6 January 2013

Customer Satisfaction And Social Media

What do you do when your complaint doesn't get heard?
We all know that social media is a great tool to use if you have a complaint about a product or a service.  It is easy to companies to monitor any negative remarks about their brand with tools as basic as Google Alerts.  But what happens when you are ignored and you know that the problem you are having is being experienced by many others?

In my case, I had an issue with my car before Christmas.  My car was 4 years and 10 months with 95,000 miles (155,000 km) on the clock.  My car let me down and let me down badly.   It was a premium brand car, a BMW to be exact.  The engine had developed a serious fault which lead to the partial destruction of the engine.  Again I wasn't expecting this from a premium brand car less than 5 years old or am I being niave.  I have to mention that this repair cost me $4,160 (€3,200) while the car originally cost approx. $64,000 (€49,000) so you can imagine my annoyance.  I paid for a repair which every other diesel powered BMW was having.

On the advice of a friend I trawled a number of BMW car forums and found that this was a common enough fault on 1 series, 3 series and 5 series diesel BMWs with the N47 engine built between March 2007 and May 2010.   I put this to my local BMW dealer but they didn't want to know.  I even found and internal document which highlighted the problem, do Google PUMA 13588845-03.  This I put to BMW Germany but they insisted that it had to be dealt with through the local BMW dealer.

I posted my story on a national consumer discussion board.  There I was contacted by someone who was running a petition to have the cars recalled.  He was looking for signatories who all had the same problem.  This petition was run through AVAAZ.org, the link was
I shared this petition with my Facebook friends.
I joined the BMW group on LinkedIn, but my comments were never published. 
I am in the process of writing to "BMW Car" magazine in the UK. They are known for airing the views of annoyed car enthusiasts.
As you can see I'm writing a blog post to register my annoyance. 

Have you had an experience like this?  What did you do to get it resolved?  Please comment below.
Should big brands be allowed to get away with this kind of behavior? 

The Problem of the N47 Engine
Since over a year it has been known that the timing chain in N47 engine fails.  Some mechanics put it down to the sprocket that drives the chain, others to the lack of chain guides.  Either way when the timing chain fails the engine becomes damaged.  If the chain breaks while travelling on the highway, the engine will be completely destroyed and will require replacement.  In my case this happens during city driving and resulted in the cam shaft and rockers needing to be replaced.  Nonetheless the engine needs to be removed, stripped and reinstalled.  My car was just shy of 100,000 miles when this happened but other cars with the N47 engine have had this happen at 50,000 miles. 
If you have a car with an N47 engine you should be very worried.