I got my Aston serviced at a main dealer. This was a mistake
Alex Goy is a freelance motoring journalist who writes for the likes of Jalopnik, The Telegraph, Carfection, CNET, and DriveTribe.
“Why on earth have you done that?”
“I want to do it properly, get the dealer stamps, get it looked after by the professionals. You know?”
“You should have gone to A. N. Other Specialist, they’d have sorted you!!”
This was the conversation I had both before AND after the Vantage had been booked in to Stratstone’s Aston Martin Mayfair dealership for its service, MOT, and a few other bits. I wanted to do right by the car, and thought it would be a wise move to get it looked at by the professionals. This has proven to be something of a mistake.
Booking it in was easy enough — a phone call and agreement that a lovely chap would come to my house and pick the car up. Perfect. I don’t have to go out of my way, and the car will be driven back and forth by a chap who knows what he's doing.
As well as its service and yearly MOT, I’d asked for the notoriously flaky wing mirror stalks to be repainted, and for the team at Stratstone to have a look at the areas of paint corrosion to see if Aston Martin and its paint warranty would do anything about them. It’s unlikely, they said, but worth a go. Also, one of my tyres was a little low, but I figured that would be sorted with the service so no need to worry. It just meant the tyre warning light came on when the car was started. Easy enough for the pros to fix.
A week came and went, no calls with any maladies or extra work came though, and its MOT was uneventful. They took my credit card details and I paid the £1,693.87 bill for the service, MOT, and painting (less than I thought it would be really). The car was returned to me on the 23rd of December, and as the chap left he said: “your tyre light’s still on, but it got through!” An odd thing, as you’d have assumed the professionals would have sorted something like a slightly low tyre, but something I could sort the next day — I had a hangover that could slay a mammoth and was in no fit state to drive, so I went back to bed. There was also no evidence that the paint corrosion had been looked at. No mention, no quotes, nothing. Strange, but a ‘not the end of the world’ sitch.
Christmas Eve, a day to listen to Chris Rea on repeat when you’re literally driving home for Christmas, arrived and I was all set to toddle home. Except the moment I turned the car on the tyre light came on. Not because a tyre was low, but because there was a tyre system fault. They’d let the car leave with a fault and left it to the delivery driver to cheerily tell me my tyre light was still on. Great. I checked the pressures, and they were decent, so I went to drive home after calling Stratstone to ask to speak to the service department. They’d all gone home for the day (it was Christmas Eve after all), but my complaint had been logged. Then, half way down the road, I saw that the wing mirror stalk that had just been repainted... hadn’t been. Well, not all of it at least. They’d missed a bit, and just in my eyeline as well. Another call, another complaint logged. I was told I’d get a call back when everyone was back to work, and that they were very sorry.
I drove home uneventfully, but more than a bit miffed. A Christmas was had, as was too much booze, and merriment aplenty. Returning to London I was less hacked off, though the constant reminder of a knackered tyre sensor and an incomplete paint job sat in my eye line.
This doesn't look like a finished paint job, does it?
On the 27th, back to work day, I waited for my phone call. It didn’t come, so I made it myself. Many apologies were uttered, and the car booked in for January 20th. I hope, fervently, that it’s sorted quickly and easily. Yet this experience has caused two things: 1) I feel a fool for not listening to the myriad of voices who told me to go to an indie. 2) I’ve lost trust. Not only in Stratstone, but in the car. They let the car go with an incomplete paint job and a knackered sensor, so did they put the right oil in it? Did they REALLY do the work I’ve been charged for? Astons can be fragile at the best of times, and I’ve been lucky with mine. I'm sure they did, but I feel uneasy.
It felt a little smoother to drive after, mind, so I can’t complain. Well... I couldn’t. Fewer than 200 miles after the service, as I got to Bicester Heritage for its first Sunday Scramble of the year it started making a new creak as I slowed to a halt. Something extra for them to have a look at on the 20th.
I’m aware I don’t have a fleet of Vantages, DB9s, and Vanquishes to choose from, and that I don’t have a Valhalla on order, so I may not be the top of Stratstone’s list of people to impress, but it’s still a £40k sports car and I’m not likely to drop dead tomorrow so may be in the market for another someday. I’m not looking for the red carpet treatment, but maybe don’t let the car go with a broken sensor and an unfinished paint job.
Anyway, to break up the bleak, here are some snaps from Bicester. If you get the opportunity to go to a Scramble, do! They’re good fun! Even if January’s was chuffing freezing.
You wouldn't have this problem with a Lego Aston
Buy one of the Lego Aston Martin DB5s and it'll be plain sailing all the way.