Before I begin let me reiterate that Toyota/Lexus make excellent cars, and that their motto actually feel like it have substance. The build quality, the attention to details, Lexus does seem to reflect a genuine slice of the Japanese culture. The problem arise when their car leave the Aichi Prefecture, and the Japanese culture. Sometime they land in an exemplary dealership like in Netherland where you get the red carpet even if you buy a used ls400. And sometime they land in Montreal in a dealership owned by a conglomerate of brands like Gabriel or Spinelli... where the Lexus "idea" gets diluted in the "Pursuit of selling as much car as possible" and the only difference at the Lexus dealer is that you get a free muffin along your slap in the face.
My story begin in January 2012, bought a fully loaded 2008 ls600hl Executive package with 31068 miles on it from a Guy who was selling it through a dealership in Montreal (so in the end I was buying the car from the dealership). Car looked very clean, paid around 77000$ cash for it including sales taxes (didn't even haggle the price). Didn't want to test everything on the car since there is so much stuff to look for so I put a condition for buying, the car should be a CPO (who is in better position to inspect the car than Lexus after all). Dealer and original seller agree. When I got the car I saw that the wipers haven't been changed... I knew because when I tested the car they were pretty worn out and needed to be replaced. I don't say a thing at the moment. I agree to pay around 3000$ for the extended warranty but oddly I first need to get the car back at the dealership the next day for some kind of "special inspection - 500$" to see if the engine is qualified for the extended warranty. Just when I was about to leave the dealer open the trunk to get the weather floor mats to install them. Then he just slams the trunk close, totally oblivious to the fact that the trunk close automatically, so I showed him the button... As he opens the door to install the floor mats he immediately turned around, visibly angered. Apparently they forgot to change the famous "floor mats" that needed to be changed following the unintended acceleration saga. I'm not sure if the LS were affected but apparently they needed to change it nonetheless. At this point I was a little worried; I began to think that they didn't even do the inspection at all. I also bought a set of 4 new winter tires from the same dealership (about 1600$ - since it was winter) and also booked an appointment for an update for the navigation system (400$ - which I discovered later on that it should have been included in the CPO process). So basically I was approaching the 100k out of my own pocket in a single day just at this dealer (Gabriel Lexus). When I got home with the car I noticed a huge crack in the wood panel of the driver door and also two pretty big scuffs on the wood on one of the rear door that I didn't saw before. I got the famous Lexus CPO in 131 points which basically tell you that the car your purchased is as good as when it came out of the factory. I see checkmarks everywhere and especially when it said that the interior trim, the wood panel, etc. don't have any defect or damage. Then it became clear that the dealer just put checkmarks everywhere on the paper without inspecting the car at all (actually they weren't actual checkmarks, just straight lines going from one boxes to another). They probably wanted me to pay the 500$ for the "engine" inspection so the original seller wouldn't have to pay for the CPO certificate. I never would have expected this hoodlum behavior from a Lexus dealer. At this point I pretty much swallowed everything and didn't say a single word to the dealer. But the huge crack in the door, this I really didn't liked. So the next day when I was about to shell out another 7 grand I go to the dealer and actually bumped in the previous owner by chance. I began casually speaking with him telling him that the car is great but if he recalls seeing the huge crack on the wood panel. And while I was speaking with him, a manager, in the rudest fashion I ever experienced, interrupted us and took the previous owner by the shoulder and said "come Mr. X, the paper are ready". So I stand here, flabbergasted by what have just happened. Then I speak to another director and show him the huge crack and confront him as to why it wasn't specified in the CPO report that he gave me. As our exchange continues I also point out that even the frigging wipers weren't changed, and while we're at it shouldn't the "Special inspection" for the engine should have been included in the CPO? It doesn't make sense... The dealership didn't receive the tire yet to I was to come back in two day for that. On my way out I exchange some word with the receptionist who tells me out of the blue that my car "bumper to bumper" warranty expired two day ago and that stuff like this is not covered. She made sure to remind me of my position as a "scum class" passenger in the Lexus train for buying a second hand car, never mind if I paid more for it than even a brand new base LS. But when you pay this kind of price for a car you obviously looking for something more than an engine on four wheel, that is "perfectly fine" as long as it move. When I was about to leave the car throw a check engine light. Got back inside proceeded to the girl at the reception, obviously annoyed for seeing me again. Managed to catch her between two phone calls and told her about the check engine light, got the car back in and the tech reconnected a sensor they forgot... Once at home while playing with the passenger seat I see some kind of plastic trim getting out of the seat rail assembly, like a black zip tie. Back to the dealer for the winter tires I show him the zip tie literally getting out of the passenger seat. I knew how to put it back by just pushing it but it would still come out if you moved the seat back and forth again. So when the technician supposedly corrected the problem I did the back and forth thing with the seat and as expected the plastic trim got out again. So I told the tech: "you just pushed it back haven't you", to which he replied "Yes". Back on the dealer, I was told that the wood trim on the door couldn't be changed without changing the whole door trim which would cost 4k and something + labor. After some heated discussion the dealer promise to call me back as he know someone who could do the repair without having to replace the whole door. At this point I'm just fed up with this dealer. I know he won't call me back, and he indeed never did. After my tire change I noticed that one of the tires kept loosing pressure. Also, while I tried the massage seat one night I noticed that one of the blind wasn't closing properly. I decided to go to the Lexus dealer in Brossard on the south shore since it was closer. I also purchased their "Executive treatment – 600$" for the esthetic package to get the car cleaned/waxed. I was concerned though since it was the same owner as Lexus Gabriel in Montreal. I told this new dealer about my various problems, to which he responded that he wouldn't be able to do anything since it wasn't included in the extended warranty (and the original warranty expired two day before I purchased the car). So the extended warranty is useless, as it pretty much only covers you if the engine or transmission explodes out of the blue. The famous "zip tie" couldn't be purchased without the whole seat, which was around 4k if I recall correctly. He did tell me that he'd take a look at the curtain problem. Basically his guy just put on some grease and called it a day. Since I began having to deal with Lexus tech they always gave me the impression that they didn't knew much about the inner mechanism of the car, at least the LS. That guy at the dealer told me that he never saw hybrid LS at the dealership he's working at. They really gave me the impression that I was on my own with that car since nobody knew how to work on them besides changing oil and the air filter. To correct the problem with the blind they should have removed the door panel and check the mechanism inside. They just never did, weren’t willing to. Also when I got the car back after they detailed it I noticed some green liquid inside as if they put some chemical to clean the interior but didn't cared to wipe it all off. It was very obvious, especially on the driver door. It was almost dripping and the car smelled like a toxic waste. When I bought the car it had that nice leather smell inside, after this detailing service the car never smelled the same again. At this point I didn’t even point that out or complained at the dealer and I'm beginning to think that I may be just too picky and obviously me and Lexus didn't had the same definition for "perfection".
After that I decided to just try to forget the dealership and enjoy my LS, and I did. Until I was involve in an accident and the car was totaled.
Back to the dealer in Brossard, I request a form to ask Lexus to refund a part of the extended warranty that I paid for as specified in the warranty. The seller who answered me gave me the paperwork and told me to fill it up and post it to Toyota Canada... So when you crash a Lexus Flagship you have the privilege to fill the paperwork and mail it yourself if you can find the right address on the internet, brilliant.
To be honest, I never cared for the free muffin. It's a nice touch but it shouldn't be used to mask something rotten at the core. For me the most important thing for a dealership is for him to have competent mechanics, know is product and last but not least, make you feel like you are getting something more out of the experience that would justify the premium you pay compared to the 500$ beater that you buy next door. There is nothing more annoying when someone thinks they deserve a premium price when they give you subpar service.
I actually never shared my ownership experience and never wrote to Lexus past those dealerships. I'm usually pretty reserved and escalading this issue would just take more time out of my life than it already did. So I just moved on, bought a new outback with a bike rack to enjoy the summer and called it a day.
Until last month, saw another fully loaded 2008 ls600hl with the executive package in Ontario with even less miles than the one I purchased two years earlier. Took the time to test every trouble spot I had with my previous one and everything work perfect, not a single scratch on the leather or wood panel. This one is sold through an independent dealer without CPO, but since my previous experience at the dealership this didn't deter me. So the next day I'm driving it home, and I can tell you that I received much better service at this independent dealership than I ever received at any Lexus dealer In Quebec. I think that in Quebec we are just not a car culture, must be because of the winter that beat our car to a pulp. I see posts, and more than one, in the LS section about people forbidding the dealership from washing their car. I take really good care of my LS but this is just mental. Just to give you an idea that I might not be the pickiest when it comes to car care.
So back to last month with my new LS, the original owner lost his wallet key. I wanted I new one and this time I tried a new Lexus dealer in Boucherville which I think belong to a different owner than Gabriel Lexus. The key cost 700$. Sure why not, also scheduled a service for updating the navigation again (price was lower than last time - about 300$). Also had a warning about the pollen filter that might need to be replaced (front and rear - about 200$ - but in the end they were clean and didn't needed to be changed) So far so good, no complain. Soon after when I removed the front plate mount (since in Quebec you are not required to have a front licence plate) I see that the clear coat is peeling off. Bumper probably have been repaint, not big deal I'll just repaint it correctly and fill the screw holes left by the old plate. The shop two minutes from my home, which also take care of the local Toyota dealership body work, quote me at 350$ but when he saw the car he said that he would have to call me back to give me a final quote. He never called back. So then I call the dealership in Boucherville and they quote me at 700$. Fine by me, I would rather pay a premium and having the peace of mind that the bumper will be restored to factory spec by Lexus itself. When I ask the lady if they are a Lexus authorized collision center she respond: excuse me, a what? Told her that if I'm going to pay a premium for the bumper might as well go to a Lexus authorized collision center. Go to the Lexus Canada website and it turn out that the only Lexus authorized collision center is in Montreal and belong to Spinelli Lexus. So I get there, the guy take a brief look at the bumper, quote me at 800$ to repaint it. I ask him if there will be a warranty for the job since I don't want to come back next year for a similar problem. He phone his boss and tell me that since the bumper was damaged (the two screw hole) he wouldn't be able to offer me a warranty unless I also purchased a new bumper, which would be around 550$. I told him I'll call him back. Gather some info and apparently Auto Buggatti is the best body shop in Montreal. Meet them and the guy actually quoted me lower than the Lexus dealer, but he couldn't guarantee that the bumper would be a genuine Lexus part. So I phone the Lexus dealer back and give him the go, but tell him that the reason that I'm going at a Lexus certified collision center is that I expect the job to be absolutely perfect. The guy agrees and tells me that I don't have to be concerned. Also told him if he could repair a 2.5 millimetres bump on the door (quoted me at 100$) and a small 3cm scratch on the armrest leather (quoted me 120$). I give him the green light and also add an oil change.
The Lexus body shop guy sends me an email an hour before they close to tell me that my car is ready. On their website it says that they close at 5:30 and not at 5:00. So I get to the collision center and the guy tells me that he was supposed to leave a while ago. There is another worker at the register that start explaining to me the details of the invoice so I can pay and be on my way. But obviously I want to see the car first. So me and him get outside, bumper color seems to match. As I'm getting closer I immediately notice small debris in the paint. I try to scratch it off but it was really stuck in the paint. The guy sees me and tells me: oh this, just come back when you have a minute we'll just sandblast it. I open the passenger door and I grimace when I see a huge scuff on the bottom of the door extending to the speaker. I look at him and said that I don't believe it was there before. In fact before I left him the car we took the time to walk around the car and take note of all the imperfections. The guy just say that it couldn't be them since to install a new bumper they don't have to actually get in the car. So I'm like how did you moved it then? And how did you repair the leather scratch inside? They obviously also "tried" to clean it inside because I could see dried cleaner spay everywhere, as if they just spayed it and couldn't care about wiping it off. When I was looking at the best body shop in Montreal I also heard some good word about Autolux, which are also a Mercedes Benz collision center in Montreal. I recall a guy who went there said that he couldn't find a single particle of dust in his car when he got it back so much it was clean. I paid even more to get my car painted at Spinelli and this is what I get? Do I have to go as far as to take picture of every part of the car even when I go to a Lexus certified collision center in fear that I'll get my car scratched and beaten up ? Anyway, I gave the guy the benefit of the doubt since it would be hard to prove that they did it. So we get back inside and I was getting ready to pay. Before I could get a chance to talk about the paint job the guy says "bye" and just leave like a thief... so I'm left with the worker at the register who was probably responsible for closing the shop. I told him if the warranty is included in the invoice, he said no but it should be easy to recover it in their system if there was a problem. He also tells me that the warranty for the paint is only one year (supposed to be lifetime). Got back home and take a closer look at the bumper and see debris in the paint everywhere. You can also feel them with your hand like a teenager mug full of acne. It's as if they painted the bumper in the parking lot... isn't Lexus supposed to have a clean room? There was also supposed to have a rubber seal around the headlamps and fog lamps which were missing, so there is some pretty big gap between the lamp and the bumper. I'm not a specialist but I thought a freshly pain bumper wasn't supposed to have swirl all over it. So as I'm writing this email I'm getting ready to go back to Spinelli Lexus to retrieve my old bumper. Not sure what I'm going to do, or even mention it again. They don't care, they got their money along with their huge margin, and they are already preparing to receive the next Kia. I mean I wouldn't mind if I were getting it pain for a few hundred buck by a jobber, but my final invoice at Spinelli came at over 1500$. In the end, this body shop is just the same body shop for the entire Spinelli group which also does the bodywork for Kia, Nissan, Mazda, and probably only deal with insurers most of the time cause nobody would pay out of his own pocket for this kind of work.
I think in its current state Lexus don't seem to be able to apply a proper quality assurance policy on their dealers, at least in Quebec. Maybe they just don't care as they probably don't sell as much car here, especially LS. When I shopped in Ontario just next door there was like four used LS for one in Quebec. I think in 5 year I only saw like five ls600hl on the used market here and only one with the executive package, which I bought at the time. My complain is not even about all the money those dealership leeched out of me as per the "LS taxes of ownership", it's the huge discrepancy between what Lexus want you to think you are getting and what you actually get, at least here in Quebec (speaking mostly about Spinelli and Gabriel since so far I haven’t have problems yet with the dealer in Boucherville). What's the point for paying a premium and expect the "Pursuit of perfection" when you get an offering no different than the sleazy jobber next door, but for quadruple the price? I'm not mad at Lexus, it's not easy to manage your business worldwide like this and make sure that all your reseller follows your idea. If all, I’m just mad at myself for being a fool and getting into that gimmick. I should have based my choice on real people giving advice from real experience, and have gone to Auto Buggati or Autolux for my bumper, even if they could not get a genuine part.
The car itself obviously justifies some of its price as it feels considerably more substantial than your usual Camry. But if Lexus want you to think that this plus value pass along their dealership network they need to get the situation back in control here in Montreal. I'm aware that Lexus does car like the LS primary for lease as people who buy them new don't keep them. But I think that the ls600h have something special and unique that has the potential to be a classic. I also like to own my stuff and not just lease it to throw away later on, like my car for example. I understand why Lexus feel the urge to redefine itself design wise, but so far I'm not feeling the new styling, although I'm sure that it will mature over time. By then I may be shopping for a new car. I would like it to be a Lexus, but would I really want to keep throwing my money at a company that endorse the kind of experience I had with their dealers in Montreal? Not sure... Just last year the boyfriend of my sister wanted an Audi A4 but since he had so many problems with his Passat I talked him through buying a Lexus instead, and he did. My girlfriend just finished her master in accounting and really like the hybrid RX, I'd like to say to her go for it, but I'm hesitant... Beside, she's disgusted by what I told her about my Spinelli Lexus experience with my new bumper.
I don't usually go public like this and I don't like spending time on situation like this unless it's constructive. I don't even consider myself a "tough customer" compared to half of the story I read here, as I try to avoid conflict as much as I can. Case in point, I actually never cared to share my previous experience when I got my first car two years ago and I never followed with the dealer or Lexus Canada for the issues I had. I'm curious about what other are experiencing with their dealer and what to expect when dealing with a premium car dealership such as Lexus. I'm really open to criticism as well here, maybe I'm expecting too much. But it's hard not to when a brand like Lexus fill your brain with such imagery of exquisite perfection, especially when purchasing their flagship product.