Buying a car in tears…

Screenshot-4A recent Inside Out South on BBC TV featured a lady who had a nasty car shopping experience involving an unscrupulous car dealer in Hampshire.

Her husband suffers from dementia, they drove a smart and immaculate low mileage 59 plate Citroen C3 and they’d been tempted by a VIP invitation to attend a car showroom sales event. No harm in that, surely?

When they got there the wife was sufficiently impressed by the promotion to say she was interested in a new car and to pay £1000 deposit towards a new car. I didn’t catch the model concerned.

A little later on, the car in question was delivered to her door. It wasn’t new, it had higher mileage than her C3 and there were considerable signs of wear and tear. It looked much worse than her own car. Needless to say she said she wasn’t happy and didn’t want to buy this. “Can I have my money back?”

Out came the verbal thumbscrews.

“You said you wanted this.” “I got this car specially for you.” “The deposit is non refundable”… as this unscrupulous salesman digs in for his commission here.

Then we heard about the price. A car that was worth £4240 as a trade price had been valued at £2700 when used in part exchange. A £1500 rip off and that’s before they marked it up on their website to £5800. Outrageous.

Happily she had family to turn to (often they don’t) and presumably the son or daughter alerted Jon Cuthill at the BBC. Needless to say, in the face of this publicity, the dealer admitted defeat, said they would not take things further and gave the lady her money back.

She’d learned a big lesson. Don’t pay a deposit for a car you haven’t seen. Or when you’ve got a perfectly nice and fairly new one…

Stress had taken its toll of course. Nobody gets compensation for feeling daft.

“I never thought I’d buy a car in tears.”

“I wake up in the morning and wish this would go away.”

“I’m scared they’ll come and take our car away.”

“It completely ruined a special anniversary.”

But as the likes of consumer programmes know, to get the customer out of tricky situations like this often involves promising not to tell others the name of the business. That’s what irritates me most because I fervently believe in naming and shaming – especially in an industry where salesman don’t have to be licensed to sell us cars ethically. And where too many salesmen are totally unprincipled here, targeting vulnerable ladies as was the case here.

Yes, we’ve had to remove public blogs to get members a settlement too… but only after we’ve told local ladies the facts and who the offender was. This is what we do within the Club after giving a business time to put things right where possible.

If the business doesn’t budge and clearly doesn’t care, we award them Red Cards and keep poking them via blogs like this and using social media. I wish I knew the car dealer in Hampshire that used such bully-like tactics here. I’d be delighted to give them a good poke today…

FOXY