The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
There are second hand cars of the type that I found myself driving not so long ago, a clapped-out Renault Clio with a revving capacity that put stock cars to shame. And then there are used cars that are found in luxury vehicle showrooms, like BMW and its little sister, the Mini. I suspected when I accelerated out of an out-of-the-way car yard, called Karz, that the risks were high that the vehicle might have been given up by its previous owner with good reason. Then, I was delighted when it stayed on the road for longer than I had anticipated. This was not the case for Anthony Vann and his wife, when they decided that a Mini Cooper was a long-overdue treat. It wasn’t long before the Vanns had the same disappointment with their Mini Cooper that I had with my Clio, only the difference is they were expecting perfection from a brand that trumpeted the high quality of its cars, whether they were used or new. In a nutshell, Anthony Vann believes BMW’s moral compass blew off in a South-Easter and buyers should be warned about their mischievous ways – because it’s time for SA business to get its ethics back in order. BMW’s Eric Scoble, meanwhile, reckons the Vanns’ story of woe is not of public interest, that Vann should have known his purchase of an old car was risky and should not try to resolve his problem through the media. BizNews publishes both sides of the ongoing war of the Mini Cooper S. Do you think Anthony Vann, and others in his position, have a right to expect used cars to keep firing on all cylinders? Share your views below. – Jackie Cameron
Anthony Vann: Affidavit
My experience with BMW South Africa, Auto Atlantic/Auric Auto/Mekor/BMW(SA) relating to my purchase of a used Mini Cooper S.
I, Anthony John Vann hereby confirm that the description of matters pertaining to my purchase of a used Mini Cooper S are a true and accurate depiction of what transpired during the purchase of the vehicle and subsequent events. The SAPS stamp on this affidavit by a Commissioner of Oaths confirms that it is a sworn statement.
I hold a Law degree and an Honours degree in Financial Management from UCT. I am the Managing Partner and shareholder in a management consulting practice, and have decades of experience in this field. As such I have interacted with senior management of many of SA’s top businesses.
Early in 2018 one of my business partners (Philip) purchased a new Mini Countryman for cash from Auto Atlantic in Cape Town. His experience with both the sales and technical staff was an excellent one in that it completely surpassed his expectations. He was pleasantly surprised by the manner in which nothing seemed to be too much trouble for the staff, to the extent that he asked me to accompany him on two occasions to both see his new car and to show me what he meant by what he referred to as “exceptional service levels.” I was suitably impressed by the professionalism of the Mini staff, all of whom were knowledgeable and friendly.
I need to preface the next stage of what happened by disclosing that when it comes to all things mechanical I am totally useless; I am in fact a technical idiot! I do however enjoy driving and riding premium cars and motorbikes. In my Varsity days I owned a number of big bikes that I used to go touring, and I went to BMW Motorrad with Philip (the business partner referred to above who had bought the Mini Countryman. )
After buying myself a BMW bike Philip suggested that we stop in at Auto Atlantic to look at Mini Coopers as my wife had always wanted a Mini Cooper Sports; he also tactfully mentioned that it might be a good idea to buy my wife what she wanted seeing as I had just bought myself a bike.
Having been married for many years I immediately saw the logic in his thinking and so off we went to Auto Atlantic. We saw a salesman by the name of Anthony who told us he had the perfect car for me. He said that it was in excellent condition and had been maintained by Auto Atlantic since new. He took us to see it and it did indeed appear to be in very good condition. We took it for a test drive and it we both drove it and thought that it was fun to drive.
Back at Auto Atlantic my concern was that the car was 7 years old and, given my lack of mechanical knowledge, I was concerned that I might be purchasing a vehicle that might possibly become a problem if it were to breakdown with my wife driving it alone.
Salesman Anthony stressed that the car had been owned by a person who was pedantic about his car always being in the best possible condition, and furthermore said that Auto Atlantic would always stand fully behind any car that it sold. He went on in sales speak about Auto Atlantic being a family and that their reputation was critical to every staff member.
Notwithstanding his promises I again reverted to my concerns mentioned above. I said that I would pay the asking price in cash but that a material term of the contract would be that Auto Atlantic’s technical staff performed what I described as a “ major service” on the car; this I described to Anthony as “ your technical staff checking the car from top to bottom” with the objective of ensuring that “ nothing major, such as the engine, clutch and brakes “ would be a problem for at least a year. He agreed to this and then said that I should purchase a warranty that was fully backed by BMW South Africa which would give me, in his words, “ complete peace of mind “ in that in the extremely unlikely event of Auto Atlantic not covering everything, apart from normal servicing costs, the warranty would. On this basis I purchased the warranty, with a particular motivation being its affiliation to
BMW South Africa. I chose the premium warranty (platinum) which later would be downgraded due to the age of the vehicle to gold and was later refunded the difference.
I then went through the verbal contract again to ensure that Anthony clearly understood the terms and conditions of the contract. He confirmed, once again, that Mini’s technical staff would perform a major service on the car prior to my taking delivery of it.
My business partner was present together with me at all times during the transaction and can confirm every detail relating to the terms and conditions of the contract as I have described above. I asked Philip if he was satisfied that all my concerns had been addressed. He responded that with BMW technicians performing a major service to include checking every aspect of the car, plus the warranty, and his excellent experience with BMW relating to all aspects of his recent purchase, I would be getting the “ complete peace of mind” as promised by Anthony. On this basis my business partner said, in his opinion, I should proceed with the purchase.
I believed that, in legal terms, as Anthony was acting as an agent on behalf of BMW and, therefore, that BMW, as a reputable marque, would honour its obligations. I consequently shook hands with Anthony and confirmed that, on the terms and conditions as agreed by Anthony, and detailed in this document above, I would enter into the purchase contract. I then signed the relevant documentation and thereafter transferred the full asking prices of both the car and the warranty via EFT into the bank accounts provided by Anthony.
I then asked Anthony how long it would take the technical staff to do the major service of the car agreed upon. He said that it would take a few days, but that he would try to get it moved up the service queue. I responded by saying that seeing as this complete service was critical to my purchase of the car I was quite happy to wait for however long it took for the technical staff to check the car thoroughly. I further mentioned that if the major service check revealed anything that was likely to require replacing or repairing in the foreseeable future I would like to have it attended to prior to taking delivery; it should be noted that I told
Anthony that I was prepared to pay for any routine repairs ie normal minor service items. Anthony agreed to this and told me that he would expedite the major service process and would revert to me with when the technicians would have completed their major service check.
After what I recall being 3 days I phoned Anthony to find out what the technicians had found in their complete check of the car, as well as an expected delivery date. He said that they were still busy with it as they had a servicing backlog they had to first overcome. He told me to give them another few days. After another few days I again phoned Anthony who told me that the technicians were nearly finished with their examination of the car and that virtually all that remained was for the car to be washed and prepared for delivery. He said that the reason for the delay had been that the technicians had, in his words, “ been through the car with a fine toothcomb “ and that they had found nothing whatsoever wrong with the car.
Anthony phoned me the next day to say that it could be collected the following day. Philip gave me a lift into town the next day and was with me until I drove the car home. In response to my request to him to confirm that BMW’s technicians had physically checked out all aspects of the car, he stated that they had and gave this as the explanation for the delay in delivery. Satisfied that BMW had complied with the material term of the sales contract the only thing I queried with Anthony was the small ding on the windscreen which he had said they would repair by filling it. I could see nothing to indicate that anything had been done to the crack but Anthony was adamant that the necessary repairs to it had been done as previously agreed. Anthony then said that should the crack widen ( which has subsequently happened) that Auto Atlantic/BMW would definitely repair it. In good faith I accepted what he told me
Before taking possession of the car I asked Anthony to provide me with written confirmation of the complete check that had been done. We went to his office and he took out a single sheet of paper on which I saw some ticks had been made. He did not actually hand it to me and said that he had to keep the original for his file but that he would send me a copy. This never transpired.
The car had been really well cleaned and polished and looked wonderful. It was driven down to the ground floor where Anthony gave me a very cursory overview of the car’s controls. It was noticeable that Anthony was not his usual very enthusiastic self and seemed keen to get me to depart; in fact, after not pointing out any of the operation of some of the car’s many features, he looked at his watch and told us he had another appointment. When I said that my wife would need to be taken through all aspects of its operation he said she could phone him the following week to set up an appointment with him or any of the other sales staff. When I queried when the next service would be. Anthony said that this would show as a warning on the instrumentation panel but, given that the car had what amounted to a major service, the next service “ should be in about 18 months time.”
Happy with my purchase I drove the car home and handed it over to my delighted wife. She really enjoyed driving the car while I was confident that the commitments made to me by Anthony on behalf of Auto Atlantic/BMW would be honoured.
When I first drove the car after taking it home I noticed that the sun visor on the drivers side was loose and that there was something wrong with the mirror. If I recollect correctly this was the day after taking delivery. I phoned Auto Atlantic to inform Anthony to ask him to note it so that it could be fixed when my wife had an opportunity to take it into Cape Town. I was amazed when I was informed that Anthony had left Auto Atlantic and that they had no idea of where he was working. I was put through to Candace who was the Service Co-ordinator. As it was such a minor issue I agreed that it could be rectified when my wife was next in Cape Town, or when it was brought in for a minor service.
Both Philip and my wife were equally surprised that Anthony had left Auto Atlantic, particularly as Anthony had made no mention of leaving Auto Atlantic/BMW a day or so before. What did concern me at the time is that Auto Atlantic did not know where his new job was, which led me to assume that he had left under a cloud.
After about 2 weeks the engine warning light on the display indicated that a tyre was flat and that my wife should rectify it immediately. When she got to a service station there was clearly nothing wrong with the tyre which had not lost pressure. I phoned Candace who said that it was again a minor issue which they would sort out when it needed a service; this we agreed to.
This led me to start thinking that the “ major service “ purportedly carried out by BMW technicians as part of the sales contract and confirmed by Anthony ( remember his telling me on the phone that the technicians “ had been through the car with a fine toothcomb “ as his justification for the delivery delay ) must have been extremely sloppy. However, as both defects were minor I did nothing further about it as I believed that Auto Atlantic/BMW would honour their obligations made by their agent Anthony. I also believed that, in the event of something major happening that Anthony’s verbal confirmation that the warranty would cover anything that Auto Atlantic couldn’t or wouldn’t.
I was shocked when my wife told me towards the end of August 2018 that the car display indicated that that it required a service. I phoned Candace who said I should bring the car in as it might just be the issue mentioned above with the engine warning light on the display which was probably defective. I again wondered about the “ major service “ that I had assured by Anthony had been thoroughly done by Auto Atlantic/BMW’s technicians just a few months earlier……….
A day or so later Candace phoned me to say that the front brake pads needed replacing, all the wiper blades ( front and rear ) needed replacing, and that the cylinder head cover needed replacing and that it had to be sealed. In addition a light bulb for the licence plate had to be replaced. An engine oil service, a microfilter service, an air filter had to be replaced, and a spark plug service all needed to be done. These details can be verified by reference to Auto Atlantic service tax invoice xxxxxxxx dated 5/9/2018. I knew then that Auto Atlantic/BMW, via their agent, (Anthony) had blatantly lied about carrying out a major service and, as will be clearly apparent later, had lied to me when inducing me to buy the car.
Candace told me that the cost of all this was going to be R14 200. I was horrified and she undertook to speak to her Dealer Principal about the matter. She phoned me later to say that the price had been reduced as a goodwill gesture by R3000. This is obviously a tacit admission that Auto Atlantic/BMW had done something wrong. I then told Candace about the major service being a material condition of the sale, and that Anthony had assured me prior to taking delivery that Auto Atlantic/BMW technicians had been through the car “ with a fine toothcomb. “ She was surprised at this and said that she would check her service records as she had no recollection of a major service being performed by the technicians on the car.
Candace told me when I collected the car the next day that no service, either major or minor, had been performed on the car prior to delivery. She stated that she was certain of this as she was responsible for all servicing and that if it had been done it would be in her records. I must record that Candace was at all times extremely friendly and professional in all my dealings with her.
I told Candace of my agreement with Anthony that a comprehensive check of the complete car by Auto Atlantic/BMW technicians was a material condition of my purchase of the car. She advised me to take the matter up with the Dealer Principal. I asked to see him but he was apparently unavailable. I then asked for Eric Scoble’s contact details which she was unable to provide me with. I then asked her whether I could expect further trouble with the brakes or any other major component of the engine such as the clutch and cylinder head. She spoke to a technician and reported back that everything seemed fine.
My wife and I discussed the situation that evening. My opinion was that we should return the car as the behaviour of Anthony was at best totally unethical and certainly fraudulent. I said that we should demand that Auto Atlantic/BMW replace the car, failing which we should place our experience in the public domain via social media sites such as Hellopeter, whilst at the same time instituting legal proceedings against BMW, Auto Atlantic, Auric Auto and Mekor. My wife’s view was that she had waited for a considerable period of time for her car, that she liked everything about it ( barring of course the problems since she got it! ) ; she was adamant that we should get Auto Atlantic/BMW to honour their obligations and effect all necessary repairs at their cost so as to provide her with the car that was promised by Anthony as their agent.
It should be noted that I canvassed legal opinion from my friends that I was at Law School with; these include an Acting Judge, a Senior Counsel advocate, and a number of attorneys who head up some of the most prominent practices in SA. They were all of the opinion that my case was rock solid, but that it would take both time and money to get the result I wanted. They and the many other friends I have told of my experience with Auto Atlantic/BMW recommended going the social media route due to the severe reputational risk that BMW/Mekor/Auto Atlantic/Auric Auto would be exposed to.
Based on the above as well as discussions with both Philip (my business partner who was present at every stage of the purchase proceedings detailed above and who can verify every detail of what transpired ) and my wife, it was decided that I should get Auto Atlantic/BMW to honour their moral and legal obligations. It was also decided not to invoke the warranty at this stage as it could be used as a last resort should ( heaven forbid! ) anything else go wrong with the car.
The car seemed to go well from mid September 2018 when we had to spend R11 188-82 on repairs which had been reduced by R3000 referred to as “ Dealer Goodwill. “ We thought that our succession of problems were over and that my wife could continue to drive her car without worrying about something else going wrong. How wrong we were!
Four months later the dreaded engine warning light on the display indicated that the car needed to be taken to the workshop as soon as possible. I phoned the extremely efficient Tiffany Lawlor at Auric Auto as it was closer for me to go to Claremont rather than all the way into town, and back to the workshop went the car that we were promised we would have “ complete peace of mind “ with.
This time the true state of the car we had bought was revealed. A quote of R52000-00 revealed that the brakes worked on at Auto Atlantic a mere 4 months earlier had to be completely replaced, whilst the entire clutch plus something called a flywheel also had to be replaced!
By this stage I had lost all confidence in Auric Auto/Auto Atlantic/BMW and so I went to another accredited BMW dealership. They drove the car and agreed with what the quote said needed to be done; what was interesting was that their estimate was considerably less than Auric Auto/BMW.
I then attempted to track down the head of Mekor, Eric Scoble. After not being able to obtain his contact details ( he was overseas anyway ) I asked Tiffany for the Dealer Principal’s contact details. After trying unsuccessfully to phone him I left messages for him to return my calls.
He did phone me and introduced himself proudly as not only the Dealer Principal but also as a member of the main Board of Directors. I told him my story as described above. He said that his technicians had not performed a service of any kind on the car, and even admitted that no technician had even touched the car. He went on to say that they did’nt have to physically check the car because all that was required was to review the microchip that measured the engine functions to establish that they were within what he referred to as “ limits.”
I then again told him of my interaction with Anthony and in particular my agreement with him re a complete check of the car by Auto Atlantic/BMW technicians was a material term of the purchase. He said that in his opinion no member of his staff, including Anthony, had done anything wrong!! When I asked him if that meant that Auric Auto/BMW condoned blatant lying he evaded the question and reiterated that nobody had done anything wrong. When I asked him what he intended doing about the situation he condescendingly responded “ nothing.” I was totally amazed by his arrogance and attitude which, needless to say, is a severe indictment on senior management of Mekor/Auric Auto/BMW in terms of how customers are treated, how they they view legally binding undertakings made by their sales staff, and how blatant lying by their sales staff is viewed as perfectly acceptable Mekor/Auric Auto/BMW behaviour. I concluded the conversation by saying that I was getting upset with his refusal to address the real issue ( the undertakings made by his salesman Anthony that induced me to purchase the car and the warranty ) and that I would take the matter up with Eric Scoble.
I was so incensed by the attitude of a supposedly senior executive of Mekor/Auric Auto/BMW when I ended the call that I was on the point of phoning my attorney to set up a meeting to set the legal process in motion, as well as using social media to inform the wider public of how I, and probably many others, had been treated. However my wife and business partners persuaded me to follow the initial process decided upon, as detailed above, with the provison that I would revert to this option should Scoble treat the matter with similar unethical disdain and should BMW’s warranty not be honoured.
It took some time to meet with Scoble as he had been overseas on holiday. I finally met with him at Auric Auto in Claremont. He is the archtypical car salesman who treated me as a long-lost friend and we initially chatted amicably about various issues before getting down to the matter at hand. I was able to relate what I have described above and had my file with me with my documentation, including the latest quote for R52k which, at his request, I gave to him.
He chose not to address the central issue which is obviously the totally unethical, lying behaviour of his salesman Anthony in inducing me to buy the car, plus Mekor/Auto Atlantic/Auric Auto/BMW choosing not to honour the legal and ethical obligations that their legal agent Anthony had bound them to. Scoble went into great detail about BMW’s service procedures which have nothing to do with the all-important central issue. When he had finished I reiterated the central issue. Scoble undertook to investigate the entire matter and to revert to me.
Thankfully the attached emails describe adequately Scoble’s view on the matter as well as my incredulous response. The only thing to be noted is that his gesture of paying R4k, which I was going to give to my wife’s charity, was never paid; no surprise there!
I am currently pursuing the issue of whether BMW(SA) will honour the warranty that I was induced to buy; to use salesman Anthony’s words “ BMW are like a big family and will sort out any issue that Auto Atlantic can’t”, followed up by “ this will give you complete peace of mind.” To date the warranty people have been professional and efficient and it remains to be seen what transpires.
The most rational explanation of what Mekor/Auto Atlantic/Auric Auto/BMW actually did strangely is the opinion of someone who is connected to the greater BMW group of companies. This version states that Anthony and Auto Atlantic knew exactly what was wrong with the car before I even pitched up ie they knew that the clutch, cylinder head cover and brakes would have to be completely replaced in the short term. As Philip and I were told by Anthony when we first met him that the car had only one owner since new and that Auto Atlantic had serviced the car since new, this seems to make sense ie they knew the car and its condition intimately. I recently checked the service history book I had been provided with by Anthony when taking delivery of the car to see the work that Auto Atlantic had done over the years.
I was intending to take the service history book to the accredited BMW dealer referred to above to obtain their opinion on the condition of the car when I had bought it based on the work done over the life of the car. I found that I had been provided with a new service delivery book which contained only the 2 services that had been done since I had bought the car. This of course lends more credence to the view that Anthony, and possibly others at Auto Atlantic/BMW knew there was something wrong with the car and deliberately failed to disclose this to me. As Anthony knew he was leaving he was happy not to disclose its actual condition and, furthermore, to actively pile lie upon lie in order to make the sale. It was also strange that nobody at Auto Atlantic knew where he had gone or his contact details, which seems to indicate that others at Auto Atlantic knew what had being going on. The behaviour of both the Dealer Principal/Board Member and Scoble in my interactions with them in refusing to even discuss what had happened with Anthony at the sale agreement is weird; this again seems to indicate that they knew more about the sale than they would admit.
The short version of this is that I was set up and knowingly sold something completely different from what was presented to me by a salesman who conveniently disappeared without trace immediately after the transaction was concluded. It is extremely hard to argue with this explanation. If so, it is clearly a matter for the Commercial Crimes Unit of the SAPS to prosecute.
There are a number of issues that are interesting, one of which is the reliance of Scoble and Dealer Principal/Board Member ( my apologies I don’t recall his name, only his characteristics! ) on the use of the microchip to attempt to justify not having their technicians doing the in-depth check of the car that was promised. As there was clearly a fault with the engine warning system which had to be fixed ( see Auric Auto service tax invoice xxxxxxxxx dated 31/1/2019 ) is it not possible that the entire microchip engine check system was faulty? Please bear in mind, as detailed above, that I am a technical idiot but logic dictates that this might be the case. If the technicians had done what was promised they would surely have uncovered the engine warning system fault, which logically would have led them to checking the entire engine checking system ie the microchip which was relied upon as an excuse for not doing the complete check of the car by technicians could quite possibly have been faulty; I am told by an engineering friend that this is certainly possible.
Another issue brought up by Scoble at our meeting was that my wife had exceeded the average number of kilometres per month and that therefore it increased the likelihood of problems occurring. This is a tenuous excuse at best and cannot be taken to justify the huge amount and cost of repairs required to the car in a relatively short period of time. It certainly cannot justify deviating from what was a material term of the contract of sale ie. that Auto Atlantic/BMW technicians would thoroughly inspect the entire car and report back.
The final issue is another strange one which pertains to the quotes I received to effect the repairs to fix the brakes and the clutch. The first one which I received from Auto Atlantic was for R52k, my copy of which I gave to Scoble at our meeting. When requesting this from Candace at Auto Atlantic I was told that she was on maternity leave, so I asked Martin at Auto Atlantic ( filling in for Candace ) to obtain it for me. He was very co-operative and said a copy would definitely be on file. After waiting for a response for some days I spoke to Martin who said that he was struggling to find it and that it was probably somewhere in their archives. When he told me that it could take some time to locate it I suggested that he obtain a new quote for the clutch and brake replacements as the same Auto Atlantic staff would have certainly been involved in costing the R52k quote I had initially been provided with. Martin thought this would certainly be quicker than searching through the archives and about a week later I received my second written quote from Auto Atlantic, this time for R42k!
As detailed above I had also taken the car to another accredited BMW dealer where I spoke to a very professional and helpful Technical Manager. I told him of what had happened to me at Auto Atlantic and what Dealer Principal/Board Member and subsequently Scoble’s position was. He checked the microchip on the keyset and then took the car for a drive on his own. On his return he confirmed that the clutch and brakes would have to be replaced in the next month or so. On the issue of the flywheel he said that his technicians would have to get to it to be able to inspect it to ascertain whether or not it would have to be replaced. He said that, based on his test drive of the car and without his technicians actually doing the necessary stripping to check everything, he estimated that if the flywheel was ok it would probably cost between R15k to R20k; if the flywheel needed to be replaced his estimate would rise to about R30k. So, I now have 3 widely fluctuating prices of the cost of repairs that I have been told need to be done!!
Of interest is that Auto Atlantic/Auric Auto’s second written quote is a significant R10k less than their original written quote; one wonders if the first written quote was deliberately inflated ( we currently live in an inflationary environment, so one would expect that the second quote would be similar or, if anything, be slightly above the first written quote??) Do these people have any clue what they are doing??
Then the estimate from the other accredited BMW dealer is a further R10k less, at worst case, than the lower of the 2 Auto Atlantic quotes!! What on earth is going on in BMW( SA ) dealer network
Also of interest is that I asked the Technical Manager from the other accredited BMW dealer if they operated on the same basis as what was described by Scoble to me at our meeting as standard BMW(SA) procedure ie the apparently total reliance by BMW ( SA) on the infamous microchip to diagnose the issues requiring attention and thereby not requiring technicians to physically inspect cars should everything be within prescribed “ limits.” His response was that the microchip merely provided a guide to what was going on in the engine, and that, although they always started with referring to the microchip, his technicians would always physically inspect each and every vehicle in detail. When I asked him if that was standard BMW(SA) practice he said that he couldn’t speak for other dealerships, but that he personally had always used the microchip as merely an indicator as to the state of an engine. One wonders if BMW(SA) actually know what is happening in their dealerships; in this case I hope not because if they condone the type of behaviour I and my wife have had to endure during our experience with their Cape Town sales and service businesses they will not be in business for too much longer, and rightly so.
I feel that you need to know something about the value systems that my wife and I use to run our lives. We have spent a considerable portion of our lives attempting to help others. My wife is an aerobics instructor who has taught aqua aerobics at Virgin Active gyms for nearly 30 years to mainly elderly women to improve the quality of their lives. She has also been an unpaid volunteer for Tears Animal Rescue Society whereby she brings abused and neglected puppies into our home where she bottle feeds them and nurses them back to health. She has had over 1000 puppies and rescues to date. I have been a management consultant for many years specialising in fixing sick businesses, where my primary motivation is the saving of jobs of employees.
My wife and I were also members of Round Table for many years. It is a charity organisation that identifies deserving causes and where members raise the necessary funds through various activities and then actually perform the work themselves as far as possible ie it is not a cheque book charity.
In general terms we are appalled at the disintegration of ethics and morality in our country. As can be seen from the sordid events described above it is not only corrupt politicians that are to blame. The rot has spread to the business world where my experience described above is unfortunately more the norm than the exception.
What I require is for Mekor/Auto Atlantic/Auric Auto/BMW (SA) to merely provide me with what was promised to me prior to purchasing the car. As my wife is adamant that she wants to have a Mini Cooper S this entails BMW (SA) taking responsibility for the actions of their representatives on the ground and paying for the repairs. Whether this is done via the warranty route or one of your dealerships is entirely up to you. For the most obvious of reasons I would not wish to have any further dealings with Mekor/Auto Atlantic/Auric Auto; if however it is decided that I should give them the opportunity to attempt to redeem themselves I shall want BMW (SA) to provide a written guarantee warranting whatever work they perform on the car for a reasonable period of time.
As attempting to resolve this matter has taken me a considerable amount of time ( in my profession time is money ), and my wife has been severely inconvenienced by not being able to use her car for about 4 months, we look forward to some appropriate form of compensation. In this case please note that we don’t want money, so you can apply your minds to something else that would suffice had you had this totally unacceptable experience.
Should you decide to align yourself with the views of Dealer Principal/Board Member and Scoble then please take note that I hereby reserve all my rights, legal and otherwise, in this matter.
My thanks for taking the time to share my experience ( it took ages for me to type it! ) I look forward with interest to seeing what type of business you really are.
Should you require further clarity on anything contained in my sworn statement above please do not hesitate to contact me.
*The car has not been driven for approximately 4 months as the condition of the brakes in particular are in very poor shape and I am concerned for my wife’s safety. It is stored in our garage at home and has been started every week.
Subject: RE: BMW South Africa (PTY) Ltd
Good morning Ms Mokotedi
Thank you for your mail, the contents of which are noted.
They are, sadly, not surprising to me.
Good Day Mr Vann
Thank you for your below response.
BMW SA would like to refer you back to your selling dealer and would urge that you take this matter up directly with Mr Eric Scoble who is responsible for the day to day operations of the dealership. We would also like to highlight that BMW SA is unable to dictate the terms of any sales agreement between yourself and any dealership.
Whilst we understand the above may not meet your approval, you are welcome to seek adjudication from an external party such as the Motor Industry Ombudsman South Africa (MIOSA) to escalate your concerns.
Contact details for the MIOSA is 086 116 4672 or email: [email protected].
Please accept the above as our final stance regarding this matter.
Subject: RE: BMW South Africa (PTY) Ltd
Good morning Ms Mokodeti
Thank you for your mail containing BMW’s response to my sworn affidavit together with its attachments, wherein I have detailed totally unethical behaviour on behalf of BMW’s duly appointed agents in Cape Town.
Firstly, it is clear that you have not bothered to read the document as you would have known from my response to Scoble’s mail (ie what you have resent to me) that I rejected with contempt his laughable R4k offer and took issue with him trying to simply ignore what his sales staff member did. It is equally clear that Scoble has no intention of attempting to defend or justify the conduct of his salesman, for the simple reason that it is indefensible.
If you had read my response to Scoble’s mail to me you would have realised that my issue is all about the unethical behaviour of the salesman in selling me a BMW product under false pretences. This is the proverbial elephant in the room that Scoble and his senior staff hope will go away. The issues in Scoble’s mail are consequently superfluous in that he studiously avoided the central issue.
The next issue indicates just how far BMW is going to evade the central issue of the lack of ethics and morality displayed by an Auto Atlantic salesman selling a BMW product. Your mail correctly uses the word ‘our’ to describe the dealers accredited by BMW to sell and service BMW products; ergo, such dealers are BMW dealers. It is disingenuous to attempt to describe them as anything else. Even BMW marketing advises potential BMW purchasers to contact their nearest BMW dealer to test BMW products. In terms of BMW’s business model BMW prefer for obvious pragmatic reasons to have BMW dealerships independently owned in separate legal entities.
In terms of referring me back to Auto Atlantic it is clear and obvious that I have met with Scoble who is not prepared to address my issue with his staff’s dishonesty, unethical and immoral behaviour at point of sale. It is consequently also clear and obvious that if, as is stated in your mail, that Scoble’s position is his “ final stand point “ there is absolutely no point in reverting to him.
The next issue is the comment in your mail that BMW is not able to dictate the terms of any sales agreement between purchaser and a BMW dealer. Whilst I have my doubts as to the truth of this, the comment is superfluous. The BMW salesman and I concluded an agreement in the presence of a witness; the issue always has been that the BMW salesperson, either with or without the connivance of other BMW staff at the dealership, unethically and immorally deviated from the agreement. It is this deviation from the agreement, as well as the totally underhand manner in which I was lied to, that Scoble, and now BMW(SA), are attempting to ignore.
The last line in your mail is dismissive in nature in that BMW(SA) appears to be telling me that it has no further part to play in this rather sordid saga. I need to point out that I am totally committed to holding BMW(SA) accountable for the actions of its salesman in its BMW Auto Atlantic dealership in Cape Town.
I also wish to make it clear that this is a matter of principle for me, with the financial consideration being minimal. Our country is in its current parlous state due to the unethical, immoral and corrupt practices of the government and others over the past decade. I have become increasingly concerned by the slide of business ethics I have witnessed over this period. If those of us who believe that this situation is untenable don’t stand up for what is right the situation in terms of what is held to be acceptable business practice will continue to deteriorate.
So Ms Mokotedi I shall stand up for my principles in this matter and will pursue it until it is either resolved or every avenue open to me to get BMW(SA) and its Cape Town BMW dealership to honour its obligations closes. I thank you for conveying the position of your company to me; it speaks volumes about what kind of company it is.
I urge you to send this to someone at Director level who has the requisite authority to resolve this matter. I shall pend my next action until close of business today.
Sent: 20 November 2019 10:1
Good Day Mr Vann
Trust this mail finds you well.
Kindly take note that we have received feedback from Mr Eric Scoble in regards to the concern that you have brought to our attention.
We urge that you take note of the below feedback received from Mr Eric Scoble which we trust was sent to yourself on the 15th March 2019.
From: Eric Scoble
Subject: Re: Purchase of used Mini Cooper S
Was great meeting you this morning!
I spent quite a bit of time today going through the endless paperwork that BMW requires in terms of record keeping!
As explained to you the servicing of BMW Group vehicles is done on a “condition based plan” rather than the old way of an A service B service on a fixed mileage interval basis. The vehicles computer then determines what needs to be done, and when, based on mileage and time.
Work is categorised into a) inspection work, principally leaks and rattles and other signs of damage b) Service work which is filters, fluids and oil service, c) maintenance work ie Tyres, pads, wipers and other items that are subject to wear and tear, c) Recalls, Campaigns ,Repair and Warranty which cover prevention or repair of mechanical failure.
I was very concerned when you informed me that the vehicle had not undergone the necessary quality and service checks at the time of service. Fortunately there is an extensive paper trail of the entire process.
In addition to the computer readings as discussed, the tread on the tyres and brake pad thicknesses are also measured, physically. The BMW system also will tell you if any campaigns are outstanding and will flag if the vehicle had undergone any major accident repair.
This process was undertaken by the workshop and lasted two hours as per the mechanic clocking report. All important inspections were carried out and the computer registered 8 green icons.
A mileage of 57094km was reported by the computer and the following remaining distances to service/maintenance were calculated as follows: It is a BMW rule that work may not be done significantly prior to when deemed necessary and needs to be done within normally 2000km or a month after the computer deems it necessary.
- Oil Service green tab but due in 18,000km or 89 days
- Front brakes green tab due in 19,000km
- Rear brakes green tab, 28,000km left.
The problem arises when the time and distance relationship becomes skew. Certain items are required according to mileage or period and sometimes in combination. Inspections should be done annually regardless of mileage and although the inspection tab was green at purchase, the annual inspection tab said 40 000km or 09/2018.
You then brought the car in 04/09/2018 with 71,218 km.
The oil service tab was now red (over 89 days since green.)
The inspection tab was orange 26000km left but 1 month to go i.e. end 09.2018.
Front pads 1,400km left.. still green
Rear pads 12,000km left still green.
Wear and tear items do not carry time limits for obvious reasons of driver style and terrain.
The only work therefore that could have been pulled forward ( without disturbing the BMW set parameters or done totally unnecessarily) was the oil service. The R3,000 discount already given would more than cover a free oil service , labour and filters.
The oil service did however reveal a blockage in the paper cover and this was replaced. As this was quite an expensive item, I am happy to refund you the cost of that item as a goodwill gesture as it might have also presented itself if we had pulled the oil service forward by the 89 days. Who knows?
The cost of that item was R4,415 and we will arrange a refund at your convenience. Clinton/Matthew please arrange with Candice.
Although i don’t believe any of my staff acted unethically, i feel that the sales staff need to properly explain Condition Based Servicing to their clients. This was clearly not done and I apologise for that.
On a side note, your car had half the normal “book mileage for a 7 year old”. Normal mileage for a 7 year old in Gauteng is around 150,000km and 110-120,000 in Cape Town. The condition was excellent. Based on mileage and condition you did not pay a premium to book value!
Hope this is acceptable to you and we meet next time in more genial circumstances!
From Ziso to Anthony
Based on the above, Mr Scoble was and is still willing to honour the offer he has made to yourself i.e. a refund of +-R4,415 and should you accept the offer, they will be making arrangements to refund you at their earliest convenience.
As our dealers are independently owned and separate legal entities altogether, you as the customer will have to engage with them directly should you still feel dissatisfied with the above final stand point from Mr Scoblee. BMW SA is unfortunately not in a position to dictate the terms of any sales agreement between yourself and a dealer.
We thank you for your time and patience in this regard and assure you of our best attention at all times.
To: Mokotedi Zizo
Subject: RE: BMW South Africa (PTY) Ltd
Dear Ms Mokotedi
Thank you for the update.
Subject: RE: BMW South Africa (PTY) Ltd
Good day Mr Vann
Trust you are keeping well.
Kindly be advised that Mr Abbott is currently unavailable and this matter has been brought to his attention and that of Senior Management. I have been assigned to run with this matter and we have engaged with Mr Eric Scoble whom will be responding to BMW SA shortly as he has been previously involved and this issue is Sales Related in nature and against Auto Atlantic. Once we have received a response from Mr Scoble we will be communicating a way forward to yourself.
Subject: RE: BMW South Africa (PTY) Ltd
Good morning Ms Mokotedi
Thank you for your prompt response, it is appreciated.
Whilst I understand that you have the unenviable job of resolving complaints I believe it is imperative for senior management such as Tim Abbott to read what my BMW experience has been. It is hard for me to comprehend just how unethical the behaviour of certain senior staff in the field has been and should BMW executives not move swiftly to change this the damage to the marque’s reputation will be huge.
I look forward to finding out just what type of business BMW really is.
Good Day Mr Vann
I trust that you are well.
BMW SA (PTY) Ltd would like to acknowledge that we have received your attached email that was addressed to the attention of our group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Tim Abbott.
We therefore wish to advise that the necessary recommendations to assist you with your vehicle’s matter will be discussed with the relevant associates and our timeous feedback will be provided to you.
We trust that you will find the above to be in order.
Subject: COMPLAINT – My appalling experience with Auto Atlantic/ Auric Auto/ Mekor / BMW (SA)
Dear Mr Abbott
I enclose for your attention my sworn affidavit relating to my purchase of a used Mini Cooper S, plus copies of emails between myself and Eric Scoble.
I look forward to your early response.
On 12 Mar 2019, at 11:23, Anthony wrote:
I purchased a used Mini Cooper S for my wife a number of months ago and have had a shocking experience in attempting to get your Dealer Principal to adhere in any way to the undertakings made by your sales staff when I purchased the car.
I shared my experience with David and Lillian Power when they had dinner with us on Saturday night and both were horrified at the totally unethical behaviour of your staff. They did however both vouch for you as a person of integrity and were adamant that I should bring my experience to your attention.
As I have a friendship with David and the Power family that extends over decades I have decided to follow their advice. David has provided me with your contact details and accordingly I would like to meet with you to discuss what has transpired in my dealings with your company.
My contact details are below and I look forward to meeting with you personally as soon as is possible.
Good afternoon Eric
My apologies for my late response; I have had to travel on business.
Thank you for your mail following our meeting at your Claremont offices, the response to which is detailed below.
Your mail is disingenuous in the extreme as my concerns regarding the conduct of your staff that I dealt with pertain only to what transpired at my point of sale and vehicle delivery discussions with your salesperson. Your explanation as per your mail as to BMW’s servicing procedures are completely superfluous to my issues. To reiterate them your salesperson, acting as an agent of Auto Atlantic ( and ultimately of Mekor ) undertook as a condition precedent of the sale to have a complete investigation of the vehicle by your mechanics/technicians to ascertain whether there were any current or future problems that would occur in the next 6 or so months. He also induced me to purchase a warranty which he said would ensure that I would have “ complete peace of mind with the vehicle.”
It has been agreed by firstly your Dealer Principal and subsequently yourself that no mechanic/technician from your company even looked at the car prior to delivery. I was told by your DP and yourself that all that had been done was to check the micro-chip survey, thereby completely unilaterally deviating from the agreed contract entered into by myself and your company. Further, your salesperson not only completely misrepresented the nature of the warranty ( ie. he, and therefore by implication your company, is a liar ) but also was completely untruthful about what your company had actually done prior to delivery. He confirmed on two phone calls I made to him prior to delivery that the delivery delay was due to your mechanics/technicians, in his words, “ going over the car with a fine toothcomb to ensure that the car was in a faultless condition.”
What has truly amazed me is your contention in your mail that none of your staff was unethical!! It is clear that you and I have vastly differing views of what the practical interpretation of the term is. However, as I mentioned to you at our meeting, I am not going to take this any further. I do though take some comfort from the rather sordid experience with your company from one thing: I believe in the concept of karma which means that instead of getting upset and angry with you, your company and your staff I should rather feel sorry for you, your DP and your salesperson because your unethical behaviour will be revisited upon you all in time to come.
My wife informs me that to date she has not received the sum tendered by you which, as per my previous mail, should go to her charity where she fosters rescued puppies.
Right of Reply: Eric Scoble, BMW
Dear Mr Scoble
One of our subscribers, Anthony Vann, has told us how he was effectively misled and ripped off by individuals within your organisation, including you. We would like to give you the right of reply, which we will publish alongside his allegations. While you are, of course, welcome to comment on any aspect of this unfortunate saga, we would in particular be grateful if you could answer the following, as these points are of greatest interest to all BizNews community members:
- Mr Vann and his friends are clearly fans of the BMW brand. Any reason – other than the profit margin on the Mini that you sold Mr Vann – that you decided not to make good on a dud purchase, after a series of good purchases and presumably at the opportunity cost of future BMW purchases from Mr Vann, his family and friends? If so, please elaborate.
For good orders sake, the vehicle is a used Mini not a BMW. The car is and never was a dud. Whose words are these ?The vehicle was initially registered on 1 April 2011. The vehicle was correctly serviced and maintained under BMW SA Maintenance and Warranty parameters for 7 years, the records of which are kept ,and none of these records suggest the vehicle was a Dud.
2. Why did you obfuscate the point that Mr Vann/his wife were sold a car with major problems behind a range of technical issues?
The Car was not sold with major problems or even minor ones. What major problems are you alluding to? The car was brought to us after the vehicle had travelled 14124 km since purchase. Apart from normal maintenance items, a gasket leak was discovered and was repaired and We contributed towards that repair under goodwill.
3. Isn’t it obvious to you that customers should not have to wade through fine print, or be confronted with complex technicalities, when they buy a car and that they should be able to take what your staff tell them at face value? If not, why not?
4. And, furthermore, why wasn’t it highlighted that a range of technical issues could mean that BMW would not make good on its commitment to check and fix the car if necessary and sell a reliable car to Mr Vann and his wife at the time he finalised the deal with BMW?
BMW has nothing to do with this, He bought a used Mini from a dealer. The vehicle was no longer covered by any BMW Motorplan or warranty as it was then in its eighth year of operation. The vehicle was not sold under anyMini/ BMW Used car quality programme. The car is subject to specifically the Consumer Protection Act of South Africa. This Act protects SA Consumers from faulty goods for a period of 6 months. It does not cover things such as ongoing maintenance.
5. Why don’t you highlight that buying used BMWs is a case of ‘buyer beware’ and that your cars are sold ‘voetstoets’?
We don’t sell cars Voetstoets. This car was not sold Voetstoets. The Customer did however test the car prior to purchase and was seemingly happy.
6. Why didn’t you offer to replace the car with another car or fix the car free of charge for Mr Vann and his wife when it was immediately apparent that you had sold a faulty car?
Immediately Apparent Really?? After over 14000 km the vehicle needed some maintenance?? (The average vehicle in Cape Town travels around 2000km per month).
7. It seems astonishing that a brand of the calibre of BMW would risk its brand value and reputation on a used car deal. Please explain the rationale for the approach you took towards Mr Vann.
The car has performed as expected of a car in its eighth year of operation. BMW and Mini vehicles come with industry leading after sales support and with 5 year comprehensive maintenance and repair plans. Please show me any other international consumer products and brands that offer longer and/or indefinite warranties?
8. What happened to the car salesman who originally sold Mr Vann the car? Why did he leave your organisation? Did you fire him? If so, why? If not, why not?
We did not fire the salesman, he left on his own accord for his own reasons. It seems that he left long before the car was brought in for the next maintenance work so I think you are into a conspiracy theory that the facts simply do not bare out.
We did not fire the salesman, he left on his own accord for his own reasons. It seems that he left long before the car was brought in for the next maintenance work so I think you are into a conspiracy theory that the facts simply do not bare [sic] out.
9. What is the BMW policy for matters like this: ie where a used BMW is not fit for purpose at the time it is sold to a customer? Is the Cape Town policy different from the national policy? Is the global policy different from the South African policy?
The BMW Group Policies and warranties differ from country to country , however the 5 year Motorplans offered in SA are among the most generous in the world. The worldwide warranty is 2 years on mechanical parts and up to 7 years on certain body and paint.
BMW SA also offers through its dealer network an Approved Used Car Programme for used vehicles up to 7 years that have been maintained within the Dealer network under a BMW Maintenance Plan. This car does not fall into this due to its age.
BMW SA and other Group companies around the World also have Customer Care Departments that handle consumer complaints. This particular complaint was referred to them and they did not find the dealer at fault. By the way, Auto Atlantic followed the same quality process that they would have followed had the vehicle been sold under the BMW Used Vehicle Programme.
The Motor Industry in General and BMW in particular, consistently measure customer satisfaction through their CSI (Customer satisfaction Index). No other retail industry in the world does such thorough research into customer satisfaction as the worldwide motor industry. In the case of BMW SA these are carrot and stick programmes and dealers failing to achieve exacting standards are financially penalised.
If the vehicle was indeed, ( which it wasn’t) not fit for purpose , the customer has additional recourse under the CPA or to the RMI Motor Industry ombudsman.
10. Are you personally concerned about the standard of business ethics in South Africa? Are you worried about corruption and dishonesty in government and business? How can BMW play its part in cleaning up business behaviour?
SA consumer Legislation is pretty good by world standards. The big weakness is the time it takes to convict anyone and the cost associated to that. One only has to look at all the scandals within Government plus some high profile Private sector ones and nobody seems to wear Orange.
Auric Auto continues to meet and often exceed the high expectations of BMW SA and in addition has donated huge sums of money to welfare organisations and other social causes within the Cape Town area. We are also an empowered company by choice, and over 250 employees and their families are dependant on us.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.