I don’t just want to buy a new car - I need to buy a new car.
Well, if not buy, then lease. Either way, my wallet is open and my money is there for the taking.
In theory, this could not be more exciting. I like a good deal as well as a good car, and the fact that dealers are struggling to shift metal at the moment should surely play into my hands, leading to the swift arrival of something fresh on my driveway?
So why - oh why oh why - can’t I persuade anyone to sell me a car?
I started this journey with my eye on a premium branded electric car. I won’t name names, as I don’t want people to lose jobs on my account, but the model I wanted was new. I specced it out and asked a lease price. “Give us two weeks for them to be set and we’ll get back to you,” came the reply.
So I waited. And waited. And then I emailed two people at the same dealership asking for updates. Three times. Not a hint of a response. So then I gave up… before realising that I was interviewing a member of the company’s board around the corner from the dealership imminently.
Knowing the PR man knew of my intentions to buy one of the cars, I thought it prudent to give the dealership one last chance. After all, who wants to launch into a personal, petty moan in front of one of the most powerful men in the company? Better to get it sorted.
Finally, I got a response on email (disproving one of my concerns that the particular dealers I’d been in contact with had left). We agreed a date for them to call me. Hooray. But I missed the call and my meeting had passed. Rather than chase again, I thought I’d wait and see how much they wanted my business. That was a month ago. How hard is it to call?
Perhaps I’m being unreasonable; perhaps they really are too busy to chase up customers, even ones who have got so far down the line of buying that all they need is a dotted line to sign on? If there’s a queue of easier sales to be had, who can blame them? But, then again, electric cars aren’t exactly flying out the doors at the moment.
So while I was talking to another dealer I mentioned our budget. “We’ve got half a dozen pre-reg cars to shift,” came the reply. “Would one of those be of interest?”
So he rattled off some prices and specs of these small SUVs he had on offer but couldn’t shift, and I said that, yes, they would all be of interest. Although estimated, the prices sounded very tempting indeed. I was excited. He said he’d get back to me with specifics that afternoon. That was three weeks ago.
Trouble is, the lease on our current car is up in a month and I’ve wasted so much time waiting that I’ve got nothing in the order banks to take its place on the driveway. Shortly I’ll be reaching for James Ruppert’s phone number for some stop-gap Bangernomics advice. And the new car industry will lose another customer, at least for now.
Dealerships and dealers traditionally get a bad press and this is, of course, a sample of two of thousands out there. But you do have to wonder how bad things have to get before a business can find the time to pick up the phone to seal a deal.