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BMW Satellite Radio

BMWRadio

For Lorraine’s birthday last year, I bought her a car.

Well, not really. We changed her car and it just happened to be the week of her birthday.

The car is a BMW X1. A terrific vehicle and I know she really enjoys it however it was missing something when we picked up the car.

It was missing satellite radio.

For me, I am not much of a satellite radio person. I find that the highly compressed sound that Sirius XM delivers is truly awful. It is torture to my ears and I can barely listen to even the voice only channels.

Lorraine, on the other hand, is far more easy going and really enjoys several of the channels. She really wanted the satellite service.

Okay, so how expensive can it be to add the satellite radio to the car?

I contacted the dealer and this is what I was told:

The satellite radio can be installed such that it is integrated (behind the dash) and controlled with the other CD/Radio functions of the audio system. Cost is 762 plus tax (module, unlock codes, installation & programming for the car”™s CPU). The car would need to be here physically, and it would be an overnighter for programming time.

870 dollars?

No thanks.

We picked up a receiver from Best Buy for about 60 dollars and transferred her existing subscription from her old car.

It is not a clean install for her car and the reception is not great. The antennae does not work very well. And her annual renewal is up next month.

So, I decided to get Lorraine the Sirius Satellite Radio retrofit from BimmerTech:

This is your lucky day if you own a 2010 or later BMW and have been wondering just how great Sirius Satellite Radio would sound in your car. Answer: awesome. But that”™s not all.

BimmerTech can get you the original satellite retrofit kit for half as much as dealers charge; you can have it up and running in less than 30 minutes without having to leave it at a dealer for hours or overnight; and you will qualify for up to a year subscription to Sirius, free!

As far as the fine print? There is none. BimmerTech makes it unbelievably easy to get that dream upgrade.

Here”™s the low-down:

All BMWs sold in the U.S. and Canada beginning with the 2010 models* come Sirius-ready. That means if you don”™t already have Sirius radio installed, it”™s all ready for you to add later. You just need a BMW-certified activation code to upgrade the software. Dealers charge $500 or more for this service and require you to leave your car with them.

When you order from BimmerTech, we get you the same official BMW code for just $275. We then send you an interface cable (at no extra charge and shipped free) so you can connect your Windows laptop or Macbook running Windows, to your car. You then contact our technician via Skype instant messenger and he activates the service in less than 30 minutes.

Quite a different story than what I received from the dealer. I checked them out on the BMW forums and their service works. All above board.

I ordered the kit — it was on sale and I received a great discount from the regular price — and it should arrive here late this week.

I will let you know how it all works out.

A New Ride

For some reason, I do not enjoy the process of changing cars. It is time consuming and car dealers can be difficult. My BMW goes back in a couple of weeks and I needed to make a decision this past week-end on a new vehicle.

I know that it is all relative but I had decided in advance that I would do a much better job of ensuring good value for the money on a new vehicle. In fact, I had originally thought about going down to one car as we get ourselves ready for the retirement years.

However, it is still too early. With our children still living at home and with busy lifestyles, one car would put an unnecessary strain on the family.

We looked at a fair number of cars from Acura, Audi, BMW, Infiniti and Lexus. And we decided on an Acura TL Type S. Black.

Acura TL S

Annoying Phone Calls

The ultimate driving machine, yes. The ultimate customer experience, no.

And all it took was one phone call.

My BMW is coming to end of lease. And back in December I started receiving a number of emails from BMW. Emails telling me how much they valued my business and telling me that someone would be in contact shortly to help me transition the car. Presumably to another BMW.

December passes. January passes. February passes. No calls. I receive a couple of letters in addition to the emails but no contact with anyone from BMW. Until this week.

I am at work. In a meeting. And the phone rings. Usually my assistant picks up the call or, if she is away, the call goes to voice-mail. However, in this case, the phone kept ringing and ringing. After ten rings or so, I apologize to the person in my office.

“Please excuse me. This must be an important call.”?

“Hello?”?
“Do you drive a 2004 BMW?”?

Reality check. Someone is calling me at work to find out what year and make of car I drive?

“Who is this?”?
“I work for [some company name I can”™t remember]. We do the end of lease inspections for BMW.”?

“And why are you calling me at work?”?
“We need to schedule a time to inspect the car.”?

“That”™s fine. Call me at home to arrange an appointment. I am usually home by 7pm”?
“We only inspect during business hours. We will come to your place of work. I need a time and location.”?

At this point, the experience feels more like talking to an arrogant bill collector than a premium auto manufacturer.

“I have three issues. Issue number one: you have called me at work and I am unable to spend time dealing with this during work hours. Issue number two: I intend to return the vehicle to the dealer. You can coordinate your inspection with them. Issue number three: I am in a meeting and I have to hang up. Have a nice day.”?

I asked my wife to follow up with the dealer. They apologized profusely. A new process that BMW has introduced. BMW outsourced the end of lease inspection to a third party. However, they are willing to take the car in to do the inspection at my convenience.

All it takes is one bad call to damage a brand.