A customer walked into the showroom of a well known franchise which is managed by a friend of mine. He was a very well to do chap who obviously drove his car functionaly rather than for the love, either that or he had so much money he didn’t really care about looking after it that well. Anyway suffice to say that his three year old S Class Mercedes cost when new probably somewhere near £70k and he’d decided that three years and 29,000 miles was enough for him to change it for something else. Obviously the first step is to find out what the new model costs and what his old car is worth. The saleswoman was charming and diplomatic as she did a full professional appraisal on his trade-in and recorded every last mark and dent (and there was a few of them).
The owner was obviously a heavy smoker and, by all accounts did most of this smoking in his car. Every panel needed some kind of attention and all the wheels looked like they had an intimate knowledge of most of the kerbs and bollards in the vicinity. The saleswoman asked all the relevant questions and remained calm and cool, never letting her customer see her discomfort at pricing such an awful example of a classic Mercedes.
It is traditional in these situations for the salesperson to take the completed appraisal to their sales manager and for the sales manager to then cast their own eye over the car before offering a price, and this is exactly what should have happened in this case.
The saleswoman offered the customer a coffee and he followed her through the side door to the coffee machine. Leaving the customer in the nicely appointed waiting area the saleswoman then went back out to her sales manager to get the verdict on the part-exchange. All perfectly normal except that the sales manger decided to choose this time to give his witheringly derogatory verdict to the sales woman which went something like this;
Sales manager: ‘I have been pricing cars for 20 years and I have seen some good ones, some bad ones, some smelly ones, and some absolute minters. They have come in all shapes and sizes and states of disrepair but let me tell you this Lisa, this is the biggest pile of shit I have ever seen and the man who owns this must be the biggest, dirtiest scumbag that ever walked on God’s good earth!’
All probably perfectly true and actually quite funny but unfortunately the owner, who had emerged from the showroom behind the manager just before this tirade began, wasn’t laughing. In fact he looked outraged and was about to lose his cool and do something unimaginable when quick as a flash the manager said;
“Oh there you are, Sir let me explain, as you can see I myself am no oil painting but my mother thinks I am the most beautiful boy in the world and won’t have a word said against me! You clearly love your car more than I do but it’s time for a change so why don’t we go inside and discuss a deal?”
The customer and the saleswoman stood there with their mouths open but believe it or not he still bought a new car and was happy as can be at the close of play. The cat with 9 lives got away with it and as he told me later in the pub that night;
“There’s no point getting older if you don’t get wiser!”
It’s true to say that a car salesman must always live on his wits.