After my experience at Taunton Audi today, I will no longer be using Audi main dealers; for servicing, MOT's or car sales.
Took the car in for its MOT (£49.99, with up to £750 worth of work "covered" by MOT protection), and had a call to say it had failed. The reason? Incorrect bolt fitted to offside front wishbone - apparently it was too short.
Brief bit of history: I bought the car (2005 A3) from Audi in 2008. It was serviced by Taunton Audi until last year, when they changed my cam belt. I decided to pop the bonnet for a cursory glance before driving away, only to discover a latex glove filled with oil dangling from one of my air conditioning pipes, right by the alternator. Of course, they couldn't explain how it got there. They tried to keep me happy with a measly discount on my next service, which my local independent Audi specialist garage beat by £100, using genuine parts (AVS Wellington, Somerset - I highly recommend them!). This is the first service not carried out by Audi (plus AVS fitted my S3 front discs and calipers around the same time).
In short, it's an Audi car through and through, yet they were point blank unwilling to accept any responsibility for this obscure choice of bolt. Yeovil Audi replaced the outer CV boots in 2009 (£330!!), but that's the nearest anyone's been to the wishbones since I bought the car from Audi. Yeovil Audi also damaged both front wheels when replacing the tyres a few years ago.
The pleasant MOT technician carefully pointed out the bolt to me, and with a quick measure up, we ascertained that whilst the bolt should've screwed all the way into a 32mm tapped boss, and then protruded 5mm out the other side, my "special" bolt was still lost inside the boss. Instead of having the full 32mm of thread engagement, I only have 18mm. It would take a serious cowboy to do that, but that's why I've been paying £100+ per hour to have Audi maintain my car...or so I thought.
Only a couple of hours earlier, I had been discussing replacing my A3 with a TT when the time comes. Without directly attaking the pleasant Service employee who was dealing with me, I said that there seemed to be little point in me being loyal, and spending so much with Audi to give me some sort of protection in moments like this, if this catalogue of disasters is what I get rewarded with. He went to speak to the Service Manager, who offered a £6 discount on the £60 labour!
If I were the Service Manager, I'd be considering the future business (servicing/MOT's/car sales), and would waive the 5 minutes of labour, just to keep the customer happy. Audi's stance on such a matter couldn't have been clearer: We bend you over at every available opportunity, make mistakes along the way, and then tell you where to go when you want the loyalty to be returned.
My car has been fantastic over the 90,000 miles I've covered in it. Audi as a service provider is the only let-down in the ownership experience. Once I've had the bolt replaced by AVS and had my free re-test, my car will not be going anywhere near an Audi dealer, and nor will I (except when I want a test drive, perhaps). A complaint will be sent in to Audi UK.