Friday, January 11, 2013


Friends, fans & foes,

I miss my unreliable, cranky, old BMW something fierce. I miss the gentle, German hum of the engine as it effortlessly accelerated. I miss the way I felt safe driving my BMW, because if was both sure-footed and solid. I miss the implied sophistication, the amazingly comfortable seats and the beautiful styling of that car.

I traded in my 2003 BMW 3 series for a new Mazda 3 back in October. I was fed up with the growing list of repairs and upkeep that the BMW needed. The maintenance was proving to be a much bigger, and more unpredictable, financial strain than I could bear. I was tired of driving very much out of my way to the BMW service center, and scheduling the repairs, and waiting while the repairs happened, or the stress of driving an unfamiliar loaner car.

I reasoned that the monthly payment on a brand new (my first new car purchase, having always bought used cars) Mazda 3 would be about half of what I paid in an average month to keep the BMW running. I reasoned that a new Mazda 3 would get much better gas mileage than the old BMW. I reasoned that the new Mazda 3 would be a bright, fun color, even if I felt as if I was settling for the least offensive looking of the cars in my budget.

My new Mazda 3 is reliable, gets great mileage and is a bright blue color. I do not love it. It's just meh. It feels like driving a go-cart, lacks traction on rainy days and accelerates slowly with much high-pitched fanfare. It got a top crash-test safety rating but feels too lightweight and slightly rattly to endure much of a collision. If I'm honest, I think it is an ugly car inside and outside compared to my old BMW.

I had my first experience with the Mazda service (or lack thereof) department today. I arrived for my appointment and stood in the service lobby for a full five minutes while harried looking guys spoke in exasperated tones over the phone with other customers while avoiding eye contact with me. When a service department guy finally asked if I'd been helped yet, I said I was there for my scheduled 3 month maintenance. He barked, "What's the mileage on your car?", and when I didn't answer fast enough he added, "approximately?" I responded that it was approximately 1300 miles. "You're too early. You shouldn't be here until 5,000 miles. Come back at 5,000 miles." After a bit more grumbling, he finally asked my name, and said he'd set an email reminder for 3 months from now. No apology for my inconvenience, no further explanation, not even a "goodbye".

This Mazda service experience was a stark contrast to what I've become accustomed to at the BMW service center where a valet always greeted me by name and escorted me to my service advisor. Yes, after the warranty expired it was expensive, but it was so lovely to be treated with good manners and courtesy.

So here is my super-shallow new year resolution: to get my perky posterior back into a BMW as soon as I can. The lesson learned about driving luxury cars: only drive them while they are under warranty. The second the warranty is up, trade it in or turn it in, because I just can't afford the upkeep.

Wishing you peace and prosperity in 2013,