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How to Track your MINI: Revised, Expanded and Updated

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How to Track your MINI: Revised, Expanded and Updated

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Old 06-15-2008, 12:10 PM
zonedguy
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How to Track your MINI: Revised, Expanded and Updated

Hello future Motorers!
NAM member Jeffherbst originally published a guide on How to Track your MINI (https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...ad.php?t=70301) during May of 2006. This has proved invaluable to countless MINI owners in the last two years, but it is time for an update to that information to standardize what we know as a group as of June 2008. As I was unable to reach jeffherbst to make alterations to his original posting, I have attempted my own updates. I take no credit for any of this information; it is truly a group effort by all NAM members. I have simply collected it as I went through this very process with a wonderful group of Week 23ers (https://www.northamericanmotoring.com/forums/showthread.php?t=138049). Unfortunately I can only write from the perspective of a MINIUSA customer, those of you from elsewhere may venture down very different paths. Also please keep in mind that any time frames or dates are mere averages. Your experience may be significantly faster or slower than times stated here for a plethora of reasons.

If any NAM members have any additions, suggestions or corrections to the information below, please PM me and I’ll be sure to make the correction as well as credit your work. Thanks.

3/7/2011 Update -
Hello again motorers. As you might notice this post was first published in 2008 so some of it shows some age. Additionally I moved into Manhattan in 2010 and keeping my beloved MINI was simply not a fiscally responsible thing to do in my case. As much as I miss it (horribly!), it has been sold so my participation in NAM is far more limited. However I do take having a sticky here very seriously so I try to update it as you all find new information or provide corrections in the thread below. I can't promise it will be fully up to date but hopefully it will continue to serve you well. I still subscribe to PMs so it something needs updating please give me a shout and I'll tidy things up in a jiffy!

At the moment it appears as though Countrymans are produced and shipped from Austria. I've seen no information provided on how to track Countryman MINIs from their origination. You might check the latest posts in the thread to see if any further information has been provided by fellow NAMers.

How to Track your MINI:
This post is divided into several sections that detail the ordering, production, and delivery:
1)Ordering
2)Stakeholders in the Process
3)Production
4)Transport and Delivery
5)Additional Comments
6)Links

Section 1 – Ordering

Ordering your MINI is typically straight forward. The process is quite linear once you have taken the plunge and have configured your order, signed the paper work and put down a deposit. If during your signing you did not receive a piece of paper titled “Vehicle Inquiry Report”, you should receive it within roughly the next 24 business hours from your Motoring Advisor (MA). This piece of paper describes in full detail your MINI of choice along with all its options. It is the very diagnosis for MINI fever you will catch over the next 6-8 weeks. There are several key items to be aware of on the top of your Vehicle Inquiry Report:
-Prod. No: This is your Production Number! Your MA should also supply this to you verbally in the next 24 business hours if this field is blank.
-Port Loc.:This is your Port Location, it describes which port your MINI is going to be dropped off at and then placed on a truck for delivery to your dealer. We’ll reference this later

Your Production Number is the single most valuable piece of information in this entire process. It identifies your vehicle from the day of order until you take delivery (depending on how badly you catch the fever, you may have it memorized by that point). This number will determine where you are in line for production and is entirely dependent upon your dealer. See the Additional Comments section for more details on your Production Number.
Once you are armed with your Production Number, the quest to track your MINI can begin.

Section 2 – Stakeholders in the Process

Your Motoring Advisor (MA): (Production Number, Shipping, Delivery)
Your MA should be the expert when it comes to the status of your MINI production. Your MA has the ability to tap into the MINI systems and ascertain the status of your order at any step in the process. If you luck out and have an MA who is attentive and well versed in tracking orders, your MA should be your key point of reference during your arduous waiting period. Forget the rest of this guide and work with them to build a strong working relationship with your MA. Call them often. Unfortunately, most of us have MAs who are not terribly familiar with how to track MINIs in the system and are often times not as responsive as we may like.

Once you have placed your order with your MA, they will be the ones to supply you with a Production Number, no one else can do this. They then may very well step out of the picture until after your MINI is put on a truck here in the States, but more on that later. Your MA will of course coordinate and arrange for the final preparations and delivery.

MINIUSA Owner’s Lounge (http://ol.miniusa.com): (VIN, Production Status, Shipping Status)
Once you have placed your order your MA and emails from MINIUSA will strongly encourage you to sign up with the Owners Lounge on the MINIUSA website. In order to signup, you’ll need the Production Number supplied by your MA and/or found on your Vehicle Inquiry Report. Select the “First Time Here?” link and set yourself up with a username and password.
Once inside, you’ll find an array of news and information related to MINI. I encourage you to look around this site and appreciate it for the valuable references it provides.

IMPORTANT: The Owner’s Lounge is a great source of information, but it is slow to update, and once you get into Production, it can be entirely incorrect. If you see something that doesn’t look right to you, call your MA or 1-866-ASK-MINI, which we’ll discuss next.

1-866-ASK-MINI (1-866-275-6464): (Production Status and Dates)
ASK-MINI is a live support center setup by MINIUSA to handle all of your calls and inquiries related to your MINI order. ASK-MINI is your best bet for information related to the current status of your order from about two weeks after you order until the day it leaves the factory in Oxford. This system is divided into two main interfaces:
-Automated: The automated system is okay for when you need your fix and it is outside the hours ASK MINI is open (9am to 9pm EST). However the automated system is not much better than the information found on the Owner’s Lounge.
-Customer Relations: Real live people, and incredibly friendly / helpful ones at that! I strongly encourage you to skip the automated piece and ask directly for Customer Relations. If you supply them with your Production Number, they’ll be able to tell you your current status and anything they might know about the future of your MINI. They are the first resource that will be able to tell you final information for your production and completion dates and can also tell you at what stage of production your MINI is in (assembly painting, final quality check, etc.)

Not all ASK-MINI Customer Relations reps are created equal, sometimes you will get one who does not know the system entirely or is unfamiliar with the process, sometimes you will get incredibly personable and highly informative reps. Call back multiple times to ensure the information you’ve been given matches with what other reps tell you.

You: (All Stages)
You are by far the most important factor in the process of tracking your MINI. Unless you have an unusually attentive MA, you will have to be proactive in determining the status of your order either by engaging 1-866-ASK-MINI or through numerous other vehicles described below.

Section 3 – Production

On the first page after you sign into the Owner’s Lounge you should see a message “Where’s Your Baby?” with a prompt to Track Your Mini. This will open a new window with a Flash site that is going to provide you with some valuable insight into your MINI’s current status.
There are multiple phases of the ordering process and they are all listed here:
-On Order
-Scheduled for Production
-Awaiting Transport
-En Route
-At Distribution Center
-At your MINI dealer
-Review Order Detail

At first your status will show “On Order” and you should expect this status to not change for several weeks. The most helpful section of the entire site is the last item in the list “Review Order Detail.” In the Order Detail section you will see listings for your Production Number, VIN, Current Status and the vital details around your MINI. This information may initially be blank or even incorrect! Do not panic, this is normal. You will not see a VIN until closer to production. If the vital details about your MINI are wrong, you’ve been lucky enough to override one of your dealer’s earlier production slots and ASK MINI will need 48 hours or so to update.

On average, you have about two weeks to sit and agonize over the Owner’s Lounge on MINIUSA.com. About two weeks after your order, you should begin calling ASK-MINI. At some point in the next few days, they will be able to tell you when you are scheduled for production and completion. Typically they will give these to you as dates, but they can also tell you your Production Week. This will enable you to head to the 1st Gear section of NAM and join your Production Week support thread. Typically 72-48 hours prior to the start date that ASK MINI gave you, the OL will move status to “Scheduled for Production” and you’re your VIN will appear in the Review Order Detail section. With the VIN you can now apply for loans, leases and/or insurance as may be applicable.

The average MINI build takes about 8 days from start to finish. MINIs are assembled in Oxford, England at a large BMW facility. The output is approximately 700 MINIs per day over 3 continuous shifts. Yes they are working 24/7 to get your MINI to you. The first 5 days of production are staging days where all the pieces and parts are put in line and grouped to go into your MINI. This seems like a long time, but it has to be perfect – the wrong piece in the wrong car would cause it to have to be taken apart and rebuilt, think about how many more days that might take! The actual assembly is done in just one day. Painting and drying typically take up Day 7 and your final quality check at the plant is completed on Day 8. Once your MINI has passed Final QA, it sits for up to 24 hours at the plant and then is loaded onto a rail car and shipped 67 miles to Southampton, England for transport!

Section 4 – Transport and Delivery

At this junction in the process, ASK-MINI will be unable to give you any information beyond confirming the Final QA has been completed. Your own detective work and maybe some helpful hints from your MA are all you have to rely on at this point. Typically it takes about 36 hours for your MINI to arrive at the Southampton docks once you’ve passed Final QA. This is of course entirely dependent upon the freight train schedules which are out of anyone’s control.

Both BMWs and MINIs are carried over together to the US on “Roll-On, Roll-Off” shipping carriers. This means that your baby has been built and is healthy enough to get itself onto the ship. MINIs are shipped through two different carriers, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WW) and K-Line America of KLTL Total Logistics (K-Line). American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier (ARC) has a shipping partnership with WW so some of their ships may in fact be used for transport. WW integrates ARC ships into their system, so I will treat them as one entity during the rest of this discussion. While both carriers service a variety of ports in the United States, they typically stop at the same routine ports of call. Where you live will determine to which port your MINI is shipped.

It is now time to go back to Section 1 where we referenced your “Port Loc.” on your Vehicle Inquiry Report. This information will tell you which port your MINI will be shipped to before it is placed on a truck and delivered to your dealer. The Ports of Call for MINI deliveries and their shipping companies are:
-Halifax, Nova Scotia (Port Loc = ?) : WW, ~6 days for transport
-New York City, NY (Port Loc = NYCPOA) : WW, ~8 days for transport (truly based in Jersey City, NJ)
-Charleston, SC (Port Loc = CHSPOA) : WW and K-Line, ~15 days on WW, ~13 days on K-Line
-Brunswick, GA (Port Loc = SSIPOA) : WW, ~17 days for transport (thanks to Bandit for the Loc Code!)
-Manzanillo, a.k.a. Panama Canal (Point of reference only) : WW, ~13 days
-Port Hueneme, CA (Port Loc = PHMPOA): WW, ~21 days for transport (thanks krim)
-Baltimore, MD (Port Loc = BALPOA) : ~17 days on WW (thanks er.)

The process for tracking your MINI as it cruises over to the US differs between WW and K-Line. WW provides a healthy amount of information about the vehicles booked aboard its ships and their scheduled departure/arrivals. Unfortunately, tracking your MINI through K-Line is next to impossible without your MAs help. Once your MINI is loaded onto a ship, your MA should have the ability to tell you what the ship’s name is and when it will get into port. Whether or not your MA can actually provide you with this information varies greatly among MAs.

WW provides a great website for you to check to see whether your MINI is booked aboard WW (or ARC) ships. You will need to start at the WW Cargo Tracking website: https://att.2wglobal.com/gstattweb/. The page will allow you to enter your VIN (which you can obtain from the OL) in the Cargo ID field. If your MINI has been booked aboard a ship, your VIN will bring up a “Cargo Status History” and present you with a wide set of information related to your MINI’s cruise. You will find the status of your MINI as it progressed through the four stages of shipment – Booking, Reception at Terminal, Loaded on Vessel, and Discharged – at the bottom of the page. It is IMPORTANT to remember that WW is a European company, so dates on the WW site are listed in the European format of DD/MM/YYYY. Another incredibly helpful section is the schedule page which is accessible by clicking on your Voyage ID information. This will tell you the expected arrival and departure information for the various ports of your voyage.

For those of you who are not yet booked on a ship or are on the informationless K-Line boats, you still have some hope. You can pull up the shipping schedules for both WW and K-Line off of their websites to determine the next boats leaving Southampton and try to guess which boat you’ll be on. Again, for K-Line customers, your MA is the only one who will be able to confirm you are on one of these vessels. The links to the schedules are as follows:
-WW Cargo: (Give it a minute to generate…) http://schedule.2wglobal.com/AppSche...pe=generatePDF
-K-Line Cargo: This is a pretty complicated schedule, your main focus is the North American Shuttle Service at the top of the schedule. http://www.kline.com/KAMCarCarrier/S...g_Schedule.pdf

Once you have determined what ship you are going to be loaded onto, you can use the AIS Live site (link below) to track your ship as it comes and goes from the Southampton Port! After you are loaded onto a ship, you are at the mercy of the sea while you await your MINI delivery. You can however follow your ship through the Atlantic (until Halifax, NS or the Panama Canal whichever is first) using a very helpful website SAILWX (http://www.sailwx.info/). On SAILWX select “Ship Tracker” at the top of the page and then “Find specific ship by name or callsign”. The last entry on the page will allow you to enter the name of your ship. Once you find your ship, you will be shown the latest information for your ship’s position at sea and any other ships in the area. See the Links section for tracking information for ships at NYC, Charleston and other US ports.

When your MINI has been discharged from the ship, it will be taken to a BMW Vehicle Distribution Center (VDC) and run through a final quality check. At this point only your MA will be able to provide you with timetable information for delivery. MAs should receive delivery information once your MINI arrives at port, but as with all MA activities, the availability of this information varies greatly. The activities at the VDC can take as little as 48 hours to over a week if your poor MINI was damaged in some way during transport. Once it has been released from the VDC, your MINI is loaded on a truck with its BMW brethren and sent to your dealer. The time required for trucking will clearly depend on your distance from the port.
At this point the process, you’re probably dying to have your MINI, call your MA and work with them to make the final arrangements. Congratulations on your order and don’t forget to wave once you are driving down the road with a perpetual grin!

Section 5 – Additional Comments

Production Numbers
There is an exact time and date when each production number is going to start its way through the factory. Each dealership has a certain allocation of production number each week and it is up to them to spread them across their customer’s orders and the dealerships own cars that they keep on the lot. Furthermore, the allocated production numbers are subdivided by the different models available. So your dealer may have several JustaCooper slots open next week but have a four week wait for a Clubman slot. Some dealers have been known to swap out customer orders for one of the dealer production numbers in order to speed up the process (earlier number = earlier production), others simply place your order under the next slot they have available. Your dealer’s policies on this will vary greatly and are likely to be fairly rigid once your Production Number has been provided.

VDC Hours:
NYC VDC: 6am to 2pm EST M-F. No weekends.
Charleston VDC: 6am to 2pm EST Sun - Sat. Full week production.

Section 6 – Links

MINIUSA Owners Lounge: http://ol.miniusa.com/
Northeast Auto Marine Terminal: http://www.neautoterminal.com/
Port Hueneme Vehicle Distribution Center: https://www.northamericanmotoring.co...&highlight=vpc

WW Auto Cargo Tracking (by VIN): http://schedule.2wglobal.com/AppTracking/
WW Shipping Schedules: http://schedule.2wglobal.com/AppSche...pe=generatePDF
K-Line Shipping Schedules:
http://www.kline.com/KAMCarCarrier/S...g_Schedule.pdf

AIS Tracking Information for Southampton and NYC (thanks MINIspud): http://www.siitech.net/VTSLite/AView.aspx
AIS Live UK (Tracking Ships in and out of Southampton): http://www.southamptonweather.co.uk/liveais.php (the official one seems broken at the moment so using a 3rd party site instead -- does anyone have a better suggestion? PM me)
SAIL-WX (Tracking ships in the Atlantic): http://www.sailwx.info
NYC Shipping Port Arrivals and Depatures: http://traffic.nymaritime.org/
Charleston Port Authority Vessel Schedule: http://www.scspa.com/vessel_schedule.asp

AIS Isle of Wright (thanks krim)
http://www.john-ambler.com/ais/google.html (Shows Southampton and about 1/2 way across the channel)
Google Earth Vessel Tracking Plug-In (thanks krim)
http://www.vesseltracker.com/en/Googleearth.html (has a KMZ showing vessel locations - 24hr delay for free version)

Oxford, England Manufacturing Plant via Google Maps: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=e....0209&t=h&z=16
NYC BMW VDC via Google Maps: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=e...02612&t=h&z=19
Brunswick, GA VDC via Google Maps: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=e...=16&iwloc=addr
Greer, SC VDC (all Charleston bound MINIs go here): http://maps.google.com/maps?q=greer,...num=1&ct=image
Port Hueneme, CA VDC via Google Maps: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=e...=14&iwloc=addr
 

Last edited by zonedguy; 09-16-2012 at 09:07 AM. Reason: 9/16/12 -- Updates and fixes as provided by er.
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  #2  
Old 06-15-2008, 05:19 PM
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very easy to follow your steps, thanks!
 
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Old 06-15-2008, 05:27 PM
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Wow, I've had my Mini for 2 months and I pretty much just relived Feb-April all over again. This is a perfect explanation for anyone who is waiting.

Great job!
 
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Old 06-15-2008, 05:38 PM
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Moderators - Sticky Please!
 
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Old 06-15-2008, 05:49 PM
wbarnhill
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The actual title for the MA is Motoring Advisor, not Assistant Sorry, just nitpicking
 
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Old 06-16-2008, 04:51 PM
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One more nitpick- Cars coming up to the Great Pacific North West () are still off-loaded at the Port Hueneme VDC, and trucked up after processing.
 
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Old 06-16-2008, 05:22 PM
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If you have an excellent MA, they can tell you an estimate of when it may enter production. When we ordered ours, our MA told us that it might enter production in less than one day... Lo and behold it started production the next day!
 
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Old 06-16-2008, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by reyd1 View Post
If you have an excellent MA, they can tell you an estimate of when it may enter production. When we ordered ours, our MA told us that it might enter production in less than one day... Lo and behold it started production the next day!
Wow! Your experience here is definitely an exception to the rule. It is likely that your dealer gave you one of their slots which was already slotted for a production date and they slipped your order in just in the nick of time! Just wanted to point out the rarity of such miracles so as to not set false hope.
 
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Old 06-17-2008, 06:36 PM
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Thanks for this helpful info! I ordered my MINI last week (7 long days ago) and got an email w/ production number from MINI today. MA told me when i ordered that my MINI build would not even be started until August and i wouldn't see the car until the 1st or 2nd week in September! The wait (now) is tolerable, but I don't know how I'm going to make it until September (other than i have no choice)!
 
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Old 06-17-2008, 06:46 PM
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zoned,
here's some more stuff to add

Port Loc for Hueneme is "PHMPOA"

Links:
http://www.john-ambler.com/ais/google.html has live AIS from the Isle of Wright (updated every 60 seconds), and shows Southampton and about 1/2 way across the channel.
http://www.vesseltracker.com/en/Googleearth.html has a KMZ showing vessel locations (24hr delay for free version)
 
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Old 06-19-2008, 01:04 PM
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Last minute changes

Thanks for all the info.
Question: At what point during this process are you unable to make any changes to your order?-just in case i want to add or delete something.

Thanks
 
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Old 06-19-2008, 03:23 PM
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I ordered my car in May and was told it would take 6-8 weeks. I took delivery on Monday, after only 5 weeks!! What a great car.
 
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Old 06-19-2008, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Shades80 View Post
Thanks for all the info.
Question: At what point during this process are you unable to make any changes to your order?-just in case i want to add or delete something.

Thanks
IIRC, up until production starts.
 
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Old 06-19-2008, 04:34 PM
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http://aisserver.yachtmarine.com/US-NEWYORKHARBOR.html
Live AIS for New York Harbor (includes Newark)
LiveAIS World directory, lists free AIS locations globally.

edit:

more goodies for you OCDs

Panama Canal Tracking:

Ship schedules http://www.boydsteamship.com/daily_traffic_report.htm (Find your ship and watch it on the webcams)
Panama Canal webcams http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html


Southern California tracking:

http://www.shinemicro.com/Live.asp Free registration. AIS data from Rosarito up the canadian border.
 

Last edited by krim; 06-20-2008 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:15 PM
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Webcams

Zonedguy -

Great update. How about adding a section for all the webcams? I know there are cams at a lot of the ports. Here's a start for the list:

Southampton: http://www.southamptonvts.co.uk/webcams.htm

Panama Canal (Gatun Locks, Miraflores Locks, Centennial Bridge): http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html
 
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Old 06-20-2008, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by zonedguy View Post
Wow! Your experience here is definitely an exception to the rule. It is likely that your dealer gave you one of their slots which was already slotted for a production date and they slipped your order in just in the nick of time! Just wanted to point out the rarity of such miracles so as to not set false hope.
Mine also was bought over the phone on june 9th, went into production June 10th
 
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Old 06-22-2008, 06:50 AM
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Great info, traveling on the Western Highway and will arrive in Charleston on the 26th.

Thanks
 
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Old 06-24-2008, 11:04 AM
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Just fyi the link to ol.miniusa.com pops up with the brackets still attached and doesnt work.
 
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Old 06-25-2008, 11:16 AM
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NY VDC hours of operation:

M - F 6am - 2:30pm

Closed weekends.

P.S If you know how to use google, you can find out the number to the BMW NY VDC. You have to be convincing on the phone for them to give you a status though. ask me how I know.
 
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Old 06-30-2008, 09:10 AM
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zonedguy, much thanx. This is deserving of a "one of the best post ever" gold star. With it I'm able to tell I should be on a July 8 ship, if not July 5, though doubtful it can make the July 2 ship. Thank you for your efforts in making such a concise "pre-owner's manual"!
 
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Old 07-01-2008, 01:24 PM
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This is really good stuff. Of course, SWMBO is of the opinion that it just feeds my overly A-R personality, but...I appreciate it nonetheless.
 
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Old 07-01-2008, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by zonedguy View Post
The automated system is okay for when you need your fix and it is outside the hours ASK MINI is open (hours TBD).
I spoke with ASK MINI earlier today, and was told to call back any time. I then asked when they were open, and was told "from 9 'til 9, Eastern".
 
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Old 07-07-2008, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by zonedguy View Post
Wow! Your experience here is definitely an exception to the rule. It is likely that your dealer gave you one of their slots which was already slotted for a production date and they slipped your order in just in the nick of time! Just wanted to point out the rarity of such miracles so as to not set false hope.
I had the same thing happen to me :P
 
  #24  
Old 07-07-2008, 05:16 PM
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Ok . So if my MINI "entered production" on 7/06/08 what is the usual time frame until it's "on the boat" ?? (using the acceptable forum lingo...)
 
  #25  
Old 07-08-2008, 06:10 AM
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From what I gather, 6-8 days in production and another 2-5 onto the ship.
 

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