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Early Adopter Files: How to Replace the Windshield in a BMW i3

I leased a 2015 BMW i3 and it is time to turn it back in. BMW Financial sends out a video to let people know what damage is OK, and what is not so a person does not get a nasty shock when they take the car back, presumably. While they allow a surprising amount of body damage, a chip in the windshield requires a new windshield. I live in Seattle, a major city with lots of i3's, and I have glass coverage from my gigantic, national, auto insurance company so how hard can it be? What follows is my month-long saga of windshield replacement attempts.

[First, I called my insurance company.]

Me: Hello, I need a new windshield in my i3 because I have a chip and BMW requires a new windshield before I return the car.

Mega Insurance Company: Is the chip in the driver's line of vision?

Me: Yes (it really was - not sure if it would have been out of pocket if it wasn't)

Mega Insurance Company: OK, then that is covered. We don't handle windshields, we have contracted with Blah Blah glass insurance people, shall I transfer you now?

Me: Sure! (Wow! What great service!)

Blah blah glass insurance people: Do you want to take your car in, or do you want mobile service?

Me: Mobile service, please.

Blah blah glass insurance people: We have two choices of mobile service in your area - company A and company B - which one do you want?

Me: Well, which one do you recommend?

Blah blah glass insurance people: We can't tell you that, you have to choose.

(uh, oh - someone is reading from a script)

Me: How would I do that? You have not given me any information about the companies.

Blah blah glass insurance people: I am sorry, you have to pick.

Me: OK, company A.

Blah blah glass insurance people: OK, please hold while I transfer you. [time passes] I'm sorry - they don't do mobile service. (!!) I'll transfer you to company B.

Company B: OK, the first appointment is in a week.

Me: OK, see you then.

[a week passes]

Company B: Hi, we are supposed to come out today to replace your windshield, but we forgot to order it. We'll do that and call you back.

[a day passes]

Me: So, did you order the windshield?

Company B: Let me talk to the parts department and I'll call you right back!

[another day passes]

Me: Uh, did you talk to the parts department?

Company B: Oh! Please hold...

[time passes]

Blah blah glass insurance people: Hello?

Me: Hello?

Blah blah glass insurance people: So you need do you need help finding a windshield?

Me: Yes, I was on hold for Company B's parts department.

Blah blah glass insurance people: Didn't they tell you? They can't get a windshield, so they transferred you back to us. So, do you still need a windshield?

Me: Well, my windshield is still broken, so yes.

Blah blah glass insurance people: Let me transfer you to Company C.

Company C: How about an appointment for the end of the week?

Me: OK

[a day passes]

Company C: Do you still want us to come out at the end of the week?

Me: Yes. My windshield is still broken.

Company C: OK, see you then.

[end of the week]

Company C: Yeah, we can't get that windshield, we have to bring it in from Oregon. It will be here at the end of next week. Do you still want it?

Me: My windshield is still broken.

[end of the next week]

Company C: Uh, there was only one i3 Windshield in the entire Western Region, and it broke while they were bringing it up to Seattle from Oregon, so we can't get that windshield.

Me: What, ever? That was the only windshield ever made? Can't you order another one?

Company C: uhhhhhhh

Me: Please call me back and tell me when I can have a windshield when you have ordered another.

[a week passes]

[I call my insurance agent and relay my tale of woe.]

Agent: Call XYZ body shop because I happen to know that they do the body damage work for Seattle BMW. Ask them what glass shop they use.

[I call XYX body shop and tell them my sad story]

Me: What glass shop do you use?

XYZ body shop: We use Company D (major, local chain)

[call Company D]

Company D: OK, we'll call you back in 20 min and let you know!

[A day passes]

Me: Hello?

Company D: Let's just check that your insurance covers this.

[conference call with insurance company confirms that I am not an indigent BMW owner and I do, in fact, have glass coverage]

Company D: OK, we'll call you back when we locate a windshield. We'll need a credit card as a deposit, in case you don't show up.

[A day passes]

Me: Hello? Could you sell me a windshield, please?

Company D: Well, let me check [time passes] we checked with 4 distributors and they don't have that windshield, so we'll have to get it from the dealer.

Me: OK. I see that you have mobile service.

Company D: You'll need to come into the shop for that windshield.

Me: Fine. When can I come in?

[A week passes and I drop off the car at the appointed time - 3 hours pass after the drop-off]

Company D: OK, come get your car.

Lessons learned:

  • All glass companies in Seattle make so much money that they don't feel the need to actually do any work unless you track them down and make them do it.
  • Apparently, BMW i3 Windshields are some kind of artisanal, hand-blown, works of art and only the worthy and dedicated owners may purchase one.


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