Sunday, 15 January 2012

(Not) happy with Audi

UPDATE (17th January 2012):  I just got off the phone to York Audi (they phoned me) and they are going to sort out the dashboard issue for me, they will take care of it!  This is absolutely fantastic news and I have to say I am amazingly grateful to them for this.  As I said to the guy on the phone, my faith has been restored, I can carry on waving the Audi flag! 

I really was a bit emotional as well, it was such a weight off my mind and means that, when I can get back to driving in the next few weeks it will be the car that I love and I really am so looking forward to it!

So, what was all the hassle documented below: well, I'm going to choose to believe that it's simply a misunderstanding and that, given the car is quite old now it's just not clear how to handle these kinds of issues.  Thankfully this one guy did listen to me and did some research and found that something could be done.  And I'm very grateful for his patience and the time he spent on this.

I am, once again a very happy Audi owner and customer of York Audi - long may this state of affairs continue :)

I bought myself a second hand Audi TT last year, there were many reasons for this but probably safest to sum them up as "mid-life crisis".  Anyway, older cars (this one is over 10yrs old) are obviously expensive to maintain and last year alone it had it's cambelt changed, alloys re-furbished, mass airflow sensor replaced, full service including haldex filter change, anti-roll bar replaced, etc, etc, etc.  Expensive but none of those were a real surprise, simple wear and tear and regular servicing costs.

It cost a little more also because I took it to the local Audi dealership (York Audi) instead of going to a non-affiliated garage where I know the rates would be lower hence cheaper servicing/repair.  But, I don't mind paying a premium for the peace-of-mind (knowing the parts are official Audi ones as are the instruments/tools used to carry out the work) and the very good service I recieved.  So no complaints.  Yet.

My car started to develop an intermittent fault where the dashboard wouldn't work - all the dials stayed at zero no matter what!  Scared the hell out of me the first time it did it but I soon found that a "reboot" (switch ignition off/on again) cleared the fault.  Smoothing capacitor I thought, power glitches, nothing serious as it never did this while driving only started in a funny state.  I planned to leave it to the next service to fix.

Then, on the fateful day, it got much worse.  The car locked me out.  There was no sign of the alarm lights flashing on the door but the locks were definitely on and nothing I pressed on the key made any difference.  I even tried the key in the lock, still wouldn't open.  Finally it let me in, but the engine wouldn't start, dashboard and everything else completely dead.  Opened the door, sprang into life.

Obviously at this point I thought something was seriously wrong so I took the car into the Audi garage to get it repaired.  This was on Thursday 8th December, the week before my surgery.  I was very pleased that the garage took the car at such short notice and had no problem with them not having really found anything by the end of that day, understandable.

I did a little bit of my own research on Thursday and turned up the following links:

It seems that there is a known fault with the Audi TT instrument clusters, in fact there was a class action lawsuit concerning this over in the US!

Spoke to the garage on Friday to get some sort of update on what was going on, guess what, the instrument cluster needs replacing, cost £900!  I pointed out the research I'd done and that this is a fault for which Audi US and UK had been replacing the clusters for free!  Apparently they knew nothing about this but did seem to remember alot of replacements a while ago.

Anyway, they said they would continue to look at the fault (in case it was anything else) and would also check with Audi whether the instrument cluster had been replaced by a previous owner (I was told that there new computer system didn't have any historical records so all the previous details about this car were lost - like the fact that a few months earlier the cambelt had been replaced by them!).  I said that was fine but that they should bear in mind that I wouldn't be happy paying £900, I believe it should be free for a known fault, and that I was having surgery the following week so would not be contactable nor in a state to approve any expensive work.

A week or so went by and then at 17:38 on 19th December, which was while I was still in hospital, recovering from surgery, I had a call from Audi York!  I took the call (I was just waiting for tea at the time) and was told that they could to the dashboard replacement for £800 instead!  This wasn't the guy I'd talked to before, so I explained the points I'd made before about the existing fault (I also said that there was no way I could afford £800).  I was put through to the same guy as before who told me that the original fault that Audi replaced the dashboards for had symptoms where the fuel guage would read zero for example, my car had a different problem.  I politely suggested that the fault could still be related to the same cause, i.e. a sub-standard component, and that, for example the dashboard on my old Rover 45 diesel had never failed once; I expected better from Audi.

Anyway, after much to-ing and fro-ing he said that there might be other causes of the faults and would re-open the job-card and get someone to have a look.  I asked again if the dashboard/car could be checked to see if it had been replaced by Audi just to make sure.

I didn't hear anything that week, nor over Christmas week but I imagine the workshops shutdown over this period so I wasn't unduly concerned or in any way annoyed.

So, two weeks into the New Year and I'd heard nothing.  No calls to tell me my car was fixed, nor even any to ask me to pay ridiculous amounts of money to have it fixed.  Nothing.  So I phoned them - already expecting bad things.  MY car was ready to collect and only £56 to pay.  How good is that?!  Wait.  What did they do to the car?  Well, nothing.  It still needs the dashboard replacing!  Cost £900!

So, we went round the whole discussion again: Audi should replace this, the car is clearly not safe to drive so isn't ready to pick-up!  This time I was told that it was a long time ago that the replacement dashboards were done for free (in fact I'd found that a memo was sent in April 2009 telling agents that the criteria had been toughened-up, see one of the links below), I pointed out that, when I first took my car to the Audi garage they replaced the coil packs at no cost because of an existing fault in this component (okay, cheaper item but probably harder to do the work for them, dash is easy apparently).  They suggested that later repairs had been done with Audi making a contribution to this cost, I said that would be a much better option providing it was a pretty big contribution as £900 (or even £800) is ridiculous.  They said they'd talk to someone higher up.

So now, I'm waiting to hear what the next price is going to be or maybe they'll have completely forgotten what is going on and go back to "£900 to replace the dashboard" and I'll have to explain the issues all over again! 

Several things annoy me about this:
  • Mainly that it's Audi's fault.  They used a component that failed prematurely and was essentially sub-standard.  Dashboards really should not fail like this, nor wear out.  Nor should they cost so much to replace!  
  • There are companies that will rebuild/repair a dashboard from a TT at a fraction of the price Audi charge; the garage never offered me that option!
  • Seriously, not contacting me for 2 weeks and then claiming the car was fixed!  That is just bad customer service!
  • Contacting me *in hospital* when I'd explicitly said I would not be available for two weeks!  At the very least that is thoughtless, at worst it felt like they were taking advantage of my situation to get me to agree to a repair which had supposedly been discounted
Overall the customer service has been appalling and it feels very much like the garage, and by extension, Audi, just want to get me to pay a ridiculous price for a repair and all other considerations are irrelevant; particularly that they fault is something they caused and they know about.  I didn't buy an Audi expecting this kind of treatment, I thought it was a good quality and well-supported brand.  It's not.  I'm very, very, very disappointed.

As a final note, here's the links I found last week including some for the services that can repair dashboards for Audi's and other cars:

Apparently rebuild the cluster for $160 - $350!

Apparently you can get the cluster repaired in the UK from £40:

Another place in the UK that does this work:

Remove the cluster:

Maybe low battery voltage or bad earthing:

List of complaints


Emily said...

Audis can be lovely cars, but their service can be truly atrocious. I had an A4 in my last job. When it was 6 months old, the entertainment and navigation system died so I took it in, picked up a rental car and trundled off to work expecting a warranty job and a soon to be repaired car.

Naturally, life's never that easy and I was shocked by a call I got that afternoon: They claimed to have discovered spilt soft drink in the electronics and said it was my fault, so the I or the company would have to pay for the repair.

I knew I'd never spilled anything there (and almost never drink soft drinks, making it even less likely) so started researching the web. Apparently, this is a common issue, and a just as common tactic to try to evade the warranty work. I printed these out and took them to the dealer to have a shout at the manager.

It took them ten days to do the work, but after that discussion with the manager, the issue of the phantom spilt soft drink never magically disappeared.

I did like that car a lot and it was a lovely car to drive, but I am worried about how their dealers seem to systematically be trying to avoid repair of well-known faults.

Emily said...

Sorry... That should have said "the issue of the phantom spilt soft drink magically disappeared."

Fiona Bianchi said...

Thanks for your comments Emily :) Yes, it sounds very much like a game of "evade the repairs" :(

Fiona Bianchi said...

UPDATE: I had phoned last Thursday and at that time was told that a manager would be consulted with reference to getting some assistance with the repair costs. Fair enough.

Phoned today and was not able to speak to anyone in servicing but was told be the helpful woman on reception that she'd checked in the garage and the car was ready but just needed a clean since it's been sat for a while!

I asked if it had actually been repaired and explained what I'd been told last week. She wasn't sure about any of this so I now have to wait for someone to call me back! What do we think is going to happen here?

I propose several alternatives: 1) they don't phone, 2) they phone very very late with no update since anyone that can answer has gone home, 3) they phone but have no knowledge of the previous conversations 4) they phone but still refuse to repair under warranty citing the next excuse/reason.

Fiona Bianchi said...

UPDATE2: Did have a call from York Audi, very pleased they got back to me in a relatively short space of time.

Upshot of the call is that the car has passed the "goodwill" period allowed by Audi but they are going to escalate the issue to see if something can be done and any assistance can be provided.

I explained again that a) this is just bad that a component that should last a long time hasn't (and had to be replaced in many cars) and b) that the customer service in this case has been terrible (in reference to people not getting back to me, or phoning me in hospital).

Hopefully something can be done and agreement reached on getting this sorted. I really love my car and I really want to be able to hold Audi (and York Audi) in high regard, given the quality/service I recieved from both previous to this.

Not that I expect many people are reading this, but if anyone from Audi/York Audi wishes to post comments I will not censor/remove them. I believe the post and my comments are true reflections of what happened and I'm not trying to attack anyone in particular or offend anyone, just report my experience as accurately as possible.

sophie h said...

This seems typical of most large garages. I dont think it is unique to Audi. The try and fob them off routine.
I had this with the company I bought my new tucson when the cruise control ceased to engage. They said it was the ecu that needed replacing, to which I explained that I knew it wasnt as I worked with ecu's every day, and it was likely to be a signal problem.
Anyway, it seems they lost the franchise and I had to then take the warranty claim elsewhere, in this case Beechdale garage in Derby (a small family run Garage). They not only picked the car up, but rang me to tell me it was on its way back when fixed. They had found the fault in under an hour and dismantled the managers car to provide a temporary part to confirm the diagnosis. A new part was then collected from Birmingham,and fitted.
The fault? a chafed wire to the steering wheel switch, probably caused when the original garage fitted the repeater for the towbar they fitted.
Needless to say Beechdale now do the servicing on the car.
The original garage still dont get it though. They still keep sending me sales blurb to buy another car off them.

Hope you have some better luck with the TT, if not try another franchise.

Sophie. x

Osias said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Emma Roe said...

I have a 2001 TT, which started to have dashboard issues before xmas, firstly the temperature was reading right near the red, then the clock needles started to go from zero to the highest point and then stop working and now the dash does not display any information at all!
however the clock needles stay lit red constantly to point of draining the car battery flat, so i'm now having to disconnect the battery every time i use the car to prevent it.
everything on the internet refers to the US, but found this blog of yours and would appreciate some advice on how to handle the Audi dealer in Derby on Monday.

Jon said...

I read somewhere on the Internet Audi had agreed to replace the faulty dash pods for a period of time only but this is very poor customer service. They like other manufacturers should face up to their error of releasing a faulty or defective part and recall it to replace it. I think the extended delay and gaff you had to go through especially when your were going through difficult circumstances medically is outrageous. There are various posts in forums detailing the problems people have had trying to get Audi to own up to their responsibilities and make things right and proper.

I have recently bought a second hand Audi TT. I do love the car and I am fully prepared to pay for the expected service items and at an Audi centre for piece of mind etc. however I have noted that the dash pod centre display in mine is beginning to play up, pixel lines missing so will undoubtedly have to embark on the same arduous frustrating process you have as I don't see it as a bill the customer should settle. Your blog is very useful and thank you

Wendy Bird said...

Thank you for all the info in your blog! The links have been fab and I am just about to embark on the repair of the cluster system for my 2000 Audi TT. Im confident I will not be paying more than £150. I will certainly let readers know the outcome. Good Luck everyone with resolving your issues. I adore my Audi and hope this will be a successful result and I will not fall out of love with this prestigious brand.