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.