Frank Rogala

Sharpe Mini Cooper of Grand Rapids – Beware

Long story short- if you have to take a car to Sharpe BMW/Mini Cooper in Grand Rapids:

Video your car (walk around it slow) when you drop it off, and again when you pick it up  - BEFORE you drive it off the lot.  If I had, it would have saved me thousands of dollars!

I had a friend to visit in GR so I made an appointment at Sharpe BMW, 1010 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49508,  for my 2005 Mini Cooper S - to check the air conditioner & oil change.

They got the air working. I expected the oil monitor to be reset. It was not. Suspecting the oil had not been changed, I asked & found out that the oil was changed but the mechanic had neglected to reset the monitor. I was informed the muffler needed replacement (quoted $1600 to $1800). Having my own mechanics, I wanted to see how difficult the repair & parts were before committing to that. On the way down, not being familiar with the passenger seat (I usually drive), & wanting to recline, I somehow clicked the releases in a way that made my seat permanently recline. I forgot to mention it when I dropped the car off, & now the staff said that it was too late for the mechanics to look at it. They did let me know a seat would cost $800 for the back or if it needed the whole seat - $1500-$1800?! We had only paid $1,500 for the car.

On the way home, I noticed the car lacked power, also a light appeared on the dash saying the gas cap was not tight. The cap seemed tight - but the light did not go away.

I ordered a new gas cap. When I installed it, even though it was supposed to fit, it didn’t allow the cap cover to close. I had to order another one. The gas cap light still came right back on for both gas caps.

Up on a lift (to inspect the muffler) I noticed a hose unplugged. I could see where it plugged back in - after doing that the power was restored & the gas cap light went out! In the mechanics manual, I found out this hose went to half of the turbo. That was $45 in gas caps (I had to buy two), not to mention the irritation of disposing of the apparently “fine” original cap.

I found a muffler for $300 & the repair was not much of an issue for my own mechanics. Not sure why that repair was nearly $2,000 for Sharpe to accomplish - other than it seems to be their “number” to do much of anything.

I discovered Sharp had broken my dipstick off. Mini Cooper dipsticks are plastic & bend & it is understandable that it could break - but it would have been nice to have been told that they broke it. $$

I was unhappy to discover the seat not coming up is a common, known, easily fixed issue. There are online videos (one put out by BMW) not to mention forums that explain how this simple fix works. 

I had to return to GR for an event & it was a chance to address a recall notice, also we had noticed an oil cooler leak that looked like a job for the dealer.  

The Sharpe mechanic found that the control arm bushings needed replacement. That meant we needed an alignment which would take an extra day. This ended up being a 3 day affair.

When I got a call that the car was READY. I was located about 30 min away - but I told them I would be right there. When I got there, after waiting 10 minutes (remember, they called to tell me it was “ready”) I was told, “it needed to be washed.” If it was “ready” why wasn’t the car washed & sitting there? It took nearly another HOUR before my car was brought out - very ODD!

Finally, when the car was brought out, it was dripping wet! I grabbed a cloth to wipe the windows off so that I wouldn’t get water spots. It didn’t occur to me to examine the car closely, but I now know that this was someone’s way of trying to hide the damage that I found when I got home. Focusing on getting water spots off my windows I missed the damage. When I left the dealer I went to an empty driveway & loaded up my things from my friend's house - then drove to northern Michigan.

In the morning, I discovered the car had been hit (I have a remote driveway & no one else uses it - it did not get hit here). The damage was not easy to see, as evidenced by the photos, but it went into the underbody & was expensive to fix.

Damage to 2005 Mini Cooper near headlight

Damage to 2005 Mini Cooper near headlight

Damage to bumper

The paint on the bumper is evidence the car was hit. The paint was immaculate prior to the repair at Sharpe BMW Mini Cooper of Grand Rapids, MI

Damage to body lines of Mini Cooper

The lines of the Mini Cooper are straight, it is subtle but you can see they have been deformed by impact

An attorney advised me that dealers could be impossible to pin down over proving damages like this. Since I had left before discovering the damage, he said there was no way to prove them responsible. My only recourse was to report it as a hit & run. 

A 2005 Mini Cooper means finding parts is a hassle & it took my trusted restoration shop nearly 2 weeks of getting wrong parts from suppliers who had mislabeled them, returning them, etc. to get it right.

The damage is worse than the photos reveal, the undercarriage of the bumper had to be replaced & in order to get the paint to match-the hood had to be repainted. The repairs cost $3,000 & I had a $500 deductible on my insurance - again $$$

Worse, my insurance company took exception to the fact I was in MI (but am a resident of CA) which resulting in having to switch insurance companies - just after a claim - which effectively doubled my insurance costs. More $$$

Something is very wrong here. I recommend everyone be very careful. Video your car upon dropping it off & picking it up.

I don’t leave bad reviews lightly, but there is a price to be paid for the lack of supervision that would allow your staff to get away with stunts like this.

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