Last week was very interesting for MINI. First, they were ranked at the top of the charts for dealer service, only to be brought down later in the week by bringing up the rear in the dependability study. Both sets of results came from JD Powers.
This is something that we talk about during Woofcast 372. One of the biggest issues facing MINI right now is in the dealer network and their reluctance to ensure that MAs are properly trained. For example, I know of at least 2 dealers in my area that completely skipped the R60 training in Austin earlier this year. I’m sure there are other dealers in the network that skipped training as well. After all, training costs money, and dealers are in the business of making money, not spending it.
That said, one of the things that I am most passionate about is training. Training is one of those things that continues to return on your investment, sometimes for years. Training would have prevented many of the issues that I’m sure cropped up in the dependability study. Things like how to operate the radio, how to open the doors or where the bonnet release is (on cars built before it was moved to the drivers side in RHD cars) or even how to check the oil.
The MINI is less than perfect, even on the R56. While they were less problematic than the first gen cars (my MINI lived at the dealer for the first 18 months I owned it), the problems, especially on the MCS, seemed to be more major. Turbo problems, cold start issues, fuel pump issues and power steering problems have plagued owners of the R56 for a while. But every MINI? According to this study, each MINI that rolls off the line has no less than 2 problems.
Now for the blame portion of the post. But not really. Sure, MINI could produce a car that has controls that make sense. We would hope that MINI could produce a car that has fewer mechanical issues. We like to think that the dealer network cares about their customers enough to ensure that their staff is properly trained. We can only wish for the day that JD Powers stops doing ridiculous studies. But we aren’t there yet.
Instead of placing blame, I’m instead going to choose to help educate where I can like a proper fan boy should. I will continue to let all y’all know that it’s time to check your oil. Help spread the word that the MINI is safe **and** reliable by evidence of the ’03 MINI Cooper that is rapidly approaching 250,000 miles on the odometer. And I will continue to encourage MINI owners to send questions into the show so that Chad and the rest of us can help answer them.
Blaming is easy and cheap. It’s doing things right the first time that costs money and time.
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