Why unreturned phone calls from garages and the fine details of finance top many complaints lists
IN the course of our Advice Desk service to readers on what cars we believe would best suit them, we get a steady flow of complaints - mostly about lending institutions and dealers.
I suppose that is more or less to be expected, given that vehicle sales and how they are financed are so inextricably linked at a time of big stress and expectation.
While I would never disregard a complaint or comment and would always attempt to reply in some shape or form, I cannot be in the business of taking up cases either - except something in the extreme, of course.
What I do quite often is suggest a course, or courses, of action, and I'm glad to say the feedback has been particularly good on that front.
People really do worry and stress, and that is understandable.
However, of late there has been an increased level of complaints on two major fronts: dealers and finance. The reason I'm mentioning them at all this week is to make a couple of important points that might prevent matters becoming more troublesome for all concerned.
I have been in and out of dealers for decades either incognito (remember Garage Watch?) as a customer or helping someone make a choice. And I have to say the level of service, courtesy, attention and professionalism has been mostly exceptional - especially in the past 10-12 years or so. That is important to remember from the outset.
However, like all things in life, there are always a few who, for whatever reason, may not measure up on a given day. It is a stressful, demanding job and it is difficult to be in top form 24/7.
But when I get a number of calls/emails claiming that a few garages have not bothered to return calls I sense a re-awakening of concern that a tiny minority - and I stress tiny - have forgotten how recently they would have kissed your hand for any sort of an enquiry about a car. We all quickly forget.
People have asked me what they should do. My answer is blunt: send an email or letter and say you are inclined to never darken their door again, but you'd like an explanation.
It is the tiny minority who give others a bad name. And remember, if they won't respond to a potentially lucrative matter, what way would they treat you if there was something wrong at your end?
The fact of the matter is that the digital era no longer confines our ambit of purchase. You can - and so many do - go elsewhere, to where your custom is valued; in other words, to the vast majority of professional outlets.
Not returning a call is unprofessional. There may be legitimate reasons, but you'd like to hear them, wouldn't you?
I hope that is of some help to those who have contacted me or were thinking of doing so.
The second issue is finance, and people are complaining that some things were not explained to them.
While there is an onus to inform customers and answer all questions, I do think that people often don't listen properly, are afraid to show their ignorance or are just slightly overcome by the whole buying experience and take it everything will be okay.
But please believe me, it is ultimately up to you to find out all that you need to know. Take a couple of days and an expert's opinion, if need be, but be aware of all pertinent facts.
Where finance, especially a PCP, is concerned, do not rush. They can be complicated enough and can take time to tease out. Take your time.
Be absolutely certain you know what you are signing up for.
It's a lot of money. Just make sure you can account for every cent of it.
It's too late when the blame game starts.