Monday, August 01, 2011

Is Ryan Barwell, Dealer Principal at BMW Sandton Auto, the WORST people-person EVER? Or is this just a REALLY bad Monday?

[UPDATE3: Ryan Barwell calls to apologise. Apology accepted. Process back on track.]

[UPDATE2: Does Ryan Barwell ride 'THUG GP'?]

[UPDATE1: Got a response from Johan Conradie, Manager of Customer Care, BMW South Africa. Here's my post on what transpired: Short answer, no resolution yet.]

[EDIT: This conversation happened just before 8am this morning: 2011/08/01.] I arrive at BMW Sandton Auto to speak to the Dealer Principal about Jennifer's car. It's in for a re-repair of a re-repair. They've 'fixed' her water leak twice already. And still it leaks. Only, this time, they've given her a quote for R22 000. And they're arguing that what's wrong with it now WASN'T part of the original problem.

I'm here to discuss the problem with the person in charge. My intention is to find out what portion of the repair quote is legitimately attributable to Jennifer, and what portion is a result of their actions.

So I go to the reception desk, and they direct me to Ryan Barwell's office. Good looking youngish guy in a suit. Pleasant smile. Short hair. Very well built.

'Hi Ryan,' I say, and we shake hands. 'I'm Roy Blumenthal. I need to have a conversation with you about my girlfriend's car.'

'How can I help you, Sir?' he asks. He's standing behind his desk.

'Ryan... We're both very unhappy with the situation right now. She's more unhappy than me, which is why I'm here to chat to you.' He nods for me to go on. I say, 'We've brought the car in several times now for the same problem--'

Ryan folds his arms, cuts me off. Says, 'Can I just interrupt you? I just want to know, if you're so unhappy with the service, why are you here?'

I say, 'You're BMW. And her car's a Beemer.'

'Ya,' he says, 'But why are you HERE, Sir? Why did you bring it back here, Sir, if you're so unhappy?'

I'm flummoxed. And I see where this is going. I say, 'Ryan, I think we need to back up a bit. I'm not liking how this conversation's going.'

He says, 'Well, I'm just wondering, if you're so concerned, why did you keep bringing it back to us?'

I say, 'I can see what you're doing, Ryan. You're making out that we're idiots for bringing the car to you. So we're somehow to blame. Dude... We aren't kippies. Do you see the word "Kippie" written here on my head, bru?'

He says, 'I'm not your "bru", Sir.' He's savouring the word "sir", using it as a swearword.

'What, you don't like the word "bru"?'

'I'm not your "bru",' he says. 'We don't have that kind of relationship, SIR.'

'My name's Roy. Don't call me "sir".'

'I'll call you whatever I like, SIR.'

'Bru... This is going nowhere. Please tell me who I need to speak to at BMW South Africa to resolve this.'

'Your girlfriend can speak to the call centre. SHE's the "customer",' he says, turning away from me, as if the conversation's over.

'Write down the person's name, please,' I say.

'What must I write it on, SIR?'

'Maybe a piece of paper, bru. How about your business card?'

He picks up his card, throws it on the table in front of me. 'Write it yourself,' he says, and starts rattling off a number.

'You can write it, please,' I say.

He picks up a pen. Considers what to write. Then writes down Johan Conradie's name, and a Pretoria phone number.

I say, 'Please phone Johan Conradie.'

He says, 'You're welcome to phone him yourself.' No "sir".

'You can use your phone,' I say.

He says, 'You're welcome to use your own cellphone.'

I pull it out and dial.

Get through to a switchboard.

I ask the lady on the phone what position Johan Conradie holds. She says, 'He's the Manager of Customer Care.'
He's not in the office yet, so I'll speak to him later.

I walk out of Ryan Barwell's office.

Sent from my iPad.


  1. So there is a facebook page for a Ryan Barwell, has a pic of a bike with a "THUG GP" plate on the back. What are the chances it is the same Ryan Barwell ;)

  2. Thanks for the headsup. I've just posted a pic of the bike. Here's a link to it:

  3. Knowing Ryan very well - have you ever considered that he was perhaps not having a great day, anything could have gone wrong - by the sounds of it you were quite hyped up yourself - want drive a beemer - then you pay - get yourself a smaller car

  4. Oh by the way - not Ryan Barwell's bike - fyi


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