Four and a half weeks ago my poor little work horse Mini broke down. It wasn’t the first time either. It has been playing up on and off since Christmas and had been to my fantastic mechanic at Warfield Garage a couple of times. He finally found what we believed to be the fault and changed the cam sensor. All was fine….for a few weeks.
That Wednesday morning, Grace was due to receive an Award in her Celebration Assembly. She wasn’t aware of this and I was under instructions to keep it a surprise. The car was threatening to break down all the way to school and in the end I had to hold the ignition key round all the way there to ensure we made it. After assembly, I was due to take two people out on their lessons. I texted my first student to say that I wanted to take my car for a test run just in case. It broke down..twice. I went to South Ascot to let her know and set off to Warfield Garage. My mechanic told me that I would need to take it to Mini so that they could put it on their diagnostic machine. I travelled back to Sunningdale where they told me that I would need to take it to their service department…..in South Ascot – grrrr!!!
I dropped off my car and they told me that it was Easter weekend and it was very busy but they were aware that it was my livelihood and they would get round to it as soon as possible. They loaned me a car which they said that they would charge me for on a daily rate (they did say that they may have a car with dual controls but then it turned out that they had sold it!).
I chased Saturday as I had heard nothing. They hadn’t got round to it. Chased Tuesday, still nothing. Then that afternoon they told me that they would need a donor car (meaning a vehicle which matched the spec of mine exactly) as my car wasn’t talking to their computer. Wednesday nothing and then Thursday, the day of the news! They rang me that afternoon to inform me that the DDE unit, i.e. main brain of the car, had had it! Then they told me that the part would take around 12 days to get from Mini in Germany. To add insult to injury was the cost. £1330 for the part alone. I cried, literally I really did. I had already spent £200 on the diagnosis of the car alone and had managed to get them to waive the charge for the loan of their car. How on earth was I going to afford this?
Ross and Grace did a great job of consoling me when I got off of the phone but it didn’t change the fact that I had a MASSIVE outlay pending. A couple of days later – after the shock had sunk in – I rang them and they said that they would see if Mini would do something as a goodwill gesture. They came back with a no. Well, of course they wouldn’t!!
My brothers came to my rescue with a company from Ebay selling a unit. We had to go through a rather long winded process of trying to find out if the part was brand new and ensure that we didn’t have to reprogram it to match my car. Finally I got my garage in Warfield, Berkshire to talk to the supplier in Bury, Lancashire. The part was fine and would match. It cost £299.99. What?! That is over £1,000 cheaper than the main dealer. How on earth can they justify this. Ruddy crazy!!
The delivery of the part was a complete rigmarole in itself! My Mum – my fantastic, wonderful, generous Mum – helped me with the payment. Parcelforce then tried to deliver the part on the Wednesday (what is it with Wednesdays?!). They failed to leave a card so when I rang the supplier on the Thursday they confirmed it had been sent and gave me the tracking number. I rang Parcelforce and gave them the wrong tracking number, cue another call to the supplier for the right number, another call to Parcelforce who tell me that it is with the Post Office a 5 minute walk up the road!!
So, last Saturday Ross and I had to limp my car from South Ascot back to Warfield Garage. These lovely people took the car and the part and had it ready on the Monday evening. Just in time for two of my students to practice in it on the Tuesday and take their tests on the Wednesday.
I am astounded that the main dealerships are allowed to charge this much for a part which another company can get to me for over £1,000 cheaper. How does that work exactly?!