Car Salesmen Who Live in a Parallel Universe

Written by Karen Bryan

car salesmenWe’ve had some quite varied experiences with car salesmen recently during our search for a replacement for our current car, a Skoda Fabia 1.4TD.  We are looking for a supermini at least as big as the Fabia but would really like a slightly bigger car if it won’t increase our car running costs too much. Our budget is £8,000 cash plus trading in our car (book value of around £2,000). We’re not sure if we should go for a petrol or diesel car, as our annual mileage over the next 7 – 10 years is uncertain, making it hard for us to plan for the future. We are interested in either brand new cars or  pre-registered cars with only a few thousand miles on the clock.

A few weeks ago we had a very positive experience at our local Vauxhall showroom.  The salesman there listened to our requirements, allowed us to test drive several different car models and gave us a price for each after allowing for a trade-in on our current car. However the Vauxhall dealership couldn’t come up with anything suitable within our budget.

As Berwick upon Tweed doesn’t have a full complement of car dealerships and my husband had read a lot of good things about Hyundai, we decided to arrange a couple of test drives at the Hyundai dealership in Edinburgh, when we had other things to do in the city, as we didn’t want to make a 120 mile return trip just to see some cars.

I phoned the Hyundai garage to arrange to test drive the i20 diesel and i30 diesel and informed them of our budget of £8,000 plus trade-in of the Fabia. When we arrived at the showroom, the salesman told us that the i30 diesel and been sold the previous day but we could test drive an i30 petrol. However, the car salesman said, he had something for our budget he wanted to show us; a new Hyundai i20 diesel. When we returned to his desk, we discovered that the price of that i20 diesel was in fact £9,600 plus trade-in of the Fabia, £1,600 above our budget. Not a good start.

We then test drove a Hyundai ix20 diesel and then an i30 petrol. We weren’t very keen on the ix20 diesel and we spotted a pre-registered i20 petrol in the showroom at a reasonable price and asked him for a price after trade-in and to test drive that car.  The salesman wouldn’t give us a price unless we committed to buying that car on that day. He told us he was too busy and we couldn’t do a test drive then either. We asked him if we could come back for a test drive the next day, as we were staying in Edinburgh overnight, but he wouldn’t commit.

We left the Hyundai dealership feeling as we had been in a parallel universe. We’d been shown a a new i20 diesel that was £1,600 above our budget, not been able to test drive the i30 diesel as pre-arranged and not been able to get a test drive, or a price, for the i20 petrol.

We had a brief return to planet Earth when we went to the Hyundai dealer in Wallyford, just outside Edinburgh, to see if we could test drive a petrol i20 there. We thought it was good to test drive the different models of Hyundais on the same day. The salesman at the showroom was very pleasant and helpful and said he’d phone us in a few days with some prices, as Hyundai would be launching some special offers that weekend. The salesman phoned us ten days later.

The next day we thought we’d go into the Skoda dealership in Edinburgh, which we’d be passing on our way back to Berwick upon Tweed, as we’ve been very happy with our Fabia. There were two nearly new Fabias there, a petrol version with only a few miles on the clock and a diesel with 6,000 miles. We were interested in both cars, but the salesman said he couldn’t give a separate price after trade in for two cars, but only for one. We asked if we could test drive a Fabia petrol with the same engine as the one on show (there are 4 different 1.2 petrol engines) and were told we couldn’t. We didn’t really feel we needed to test drive the diesel Fabia as the model is an 1.6 compared to our current car’s 1.4 engine, so we reckoned that the new model would be better to drive.

Now I ask you, how can you decide which car to buy if you don’t know the price and haven’t test driven it? The Skoda salesman said he’d get back to me with the prices of these two cars by phone the next day, but so far not a peep from him either.

What conclusion can I draw? There must be enough customers who are willing to buy a car without either a test drive, or being able to compare prices between different cars at the same dealership. So maybe car salesmen can keep on living in a parallel universe? But as I’m firmly on Planet Earth, I need to test drive and know the price of a car before I part with my cash.