Why CarQuake Matters – The Story of a Car Purchase…

Confusion and Frustration

Though most think that CarQuake is all about the price, something we pride ourselves in is the service offered by our dealers. When we claim that we offer the easiest way to buy a new car, what we mean by this is both a good price AND a good service. Recently, one of our staff put this to the test.

What We Were Looking For

The target car was a Ford S-Max Titanium. The detail of the spec was to come out of the conversations, but we decided to try the ‘traditional’ routes to market as well as the new ones… and here’s how they got on…

The ‘Local Dealer’ Experience

Offer: £16,995 for a New S-Max with Scrappage including a hidden £800 finance ‘bonus’

“We visited the local dealer on a Saturday afternoon, it was very quiet and there were staff around. Yet myself, my pregnant wife and our two kids were ignored. When we finally got hold of someone, the dealer didn’t even have a single new or used S-Max on site to show us because the business manager had taken it on holiday (why he couldn’t have taken any one of their Galaxy models was a question that sprung to mind, but was not asked!). They didn’t qualify us, capture our contact details or try to follow us up, and we were told that they would have a car in about 10 days time – when the business manager returned from holiday. They had two other locations, but didn’t attempt to get a car sooner for us.

“So, we returned and had a viewing and test drive and, to be fair, these were done properly. We decided we wanted panoramic sunroof and half-leather. So, this should have made the overall ‘deal’ about £18,500. But the finance offer was withdrawn, the special price was allegedly no longer available to them that quarter (even though it was their fault for the delay)… and suddenly they were asking for £20,000 for the car saying that no other Ford dealer would be able to do better than that. We left…

“We were phoned up a month later by another member of staff who informed us that the previous salesperson had left the business and asked whether we were still interested. No, we’d ordered elsewhere. The salesperson wasn’t particularly concerned as to reasons why – but we explained that we had bought an S-Max, but just not from them.”

Time wasted: 3 hours
Price differential: £1,500

Final Price: £20,150

The ‘Internet Best Deal’ Experience

Offer: £17,395 for a New S-Max with Scrappage inc. Metallic Paint

“So, at the same time, after visiting the local dealer first (and giving them the first opportunity) we also searched online and there was a great deal from a large national dealer group. We filled out the form on the website and sent it in. The dealer called up that afternoon, but we missed the call and it went to voicemail. It was a pretty garbled message, and we called back and left a message with the receptionist.

“We waited a week. Called again, the salesperson was apologetic and said that our message was not passed on to him. We went through the deal and, guess what, it had changed too. The metallic paint offer had somehow disappeared and because it was a factory order, the price had gone up. From expecting to pay about £18,750 the price was now £19,290.

We said that we would continue to look around for the car, and they said that they’d get back to us at the end of September when they knew what deals were available for the last quarter of 2009. We have still not received that call. But it’s too late in any case.”

Time wasted: 1 hour
Price differential: £500

Final Price: £19,290

The ‘Straight’ Experience

Offer: Price Match (within reason) Promise

“So, we called the next nearest dealer, just explained we were cash buyers and wanted to buy an S-Max, but it seemed that the two dealers we had previously spoken to were unable to match their advertised offers with real prices to us. Initially the dealer didn’t think they could compete, but with the shenanighans of other dealers, we returned to them and had an exchange of emails and were able to agree, in principle, what the price would be.

“We visited the showroom and by then we’d had the test drive and knew exactly what we wanted. We went through the paperwork and put a deposit down there and then for the new car and will be taking delivery late October. We’ve invited this dealer to participate on CarQuake… now they’re our kind of dealer.”

Time used: 2 hours
Price differential: None

Final Price: £18,780


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