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Mo' Dealership Service rant...

Hizzoner Phil sez:

[snippage noted...]
> It's _NOT_ the dealerships' problem.  Actually, within the new
> bounds defined by Audi (UK), I'm getting _EXCELLENT_ parts service
> from Autohaus in Wellingborough.  If Audi could clone David and
> Graham from the parts counter there, they'd be on to a winner.

But how do we pay people for that level of knowledge?  There 
is no mechanism.  We all try to find the rare few parts people 
who are over 21 and who actually know anything about the cars 
they're supplying parts for...and do business with those paragons.

Perhaps not in the UK, but in the USA, the problems of mechanical 
knowledge and support are very real.  If you can pay for it, Audi 
dealerships will be very happy to keep screwing in black boxes at 
$200 to $2000 per item to fix any problem you have.  That's it.  
That's all they can do.  If you need actual diagnosis of a tricky 
problem, aside from a few really good dealerships with unusually good 
parts and service people, the economics of the situation say you're 
out of luck unless you can find a good independent shop. 

Many of us on this list could be outstanding mechanics.  Why don't 
we?  ....The pay sucks compared to what we make, the working 
conditions leave much to be desired, and few of us would accept the 
pay levels in order to take the pressure that a line mechanic 
tolerates.  To be an outstanding mechanic takes real smarts; in 
today's world, that level of smarts finds more rewarding work and 
money elsewhere.

I do hope that I'm not coming off as being totally snobbish.  I'm 
being highly politically incorrect and stating what I believe to be 
the case.  I think most people with the capability to REALLY get 
inside highly technical modern cars and do component level 
troubleshooting are not dealership mechanics...they have better jobs 
than that!

I DO know some exceptions where parts or service people are really 
capable and stay at dealerships, but it's less common that it used 
to be.  One mechanic firm I respect is Professional Car Services in 
College Station, TX.  The owner, Mark Smith, loves tricky technical 
problems - and to prove it, he owns three Audi 5K series cars, one of 
which is his daily driver.  But he charges without fear for his 
services, and note that he's NOT working for a dealership. He's too 
good at his work for that - so he's running his own shop.  When his 
line mechanics can't find the solution, he steps in and wrestles it 
to the ground.

I see the following as *another* subject and incipient thread:

> It is an Audi (UK, USA) problem.  In every other branch of
> technological support (talk to IBM, Amdahl, Hitachi, Fujitsu, et al)
> it is customary to provide an "end of life" support programme. 
> Amdahl's "Classic" programme for their 470 and 580 users is
> exemplary.
> Audi is, to a degree, two-faced.  They're deliriously happy when we
> turn up at motor sport events with ur-quattros looking pristine and
> _still_ capable of leaving M3s in the dust (separate thread looming)
> but they will _NOT_ assist us with spares programmes, etc.
> They're riding for a fall.  Sooner or later they're going to get
> pilloried for their cavalier treatment of "classic" Audi owners.

Can't argue.  I'm just saying dealership lack of ability to deal 
with service problems in ANY way other than plugging in black boxes 
and replacing entire assemblies is limited - but it's common to 
many makes.  They don't repair parts anymore - they replace them.

Al Powell                        Voice:  409/845-2807
107 Reed McDonald Bldg.          Fax:    409/862-1202
College Station, TX 77843