Franchised dinosaurs to become extinct - Ubi
I'm in the market for a new car. An existing Audi customer for fifteen years, I wanted to drive an Audi, Mercedes and BMW before deciding. I arranged through the Audi web site to drive one of their cars. They made the arrangements with me during a long and tedious telephone conversation in which I had the opportunity to affirm such pressing matters as my age, budget (yes, I know the price of the car, thank you) and present model. In yet another call they confirmed that the model of my choice would respectfully await the honour of my driving on Saturday morning at 10am. Luckily I managed to sleep in spite of the excitement and I set off freshly shaved and fragranced to make the 30 minute journey to the dealership.

I arrived at a huge, sprawling car park described as an "auto complex" and initially found myself in the wrong area. One dedicated to sales of used thingies. Tacky motor cars used by other johnnies before being cast aside. They directed me smartly to another, more expensive area. All swooping roof, simulated tar road (and traffic jam) and aluminium by the continent. There's a feeling you get when you realise it's all going horribly wrong and it's time to stop digging. I got it. Then I ignored it. Another life mistake. When at last Audi's official representative appeared I had another chance to throw away the spade. Oh, he thought it was tomorrow. No that was right, it was today after all. I concurred and kept quiet. I know my days. He would just go and get the car for me sir.

But he wouldn't. Not as such. He did return. Not with a four wheeled automobile but more with a little problem. He did indeed claim to have lawful ownership of such a vehicle. It's just that, y'see sir, someone has taken the keys off the peg board sir and the car's not available to be driven. I saw the difficulty straight away. He could take my mobile sir and I could use up another couple of hours of my time trying again. I thought I would just leave it.

But after leaving the Audi dealership I thought I might as well try Mercedes while I had some time to kill. There I, who knows next to nothing about cars in practice, learned from the gnarled old sales boy that the E270CDI is a four cylinder car. It didn't sound right, even to me, 675cc per cylinder. I remembered something from schoolboy physics about engine balance becoming tricky after about 500cc per cylinder. That is actually a four banger, I'm only asking. I pointed at it and said four banger. Four cylinders sir, you wouldn't like it. The replacement 280CDi was more like it though. A full, unabbreviated five cylinders. None to get dirty in the road system, of course.

A perfect dupe I set off back home, 280 it is then. I was struck by the contrast between the brands' sales people. The Audi boys were all hatchet faced and clad in aggressive black, F1 style blousons. Mercedes more your brillcream and liver spots. It still didn't sound right, though, so I looked it up. And of course he is one cylinder short of a block in each case.

Half a day wasted on incompetent dealers supposedly flogging among the most expensive metal money can buy. An experience certainly not to be repeated. The one positive I take out of it is that there is no reason I should feel one iota of guilt when I eventually buy it from HJ advertiser for several thousand pounds less than the dealer price. Of course, I'll miss out on the personal service...
Franchised dinosaurs to become extinct - csgmart
A very well written [and amusing, but not I suspect for you] tale.

Trouble is there are plenty more [mugs] that will allow themselves to be taken in by all the cr*p and 'service' handed out by these establishments.

Reminds me of the time I went into my local Jag dealer to book my car in for a service. Being a good few years under 50 I was ignored for about 5 minutes, when it must have become obvious that I hadn't stumbled in and lost my way.

I was [somewhat] shocked when I went into a different Jag dealer [Reading] and was treated with the utmost respect, courtesy and attention - what a difference. Now there is one switched on dealership.

Perhaps, as ever in life, it comes down to the quality of the staff they employ. Sooner they work that one out the more money they might make.
Franchised dinosaurs to become extinct - cardriver
Just try and experience a Lexus dealership - they are in a different league all together (I suppose you would have to like the cars first though). The experience will be far better - gauranteed.
I have mentioned this before but for the purpose of this post - a friend took a GS for a test drive - all arranged perfectly - no pressure - full tank of petrol - clean car - when he returned his car was fully valeted.
I have heard similar stories from other Lexus owners as well.
Franchised dinosaurs to become extinct - midlifecrisis
I have to admit that the thing that swung the 407 coupe was the quality of the dealer (Yep..a good Peugeot dealer). I initially turned up for a 24hr test drive to blank faces. Here we go, I thought, but it turned out I had actually booked it at the wrong place. They couldn't have been more helpful. Took a pre-reg off their forecourt, checked it out and gave me the keys.

The sales chap has always been straight down the line (although like to think I come across as someone appears to know a little about what I'm doing). The car is due to arrive next week, so I've got my fingers crossed!
Franchised dinosaurs to become extinct - daveyjp
My latest Audi experience. Called a week last Tuesday wanting a drive in a 2.0TDi 170. They didn't have one, but assured me they would have one by the Friday. Appointment arranged for Saturday afternoon. Call on Friday afternoon telling me car had arrived and confirming time for Saturday. Call on Saturday morning to confirm once again. Arrived at due time, keys handed to me and I had the car for 3 hours.

New car ordered this afternoon - deal done in 20 minutes - no fuss, no drama, no disappearing to 'ask the manager' every 2 minutes. Cost to change was within £200 of what I was looking at paying - they wouldn't come down on the price, but did chuck in a car seat for my daughter which would have cost me £130.

Franchised dinosaurs to become extinct - Bill Payer
I've had the same experiences in Audi and MB dealers as the OP, and I've quite literally never been spoken to in my local BMW dealer, despite having visited it several time. I'd be quite interested in a 530d, but it's not going to happen if they ignore me.

What amazes me is that all apparently all these companies use mystery shoppers - I love to be a fly on the wall when the dealer principal gets the results, although nothing has changed much in the 30 years I've been buying cars.

I managed to wangle a corporate MB demonstrator through out fleet supplier at work and I went on to buy a nearly new one from MB Direct, where they (at least the salesman I dealt with in the Birmingham branch) were *very* keen to sell me a car - nothing was too much trouble.

Looking for a car with my daughter recently, I was so overwhelmed by every aspect of our local Mitsubishi dealership that we ordered a Colt, even though we'd really only gone in to look.
Franchised dinosaurs to become extinct - Aprilia
When I've got a bit of time I will type a long post about the workings of some of these dealers. I don't work for one, but I know a lot of people who do.
Basically amongst the 'prestige' brands you still have overcapacity and they are all chasing market share. Also the dealerships are forced to invest millions to meet 'dealer standards' imposed as a condition of franchise. Despite MB, BMW etc increasing sales, many of their dealer are making little profit and in some cases are looking at very big losses. Its all topsy-turvey from 10 years ago. They are often given virtually impossible targets - this has resulted, e.g. in BMW having to punt out cars to brokers at 16% discount last Autumn. A lot of owner-managed MB dealerships are now owned directly by MB and there is not the close management control that there should be - the employees act like employees of any large and anonymous foreign-owned company so customer service has deteriorated. To keep shifting the metal they have had to keep prices down and add value (e.g. electronic gizmo's) this means the margin on each car is less and so more cars have to be sold to maintain overall profit. In other words 'prestige' sellers are now no different from 'volume' sellers.
Also, to keep down costs, service dept is told by manfr. not to 'identify warranty faults' during servicing - i.e. if you spot a fault and customer isn't aware of the fault then keep quiet about it. etc etc.
You have to realise that you're interested in cars and the guys running these operations are not - they don't talk about cars, they talk about 'units', KPI's, ROI etc etc. - from their perspective they would as likely be selling potatoes or running a bakery. The service/parts guys are all on targets and bonus and its about 'upselling' and making 'parts count' for the month; i.e. they are expected to shift a certain number of parts - this is why your car sometimes gets a new part it doesn't actaully need. Speak to any ex-main dealer tech and they will tell you amusing tales about taking customer for a (very expensive) ride on service and repair cost. Really the whole system is just 'wrong'. In what other business can a dealer be 'punished' for selling a product to someone who lives in the 'wrong' territory (i.e. postcode area) - manfrs get data from DVLA on their registrations and will hit any dealer who is treading on the toes (area) of another. And they also do 'mystery shops' to keep discounting etc in check. All hiding behind Block Exemption. I think the more you know about the franchise system the less you like it.
Franchised dinosaurs to become extinct - Aprilia
Actually, of the supposed 'prestige' brands I reckon Audi have got it mostly right. They have an element of 'youth appeal' (i.e. the A3) at the bottom of the range - this brings in new blood. Merc and BMW don't have this - the 'A-class' is for middle aged, as is the 1-series (in fact I'm not sure who its really for, but that's another matter).
The killer advantage of Audi is of course the massive amount of componentry shared across the whole VW, Skoda, SEAT range - this bears down heavily of component costs and allows development costs to be shared across the brands. They are a 'prestige' brand with 'volume' costs.
Franchised dinosaurs to become extinct - Bill Payer
The killer advantage of Audi .....
They are a 'prestige' brand with 'volume' costs.

Certainly at the A4 2.0L TD is a significantly lower list price than its BMW and Mercedes equivalents.

I'd say that there is a perception that it's not at the same 'level' as a BMW or a Merc - it's a slightly off the wall choice in company car circles, although younger drivers do like the S Line models, if their company policies will allow it.
Franchised dinosaurs to become extinct - Westpig
i've had absolutely spot on service from a Plymouth Jaguar dealer.......and more than acceptable from a North London one (Barnet)

although the Plymouth one has been bought out now by a well known chain and i've yet to test them
Franchised dinosaurs to become extinct - Number_Cruncher
I tend to agree with Aprilia's realistic view of dealers.

However, I can't understand why the OP is so concerned about how much the order takers know about the car he is buying once your signature is on the dotted line, they become largely irrelevant. For on-going support, you need to be sure that the staff in parts and service know their onions.

If you are thinking of spending N thousand pounds in a glass and chrome palace, and haven't done your homework, and don't have a good idea what you want to buy, then I find it difficult to have much sympathy. It's fairly obvious that anyone paid by a company has a conflict of interest, and will never give you completely un-biased advice.

Number_Cruncher
 

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