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A paperwork problem with my BMW — can you help?

Something’s wrong with Dan Gallagher’s BMW and the company can’t help him. But can this consumer advocate?

Question: I’m having a problem with BMW and I’m hoping you can help. I purchased a 2013 BMW 3-Series in January at a dealership several hours away from home. Despite scheduling a delivery almost a week out, the car wasn’t ready. A myriad of transaction-related and vehicle preparation issues followed.

I managed to resolve a few on my own with the help of American Express and my local Bureau of Motor Vehicles office. But one huge issue remained: I was owed a year of additional scheduled maintenance and could not get the dealership to process the necessary paperwork to complete activation of the benefit.

My next stop was the formal BMW customer feedback channels. That failed to resolve anything directly, but created a paper trail. I don’t know what else to do. Any advice? — Dan Gallagher, Indianapolis

Answer: BMW should have fixed these issues when you bought your vehicle, not weeks afterward — or not at all, in the case of your warranty.

BMW promised a different experience. “Every Certified Pre-Owned BMW comes with a protection plan designed to give you the ultimate peace-of-mind,” it assures you on its website, adding that all of its used cars are “exceptional.”

If you’re dropping $40k on a “pre-owned” vehicle, it damn well better be.

Car manufacturers love to hide behind their dealerships and complicated email addresses, but our researchers are too good for that. We have the names, numbers and emails of all the customer service managers at BMW North America, and we’re not afraid to publish them.

And that was the next step in your odyssey: reaching out to the right executives at BMW. I’m a big fan of letting the system work, but when it doesn’t, it’s time to use the customer service database.

That’s exactly what you did.

“I received a reply within 48 hours,” you reported. “A BMW North America representative reviewed the file, and I’m happy to say that my extended service plan was activated this morning.”

Glad this worked for you.

Christopher Elliott specializes in solving intractable consumer problems. Contact him with your questions on his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google or sign up for his newsletter.

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No “big deal”? Advantage raises rate, skips paperwork on car

Matthew Stephens is a humanitarian aid worker in Tbilisi, Georgia, but after renting a car from Advantage last Christmas, he found himself in need of assistance.

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