Remember that post a week or two ago, where I mentioned that we weren’t in a position to buy a replacement car? Well, turns out it’s not as hopeless as it seemed as we have purchased today a Volkswagen Up!.
What did we learn from this experience? Well, a couple of things, actually; not necessarily specific to the UK, but I’ll mention them here anyway:
The biggest piece is that, with contracts, despite people’s fears here, you can change/get out of one before the time is up – for some people it can be as little as 18 months, though the sales person we spoke with said that the best time is usually in 2.5 years – around mid-term in the contract, basically is when you will get the best deal.
Rewind a bit and let’s go back to when we first arrived at the dealership(s). After finding a spot on a side street where we could park (easier said than done in England, I assure you, it took some time) that wasn’t metered or permit-only, we walked through Fiat to look at their cars first. No joke: we walked into the parking lot, walked past every car there – didn’t speak to anyone – and walked back out again. I looked at my Husband and had to ask him what the point was in that part of the adventure; he concluded that he wasn’t interested in them because he thought they looked too much like a “shoebox.”
The darling apparently didn’t think that a SMART CAR (see: box on wheels) counted. But I’ll have to let this one go for another time; it was a big change I was asking of him to even consider down-grading to something cheaper to start with. Baby steps.
It’s nice to note that, even in the UK, customer service amounts to something. We went to look at Mercedes-Benz’ Smart Cars, next for example, and not even the receptionist looked up at us when we came in. We pawed around and crawled over/under/through the floor model, and no one even asked if they could be of help… Well, clearly, they didn’t want our money, despite my Husband being initially very interested in the vehicle just mentioned.
We then WALKED (yes, caps, because we literally could do this, since they were so close together in a part of the city where, I swear, seems to be dedicated to very car dealership known to man – which was really very helpful) over to Volkswagen and not even five minutes inside the door did we get a different experience.
It was like being back in the States again. “Did you want help?” came one question; maybe in a little bit, we replied. “Okay, I’ll be right over there when you’re ready.” Two minutes later another person walks up: “So sorry you have be left waiting for so long; did you need any help?” Nope, we’ve got someone on hold for us already. Three more minutes pass and then: “Are you being helped?” Yeah we’re going over to him right now, thanks. Cheers.
They wanted our business, right from the start. I cannot stress how outside the normal this is – I was on cloud 9, the tea they offered to get us tasted like the tears of angels. ;^; it was beautiful.
I will forgo the song-and-dance that led to our ultimate purchase, as that is pretty typical. Offer, counter offer, they bend, we bend, sold. We’ll be getting a Volkswagen High Up in about three weeks.
If they had not taken the time to speak to us – and that really was all it took – chances are we would not have done anything more than possibly go around and shake people down for quotes and estimates. Good customer service will always sell better than nothing at all.
Though this does mean that we will now have to clean out the old car. 😛