My experience with a defective car
I BOUGHT a BMW car from Coscharis on July 31, 2012, costing N16 million for my private use. The car was delivered on August 1, 2012. On taking delivery of it, I pointed out to the sales manager at the Victoria Island branch of the company that the DVD system was not functioning to which he said, it would be fixed, it was a matter of replacing it. He explained that due to settings, it can so happen that a car doesn’t work on arrival from Germany.
I agreed to it being replaced more so that I was also convinced by the sales consultants that it was not a big deal. Of course, they didn’t want to lose out on a sale, although deep within me I didn’t feel it was quite right since the car was brand new.
The DVD was ordered and received in April 2013. (It took Coscharis six months to receive a replacement). The order was dated 2nd of April, 2013. To my surprise the newly ordered DVD system arrived, and was fixed to the car but only for me to get notified that it did not work. The company concluded that the new one ordered was also faulty.
At this point I started realising that the car had issues but didn’t realise to what extent – issues I was not anticipating at all since it was brand new bought directly from Coscharis who are supposed to be the face of BMW in Nigeria.
Another DVD system was ordered dated 27th June, 2013. At this point the car was barely eight months old. Just while I began to enjoy it six months later, as I was driving out of the Chevron toll gate at 100km/hr all of a sudden the car stopped on the highway. There was no prior warning. It locked by itself and shut down. I was terrified, scared at the momentary thought that the oncoming cars would just run into me. I called the BMW maintenance office in Lekki –Epe to send me help. They arrived a couple of hours later.
The car was towed to their workshop and the technical people diagnosed it as an entire transmission failure, what they called Mechatronic gear box failure. This was ridiculous. How can a car barely one year and three months have a total transmission failure? I was dumb founded. They couldn’t give me any reasonable explanation.
The transmission was boxed and sent to Germany or so they claimed. A new one was, as usual, ordered since the German technicians decided that was what needed to be done. My car was in their workshop waiting for the transmission to arrive. It was there for six weeks before a courtesy gear box was put into the car in the last two weeks to the arrival of the transmission so I could use it in the meantime. For no just cause. It is worth stating that during the six weeks I was not offered any courtesy car which should be standard practice since the incident was no fault of mine.
In Germany this can never happen. So, why would you have different standards for Nigerians when we even spend higher amount of money to buy these luxury cars— considering the freight costs, high duty and the clearing cost?
I was so disgusted, and being a German myself I know the standards overseas, and have myself owned a BMW there.
The service and attention given to me by Coscharis during this period was nothing short of irresponsible. The order date for this incident and replacement of the transmission was November 8, 2013. I had barely collected the car back from COSCHARIS when within the next four months the reverse camera (Ultrasonic system) started malfunctioning. I took the car in and a new one was ordered.
Again, the report was not clear why the reverse camera gave problem. A new one with Ref number 66209142211 arrived on June 12, 2014. Again, within the next five months, my car had been in and out of the workshop several times and it was beginning to look like that was its permanent home.
Come November 2014, I was driving home about 8 p.m. with my kids with me when, hold it, suddenly the car switched off by itself. It gave no notice whatsoever on the screen! It shut itself down and would not start. This was between ‘the Chevron Roundabout and the second toll gate towards VGC. I was terrified; my kids were crying. I could not understand why Coscharis and BMW could be so greedy and inconsiderable as it dawned on me that I had fallen victim to buying a defective car, a car that had factory defects from the onset. If it were in Germany this car would have been recalled since the transmission change experience. I figured it that BMW/Coscharis believe we Nigerians are naïve and don’t know our rights. It was so sad for me. I was even more heartbroken to think that they knew the car was defective all the while and they kept ignoring the safety of the owner or driver, thus putting me and my entire family at great risk. This is so degrading and disgraceful for a company of that repute.
Well, I had to call my home that night for my driver to bring a rope and my other car to tow us home. The car was sent in yet again to what has become its “main home,” the workshop. The diagnosis revealed that this time it was the pump system which failed. It was ordered as usual and no report given as to why it failed. The part was replaced, order date was December 12, 2014.
Two weeks after receiving the car back and this was the final straw for me: I was driving from the Law School, Victoria Island, towards the Civic Centre. As the traffic lights came on for vehicles to pass, I started off at top speed and to my shock, right in the middle of the road, traffic rushing behind me to pass the lights, my car once again gave in, totally blacked out; no notice. I was livid. It just stopped. I cried my eyes out and this on such a dangerous junction, again with my children in the car! I called people to help me put up the caution signs, and called BMW expressing my disgust and that this was it for me.
This is a car just two years and four months. I had been fooled too many times, but because I really liked my car I kept wanting to believe Coscharis and I kept falling victim all the time. The towing van was called at 5.30 p.m. and it arrived about 9 p.m. This was crazy. The car was towed again into the workshop and this was December 2014.
I remembered it was the same time the previous year and it was in the same workshop where it spent eight weeks. Anyway, I got notified of the most horrible malfunction so far: “The brain box had gone dead.”
My goodness, two and a half years old and almost one year of workshop experience and BMW/Coscharis still feel that this car is road worthy? What a huge shame, to say the least, in this day and age. I was to be reliably informed in the organisation that due to all the issues with my car, the BMW head offices were having to send out circulars to other branches and countries to find out if similar incidents were happening since they now thought it was rather serious.
Obviously, they kept pushing my car back to the road to be used as a piece of experiment, disregarding my life and safety and that of my family. Just because it’s Nigeria and/or Africa where we supposedly don’t know the standards. How sad!
I was forced to go online to see and research if other people had had the same sort of problems I have had. To my surprise, there were too many, both in Africa and Asian countries. Which brings me to my question: “Is it that BMW brings in defective or substandard cars into Africa in the belief that they can get away with it?
This is sheer misconduct and total lack of customer care in any form or matter by the so-called “management of Coscharis/BMW” both in Nigeria and Germany.
Nigerians are entitled to the same standards and care and respect given to BMW clients overseas. Do you know that the BMW at its head offices in Munich has no department that handles the affairs/complaints of its African i.e. Nigerians clients.
A member of staff just gives you an email address to which to write and it never gets answered. Why? Because we are not worth the trouble as Africans or in this case, Nigerians.
I am so upset particularly because I am of German and Nigerian origin and I know that this can never happen in Germany while dealing with the European clientele. So why with Nigerians?
The car has remained at the Coscharis workshop uptill now, I have refused to take it back. I obviously no longer have any confidence in the car or BMW as a whole. I have come to the conclusion that the safety and care of their customers do not seem to count for much. They have not been honest with me ‘from the beginning.
They decided to offer me a “Trade in Deal” on a car that is not a “Trade in item.” It is a defective car but they do not want to admit it with all I have been through over this car. I want Nigerians to learn to insist and demand their rights especially with foreign companies or their partners.
I was given a courtesy car about a month ago after I had to “fight for one.” I was given an X5 which, in the last month, lost all its air bags and its rear suspension at the same time. Yes, I was given this to drive my family! I returned the car to them. It was more like a “hazard” to me. I have now got my lawyers involved and have decided to let the public know, to let Nigerians know that enough is enough.
Enough of the deceit and substandard cars being brought into Nigeria for us to buy. We spend a lot of money and pay ‘cash for these cars. It is unbelievable that an organisation such as BMW/Coscharis would fail to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because it is perceived that we Nigerians are not on the same standard as the European customers. We must demand the same standard obtainable everywhere else regardless of country, race or ethnic origin.
I am demanding an apology from BMW/Coscharis and a replacement of my vehicle (the same year 2012, same Model 35I), nothing less and that they treat all customers fairly regardless of what country they may be.
Mrs. Omorodion lives in Lagos State.
Editor’s Note: All efforts by The Guardian to get COSCHARIS to state its own side of the account by Mrs. Marie Omorodion were unsuccessful.