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I bought my Alfa 147 1.6 Lusso in Nov. 04 in second-hand (manufactured in Jan. 04). I loved it for at least a year, until serious problems started to occur:
In my first year of ownership I experienced some minor annoying problems like fan noises, window rubber sealing adrift, defective airbag sensor, but the car was under manufacturer's warranty (2 years) and this issues were temporarily fixed.
When this warranty expired and was replaced by the 3rd year Dealership warranty, things became suddently much more difficult: My car was definitely not reliable and soon I experienced problems with the manual gear box (defective bush that prevented changing from 2nd to 3rd gear), fan motor (Again!) and Climate control broken.
For the gear box, my car was stuck in my Alfa-Romeo Garage in Leicester for 3 weeks - mainly because they did not get round to looking at it for at least 2 weeks.
Not an issue when you have a replacement car....
...But Alfacare scheme only provides you a replacement car free of charge for 48h!!!! Then you must pray that the dealership is willing to let you borrow one of their courtesy cars. Most of the time they don't, as they prefer to book their courtesy car for less urgent but more profitable matters (like customers requesting a very dear yearly service at up to £250).
For the fan and the climate control issue, Alfa Dealer warranty reps argued that electrical items, harnesses, pipes, hoses are not covered by the 3rd year dealer warranty. Hence 70% of the car components are not covered!!
Bear in mind that when you visit the Alfa-Romeo UK Website, when it comes to the 3rd year dealer warranty, these restrictions are not mentioned at all - the servicebooklet and the site both boast 'The third year warranty is as comprehensive as the first!' : see attached links:
So I have now reached the conclusion that the legal information in the official Alfa-Romeo UK website are illegal.
This fact did not seem to bother either AlfaCare (managed by the AA, responsible for the 3rd year warranty) or Alfa-Romeo UK Customer services department...
In any case it cost me £300 to fix everything, 3 weeks without a car, at least 20h on the phone, lots of frustration and on the top: My car has been damaged twice while at the dealership:
-Puncture in the tyre discovered afterwards: Unlucky for me, another £100 -A dent in the body that I discovered in the dealership, despite they mentioned that they inspected the car before handing me back the key.
Also, cherry on the cake, when I informed them about the puncture, they called me "a French twat". (At least that's half true as I am French.)
When I reported the racist insults to Alfa Central customer services, they were horrified and promised to act. After 2 months they've done nothing. I havent even had a letter of apology and I am left disgusted by the thought of returning to my local garage.
So, that's my experience with Alfa-Romeo UK: -Unreliable cars and the worst customer services ever experienced (even worse than my broadband supplier Tiscali!)
And you could think that things would go better in the future, when you listen to Mr. Jeff Culkin (Marketing Director for Alfa Romeo UK ). I quote him:
"We are moving the Alfa Romeo image from where it is today back to a premium brand with premium products and with our dealers trained to give a premium level of customer care"...
But don't be fooled by this, this declaration was made early 2005 before all my problems started.
He also said that with the new models "We now build better cars and we now have to deal with customer service issues".
I had the privilege to drive a new Alfa 159 as a hired car. Great style, superb drive, but...
The driver's door sticks on opening as both front and rear doors were not correctly fitted: You need both hands on the handle and a great yank to get the door open from the ouside and a good bash with your shoulder from the inside.
Also both rear electric windows opened whilst parked overnight and I couldnt get them closed again. I might not have minded if it hadnt been pouring with rain during my 200 miles back to the rental agency.
Mr. Culkin: Is it the type of Quality improvement you expect to compete in the premium market?
My Alfa experience has left me determined not to buy an Alfa again (at least until they've solved the problems with service...).
I must admit that I will miss the great feeling of driving these cars (when the damn thing is working) but I also will feel a sense of freedom from the tyrany of the Alfa dealership - as you know the next problem (and battle to get them to fix it) is never far away...