so very, very much...  I just paid $640 to re-register the car I haven't seen in 4+ months.  I'm well aware of just how much time has passed...  thanks.

Pacific BMW
800 S. Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91204
(818) 246-5600

Time Flies!

Especially when you're having fun!
Congratulations JOSHUA! We'd like to take the opportunity to recognize the 1 year purchase anniversary of your BMW. We appreciate your loyalty to our dealership and hope you are still enjoying your vehicle has much as you did the day you purchased it. Please let us know if we can assist with anything at this time. We look forward to seeing you again soon!

15% OFF

Lifestyle Accessories In Parts Boutique

To show our appreciation, bring in this Owner Loyalty Certificate to use on your next vehicle purchase.

No Cash Value. Only one per customer. Expires in 30 days.

Steve Lindstrom
General Manager

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

TED Talks - This is Broken

This is an absolutely amazing video from the popular TED Talks. This is exactly what I'm talking about. It's long, but worth watching. We are not alone!

Seth Godin at Gel 2006 from Gel Conference on Vimeo.

Arclight: Still Waiting

I've sent in several emails to Arclight since the last update, and I've been turned over by Jeremy to a manager named Donny.  Donny and I have been playing phone tag, but in his last message he said he'd be happy to turn the conversation over to email as it seems to have been difficult to get us both on the phone.  I sent an email yesterday and I'm waiting to hear back.

An update on Arclight, however, is that since I sent in my letter Customer Service at the Arclight has actually improved dramatically.  I have no idea if it was my letter or a collection of complaints that caused them to shift their attitude, but I've been there quite a number of times since this issue began and everyone has been pleasant and helpful.

Overall, Arclight has made reasonable attempts to contact me, and I feel like their response has been acceptable thus far.

We will see what happens when I finally talk with Donny.

BMW: The Top Rung?

I spoke with Stefan yesterday, who still called instead of emailed as I asked.  We talked again about my last email in which I asked where the next step up was, to speak to a person who bridges that gap between manufacturer and financial - and he basically said that there ISN'T one.  How convenient for them.  He said that financial services only care about contracts - not customer satisfaction - and I said that this practice is a pretty foolish move.  If they are the ones that care about money and I end up being so unhappy that I pull all my business from BMW they stand to lose tens-of-thousands of dollars over the course of a life that could be driving a BMW.  He agreed with me, but ultimately there is nothing he can do.  He can't help me with that.

He said that on their end that there MIGHT be a way to get "compensated" for the trouble that manufacturing has caused, and he would continue to look for options to that regard - but as far as changing leases he said it's not something he or the manufacturer has the power to influence.

This was an interesting turn, and I'm curious what this might evolve into.

The fact remains that there seems to be no department in this corporation that can even listen to what I have to say much less make any appropriate changes.  No one that is interested in the money they might lose from me or people that I might influence over the course of my driving life.  This is pretty short sighted, and completely contradictory to everything that BMW seems to tout when you join their "family".

Friday, October 1, 2010

BMW: Mechanic Says Looking Like Next Week

My car has been being serviced by Best Car in Los Angeles, and the owner, Lara, has been helping me this whole time.  Lara has now gone on her yearly vacation and has left her sister, Mary, the responsibility of running the shop.  Mary is very friendly and I spoke with her today about the status of the mystery brake sensor that has been holding the process up.

The part was shipped to BMW on September 27, and is now on its way to the US.  The ETA is by Thursday or Friday, Oct 7 or 8.  From there, I'm told it will be an hour to install, and then the car can be released back to Best Car, where they will inform the insurance company that the car is complete and I can finally get back into it.

Of course, I don't expect it to happen in this way.  Meanwhile my $20/day Cobalt is continuing to rack up charges.  Every week costs me another $140.00.

Thanks BMW.

BMW: Trying to Move Up The Ladder

In response to Stefan's phone call telling me that he'd be happy to speak with me, but there wasn't anything he could about the lease situation, I decided to try and keep our communications based in emails so that I can keep an accurate record of our interactions.

Below you'll see his email in which he attempted to contact me, again very professional, just useless.  Beyond that you'll see my email back to him.

I sent this on Wednesday, and as of 1pm PST on Friday, October 1, I have heard nothing more about my case.

I'll try and contact him again on Monday.

Thanks for reading.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2010 7:13 AM
Subject: BMW contact [1-1620827343]

Dear Mr. Logan:

I have called you at the telephone number you provided to discuss your concern and have been unable to reach you.  If you still require assistance, please call me at 1-800-831-1117, extension 8807.

The BMW Customer Relations and Services Department is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M., Eastern Standard Time.

Thank you.


Stefan Spenthoff
BMW Customer Relations and Services

-----Original Message-----

Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 3:12 PM
To: ''
Subject: RE: BMW contact [1-1620827343]

Thanks for the call again, Stefan, I'm sorry I've been pretty busy.  I think that calling you is pretty useless since I always get directed to voicemail, so I didn't leave a message this time.

I appreciate that you guys are the manufacturing end, and that lease questions must go through BMW Financial Services - but what I'm trying to get to is the branch of BMW that bridges that gap.  I totally understand that you can only do what you can do - but the reality is that it has been the failure of BMW Manufacturing and their inability to get needed parts in a timely manner that has caused my car to take 4 months to repair - and this is making me an extraordinarily unhappy customer.  As I've said before, this delay is costing me thousands of dollars, and getting the parts to me faster now doesn't make much difference to me anymore.  The time for that was months ago.

The way for BMW to make this right for me, and to keep my business, is for you or your supervisor to direct me to someone that has influence between the two departments so that I might plead my case to them.  Someone in the next step up the corporate ladder that is actually interested in keeping my business and can make the necessary arrangements to release me from my current lease and put me into a new BMW.  That's all I want.  I want to trade in my Z4 for a different BMW.  Seems like this should be simple enough.  If someone can do that, I will be very happy.

If there is no one on your side that has that power, certainly you or your boss must know who that next step is, and how I can get in touch with them.  This is one company, and I'm being told by you that there's nothing you can do, and by BMW Financial that there is nothing they can do - so who CAN do something?

The simple fact is that BMW's inability to get parts timely to their own vendors has cost me 4 months of my life and thousands of dollars.  Someone needs to acknowledge this and do something about it if BMW wants to retain my business.  Otherwise as soon as that car is out of the shop (still no ETA, by the way), I'll put it up on LeaseTraders and never give BMW another penny of my business.

I appreciate the personal nature of your phone calls, but I would prefer to communicate via email as a matter of record as to how BMW has handled this.  I intend to start a blog about this situation and I want to be sure that BMW is represented accurately.

Thank you again for your help, Stefan, I appreciate your perseverance with my case.