As you may be aware we have been bringing examples of bad dealers and their equally bad service but to balance it we need examples of bad buyers and this one may just fit the bill. Running your own business certainly has its ups and downs and making your own decisions but being ultimately responsible for your own success means that, at least sometimes, you get to treat people exactly how you please. You are the owner and you have the final say over who you want to deal with.
Running a car showroom as an independent dealer can be quite stressful a lot of the time and because of history or reputation the customers always seem to be suspicious. Add to this the fact that old sales people turned TV consumer champions like Dom Littlewood have been, rightly or wrongly, encouraging people to go in and haggle their heads off means that often their patience completely runs out.
Whilst in franchised car dealerships you must never let that frustration show as an owner driver it can sometimes get a bit too much and the gamble that a banished customer will tell all and sundry how big and bad you are is just sometimes worth it.
Although I would love to name the dealer involved in this he has no desire to repeat his actions and actually feels quite silly but felt that he was pushed over the edge, so I will keep his name out of it. Let’s just say that he is based in the south of the country near Hertfordshire and leave it at that.
A couple come into his showroom and express an interest in a 2 year old Peugeot 307 which our car dealer friend had advertised for about £8,000. He’d had a quiet week and was clearly keen that the couple get the gold star treatment from the owner himself and pulled out all the stops giving them a strong price for their car and happily negotiating a discount on the new car.
Although he says he didn’t exactly make lifelong friends with these people the process was cordial enough and they left a deposit and agreed to come back on the Monday to pay the balance and collect the car whilst our owner had the car re-cleaned, fuelled and taxed ready for the big day.
The customers turned up at the agreed time but were with another chap who they explained was their ‘mechanic’. Scratching his head our man explained that the deal had been agreed, they were happy with the car, the condition was good and the servicing and maintenance all up to date along with a long MOT, so why the ‘mechanic’? The customers explained that he was not available on the day they originally came in but had offered to accompany them on collection.
The owner, though starting to feel slightly annoyed as he had taxed the car in their name and would rather they had done all this before they agreed to buy the car, had nothing to hide so agreed that they could let this guy – who it later turned out was a neighbour and who liked messing about with cars – set about giving the car the once over.
He said that he thought the oil looked like it needed changing and that 2 of the tyres looked a “bit low” at which point our owner, having ensured that everything was correct and legal himself, started to feel a bit angry.
Although the items were not serious enough for the buyers to pull out of the deal they immediately asked for a ‘bit more off’. The owner, by now turning a shade of scarlet, explained that they had agreed the deal, he had given them a fair price for their car and a generous discount off the new one.
“Come on, we just want a bit more off” they said assuming they had the upper hand.
Realising that these people were now chancing their arm and not really behaving correctly he said ‘a bit more off is that what you want, ok I’ll give you a bit off, watch this!’
He then picked up a hammer lying close by and smashed of the whole of one wing mirror in anger and frustration.
“There!” he said “You have got something off, is that enough or do you want me to take something else off’!?”
The customers, though clearly shocked said that they were actually happy with the price after all and were sorry to have caused such a stir whilst backing up to their car to make a hasty getaway.
“Well don’t keep asking for more off because you may get more than you bargained for!” he said as they sped away.
Feeling much better but also a little silly he was reflecting on what he had done when the phone rang. It was the buyers who asked when they could come back to collect their car and would they be able to have their mirror back. Slightly dumfounded our man agreed to fix the mirror and amazingly they came back, collected their fixed car and not another word was said.
I suppose the moral – if that’s the right word – of this story is be careful what you ask for you might just get it.