Dealers: the good - part 1
* Readers spill the beans * The good, bad and the ugly * How does your dealer rate?...
'I have been an Alfa owner for several years. Oh dear, I hear you say! Well, you would have been right up to three years ago when Alfa realised that had to do something about the dismal service given by a lot of dealers. My local dealer was sacked thank goodness and I was directed to Piccadilly Motors, Knaresborough.
'Although it was a longer trip, I was suddenly being treated as someone they wanted to keep as a customer. Alfa have since opened a new dealership closer to home at Alexanders of Stockton and I can report that they are excellent, so gone are the days when owning an Alfa was all heart and no head.'
'I run a 2007 Audi A4, which had a first service earlier this year at my nearest dealer, Five Oaks Audi in West Sussex. This was an entirely painless experience.
'More recently, I had noticed some noise from the nearside front suspension over low-speed bumps. I phoned one Friday morning to arrange for this to be investigated and was invited to call in that morning for an initial test drive/inspection. This confirmed the need for further investigation and the car was booked in for the following Tuesday. I was told that if new parts were needed they would probably need to be ordered, necessitating an overnight stay. As I did not require a courtesy car on either day my car was collected and the need for a new suspension part confirmed later that day. By 10 the next morning, the repair had been completed and the car was back at my front door half an hour later, valeted into the bargain.
'I reckon this is pretty good service and is matched by my sister's experience of this dealership.'
'My Audi is serviced by Dovercourt in Bristol. They collect and deliver the car valeted free of charge. The work seems to be done properly although it is a bit pricey. When I've gone to Dovercourt to buy parts, I've found them to be slow, but the parts manager is always helpful.'
'This was all-in-all a much better experience than my dealings with Vauxhall, thank goodness, but merely what one would reasonably expect.
'The car purchased was a Ford Focus Zetec 1.6 diesel on a 2008 '08 plate from Peoples Ford, Edinburgh. The salesman was efficient and had a professional manner. The car was delivered from a branch near Liverpool and was ready for collection within five days. The car was serviced and the service book shown to me, fully stamped. The salesman actually had it serviced once the car arrived in Edinburgh, even though it had been serviced only 3000 miles previously. A test-drive was offered at short notice. The communication was far better than the Vauxhall experience the salesman kept us informed via e-mail and telephone.'
'I've had poor service from main dealers. My experience has been the glitzier the car showroom', the poorer the real service. Rather like comparing a large chain hotel with a good family-run B&B.
'Plenty of 'yes sir, no sirs' and smart, but air-headed staff who are determined to do practically nothing useful, because they don't care about repeat business it's not their business.
'However, find a family-run independent dealer where the receptionist is the mechanic or his wife and you get servicing for half the price, you can talk to the man that works on your car, and generally don't get a dummy who just connects the car to a laptop.
Okay, so you have to sacrifice the big glitzy showroom, but those big windows are only so the dealerships can see all the mugs coming in the door so all the staff can look busy and not serve you.
'I have dealt with Mercedes-Benz Chesterfield for the past four years and their service and attention to detail has been exemplary.
'In September, I took delivery of an E-Class Coupe and was given the VIP treatment throughout the purchasing and delivery process. After placing the order, I was given regular updates on delivery status, the car was delivered on time, and the handover was a pleasure. I have been contacted twice to ensure that I am still happy with the car, and following a two-week stay on a farm in Cornwall, they insisted that I call in and have a coffee while they gave the car a complimentary valet.
'From almost 40 years' experience of car ownership, I know that not all dealers are this good, but we should give credit to the good as well as knocking the bad ones.' Terry Calladine
'After a poor experience with VW I wandered into a Mini showroom. I was noted, left to browse for five minutes and then approached. A test drive was offered immediately and a courtesy phone call was made some days later. A second visit produced a detailed cost breakdown. A third resulted in an order. Faultless.'
'I arrived in the Peugeot garage in Give (Denmark) on a Friday at 11am (and later discovered they closed for the weekend on the Friday at 12 noon) and addressed the man behind the counter, asking if he spoke English. No, he said. German? No. French? No.
'So I tried the little Danish I could gather, and roughly explained the problem with my Synergie MPV. He took my car immediately and promised to hand it back within an hour (it was a small problem indeed). Meanwhile, they welcomed me into their lounge and offered a free cup of coffee that I drank, while chatting with a lady from Norway in the same situation, who also thought they were nice, welcoming people.
'Unbeknown to me, the man behind the counter, who happened to be the boss of the garage, had phoned his sister and asked her to come to the place, which she did within about 15 minutes. Her job was to apologise to me on behalf of her brother because indeed, 'in a Peugeot garage, they should be able to speak French'.
'Well, well, well, am I allowed to doubt whether your local Skoda dealership boss speaks fluent Czech, or your Volvo dealer speaks Swedish? Mine don't! Would they feel compelled to apologise for that? Somehow I'm not sure.'
Vincent M Gauthier, France