I first encountered The Car Shop Strood, a few years back when I was looking to upgrade my then car for something a tad more reasonable. I found a Land Rover sitting on their forecourt which appeared to be ideal for what I was planning, touring, holidays etc..
The staff at that time came across as a friendly bunch of folk and as someone who was about to spend a few bob I felt quite comfortable in doing business with them. A deal was struck and the vehicle went off for a new MOT examination to be completed and the relevant certificate issued. I had taken the vehicle for a brief test drive and found the clutch pedal to be a tad difficult to depress. I mentioned same to the salesman,( who shall remain nameless) and was assured that the clutch was fine and would eventually become easier to use???
I subsequently collected the Land Rover waving goodbye to my old mode of transport and took possession of keys and relevant paperwork for the ‘new’ car. To cut a long story as short as possible, the Land Rover was riddled with Gremlins. It was obvious that apart from getting the vehicle to be legally on the road, viz a new MOT no other peripheral checks had been made by The Car Shop.
The vehicle from day one kept stalling (always on a blind bend for some reason) This required firstly a new injector to be installed which failed to cure the problem. Then a rather expensive fitting had to be sourced, a High Pressure Fuel Pump. In between all this the clutch had to be replaced, a rear window electric motor had also required attention. The back window which should have operated in a similar fashion never did.
In fairness all the aforementioned work/repairs (except the back window) were carried out at the expense of The Car Shop under warranty. That said I asked and kept requesting for copies of the relevant paperwork showing what work and assorted parts had been replaced and installed. Nothing was ever forthcoming. I even spoke with the salesperson requesting same but all to no avail
Fast forward to November 2018. and I am again considering changing my vehicle having promised myself not to buy anything ever again from The Car Shop but I found myself wandering around their forecourt Their prices appear (on the surface at least) very favourable to other second hand car sales forecourts. Whilst wandering I met up with one of the original sales team I had met previously. Again the salesperson who shall remain nameless although I am sure if they are reading this they will know who I am referring to, had a chat and the salesperson advised me that The Car Shop had taken over a yard at the opposite end of the town where more vehicles were stored and I was invited to visit and inspect the numerous vehicles on this site.
I eventually visited, what I would call an ‘overflow site’, and found what I thought was a suitable replacement vehicle a Fiat 500L 1.4 cc on a 2013 plate. I discussed this with the salesperson and was invited to take a test drive. The test drive took place a few days later. The price was discussed and I was initially informed that, ‘……..as it was Christmas I could either have £300 off the screen price or £300 cash back’ I was quite impressed at this offer, however it was short lived, as apparently the car I was part exchanging was not valued enough to warrant the full offer??? However I was given a £100 off the screen price?? In hindsight when this was explained I should have walked away, but it appears that when one is buying such things as cars etc one’s vision gets ‘blinkered’ and no one ‘sees the wood for the trees.’ So the deal went ahead on the 1st December 2018. The car had a fresh MOT certificate, was fully taxed and insured. Strangely one might think my apparently worthless car became the Car Shop’s car of the week!!! Funny old world
Having taken possession of my ‘new’ car I started to go through the numerous bits n pieces that it was apparently capable of. In doing so I twiddled with the radio/CD player which also gives access to assorted functions on the car many of which at this time I have still yet to fully explore. The reason for this, read on…….
Whilst twiddling with the radio I found that the radio did not work on the AM band. Yeah Yeah I know,’ Who listens to AM’ when the FM is better quality etc etc .. Well I am one of the very few perhaps who does tune into an array of stations on the AM band. But that aside it may well have been I had found a different malfunction in another area. Hands Free, CD player etc (It should perhaps be of interest to note that a new Fiat Radio unit, costs somewhere in the region of over £900) I also found that the rear windscreen washer did not push water through. Also the rear parcel shelf was missing. It was there when I first checked the vehicle but between then and my purchasing the car it had somehow gone missing. There were no carpets in the vehicle either. These facts was also mentioned.
I went back to The Car Shop and spoke with the salesperson and mentioned the fault on the radio, I was told that it was probably because there was poor reception, and anyway the FM worked perfectly!!! As for the parcel shelf efforts would be made to locate it otherwise a new one would be put on order
I was asked to bring the car in for these problems to be addressed.
On the 5th December, just four days after the sale, I returned the vehicle back to The Car Shop, for the aforementioned problems to be addressed.
On the 6th December I was advised by the salesperson by phone that the problems had been addressed and I could collect the car from them. I queried the radio and was informed that whilst they didn’t know exactly what the problem had been it was now sorted. I travelled to The Car Shop where I met up with another salesperson, apparently the person I had been dealing with was on a half day and had left the premises. This second salesperson who shall also remain nameless, but again if they are reading this they will know who I am referring to. Having introduced myself I was taken to a small workshop on the premises where my car was parked. I asked the salesperson what had been the problem with the radio, I was told that it was working perfectly. ‘On AM ?’ I enquired?’ ‘No, on the FM it’s fine’ There then followed what I can only describe as an appalling example of Customer Care. The conversation began to turn quite rapidly into an argument. Me being told that I had bought a car not a radio.. I in turn trying to explain that having paid my money (total of just short of £7000) I expected the vehicle to be 100%. If there were problems, whatever they might be they were down to them The Car Shop to sort and rectify. My view was that the car should not have been offered for sale without a check, or if it was the new owner, (me) should have been appraised, needless to say no check had been made and I certainly was not advised of any ongoing problems.
I informed the sales person that had I been aware of the ongoing problems I would not have bought the car. To which the salesperson seemed quite surprised. I was then told that this person had once sold cars from a main dealer and quite often the cars would arrive with bits adrift. I am a tad unclear as what exactly this had to do with This matter.
By this time the salesperson perhaps realising that I would not be swayed and having tried to convince me to take the car walked off saying that a message would be left to get the original salesperson to ring me the following day. I left the car and made my way back home. Unsurprisingly one might think I did not receive a phone call or any other communication from anyone on the 7th December. Maybe I should have rung The Car Shop.
On the 8th December having still had no communication from anybody at The Car Shop, about 9.15am, I yet again found myself phoning the Sales Office. This time the phone was answered by another staff member who as with the others shall remain nameless. I found myself yet again explaining the problem and could I be advised as to the current state of affairs. The staff member on the other end explained that as a qualified mechanic a personal visit and examination would be carried out. I interjected and suggested that in my opinion it might be a bad connection or a defunct Ariel . I was told in no uncertain terms that unless I had a background in mechanics it would be unwise for me to offer or speculate as to what the problem(s) might be. I thanked the mechanic and requested I get a call back as and when there was a possible answer. I waited with some anticipation…..
About 12pm on the same day I had received no contact from The Car Shop so, again, I called back, again the same person answered the phone, again I introduced myself and asked whether the examination has produced anything positive. It was immediately obvious that this person had forgotten all about our earlier conversation. I got an apology and was assured that someone would inspect the erroneous radio, I again requested a call back.
About 3.15pm again on the same day I still had not received any information positive or otherwise so yet again I called back, and yes the same person answered the phone, again I found myself reiterating previous conversations. This time however I was told that nobody was available to inspect the problem and the earliest would be Monday, 10th December. I requested that contact with the shop owner might help the situation however this was declined.
For the rest of the weekend there was no contact from anybody at The Car Shop a phone call made about 11.35am on the 9th December went unanswered and there was no facility to leave a message.
On the 10th December about 09.30am I received a call from The Car Shop it was the original salesperson advising me that an Auto Electrician would be attending and when the examination has been completed I would be contacted.
About 09.50am I received a call from a member of ‘senior management’ from The Car Shop querying the now non functioning rear windscreen washer as it now appeared that the radio was no longer working on either band AM or FM.
I heard no more from The Car Shop that day until about 5.35pm when the original Salesperson called me advising that the Auto Electrician had been unable to attend but would do so the following day.
On December 11th about midday I received a call from again the original salesperson advising that the radio was currently dismantled but no problem identified. About an hour later I was advised by The Car Shop that ‘senior management’ had authorised the purchase and fitting of a new radio. About 2.30pm that day I collected the car.
On December 18th having yet again heard nothing it being a week since I last had contact with anybody from The Car Shop. I contacted them and again spoke with the original salesperson. Unfortunately this person now knew absolutely nothing about the car as this person only deals with sales, but would speak with ‘senior management’ and get back to me. About 9.25am that same day I was contacted by said ‘senior management’
I was informed that the car would need to be brought back to The Car Shop for a full repair to be carried out. It should take about 24 hours. On the morning of the 19th December the car was taken yet again back to The Car Shop and left, I was later contacted and told that the radio had been removed and I could collect the car. Back to Strood. This time I spoke face to face with ‘senior management ‘ who informed me that the radio unit would have to be sent away, but there was a possibility that it might not be able to be repaired, in which case, they, The Car Shop would suffer the cost of a replacement. During that conversation I was assured that I would be contacted later that day with an update
I waited with interest. Guess what???
On 20th December about 10.35am I received a call from the ‘senior management’ apologising for failing to contact me the day before, but this had been down to the proposed repairer who had only just contacted The Car Shop. Seems that the unit in not repairable and a ‘new’ unit would need to be sourced. Unlikely to happen this side of the holidays. ( If only the car had been thoroughly checked over before they decided to stick the For Sale notice on the windscreen all this unnecessary hassle could have been avoided.)
On the 3rd January 2019, I had occasion to remove the carpet from the drivers well. To my amazement the carpet which had installed by The Car Shop, must have been rescued from the dustbin as it had two large holes in it worn through I assume by some anonymous driver. Maybe these were the original mats that had come with the car hence the lack of floor covering when I first found the vehicle. Suffice to say that there was no mention of this from any staff member of The Car Shop. A photo of the ‘carpet’ was sent to the ‘Senior Management’ for their comment.
On the 7th January 2019 again for the umpteenth time I found myself trying to contact somebody at the Car Shop. About 11.45 that morning I briefly spoke with a staff member and asked to speak with the Sales person who I had dealt with when purchasing the car, seems this person was out dealing with a customer. I asked if any ‘Senior Management’ were available, apparently they were all out . I explained to the ‘staff member’ the problem yet again, and asked for a message to be left with the Sales Person to give me a call. To date I am still awaiting that response.
On the 8th January about 11.30am I had a conversation on the phone with the Sales Person (who had tried to persuade to remove the car from their yard) advising me that the ‘new’ radio had arrived and all “I had to do’ was to bring the car into them and they would install same. Sadly by this time I had lost patience with this company and advised the Sales Person that in view of all the messing about I had had to endure not to mention the numerous times times I had travelled back and forth to their premises enough was enough and they would need to come to me to install the radio. This was met with an array of reasons as to why they could not possibly visit my address and was again advised that ‘all I had to do’ was bring the car in and the radio would be fitted.
Enough was again enough. I fired off an e-mail to ‘Senior Management’ outlining this entire sordid affair
About midday that same day e-mail communication had been established between ‘Senior Management’ and myself during which time I was informed that The Car Shop would indeed collect the car, install new car mats replace the missing parcels shelf and fit the radio. At this time (14/01/19) I am still awaiting confirmation as to when this will actually be happening.
17th January 2019 I can now advise that the radio has been installed and appears to be functioning correctly, not only does it receive radio stations but I can now operate a number of other options tied in with this unit. The ‘old’ carpets have gone and a new set of Fiat mats are now in place. The parcels shelf??? Well I am guessing that the original one has disappeared but I am assured a new one is now on order and I will be advised when it it arrives. I await.
21st January 2019, Switched on the radio not working, back to square one….I give up.
So the car has been in my possession since the 1st December 2018 with an array of problems that should have been identified and addressed, before the For Sale sign went on the windscreen. Failing that when I paid my deposit I should have been made aware of the then known problems, however before that could happen The Car Shop would have needed to have made a physical check of the vehicle, perhaps someone sitting inside pressing buttons and throwing switches ensuring that those parts were fully operable. Unfortunately this was not considered a priority by The Car Shop., had those checks been made I would not be sitting here typing these paragraphs out and you the reader would not be reading them.
If you are considering investing in your Dream Car from The Car Shop be careful it doesn’t turn into a Nightmare. Ask questions, get names, if you know about the mechanics check, if you know a ‘tame’ mechanic ask him or her to give the car a quick look over Bear in mind that The Car Shop does not offer or supply any sort of Courtesy car so depending on where you live if problems arise you could find yourself travelling back and forth to Strood and like me on at least one occasion the journey was nothing more than a ‘Wild Goose Chase’ If problems do arise and you find yourself being brow beaten by assorted staff go straight to the Management who should get to grips with the problem(s) and address same.
Of course it should not be down to the customer who has just parted with an amount of cash to then become by proxy a fault finder on behalf o of The Car Shop. To reiterate their cars should be checked over before the For Sale notice is stuck to the windscreen. Faults should of course be rectified, or at the very least identified and explained to the prospective customer before cash is exchanged.
Further the Car Shop has a strange attitude towards dealing with customers, I found it very difficult for a simple message to be passed onto a particular employee, I asked several times for a third party to leave a message for someone to get back in contact…I also tried tried a similar ploy via their e-mail address no response. The only time I got a reply was from Senior Management on other occasions nothing when I spoke with whoever it was I was trying to contact they denied all knowledge of receiving any such request
26th January 2019…Received a phone call today from a very nice lady working for The Car Shop, a polite and pleasant voice asked,’……..would I like to consider upgrading my car?’ I smiled, totally amazed that I was receiving such a call. I briefly explained to this lady that the likelihood of me ever spending money or doing any sort of further business with The Car Shop was remote. I went onto give my version of events and suggested that she should speak with the owner for clarification.
This to me only goes to prove that nobody speaks to each other, ergo no messages appear to be forwarded from one staff member to another. I really don’t think that I would have been on the list of such possibles if this unfortunate staff member would have knowingly contacted me had she been properly appraised.
Enjoy your ‘new’ car I hope it lives up to your expectations and you have many happy miles behind the wheel.
Finally I am still awaiting delivery of the replacement parcels shelf nor have I ever received an explanation from Senior Management explaining just why The Car Shop operates such an appalling and abysmal Customer Service.