Caught in the House of Lies of Multiauto - Pinocchio
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Incompetence and Lies at Multiauto

Buying a new Dacia Duster at Renault in Beja

In November 2021 Georg H., a resident of Ourique in the Alentejo region of Portugal, ordered a new Dacia Duster BiFuel at the official Renault Dacia dealership of Multiauto in Beja. When his car was delivered in July 2022, the real drama began. This is his story.

(Clique aqui para a versão portuguesa deste artigo)

What was your initial experience when you ordered your new car?

When I visited the dealership of Multiauto in Beja for the first time, my initial impression was that of a bit of a rundown place. But as the Alentejo is the poorest region in Portugal - albeit a very beautiful one - I didn’t think much of it. Multiauto also has offices in Setubal, Evora, and Sines, but I haven’t seen those. In Beja, I sat down with the only salesman around and placed my order for a new Dacia Duster BiFuel Prestige with a few extras that were to be installed in the factory, foremost leather seats. I also ordered some accessories that were to be retrofitted at the dealership once the car was delivered. The whole process was pretty straightforward, and I left after about half an hour with my order confirmation.

What happened then?

Initially, nothing, as delivery was estimated to be in March 2022. But then the war in Ukraine started, and supply chains that were already challenged by Covid got under real pressure. After about a handful of promised delivery dates - that were all missed without any information or explanation by the vendor - the car finally arrived at the dealership at the end of June 2022. I was initially told that I could pick it up a couple of days after delivery, but the dealer never got back to me to confirm a date. When I asked about a week later if I can now pick up the car, he said yes, I could. When I then asked if all the accessories were installed, he started to become evasive and contradictive and finally admitted that they hadn’t arrived yet.

That is strange as he had plenty of time to order them.

Exactly. So I decided to make the one-hour drive to Beja just to have a look myself and find out what was going on there. When I arrived unannounced, I was shown to my car which was parked outside and still all dirty from the transport. I then had a look inside and it immediately caught my attention that none of the factory-fitted extras that I ordered had been installed - including the leather seats.

That must have been quite a shock.

I have bought around a dozen new cars throughout my life, and this was the first time that something like this happened to me. When I confronted the dealer, he became very nervous and told me that none of the cars at the moment had leather seats, why would I need leather seats anyway in Portugal, and that I was better off without them. In the end, he blamed the factory and the war in Ukraine for the missing features and claimed to be as surprised as I was.

Did you believe this?

No, but I had no proof yet. That changed after I started to ask around a bit. For example, I found a customer who bought a Dacia Duster at another dealership in Portugal at the same time as I did and had his car delivered around the same time as mine arrived. But his car had all the extras installed that were “unavailable” in mine. Secondly, if USB ports for the back seats were out of stock, why were the same ports installed in the front? Then a missing European map on the GPS has nothing to do with supply chain issues, as this is just some piece of software that needs to be installed. And finally, I saw on a printout of the order status from December 2021 that the missing features had not been ordered from the factory in the first place. So I concluded that I was being heavily lied to by the salesman to cover up his incompetence in the order process.

Did the dealer admit this?

No, he stuck to the story of it being the factory’s fault and graciously said that as a concession I would not have to pay for the leather seats (that were not installed)…

Did you then take the car?

Under normal circumstances, I would have just left the car at the dealership and gone somewhere else. But in this case, I decided to take the car nevertheless.

Why?

First of all, I wanted a Dacia Duster that runs on GPL, as fuel prices had been going through the roof. In the meantime, Dacia also suspended production of GPL engines due to shortages of parts. So even if I wanted to, I could not have ordered another Duster BiFuel somewhere else. Finally, Dacia raised the prices for the Duster model while I was waiting for mine. As there was a shortage of new cars on the market and waiting times were way up, the dealer just would have sold the car to another customer for an even higher profit within a day.

How was the final delivery of the car?

I don’t want to go into too many grizzly details, but the whole process was as horrendous as the story so far. We fixed a time and date for the pickup, and when I arrived the car was still standing in a dark corner of the workshop, still dirty, and with no license plates installed. Then a colleague of the salesman brought me an invoice that showed a way too high price and had to be corrected twice, which took about an hour. Only one of the accessories that were to be retrofitted had arrived, so I ended up driving home two hours later with a car I hadn’t ordered and a very ambivalent feeling about the whole thing.

Did you follow up on the missing extras?

Yes, I complained to Dacia customer support and they said they would need to talk to the dealership. As I had no response from them for weeks about that matter, I then filed an official complaint through the reclamation book.

What was the reaction?

I quickly received the first response from Multiauto where the head of sales in Evora tried to explain away the mistakes with “systematic product changes” and “shortages of components” that for some miraculous reason only affected my chassis number, while other customers were not affected. He also said that the missing USB ports in the rear were no longer available for my model and that I should have been informed about this by the salesman. He then emphasized that I did not have to pay for the missing extras and offered to install the missing maps for the same costs as on the initial order. No mention of why the leather seats were not ordered and - more importantly - why I was not informed about this seven months ago and given the choice to cancel! I think it’s simply because the vendor forgot to order them in the first place. All he acknowledged was some “discomfort” on my side, but he refused to admit to any faults and marked the complaint as herewith “treated/resolved”.

What did you do then?

I immediately filed another complaint through the reclamation book saying that I did not believe him, that all the stories didn’t add up, and that I expected an honest explanation of what happened and appropriate compensation. This complaint was treated and closed within an hour with the simple reply that the head of sales will at some undefined point in time get back to me about that.

That sounds like an abuse of the reclamation book…

Yes, at least this is how I see it. So I immediately filed another complaint in that regard telling them that I would contact the responsible regulatory entity if they closed this complaint again without actually responding to it.

What was their reply?

As far as I understand a company In Portugal has 15 working days to reply to a complaint, and I received my final reply 14 working days later. They still saw no wrongdoing on their side (except the failure to inform me about the missing USB ports) and offered to install the accessories that were to be retrofitted without charging for labor as compensation.

Did you accept?

Do you honestly believe I would let anyone from such a dishonest company near my car again? I told them I lost all confidence in Multiauto and that I would rather share my experience with as many people as possible than accept their lies and ridiculous offer.

And that’s the end of the story?

I thought so, but strangely no. About two months later I received a phone call from customer service of Dacia offering me two free maintenance services to make up for my experiences with Multiauto. This time I accepted under the condition that I can do the services at another dealership and that I still can speak freely about my experiences with Multiauto. They confirmed this but said that the service contract needed to be countersigned by Multiauto.

Did they countersign?

No. A few days later I received another email from Dacia customer support saying that they are revoking the offer as Multiauto had told them I had refused the offer of two free maintenance services.

Was that true?

No, it was the final big lie from Multiauto. I had not been in contact with them for months, so there was no way for me to refuse what I had just accepted from Dacia customer support. I told them so, but they only responded that I needed to sort this out with Multiauto. I guess the customer support from Dacia (that has been outsourced to Teleperformance by the way), is useless when you have a problem with one of their dealerships.

What is your final take on Multiauto?

I am amazed that this company is still in business. Their way of treating customers is so shortsighted if you are not a monopolist. I have the feeling that a quick profit stands above everything for them and that they systematically lie to cover up their incompetency. Why they cannot simply admit to a mistake and make up for it truly eludes me, as it will cost them much more in the long run. I mean if they lose just one sale through this story, it will cost them way more than two free maintenance services. If I were José Pedro Neves, the current Director General of Dacia in Portugal, I would have a close look at how this company represents his brand. And to any potential client, I can only say: run as fast as you can - in the opposite direction.

Thank you, Georg, for this interview.

Thank you for letting me share my experience with your readers.