Why do dealer's service departments treat me so badly?

Despite being a profitable business centre in their own right, dealership service departments often lose track of the fact they are also custodians of your relationship with that brand

Despite being a profitable business centre in their own right, dealership service departments often lose track of the fact they are also custodians of your relationship with that brand

Hi John,

I just discovered your website and wish I had before purchasing my new car. I bought the car on a 12 month lease due to expire on 30 June 2017. I don't like the car and will be trading it in at that time. I intend contacting you to help facilitate that and the purchase of a new car.

I bought a new Renault Clio Authentique at a great price ($13,250 with no GST) - however, the build quality of the car is average. The steering/suspension made unusual noises when I turned the wheel and I was advised by the service department at two Renault dealerships that it was perfectly normal and the noises would disappear over time. I went to a third dealership and was advised that there was a batch of Clios that were fitted with the incorrect springs and mine was one of them. New springs, struts and brushes have been ordered and I am waiting for them to arrive to have them fitted. Luckily I struck gold with someone who listened to what I was saying and did the job properly.

Why do service departments treat people so badly? What's more, why do new cars have such fundamental flaws?

I am looking for a new vehicle and willing to pay up to $30,000. I want something reliable and after-sales customer service is very important to me. Any suggestions? (I was originally going to buy an Audi A1 but I lost confidence in the dealership - they gave me wrong information a number of times and I read some poor reviews online). Having read your comments about the VW group and what they did, I am glad I did not pursue that option.


Thanks, Andrew

Renault Clio - sexy design but despite recent growth  the brand has yet to achieve critical mass in the Australian market

Renault Clio - sexy design but despite recent growth  the brand has yet to achieve critical mass in the Australian market

Hello Andrew,

Relationships with automotive brands are always lost in service departments.I don’t know why dealerships don’t get this - because the easiest person to sell a car to is the person who is still in love with the brand. The car industry wastes copious time and effort trumping up new business rather than nurturing the clients they already have. It’s very strange. (Other industries do it too - offering all kinds of specials to new customers, an insult to existing clients locked into often higher-priced contracts.)

I’m always telling people to buy mainstream brands - because these niche players like Renault, etc., don’t have the volume to do a decent job.

Instead you could try a Mazda3 SP25 GT >> (or Astina) or a Hyundai i30 SR Premium >> (Mazda is the #2 carmaker in Australia and Hyundai is #3.) These companies are selling 100,000+ cars each, annually, in Australia - and that means they have the infrastructure support (logistics, parts, technical training, etc) to do a decent job if there’s a problem. More car advice >>

Dealers at all brands are arseholes often enough (dealers are separately owned businesses that own the franchise, and carmakers have limited capacity - at best - to control their internal business practises. You should shop around for service - don’t feel compelled to stick with the dealer from which you purchased the car. This is easier with a mainstream brand because … more dealers in close proximity.

More consumer advice >>

2016 Audi A1

2016 Audi A1

Steer clear of a ‘cheap’ Audi. A1 is a trumped-up Volkswagen Polo at an unjustifiable price, representing poor value … but strong on Volkswagen fundamentals (crap reliability and worse customer service if there’s a prob).

Another thing to consider with cars like the A1: the list of options and extras massively pumps up the price. (Premium paint: $1700-$3000, premium audio + GPS: $2400, leather: $2000, Xenon headlamps: $1850, body kit + 18” alloys and different springs: $5050 - there’s a healthy $15k extra on a $30k car…) Before you know it, you’re paying $45k for a mid-range A1.

Sincerely,
John Cadogan

MORE REPORTS