Reasonable expectations? - Rebecca {P}
Some of you may have seen my rant about a Citroen dealer in the thread about a new Picasso. I have just come back from another Citroen dealership which was at least clean, but still woefully poor (in my opinion) at customer service.

This is what I expect when I go to a dealer for a new car.

1. That within a few minutes someone will ask if I need any help or that they will be with me in a minute.

2. That they will ask questions to establish whether I know which model I am interested in.

3. Once they know this that they will take me to a display model and ask if I would like them to 'talk me through' the features/options of the car.

4. That they offer to arrange/book a test drive if I seem interested.

5. That they try to make the price of the car attractive, possibly by suggesting there may be a deal in the offing (not just by pointing to the figure on a scrappy price list without saying the number out loud which is what happened just now)

So that's my list for an initial visit. Is it so unreasonable? Or so difficult? I reluctantly accept that being female is not to my advantage in the land of the dealer principal, but I'm smartly dressed (today anyway) and having a young family I would have thought I was prime target Picasso material.

What do you expect when you visit a dealership?
Reasonable expectations? - eMBe {P}
Thats what I expect and I make sure I get it. Ask for it if they dont give it to you. To be blunt:

The way most dealerships/salesstaff work is that they size you up within 5 seconds as either 1. potential customer or 2. time waster. If they think you are the latter, you will get the treatment you got.

There is a campaign being lauched today to teach the Brits how to be more proactive consumers. Its main message is "You generally only get what you deserve or ask for".
Reasonable expectations? - Rebecca {P}
Which begs the question, how do I go about getting identified as a potential customer?

(by the way, the kids weren't with me today, but I mentioned them early on in the conversation)
Reasonable expectations? - teabelly
I'd say that going over to the cars and opening doors, sitting in seats, opening the boot etc should suggest that you are serious as people don't tend to handle display goods unless they are fairly serious in actually buying something. Having specific requirements when you talk to them also helps. If you say I want x, with y, no z what have you got? It sounds better than 'ah, erm, I'm looking for a car...They should ask you questions but they need something to go on first.
Reasonable expectations? - No Do$h
Hi Rebecca.

In your previous thread you mentioned "I went to the local dealer to arrange a test drive...and was totally ignored for the 10 minutes I was there. And the dealership was a complete mess - no literature for the Picasso anywhere to be seen. OK so we know I'm not buying from there, but they didn't."

Having worked in a few main dealerships in my time I'm afraid that many sales staff get a sixth sense for those who want to try but don't wish to buy and they are invariably spot-on with their psychic ability as it becomes a truism.

I'm all too aware of this attitude as it was my job to try and train it out of them. Classic example was a chap who came in wearing filthy overalls whilst his sierra-based pick-up was being serviced and started grubbing around a fully-loaded Scorpio. All the salesmen sniffed and ignored him so I made an approach, to audible sniggers from the established sales staff. I eventually established that the chap was originally planning on buying a Scorpio and an Escort Cabriolet (I didn't say he had taste) from another dealer because of this approach.

Delighted to say I not only got the order for the cars, but sold him a Transit Flareside for the business a couple of weeks later.

Just to rub salt into the sales-staff's wounds I wasn't on commission, so arranged for the equivalent commission to be very publicly donated to my favourite charity.

If you stick to your guns and make a direct approach to any sales staff, explain that you are coming out of a company car, are aware of deals available from brokers and ask the salesman if he wants the sale or not, you may be pleasantly surprised. At least if he says "no" you have the opportunity to say "your loss" and head off elsewhere.

No Dosh ** Quick, talk motoring, Mark's coming! **
Reasonable expectations? - ChrisV
No Dosh,
I'm afraid most of the morons that work in Main Dealer showrooms round here have a very poorly developed sixth sense!
A friend of mine (well spoken, well dressed lady) went into a Merc dealership and received exactly the treatment Rebecca described. They were very reluctant to speak to her and flatly refused to arrange a test drive (in a fairly high spec car).
She then went to a nearby BMW dealer and got a great deal on a 330 Ci switchable auto with full M-sport interior and exterior treatment. I guess the Merc salesman missed out on the commission on £33K +.
The sooner these people realise they're not selling the holy grail, just lumps of metal, the better. Trouble is they have it too easy, as has been said elsewhere in this thread.
Reasonable expectations? - RichL
/ Slight tangent

Its a sad fact that many shops act in the same way. More than once I've gone into a shop and felt like I'd have to wave a wad of cash about Loadsamoney style to attract the attention of the handful of sales staff idling behind the counter.
Long ago I was taught that the type of customer businesses fear most isnt the type who comes in the shop and rants and raves about poor service - it's the type who goes off quietly and never comes back again. At least with the ranter you can tell what you've done wrong and try and placate them.

If there's an option, vote with your feet and go elsewhere. If they treat you like this when you're trying to BUY a car, what's likely to happen if you have any problems with it?
Reasonable expectations? - zm
......or pay for.
Reasonable expectations? - eMBe {P}
"Which begs the question, how do I go about getting identified as a potential customer?" <<

Right R, you are now talking business. This is how I would do it:

1. Go in and straight away ask reception to find you a "salesman" to talk about your requirements. Talk in an asertive (not agressive or timid) business like manner.

2. You tell them of the 1 or 2 narrowed down choices you want o look at. Tell them your position re. cash/lease buyer, no car to sell, company car tax forces private purchase etc., and they will see that you mean business.

3. Behave as if this is the only place you will look at to buy your car. Give no hint of intention to take business elsewhere. Do not say you want brochures to take away or to think about things.

4. Negotiate seriously right up to point of actually signing on the dotted line. You can tell them of the price at the Brokers towards the end. Walk away at the end only after you have got what you want (i.e. just information, or maybe a car).
Reasonable expectations? - Shigg

Shame on them for treating you like this but I'm not surprised, it's not just car dealers that's the problem, it's most retail places. I used to work for a large DIY (stop that laughing!) a customer asks a female member of staff about floor stain, he obviously didn't get the answer he was expecting because he came around to the next isle I was working on and asked me the same thing. I gave him exactly the same advice, the other member of staff was bang on. I know this is in reverse but it shows how things are. You should see the way I've been treated in shops when buying the sort of items usually associated with women (no I don't mean underwear), things like sewing machine accessories, kitchen appliances, etc. They treat you like a village idiot. Still maybe they were right, shouldn't admit to buying that kind of stuff. OK you can laugh now!
Good Luck.

Reasonable expectations? - Rebecca {P}
Don't get a brochure?

I have learned more from the brochure I picked up today (only last year's available, the 2003 version isn't at the dealers yet) than from a salesman and the Citroen official website combined.
Reasonable expectations? - GS
Customer service in volume dealerships will only improve when executives in car companies loose their company cars and have to pay for 'their' cars out of 'their' own disposable income, visit their own dealerships as a real customer, experience depreciation and the cost to change, have to book 'their' car in for a service and experience waiting for parts, lack of loan car avaliability, no customer car parking, constant recals etc. etc. When this happens, customer service will improve overnight.

From one who knows.
Reasonable expectations? - Phil I
The roar of pigs leaving on runway Nr. 5 springs to mind.

Happy Motoring Phil I
Reasonable expectations? - GS
The roar is not from flying pigs but from the car company Lear jet.
Reasonable expectations? - Martin Wall
You are correct and it sounds as though you have been treated poorly but then I would hazard a guess that this applies to us all. My personal favourites include:

- At a Mitusubishi dealer when I was looking to buy a brand new car and had the cash in the bank waiting to be spent only to be told when the 'salesman' saw my trade-in "Do you not think it's a bit of step up to a new !" and then walked away to get a cup of tea and watch football on tv - I didn't buy a car from him!

Yet the manufacturer isn't really a guide - you get excellent and abysmal dealers for just about all manufacturers.

If you aren't planning on buying a car from a local dealer then maybe see if you can hire a Picasso for a day to see if it suits BUT remember that a broker supplies his cars via a dealer and gets paid per sale so you have the potential to undercut the broker price if you shop around playing one dealer off another.

What model BMW do you have because I think the Picasso will be more practical but will feel more fragile.

Also BMWs are very expensive cars - hence the smart showrooms/potentially better customer service - you are paying for this.

Good luck!

Reasonable expectations? - Rebecca {P}
a 318i SE Touring (I know, Estate) Automatic.
Reasonable expectations? - eMBe {P}
"Don't get a brochure?" <<

R - that's because people who pick up brochures are seen as "anoraks", time-wasters, window-shoppers, just-looking, and not serious punters. The serious ones at the buying stage who are worth the time of a salesperson are those who have already done all their research. They will have picked up a brochure or preferably ordered one by phone or internet.

In all salespeople oriented businesses, salesstaff are usually on a commission; and learn that it is worth losing the odd customer due to a mistaken 5 second appraisal. They get this right in most cases, and seem to have seen through you (as someone who will buy elsewhere, and who just wants to milk them for free info and a test drive).
Reasonable expectations? - Martin Wall
They get this right in most cases, and seem to have seen through you (as someone who will buy elsewhere, and who just wants to milk them for free info and a test drive).

Tosh! Is it not entirely possible that the people that Rebecca has encountered are just rude/not very good salespeople? If they haven't spoken to someone who comes into their showroom how can they know whether or not they are a serious/potential buyer?

Also young and/or female buyers seem to bear the brunt of this rudeness at many dealers.

Goood salespeople try to establish a rapport with those who enter their showroom - after all today's tyre-kicker could be next month's purchaser - yes?
Reasonable expectations? - Mondaywoe
I bought a Citroen C5 last May. Believe it or not, I test drove it at one dealer then Emailed an order for one another dealer - a dealer whose premises I'd never seen in my life, but who came highly recommended (HJ and others)

The deal was concluded by Email and my first visit was to collect the new car.
The dealer has been superb!

What I wanted to comment on, however, was the treatment I had at a large Rover dealership. I hadn't finally decided on a Citroen and thought I'd look at a Rover 75.

Went in, dressed in sports jacket, shirt and tie. Went across to A 75 on display, opened doors, sat in seats etc.

After about 10 mins a young salesman came across. Said I'd like to test drive a diesel. 'Certainly, sir'

Asked him if the 75 had a common rail diesel. He looked blank and said he'd have to find out. (Uh oh!)

He then proceeded to 'take a few particulars' before he could let me have a test drive, This took about another 20 mins. I explained I was in a hurry because it was my lunch hour. 'no problem, sir, we'll get a car looked out for you...'

First of all, I'll need to have a run in your present car so we can give you a valuation.

We went out to my car (early Xantia) He got in, started the engine and was about to drive off when I advised him to 'wait until the suspension rises' He said he didn't know they did that (!) He then drove the car 100 yards across the yard (not an inch more!) and said 'Well, I can see this car's in perfect order' Now it had 105,000 miles on the clock and for someone who didn't know what a common rail diesel was - or how Citroen suspension behaved, he must have had a phenomenal ability to appraise a car!

So we got out and he went back into the showroom.

There then came another 20 minutes or so while he went out to the yard, checked various sheets etc.

He eventually decided they didn't actually have a diesel saloon available, but there was an estate sandwiched behind several other cars.

Back into the showroom to find the keys for the other cars. Another 10 minutes spent shuffling cars around to reach the estate. Once he got within spitting distance of it he started to reel off its various features.

Yes, yes I know, but I'd really like to see how the engine performs, so can we get going?

Oh yes, sir, I'll just get her out for you.

Oh dear, it seems there isn't any diesel in the tank!

Perhaps sir could come back some other day......

Sound of Xantia making quick dash to Citroen dealers!

I've still never had a run in a 75. I reckon a little TLC might have made me interested, at least.

Reasonable expectations? - DavidHM
As an ex-salesperson (but not of cars) I was talking about this in the pub tonight with some of my former colleagues. Their opinion was that, though you risk sometimes being FTW'd (the T and W stand for Time and Waster, the F you can guess yourself) you can usually work out what a customer will be interested in, but not whether or not they are ready to buy immediately.

My take is that a well dressed, female customer in her 30s, who has children, might well be interested in anything from a Yaris to an MR2 to a Previa, in the case of a Toyota dealer, but if she is not an obvious anorak, she is worth taking seriously. Someone who is serious about buying, but who is just checking out the competition, is a worthwhile prospect in my opinion, because just to get her through the doors the local dealer must have something that her intended supplier doesn't.

On a car purchase, getting within £300 of the broker would probably be enough to close the deal - and would almost certainly mean at least £300 of profit for that dealer. It's not much, but surely worth 15 minutes of anyone's time. Being FTWd is frustrating, but a good salesperson will realise that you don't close every deal and in the end it's a numbers game.
Reasonable expectations? - mab23
I have had similar experiences at a Merc garage. I was driving a 4 year old Ford Ka with 63k on the clock, and wanted a nearly-new SLK.

Head salesman who initially came out to the forecourt to say hello got bored when he saw my my trade-in (!!). The one SLK they had in wasn't worth the money for the condition it was in. They didn't have any other SLKs in so I got the brush-off as a time-waster to their most junior salesman who had just started.

Junior salesman however persevered, and a month later when a spanking 1 yr old SLK came in called me up, arranged a test drive, and got himself a 29k sale the same day. And yes they did take the Ka in part-exchange!

Reasonable expectations? - puntoo
Similar experience trying to get a test drive of a diesel scenic, one dealership made it sound as though they were doing me a favour and would try to get one in a few days, the other had one in stock and I went and drove (and bought) the car the next day. When I rang first dealership he sounded so pathetic, and tried to make me feel bad because I had wasted his time.

Simple answer is, if they jerk you around go to another dealership.
Reasonable expectations? - Nick R
Your experience doesn't sound at all like the one we had at our local Citroen dealer (Wokingham, Berks).
In October we started looking for a replacement for our ageing Nissan Primera Estate and looked at/test drove the Peugeot 406 estate; Ford Mondeo Estate; VW Passat Estate; Audi A4 (until we saw the prices!); Toyota Corolla Verso. We experienced varying degrees of either disinterest or pressure tactics (e.g. I've got someone really interested & if you don't give me a deposit NOW, you might lose it), until we got to the Citroen dealership. There we saw the Picasso, expressed an interest and were immediately offered a test drive - on our own, with no salesman in the car with us, so that we could discuss its merits openly - then afterwards sat down, given a cup of coffee, and talked through what Citroen could do in the way of a special offer to ensure we placed an order for a Picasso. We were given facts when we asked for them and left alone to talk amongst ourselves when we needed to. We even came back the next day with the kids (teenagers) to let them have a look at it before we made up our mind. Questions asked by both myself and my wife were answered honestly and without the expected "spin" that you usually get from car dealers and there was no chauvinism involved - he understood that it was a collective family decision and not the male prerogative to choose the new family car.
We finally settled on the Picasso 1.8 Exclusive and took delivery on 1st November. It's a lovely car both to drive and to be a passenger in. The versatility of the 3 independently moveable, reclining, removeable rear seats is excellent (full size mountain bikes have been in & out) and it even meets the approval of The Teenagers, one of whom is already a driver and inherited the Primera.
Citroen UK followed up our purchase a few weeks later with a telephone questionnaire on the dealer's customer service. Try as I might, I could not answer any question with an answer other than "excellent".
If you still want a Picasso -we are very very pleased with ours- then try a different dealer.

Reasonable expectations? - Rebecca {P}
I ordered it last week - from Lovekyn in Kingston. They were so helpful, as were Dutton Forshaw in Preston (mentioned in HJ's News) All sorted over the phone (test drive done locally, dealer couldn't match the prices from Lovekyn and DFP)

Paul at Lovekyn just clinched the deal by being located closer to home, and being extra helpful by taking photos and emailing them to me. I would recommend either both dealers to be honest.

Hope to get the car mid March - A silver one.
Reasonable expectations? - THe Growler
The service ethic as I know it is incompatible with the British character. It is somehow demeaning to accept the customer is doing you a favor rather than the other way around. I quote, hotels, gas stations, banks, pubs, you name it. All of their staff have been force fed the Company Manual How To Be Nice To People 101 but that's as far as it goes. That's why I live in Asia. Even the often bored US have-a-nice-day-culture is usually backed by a get-the-job-done-ethic. Give me Asia.

Ford here, you get a cup of coffee or a coke while you browse around, a young lady will bring you a news paper if you decide to sit down on nice leather seating while you peruse the catalog. She will not hover but tell you where she is if you need her. If you want to watch HBO while your car is being oil-changed you can sit in our surround-sound cinema. How about your children sir? Would they like to play in our supervised play area? Is there anything else I canget you , sir?

Yes, I'd like to know what my car is worth against this one and what is the price of the new Lynx over there. Certainly sir (brings out PAlm PDA and goes on line to the local intranet. No pens papers or scribble notes. Ok sir, this is how it looks like...

I will think about it. Of course sir. May I please have your cell phone number and here's my card. 3 days later, good evening sir I hope I'm not disturbing you. This is Heidi from Ford and I was wondering if we had given you enough information during our meeting the other day? Is there anything else you would like to know? May I ask if you wish to proceed with the sale? You don't? I'm sorry to hear that sir, may I ask why? Your partner likes the Honda better. Well sir, I'm sorry to hear that but I understand. Please do keep Ford in mind for the future. Thank you sir, sorry for disturbing you and good evening.

Actual Growler experience and this is what I expect. If any company doesn't me that badly I have the ultimate sanction: to walk.

Ask Honest John

Value my car