Confessions of a car salesman
How can you make sure you get the best deal on your next car? Let our inside man fill you in on the tips and techniques the dealers don't want you to know...
Q: What's the shortest time between a customer buying a car and writing it off?
AS: Easy one. A customer collected a brand new Citroën Xantia back in 1999. It was the first Xantia I had ever sold. He left the forecourt, turned right and then straight into the first lamppost on the nearside. A bee/wasp had flown in the open driver’s window (as it was 1 August, a hot day), and stung him in the face.
Q: What's the most expensive/catastrophic mistake you’ve ever made at work?
A: One happened to a colleague when he was tasked with removing a car from the front of our site – a standard kind of job that we do regularly. This chap was known for not always engaging his brain and completely neglected to remove the 12ft-high metal flag pole that was anchored to the rear wheel of the car.
When the car moved the flagpole fell sideways into the very busy West London road running alongside the showroom and onto the top of a nice white car waiting at the traffic lights! The people in the now badly dented white car had been on their way to a wedding, and one of them was indeed the bride!
Long story short, the white car had such a badly damaged roof and windscreen that the dealership's manager had to loan them a nice white SUV to pacify the very upset bride!
AS: A colleague took a customer out in a Subaru Impreza STi. Half way through, he uttered the immortal line, "let me show you what this thing can do" and promptly parked it in a duck pond on its roof.
Q: Do you have to carry a set of trade plates with you every time you take a train journey? As an infrequent user of the railway, I appear to always see at least one person carrying a set of these?
A: These people are generally 'platers', employed to move cars all over the country. Generally self-employed, thumbing lifts and waiting for trains etc. It's a horrible job. If you see a plater guy at the side of the road thumbing a lift, then please do offer, even if it’s just a few miles further down the road.
They can be some of the most interesting people you will ever meet. They sure have some cool stories to tell.
AS: An observation from a fellow dealer if I may:
Why do people who are looking to part exchange their car turn up to do a deal without even bothering to give their car the tiniest amount of love?
Took a Citroën C3 Pluriel in today, 59-plate car, 61,000 miles, not the most desirable of things, but it seriously could not have seen a vacuum cleaner in five years, or a sponge for that matter.
Absolutely disgusting, it was a biohazard just getting in it. Filthy on the outside, too. I couldn’t tell if it had trims or alloys, the windows were opaque and it had mud and bird muck all over. I gave the customer £900 for it. Had it been presented better, I would have quite happily paid a few hundred more for it. God only knows, I thought it would be common sense if you were looking to sell it, to at least give it a cursory clean? On the plus side, I did find £2.02 in change scattered about – that paid for my lunchtime pasty!
Page 6 of 6
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here