15 August 2018

all Betts off at Suzuki

This is a blog post by Derek Dishman, the real person behind Mr Mustard, so is written in the first person.

I am in the market for a new car as I have done a lot of miles this year in my lovely Audi A3 due to commuting to Kettering from Barnet. I can buy what I like but do consider what my girlfriend or lady co-director would be happy driving.

I've looked at a few cars and got myself a shortlist of 4 completely different cars.

On Monday I popped to Glyn Hopkins at St Albans to test drive an Alfa Romeo Giulietta. A fine car, very similar to my A3, and on the short list.

Today I had arranged through Suzuki head office to test drive a Vitara S at Anthony Betts at Water End just north of Hemel Hempstead (it turns out). When I tested the Alfa on Monday they simply took a photocopy of my driving licence and then I was handed the keys, and with a salesman in the passenger seat, out we went for a quick circuit of local roads. No fuss, no drama, no pressure.

Oh dear me, it was so much different at Anthony Betts. I told the young salesman that I was interested in the S model, a manual petrol car. I was going to pay by cash and trade in my Audi A3. He mentioned the 0% finance deal, I said it was of no interest. I gave him my driving licence to photocopy. Then he said he had to read a screen of blurb to me from Automotive Compliance. No you don't, I said, as I don't want credit, I don't want gap insurance and I don't want anything they may have to offer. I just want to test drive a car which I haven't yet decided if I will buy or not and if I do I will simply give you the money for it.

This is what Automotive Compliance are about, upselling, you can forget it in my case

I do not want finance, HP, a lease, a PCP nor GAP insurance nor anything else you are selling, I simply want to buy a car in the same way I would a bottle of wine. I give you money, you give me a car or a bottle of wine, preferably a car if that is what I paid for.

This caused some consternation as I had departed from the script. I was told I had to agree to this to get a test drive. I read the blurb. I pointed out that it said I had to agree to my data going to Automotive Compliance* ('AC'), which I didn't, as I wasn't asking for any of their products, all I wanted to do was test drive a car and then if I liked it, pay by cash. I would have no relationship with AC and therefore my data did not need to go to them. I was starting to get mad at the misrepresentation which was occurring and which most of the public wouldn't understand.

I told the young salesman that I would not be agreeing to involving AC in any way, least of all giving my data to them. He said he would have to talk to his manager. OK I said. 5 or 10 minutes passed whilst I was left to stew. The salesman came back and said he had spoken to his Director who said I could have a test drive if I signed his pad, the one which said I didn't want credit, that confirmed I had refused to agree to the compliance statement about the credit I didn't want. At this point I decided enough was enough, I was too mad to test drive someone else's car, although calm enough in my own, and said I was leaving. I was polite to the young salesman and that I understood it wasn't his fault but that making me sign irrelevant documents was just too much for me.

Suzuki head office don't come out of this very well either. Firstly they sent me here.

which is a closed site, the dealer showroom being 6 miles away now. I was early so still made it to the dealer on time but it added stress that I did not need (I cannot stand being late to a meeting, even one with an ignorant dealership).

Secondly when phoning me to confirm the test drive they wanted to take me back through the marketing options which I had carefully declined earlier that day, by carefully leaving the four boxes unchecked

I don't need to go through my choices again less than 4 hours later, I know my own mind. It is as if Suzuki didn't like my choices so hoped I would change them, fat chance.

As it happens the Alfa dealer is part of a big chain which also has a Suzuki franchise so I will take a test drive there and then make my mind up what to buy.

One thing is certain is that I won't be buying it at Anthony Betts Ltd. The other dealer will be getting my business, whichever model it is I eventually choose.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

* I have sent a Subject Access Request to AC to see if any dealer has given them my details as whilst at the Countryfile Live show I also agreed to my details to be given to Jeep for the sole purpose of arranging a test drive. I haven't driven the Compass as it doesn't have a proper manual handbrake so fell off the list. The answer will be interesting from AC.

Update 15 August: I decided to put the car into CarWow and see what savings I could make.

One dealer has responded so far and has offered a discount of £840 if I take out a Personal Contract Purchase plan with 0% finance but a discount of £1,840 if I pay outright (less my trade in of course).

What we see from this is that 0% finance offers are not free. You pay for them by paying a greater capital sum for the car, a difference of £1,000.

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