Having been in the business for nearly 20 years now it still amuses me when I still regularly observe the bad press that ‘used cars’ get. You can barely watch a programme without some reference to the dodgy practices of the used car salesman. For sure anyone watching the documentary series “The dealership” really couldn’t fail but have their prejudice enforced as the stereotypical used car salesman ploughed his trade.
What has to be remembered however is that in every industry and every walk of life there will be rotten apples; people who just don’t care. But for every one of them there will be 10 that do and in my opinion no industry has worked harder to improve its customer care than the retail motor trade.
It regularly measures the satisfaction of its customers and is just as keen on the ones that don’t actually buy in order to find out what they could do better.
So that’s my defence of the motor trade, I am almost tired of defending it because I believe we face a far more menacing threat out there from a supposedly more respected profession, Solicitors.
At first i thought I was sure it was just the odd rotten apple as I have just described, however the tale I am about to tell you can probably be repeated up and down the country and can go a long way to explain the astronomic rise in insurance premiums in the last few years.
About 2 years ago I was approaching a left hand turn near where I live; it is a little blind so it needs to be approached with caution as it is also very narrow. On this day I am glad I did because there was a man in a pickup clearly lost trying to back on to the main road. As I was now already on the road I waited for him to see I was behind him and realise that his manoeuvre was dangerous.
Unfortunately, although he was barely going more than 5 miles an hour he backed into me causing some minor damage to my wing. We exchanged details, he admitted liability and I got my car fixed and thought no more about it.
That was until the phone calls and texts started coming in at a rate of perhaps 3 to 4 a day saying that I may be able to claim compensation for my recent accident. I batted most of them away until finally I’d had enough when the girl on from solicitors in Liverpool told me I may be entitled to up to £3k for injuries sustained at the accident.
I explained that there was nothing wrong with me, that the accident happened at low speed and there was no chance I was injured. Things then took on a more sinister twist when she started to tell me, clearly reading from a script that even at low speed and perhaps sometime afterwards I may be suffering from whiplash and headaches and all I needed to do is say that this is indeed the case to claim my money.
I was speechless here was someone from a solicitors blatantly asking me to fabricate injury for financial gain and was totally shameless about it. Needless to say I eventually told her to ‘foxtrott oscar’ and then thought that if the public think badly of used car sales people what an earth must they now be thinking of these people who are supposed to be the bastions of truth and justice!
Ironically I was involved in another accident some months later (I do an awful lot of miles so statistically it is bound to happen – or maybe I am just unlucky!) when I was the meat in a 4 car sandwich again at low speed we were all fine and when the police and ambulance turned up I explained that I had spoken to all involved and there was no problem, except when I turned around there was one of the ‘victims’ in the back of the ambulance rubbing his neck and looking uncomfortable even though he had been totally fine minutes earlier and there was hardly any damage to his car.
I explained this to the police lady who turned to me and said its ok sir it’s probably just another case of ‘whipcash’ I laughed but not when I found out my insurance premium had risen by £156 per annum.
So what are the powers that be going to do about it? And more importantly why don’t trading standards go after theses ambulance chasing companies with the same vigour as they do by camping out in car dealerships?
Probably sometime never because we are such an easy target.