Beware of Auto Express Alfa Romeo of Erie


#1

After reading positive reviews on Auto Express of Erie on this forum, I enthusiastically put together what I thought was a good lease deal on a brand new Stelvio Ti Sport. So, I made the 950 mile drive to Erie with my trade in and took delivery the night of Oct. 30. However, before taking delivery, I noticed two mis-aligned body panels and pointed out the issue to Justin Sutton, my salesperson, before taking delivery. At the time, it appeared to be a relatively simple PDR fix, so Justin took a few photos and said “he would make it right” and asked me to take it to a PDR guy when I got back to Kansas City. Now, imagine my utter shock when the PDR guy tells me, after looking at the panels, that the Stelvio’s rear bumper appears to have been previously removed, repaired, and improperly re-installed (with missing hardware) and that a PDR would not be possible. After taking the Stelvio to two independent body shops for 2nd and 3rd opinions, each also opined as to the previous repairs and improper bumper re-installation.
When bringing the issue to the attention of the dealer’s GM, Lou, imagine my shock when the GM refused to take any responsibility for the issue and instead basically said it was my problem, not his, because “I decided to drive the car 950 miles back home” and that it really wasn’t a big deal anyway since I was “just leasing the car”. So, those of you expecting to be treated like a premium brand customer (Alfa MSRP was $52K) may want to think about taking their business elsewhere. After arguing with them for the past 2 weeks, and after having my attorney file a formal complaint with the PA Attorney General’s office, the only offer Auto Express has made is to pay to repair the mid-aligned panels, which would mean additional body repairs and bumper removal. With this being a new car, the consumer should not be forced into body repairs as the only solution. I should not be put in the position of now having to disclose previous body damage/repairs if I should decide to sell the car before my lease expires, and suffer the “diminution of value” consequences. I have demanded that the dealer either (1) substitute this damaged Stelvio with an identical substitute car, without any previous damage; or (2) void the transaction, give me back my trade and take the Stelvio back. They refuse either option. So, I will continue to pursue my complaint with the AG, notify Alfa Romeo corporate of the dealer misrepresentation, and spread the word about my awful experience so that somebody else doesn’t fall into the same trap that I did. I have never had a more unprofessional car buying experience than I have with Auto Express and it’s GM. Now, Auto Express will deny my version of this story and will continue to pass the buck by denying this happened while the vehicle was in their possessions and will, instead, blame it on the dealer that they bought the car from . . . no, you’re not missing anything: this was a brand new car when I took delivery! Good luck to all


#2

Sorry to hear about your shitty experience. Last thing any customer would expect are repairs to be done on a “new” car, so you should certainly be pissed. Hopefully they(either Manufacturer or dealer) can do right by you and have this addressed immediately.


#3

Can you post some pictures?


#4

Alfa’s American Rollout seems set to become a business school case study on failure to introduce a product correctly. Produce a vehicle with poor quality control, market it as luxury vehicle, saddle franchisees with large numbers of them they have to fight to just break even on and then fail to support the product after quality control issues really emerge - neither the local dealer or Erie dealer wants to help you since it will cost them a lot of money.

That said, you bought an Alfa. This is obviously beyond even their normal quality control failures but still you knew you weren’t buying the reliability of a Lexus or customer service of a BMW. My advice to you, look up lemon laws of your state and maybe PA, keep pressing to get car fixed everytome something brakes. I’d give you a good shot of forcing Alfa to buy car back.


#5

Lemon law won’t apply to cosmetic damage and/or shoddy body work.


#6

Your experience absolutely sucks and the way the dealer has (not) responded to the issues with the vehicle is really terrible. The switch from the excitement of getting a new car to having to deal with these issues must be incredibly frustrating.

I think the main silver lining is at least you are indeed leasing, so the drop in value is a problem for someone else rather than you. It doesn’t excuse the actions but it’s at least something. Alfa quality control is shoddy at best and I don’t see how they’ll be able to maintain the brand here unless they sort it out. If leasing these becomes more expensive, I cannot see many choosing to buy instead.

It sounds like you already have rather extensive documentation so at least you shouldn’t have to worry about it being pointed out when you turn the lease in. I always think putting shitty dealers like this on blast is the right thing to do.


#7

He said, “he would make it right” and then asked you to drive the car 950 miles lol…


#8

Good advice. One of the most frustrating things about this experience is that I am actually have 2 Alfa’s in the family: my wife drives a ‘17 Giulia Ti. I’m convinced that my bad experience with the Stelvio is related to the dealer and not Alfa corporate. To me, it looks like the the issue with the rear bumper happened at either the dealership or at the port/storage facility. But, when you have a dealer that flat out refuses to take responsibility for the problem and treats it’s Stelvio customers in this fashion, it only results in me resolving to never buy/lease another Alfa Romeo product in the future if Alfa’s dealership network is this deficient in proper customer relations.


#9

That’s a common sense answer but as a lawyer (ok non practicing lawyer) I don’t think it is legally correct. There are incredibly complex federal regulations concerning bumpers. A manufacturer arguing an improperly installed bumper is just a cosmetic issue isn’t a strong argument especially when it is self serving to save them money. You design bumpers yo meet federal regs, how do I know this improperly installed bumper is just as good. Moreover, arguing that it’s cosmetic but it will be too hard to fix under the contractual warranty also makes FCA look bad. If it was just cosmetic it would more likely be an easy fix.


#10

I’m not gonna argue with a lawyer, practicing or not! :no_mouth:

EDIT: Well, actually I will…

In PA, for example, here’s a summary as to what constitutes a lemon…

The Pennsylvania lemon law covers any consumer who buys, or leases, and registers a new motor vehicle in the state. Under the Pennsylvania Lemon Law your car may be declared a lemon if it meets all of the following conditions:

  • It has a nonconformity (a defect, or condition) the nonconformity is covered by the manufacturer’s express warranty
  • The nonconformity SUBSTANTIALLY impairs the use, market value, or safety of the car
  • The nonconformity is not the result of an accident, abuse, neglect, or alteration of the car by persons other than the manufacturer or its authorized dealer
  • You reported the nonconformity at least once to the manufacturer’s authorized dealer during the Pennsylvania Lemon Law Rights Period of 1 year or 12,000 miles whichever comes first.
  • You gave the manufacturer or its authorized dealer three opportunities to repair the nonconformity.

Based on the 2 statements above I italicized, I think he’d be disqualified in PA. That said, if you still feel he has a case, I wouldn’t argue with you. Granted, I’m making an assumption that the car was in an accident and put back together (shitty repair) by the dealership. Doesn’t that exempt the Lemon Law in this case? Point #1 wouldn’t be covered due to the accident. @ec99, what say you?


#11

I’m also a realist, yeah he might be able to have his attorney force Alfa to take corrective action but he is going to spend thousands or tends of thousands in legal bills. Use the warranty, get things fixed if you lemon it out you are done in a year or two, if it’s reliable enough to not meet lemon law whatever, lease is up on three years.

Value of lemon law is it mostly gets around arbitration provision in car contracts. The Arbitration agreement is what makes any legal action against carmaker economically infeasible due to legal costs.


#12

I had a few issues with my stelvio, dealer told me CarPlay would be comped, however it’s not even available on my build. They sent me home with tires inflated at like 60psi, they never updated the infotainment etc. I called and complained to corporate and they gave me complimentary service for the life of the lease, plus my choice of an add on. I would skip the dealer and go straight to corporate


#13

I’ve also made the leasing company (in this case Ally Financial) aware of the issue as well. Can’t imagine that they would be at all pleased with their lease collateral having previous undisclosed shoddy bumper repair work and being pawned off as a new car.


#14

Remember also that I gave Auto Express two options to graciously extricate themselves from this mess:

  1. Provide me the Stelvio I bargained for, without any previous body damage/repairs; or
  2. Nullify the transaction and deliver back my trade in vehicle (which the dealer continues to market for sale).

The dealer has refused both options


#15

That’s fine, and I’m not trying to diminish your issues or stick up for the dealership. That said, I’m still not 100% convinced a lemon law claim would be in your cards based on body damage. I also don’t know the lemon laws of MO, or PA in that great of detail, nor am I a lawyer…so I could be completely wrong.

In all honesty though, unless you plan on keeping the car after term, IMO, their offer to repair the damage and bring the car back to OEM specs is fair. The diminished value would be on Ally, and not you. It’s no different than you driving out of the lot after signing the papers and getting sideswiped.

I get the fact that you thought you were buying “new” and shouldn’t have to go through all of this. Many cars have already been touched up that are sitting on the lot due to damage in transport, and a dealership doesn’t have to disclose this either under a certain dollar amount. It’s very possible you’ve already bought a “new” car that has fallen into this category already without even knowing it. In all honesty though, you probably should’ve refused delivery if you had concerns about fit and finish in the first place, especially being a dealer 1k miles away. They then should’ve offered a like model on the lot, or as close to it as they could get, and eat any difference in cost, due to your traveling to them, and their failure to disclose this prior to you doing so. I’m not trying to be a jerk here, but part of the issue has to fall on you for accepting it and taking delivery despite the damage, assumed PDR repair or not.

Had I been in your shoes, and refused delivery 1k miles away from home due to unreported damage prior to my traveling, I’d be pissed off to no end, but I also wouldn’t have to worry about a headache like this either.


#16

Yeah you should have just refused delivery. They chose to give the messed up car to the guy who drove 1k miles. Pre-meditated possibly


#17

Everyone here gave 5 star rating for the dealership.so anyone in his position would take the car believing dealer’s promise after traveling for such long distance.


#18

I guess since they only sold cars in August at decent prices this year, they have to resort to more deceptive practices. I’m sure alfa dealers are hurting. I still rarely see them on the road and my neighborhood is a veritable car show.

Hope everything works out. That’s a shame to drive that far then have to deal with all this. In retrospect shipping it would prob be more economically feasible and you could always refuse delivery if it’s damaged I would think.

Can you post pictures of this damage?


#19

Never believe a dealer, or at least get a WE OWE prior to leaving. The WE OWE is your only recourse once you drive off the lot.


#20

Yeah, that’s tricky. I guess for both points dealer could argue that the issue with the car is they damaged it before delivery so the problem is due to an accident. Seems like a weird argument to make, “we sold you a broken car. But don’t need to fix it since we damaged it after manufacturer but before delivery”. So dealer is arguing they damaged car through their negligence while buyer argues it was manufacturered wrong. It might work but it could also expose you to issues down the road since they would be admitting other probably actionable negligence.