Chief operating officer Karl-Heinz Kalbfell says he was ignored in one dealership for almost half an hour and is adamant he will stamp out this ‘passive’ practice.
None of the UK dealerships visited by Kalbfell have been named.
Commenting on his mystery shopping experience in several UK dealerships, the former Rolls-Royce Motors chief said: ‘It was a disaster – I stayed in one showroom for 25 minutes and was ignored. Sales staff did not even ask for my business card.
‘I cannot understand this passiveness and must not allow dealers to continue with this mindset. BMW, Audi and Toyota take customers far more seriously and we must not miss our chance with the 159.’
He was speaking at the launch of the Alfa Romeo 159, where he said the UK was a top priority for success and wanted the user-chooser market to spearhead a rise in sales for the new saloon, due out in September.
He is confident the vehicle can win fleet sales against the BMW 3-series, Audi A4 and other upper medium contenders.
He recognises though that residual values and confidence in the brand are key issues and a three-year 75,000-mile maintenance package will be included in the price.
Tony Dittli, Alfa Romeo UK fleet director, said: ‘The 156 was criticised by fleet customers for being too small, but the 159 is larger and a full-size D-sector contender.
‘Add to that the good RVs we are confident of getting, the build quality and the 159’s road presence, and we believe we can win user choosers who are getting bored with BMWs and Audis.’
Dittli says Fiat Auto UK will appoint Alfa-only fleet dealers during the next six months as a platform is built to tackle the target of 5,000 sales of the 159 next year.
He said: ‘We know Karl-Heinz Kalbfell will work hard to tackle quality issues that might deter user choosers. We are still working on the fleet sales programme that will start ahead of the car’s arrival in the UK.’
Kalbfell, a BMW group executive for more than 20 years until his appointment as Alfa’s chief operating officer in January, concedes Alfa Romeo has been too bureaucratic and that some systems need to be changed.