Monday, 25 February 2008

Slovak Consumer Culture in 2008 - Not Quite There Yet

I get my car serviced not in Bratislava where I live but almost an hour away in Dunajska Streda. The man who sold me the car strongly recommended I drive there because the dealership is a lot smaller than the one in Bratislava, has a family atmosphere and treats the Alfa Romeos with the loving care they deserve.

I've been to Dunajska Streda's Dunauto to get my car serviced twice and was more than satisfied both times. There was a family atmosphere and everyone I dealt with was extremely polite and professional. During my second visit for a quick winter check up a friend came along. The service technician drove us into the city in my car so that we can have lunch and came back to collect us later, of course at no additional charge. He recommended a restaurant as well.

The problem with Dunajska Streda is the distance. Especially when I have to leave the car there, it will cost me four hours of driving plus the cost of a rental car plus gas. And time is tight these days.

So I was pleased to hear Bratislava's only Alfa dealer Auto Impex received new competition in October. Auto Valusek, a large dealer in all sorts of cars, entered into Alfas and opened a new dealership. They advertised on billboards.

My Alfa is now overdue for the 80,000 km checkup and not having to invest that half day to go to Dunajska Streda would be nice. So I called to ask whether they offered any incentives for new clients to switch from their existing service providers. It's 2008 and Slovak consumer culture is maturing but staff at the dealership still found my question rather surprising. You mean a discount so that you switch to a completely new dealership from the one you have been always going to? "I am not aware of such an 'akcia'"... Oh well I guess it's back to Dunajska Streda for the family atmosphere :)