I have written about my shocking Renault customer service experiences before, whilst trying to buy the new Renault Zoe electric car. I had thought that, once the car was delivered and we were out of the “dealing with the dealer” phase, it would be plain sailing and we could get on with our EV-driving lives without a care in the world.
Oh, boy, was I ever wrong…
Long story short – I will be getting rid of the Renault Zoe as soon as possible, and replacing it with another EV – the BMW i3.
Yes, the i3 is more expensive than the Zoe. Yes, I’ve had the Zoe less than a year. Yes, I will take a massive hit on the depreciation. And yes, despite all that, I cannot wait to be rid of Renault. If you came here looking a positive tale of Renault ownership, you’re in the wrong place.
Here’s a brief bulletlist about the problems I’ve had so far:
- Renault dealership staff, in my experience, cannot be relied on to do what they say they will,
- Renault Customer Services staff (at Renault HQ in Denham) likewise, I have found, cannot be relied upon, and are also very bad at returning calls in a timely fashion,
- Renault’s dedicated EV recovery service doesn’t know which dealers can handle EVs and will just take you to the closest one,
- Renault really don’t like returning money they owe you, and will stall as long as possible.
Of course, anyone can make claims of bad service, so here is some more detail of exactly what I’ve experienced – again, I’ve tried to keep it brief, but so much has gone wrong that it’s still quite a list!
Order process – worst I’ve ever experienced
- Dealer didn’t know what a “Zoe” was, and thought it was someone who worked there!
- Dealer didn’t want to bother selling an EV and tried to turn me away; eventually agreed to “give it a go” (this was Renault Watford, an EV dealer according to Renault).
- Dealer promised regular updates on the order process; this amounted to ONE update during the order. Every time I chased for an update I was made to feel like I was inconveniencing them.
- Dealer denied there was an issue with supplying the wheels I had ordered and refused to change the order to include 16″ wheels instead of 17″ wheels, claiming it wasn’t possible and would delay the delivery by a few months; then called me the very next day to say they couldn’t supply the 17″ wheels after all and would I like to have the 16″ wheels instead, and that this wouldn’t affect the delivery date.
- Dealer was unable to explain the delay in delivery (beyond the expected date), constantly blaming it on another Renault dealership who he claimed had placed the order, and could not tell me where the car was.
Post-delivery faults and things paid for but not supplied:
- Dealer did not activate the Renault R-Link system, despite claiming it had been done; I had to chase up with Renault HQ myself to get it sorted. Renault HQ baffled as to why the dealer had not done it.
- Optional extra – third rear headrest – was not fitted and not picked up during PDI; dealer claimed this would require a whole new rear bench seat backrest and this would take time to be delivered from France. After weeks of waiting, they finally arranged for it to be fitted – only for me to find out it was a ten-minute job and did NOT require any special parts to be shipped from France. No explanation given for why they misinformed me and kept me waiting.
- Optional extra – front parking sensors – although specified in the brochure as a factory-fitted option turned out to be fitted by some bloke the dealer used, and as such weren’t integrated with the the rear sensors and have to be manually turned off and on by a switch under the dashboard. This option is now missing from the brochure.
- Optional extra – Renault Gap Insurance – sold to me by dealer, but I never received any paperwork, policy, schedule or indeed any information at all. After three weeks without any confirmation the insurance had been set up, I requested a refund of the premium; this took weeks of chasing. At first the dealer said he’d be able to arrange a refund quickly, then it was claimed the refund had to go through Renault HQ, then they were able to give me a cheque from the dealer after all.
- Optional extra – Tomtom Service for three years – paid for but not supplied. Renault HQ had no record of me buying it (despite it being on the invoice and paid for), so again I had to go to the dealer for a refund. As before, I was told a refund cheque would be raised the next day (this time the branch manager was involved), then after a few weeks it was blamed on HQ, then when I went back to the dealership they were suddenly able to just refund the amount onto my card immediately.
You might have noticed a theme here – Renault regularly promise things they can’t deliver (such as refunds) or, shall we say, get their facts wrong. Hardly inspires confidence in their abilities to sort out a problem if something should go wrong, does it? And oh, on that very subject…
The brakes failed as I was driving the car along a 70mph A road – I was able to pull over and stop the car in a lay-by. I called the Renault ZE recovery service (a dedicated service specifically for electric vehicles – this is important). They recovered the car to the nearest Renault dealership and left it there to be worked on.
- I had to make my own way from Watford to Heathrow to collect a courtesy car. This was after having to make quite a few phone calls between different departments to find out how to arrange a courtesy car. Top tip: if you’re going to break down, don’t do it on the weekend.
- The dealer called me on the Wednesday (the last day of having the courtesy car) to say they couldn’t fix the Zoe as it was an electric car, which they didn’t know anything about – so WHY was it taken there, and WHY did it take them THREE DAYS to realise that the Zoe is electric?
- The dealer then told me I would have to drive the car myself to another dealer to be looked at – yes, they wanted me to drive a car with FAULTY BRAKES.
- In the end they rang me back and suggested that wouldn’t be safe (!!!!) and that I would need to arrange for the car to be taken to another dealer on a flatbed. I queried why I would have to arrange for this to happen; they told me they didn’t have the facilities to do it themselves. A dealer that can’t move cars? Really? Anyway, the dealer flat-out refused to do anything so I had to arrange for a lorry to collect the car and take it to a different dealer.
- The car hire company were now calling me asking where the courtesy car was – Renault told me I could keep using the car and they would arrange this with the hire company – they didn’t. I kept getting calls asking for their car back.
- By this time Renault Customer Services had been in touch and promised to give me regular updates on the progress of the repair – this did not happen, in the end I had to call the dealer myself to find out what was going on. After three weeks I got the car back 0- in the end they had to get a specialist from HQ out to look at it.
- Renault had NOT arranged for me to have the courtesy car for a longer period, so the hire company charged me directly for the cost of the car, minus the first five days.
- Renault have been very slow to return my calls querying why I was charged, eventually promising to contact me by 17th Feb with a refund cheque due by 19th of Feb; as of writing (26 Feb) I have had no contact form them, and no refund. I am currently owed approx £344 by Renault and have so far been waiting two weeks. I’ve actually been waiting longer but it took a few weeks to get hold of customer services to start sorting this out.
So, all in all, I am thoroughly disgusted with the way I have been treated by Renault. It’s worth pointing out that at no time have I been rude or abusive to any of their staff – and to be fair, they have always been polite too; however they have been completely useless and do not follow through on their promises. I’d also like to point out that, apart from the awful R-Link system, the Zoe itself is a perfectly fine car – it’s just such a shame that owning one means dealing with Renault, and on that basis, I can no longer recommend the Zoe.
You’ll also note that I am not demanding anything – I’m not doing this in the hope of getting some form of compensation out of Renault (well, apart from the money they owe me, of course). I just want prospective customers to know the sort of service they can look forward to. Since I’m stuck with being a Renault customer until my i3 is ready, Renault are going to be stuck with me pointing out their appalling service.
Anyway, those main points again:
- Renault dealership staff, in my experience, cannot be relied on to do what they say they will
- Renault Customer Services staff (at Renault HQ in Denham) likewise cannot be relied upon, and are also very bad at returning calls in a timely fashion
- Renault’s dedicated EV recovery service doesn’t know which dealers can handle EVs and will just take you to the closest one
- Renault really don’t like returning money they owe you and will stall as long as possible.
UPDATE 26 Feb 2014 – I’m still waiting for Renault Customer Services to get back in touch and refund me the money they have promised me. It’s been 13 days since their last contact, and refund was due to be with me eight days ago. See the “warranty issues” section for more info.
UPDATE 27 Feb 2014 – I reached out to Renault on Twitter, with a link to this article. Their response?
“@Mr_AWF Hi, we’re sorry to hear about this. We understand you’re in contact with Customer Relations who are best to speak to in this case”
Brilliant – I have a problem with their Customer Relations team, who aren’t contacting me or refunding my money, and Renault’s response is that they’re the best ones to speak to? THAT IS THE WHOLE PROBLEM. This time, at least.
And I’m still waiting.
UPDATE 27 Feb pt 2 – Following a post I made on SpeakEV, I thought I’d clarify just why I think this is such a big deal.
EVs are a very new form of technology; you’re tied in to the manufacturer/dealer more than ever before. You can’t just take an EV down to Mickey’s Motors and have the work experience kid fix it when there’s a problem – you are 100% reliant on the manufacturer. And for this reason, you need to have 100% confidence in the manufacturer that they will look after you when things go wrong. And Renault have proven, to me, that they cannot be relied on. It’s the old “Fool me once, fool me twice” thing – except I’ve allowed myself to be fooled three times. And you know what they say – third time’s the charm…
Update 1 March 2014 – FINALLY! Today I received a cheque refunding the cost of the car hire. Sadly, it also included a note saying “I hope your trust in Renault has been restored”, yet again proving that Renault really don’t have a clue – returning money that never should have been taken is not going to restore my trust.