Saturday 18 November 2017

Garage Watch: Credit where it’s due – when a buyer can get it, that is

Park Motors, VW dealer, Navan Rd, Dublin 7

WE asked a young lady to accompany us on our recent garage tour – and what an adventure it turned out to be.

Park Motors comprises a complex of individual showrooms including Mercedes, Audi, Mazda and Volkswagen.

We focused on Volkswagen and our interest was primarily in a VW Golf diesel.

We went in the back way and found no shortage of clearly signed customer parking.

Surprisingly, we failed to find a specific disabled bay and noticed there was an absence of lined bays.

There were seven models, nicely displayed and carrying details, in the state-of-the-art showroom.

We were no time inside when Bernard Byrne came to assist.

We told him of our young lady's interest. Mr Byrne had just traded in an 07 GT Sport TDi and he invited us to see the car in their underground storage area.

He apologised for the vehicle not being valeted and explained that it had only arrived and was not even on their website. Now, seeing a car 'in its sins' can be a good thing for a prospective buyer as you can get an insight into how it was really cared for.

The asking price was ¿15,950 and Mr Byrne invited us to test drive it.

Mind you, test driving in Dublin traffic can make it difficult to get a real feel of a car. Anyway, we were invited to head down the N3.

One owner, with 46,603km on the clock, full service history -- this was a specimen car. A real genuine article, as the saying goes.

When we told Bernard there would not be a trade-in against it, he explained he could sell it for ¿14,750, fully checked, valeted. And he'd give us a one-year warranty.

As you can imagine, interest at this stage had moved from an exercise in mystery shopping to really serious consideration. The young lady was really interested.

We left her at Mr Byrne's desk discussing credit -- specifically VW credit.

We helped ourselves to tea and coffee while they got into deep conversation.

Everything was spick and span around the outlet.

Toilets, including disabled, coffee dock, etc were fine and there was a nice atmosphere in the showroom, with other potential customers looking at and talking about cars.

After Bernard and the young lady had finished discussing details, he promised to ring her the following Monday with the results. We thanked him and left in anticipation.

"Were you really interested?" we asked. "Yes, if I get the finance," the young lady replied. So, what did she think of the experience?

"While it could be off-putting for a girl to visit a dealership 'alone', that wasn't the case here. He treated me the same way that you would expect him to treat any young man that came in looking for a car. He was completely helpful."

The young lady pointed out that Bernard hadn't spoken to her in a manner that suggested she didn't have a clue. He talked spec and details just as he would to any interested male buyer. And that was much appreciated.

"He wasn't all about sell either. He could hold a normal conversation as well,'' she added.

On Monday he phoned to say that, despite offering ¿2,000 as a down payment, the loan application had been refused.

Interesting decision, we thought, considering the young lady had a good permanent job, with expenses and first-class qualifications.

Here was a case of the garage and salesman doing absolutely everything right -- but the crunch on credit beat them all.

We are not in a position to be specific, but there are instances of that scenario being repeated all over the place.

A sharp reminder of a harsh reality. If a person of this standing can't get a loan, then it really is frightening.


Location/access . . . . . . . . . 9.0

Customer parking . . . . . . . 9.0

Signage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.5

Showroom . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.5

Customer Facilities . . . . . . 9.0

Customer Service . . . . . . . 9.5

Models on display . . . . . . . 8.0

Deals offered . . . . . . . . . . . 9.5

We liked

Everything, especially finding a salesman who attended to the young lady and not the more elderly male friends who accompanied her.

We disliked

Finding that a highly educated, qualified young professional in a permanent full-time position was refused credit.

Overall impression

A fine shopping experience with an excellent atmosphere in the premises and fine salesman. But the credit rejection was hard to take.

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