I’ve just spend a frustrating morning at Volvo Cars West London in Chiswick getting my XC60 serviced.
The dealership – which describes itself as Volvo UK’s flagship - had worked on my car before, but I’d used its pick up and return service. It was excellent – although on that occasion they knew it was an Autocar-run car.
This time I wanted to visit in person, to see if the experience would be the same. When I booked over the phone, the lady told me I could wait while the job was done, saying the work would take about an hour.
Yet I hadn’t even stepped from my car when an employee marched up to the window looking harassed. I explained why I was there, but there was no greeting, no offer of help. “You’ll have a long wait, they’re just about to begin a break,” she said. “Park over there.” And off she walked.
I walked in to the showroom. The lady on reception was charming and led me straight to the service desks, one of which was manned. It was about four paces between the two areas, yet the man on the service desk still found time to pick up his phone and then ignore me.
After a few moments he was kind enough to apologise, explain he was on hold and then go back to the phone. A moment later he asked someone to find someone else to help me.
Sadly, the man who emerged to help just confirmed what I’d been told earlier. “You’re in for a long wait,” he said. I explained that I’d be told it would only take an hour, and pointed to the fact it said in big letters “Waiting” on my booking in form. Surely that was clue that I’d want to be in and out quickly.
“Maybe if you’d been here at eight,” he said.
“Why didn’t you tell me that when I booked,” I pleaded.
“It’s always the way it works here,” he said. “That’s how it is.”
“But this is my first service here,” I responded. “I don’t know how you work. I service my car every 18,000 miles, so I can’t be expected to know the details of how you work every day.”
“Sorry,” he said, but he didn’t offer any sort of solution. “It’ll be two hours.”
So I settled down in the very plush waiting area – there was a nice coffee machine, a fridge full of drinks, wi-fi and so on.
Given the number of staff wandering round, I fully expected to be interrupted, and offered a test drive of the new D5 engine, or to be talked through the Drive range or somesuch. I was, after all, now a captive audience.
But, no, nobody spoke to me. I’m not complaining too much, as I had work to do – but it did seem odd in the current economic climate that a group of salesmen wouldn’t take five minutes to try and sell me anything.
Anyhow, I waited two hours, but nobody came to tell me where my car was. I gave it another 15 minutes and went to find someone to ask what was happening. At least I got some good news – the car was just being cleaned, and would be ready in just a few more minutes.
A full 35 minutes later, I was led to my car. The guy from the service department walked me to it, and then walked off without saying a word. I stood and waited, and then went and found him.
“Am I good to go then?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said with a shrug. “That’s it.”
“Don’t you even say goodbye, or talk me through the work or something?”
“No, that’s it, you’re done,” he said, and walked off.
I was £329.85 poorer for the service (£82.95 for oil, anyone?). In my eyes, though, the damage done to the dealership’s reputation in my eyes is far greater than the bill itself.
I’ll never go back to Volvo Cars West London again – not least because I have been in other Volvo dealers that make no claims about being flagships, but offer far better service.
Once again, a premium dealer has provided a less than premium service. Sometimes it feels to me that every visit to a dealer prompts some sort of moan, but I don't see that as any reason to accept second-best service - especially at top-rate prices.
What are your dealership experiences like?