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Beware the BMW small print

11 February 2013, 14:00
I took my car today to Auto Atlantic in Cape Town for a regular service. The car is under motor plan and I have been privileged to have driven BM's for the past 15 years. Under motor plan the car is serviced free of charge (we all know the price of the services are in the purchase price of the car) but theoretically it is free.

In driving the car, there is a new system nowadays whereby the car will tell you when the service is due, and that is based on your driving patterns etc. Our first service was after 33,000 kms only. Nevertheless, the current service fell due at the end of December but in the past, when you take the car on a long trip, the service meter actually adds distance to the clock so that you can keep the car running even longer between services.

Admittedly, we decided rather than service the car before it was due, we would drive it down the coast on holiday and then service on return. In the business of starting the new year with school and my son coming home for the holidays, we booked the service for today.

Imagine my shock when I receive a call from the service consultant telling me that because the car is nearly 5000 kms past the service date, BMW needs to do some kind of sludge test, which is just a precaution. However this will be for my account and it will come to just under R2000. Oh yes, and in case I prefer to not have the test performed, they will not service the car, albeit it is under motorplan.

So, here are my choices - have the precautionary test and we will charge you R2000 or dont have it, and we cannot service your car. Nice BMW. Nice one!!! The interesting thing is I asked BMW for an evaluation as I am interested in perhaps buying another car and trading this one in. Guess what? I think it is time to try another brand. I hope the R2000 was worth it.

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