Having seen our Buy A Car campaign on our website, a Peterborough man got in touch with AM, wanting to tell us of his experiences trying to find a used car.
The 37-year-old professional, who has a wife and two children, is coming out of a company Volkswagen Golf. He is looking to buy a used car of low mileage of a similar size and, together with practical elements like a good-sized boot and high EuroNCAP safety rating, is keen his next car drives well and has plenty of ‘poke’.
He has done some research online of models in his price range and is willing to travel to buy. But he began his search locally because of the importance of test driving the car.
His budget is £8,000. He is a cash buyer. “I have a very good credit rating, but I don’t want finance. I know I can get it, but I have to consider the possibility I may lose my job.,” he said.
Here we recount his experiences.
EMG Motor Group (Spalding) – new and used car multi-
“I phoned the dealership and asked if they could offer me a new shape Ford Focus for £8,000. I had seen models at that price in Wolverhampton. The salesman said they would not sell for less than £9,500.
“I also told the salesman I was a cash buyer. I asked if that was a plus point for him. I was told no. I didn’t appreciate being told that.
“However, the salesman said he would telephone me in an hour to let me know if he could do anything for me. He hasn’t called yet.
“Maybe there was an understandable reason for this. But, if this is the service I get before I purchase, it speaks little of the service I would get once I was a customer.
TC Harrison (Peterborough) – Ford main dealer
“I telephoned on a Sunday and there was no answer. I checked the number and called again, held on for about 60 seconds still no one answered.
“I left it a few minutes and called again. This time a lady answered. I wanted to book a test drive. She got someone to call me back a couple of hours later.
“I did get a test-drive in a 2008 Ford Focus 1.6 Style for 15 minutes. The salesman didn’t try to convert me.
“I didn’t like the way the car handled and their prices were 10% more than I had seen online in places like Birmingham and Wolverhampton.”
Motorpoint (Peterborough) – used car supermarket
“I twice rang their 0845 number on a Sunday but the line went dead after a couple of seconds.
“I rang again a few days later and got through to a very
efficient person. I was told what stock they had and cars were described to me. I was assured I could have a test drive when I visited the following day.
“I was greeted at my car, but when I explained I wanted a test drive I was told by the salesman they didn’t do test drives on a Saturday unless I had an intention to purchase. Despite telling him of my telephone conversation he still said no. I thought he was joking. I said I would leave and not come back. He said ‘fine’ and walked away. I drove away, speechless at the arrogance and the indifference.”
Car Shop Megastore (Northampton) – car supermarket
“Having rang the day before my visit to arrange two cars to drive, they were waiting for me when I arrived on Sunday morning.
“The salesman knew my name. I did a test drive and made my choice.
“The only downside was having to go through finance quotes even though they knew I was a cash buyer.”
The buyer’s conclusions:
“TC Harrison made the most effort and they did get me in a car. But there was no effort to convince me to try another car, to walk me around their stock or even negotiate on price.
“Motorpoint was infuriating. EMG was disappointing.
“I hear the motor industry is on its knees at the moment and yet, with the exception of the Car Shop, at no point have I felt a sense of urgency or experienced any enthusiasm or determination.”
Our shopper bought a 57-plate Fiat Bravo 1.4 T-Jet for “just under £8,000”.
Right to reply:
EMG Motor Group: “We can’t make a comment because
the call in this case cannot be substantiated by any party involved.”
Motorpoint: ”Motorpoint is the UK’s leading car supermarket, selling in excess of 35,000 new and nearly new cars every year. We go to strenuous efforts to ensure our customer service is among the very best, so much so that we were recently awarded a top industry award for its consistently high quality.
"Therefore, we were naturally dismayed to hear about your reader’s experience at our Motorpoint site in Peterborough, which I can assure you is quite out of character with the general feedback we receive from the vast majority of our customers.
"Naturally, the general manager at Motorpoint, Jean-Paul Russek, is very disappointed to hear of the treatment your reader received. Unfortunately, despite having carried out an internal investigation, we have not been able to establish who it was that spoke to your reader on that particular day to understand why they would use such inappropriate language.
" On behalf of Motorpoint, I would like to make an unreserved apology to your reader for the treatment they received and they are invited to liaise directly with Jean-Paul should they wish to give us the opportunity to redeem ourselves and take advantage of the savings Motorpoint has to offer.”
TC Harrison: declined to comment
Critical to business
Felix Serrano, managing director of automotive outsourcing firm, CRM specialist’s and AM Awards’ auditors MSX International, said: “To let a customer walk away dissatisfied is unforgiveable in the current market. A person walking through your door is automatically a prospect and you must consider them a potential customer whether today, in a week, month’s or year’s time.
“You have to give them an experience where they will want to be part of your brand: it’s critical to the sustainability of a business.
“Possibly the biggest crime as a dealer is to let a person walk away unhappy.”