Even though it was the early 90’s the guy I was dealing with had larger than average sideburns, he had a pair of shoes on which I would describe as “Brothel Creepers” but he seemed harmless enough. He was with his very pretty Wife, she seemed to hang on his every word and she was a lot younger than him, I made a mental note to start growing a pair of lucky sideburns too.

He knew what he wanted and it took no time at all to agree on a deal. I am always concerned when a deal is too easy, he had never asked for any discount and he had no part exchange, then he asked me to propose him to finance, when people are as easy as this to deal it’s usually because they have no chance of getting finance, and I let out a deep sigh as I fished a proposal form out of my desk draw.

The deal had been so fast, as I approached him to “Meet and Great” he’d basically just said, “I want this one”. I led him to my desk without knowing anything about him. I asked his details to complete the finance form, what’s your name?, “It’s Elvis”, I wrote down Elvis, “Aaron” my heart sank but I still wrote down Aaron, “Presley” he had changed his name by Deed Pole that was it I knew the deal would be a nonstarter, I let out another sigh and pushed the prop form across the desk and said “Elvis you need to fill it in up to there and I put a big cross under Bank Details, I may as well have put it right through the form.

I went and made myself a brew while he filled in the rest of the details that class people as either possibles or “No Hopers”. Elvis wrote down all the answers that would generate an “UGH ERGH” on a TV quiz game. Rented Accommodation, Unemployed, No Deposit, 60 Months Agreement, List of Previous Addresses where he’d stayed for less than 2 years. I have no doubt that Elvis would have paid for the car but on paper, he just wouldn’t stack up for the Finance Company. 

I drank the last of my brew, picked the form up and faxed it to the finance company, as I was walking back to my desk my phone rang, It was the finance company, Elvis had just been declined in the time it had taken me to walk thirty yards from the Fax machine. It was a new world record for the fastest UGH ERGH manual decline in history.

I broke the Bad News to Elvis, and tried to soften the blow by saying it was probably because he had only been at his address for a short while. He wasn’t  “All Shook Up” he must have expected it as that morning he had been searched and declined by every other garage on the main road that we were at the end of. He said “Thank you very much” then Elvis left the building!

Einstein said the definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result, but Elvis didn’t think that was the case as he came back time and time again over the next few months and performed several Encore’s he continued to fill in his own form but never got accepted.

After a while, in the Job you don’t really need to propose anyone to know whether they will get accepted by the finance company. There are other buzzwords that will kill a deal stone dead  like answering “3 Weeks” to Time with Bank”  or Time With Employer 6 days, Divorced with 10 dependents,  So as I completed the document I said to the customer, “I am just going to get approval from the Finance company”.

I didn’t actually need to get approval from the Finance Company. Vauxhall had started a subsidised £99 Deposit finance scheme it had proved so popular that they were inundated with proposals and they hadn’t got enough staff to keep up with demand. They had introduced “Automatic Acceptance”, Even Elvis could have gotten a car on this scheme. I knew that I would be cocking the Finance Company up if did the deal and even though it would cost me commission and a sale it was a professional courtesy to tip them off “. There was no way that he would get finance normally, not just because of the answers on his prop form, there was something else, he just didn’t seem “Right”.

She was clearly under pressure and I could hear all the other phones in her office ringing off the hook as I explained my concerns to the underwriter at General Motors Acceptance Corporation, but to my dismay the snotty cows answer was abrupt and condescending “Which bit of “Automatic Acceptance” do you not understand,” she said. I just had time to ask her if she’d gotten a refund from the charm school, before she slammed the phone down.

Whenever I warn somebody I always seem to get shouted at, Elvis’s record “Don’t step on my Blue Suede Shoes” would simply have been called “F### Off”  and been a lot shorter if I had penned it. Warnings should be precise and not open to interpretation. For instance  when I ‘m out walking with my girlfriend and I see something on the pavement that I don’t think she’s spotted, I simply grunt “Dog Shit” rather than “Look Out”, there’s no helping some people, she tells me off and gives me the Library treatment for the next few minutes.

To my way of thinking you would be unlikely to react by sheltering from a flying dog and it concentrates your mind to look straight at the floor and take evasive action,  “Look Out” could mean that there’s a cyclist approaching, there’s a low branch, pigeons flying over  or any other of the hazards that face you when you’re out trying to get some fresh air, (incidentally an aerial threat is covered by “Incoming” ).

Right, where were we in my story?. A couple of days later we had PDi’d and taxed the vehicle. The customer arrived at our showroom with his suitcases, he was picking up his new car and heading off for a few weeks on a driving holiday, he gave us £99.00 in cash for the deposit, signed the documents and off he went on his Jollies.

Out of the blue our GMAC rep turned up and rather sheepishly he asked if I could prove that we had actually received the £99 deposit, he was clearly embarrassed as he asked me to show him the paper trail for the deal. order form, receipt for deposit, paying in book and even the bank statement showing the money had been paid in, the “strange” customer that I had warned them about hadn’t made one payment on his new car. If I couldn’t prove that I had taken the deposit it would be a fraudulent agreement, GMAC was looking for any little excuse to blame us and take their money back, then it would be us that were left with the problem of getting our money and the car back off the customer.

My paperwork was in order and we were in the clear, now it was my turn to be condescending and abrupt, Feigning sympathy I said, Oh Dear,  If only someone had warned you, OH WAIT A MINUTE, I DID !!!!!!!!!!!

I looked up the key number for the GMAC Rep and cut a new one for him, the Rep set off to repossess the car, the rep got the car no problem it was parked up and had been cleaned out, he had to put some petrol in as it was bone dry and running on fumes. The customer had wanted it to go on holiday and as it had only cost him the £99 deposit it had been a lot cheaper than hiring a car for a month, actually, it had cost him virtually nothing as he had even cashed in the 11 months unexpired Road Tax with the DVLA he’d gotten himself a free holiday courtesy of Vauxhall.

That was the last I heard until I was reading the local paper, my “Strange” customers arrest had made the headlines. He was a Pub Landlord and according to the story he had threatened one of his regulars that was worse for wear with a Samurai Sword, apparently you’re not allowed to do this which is a good job as I would struggle to think of a suitable warning except for “RUN”.

In The Eyes of the Law Einstein was wrong, the definition of insanity is not “doing the same thing over and over again”, but threatening a customer with a Samurai Sword is, and he got another “Free Holiday” this time courtesy of Her Majesty’s Prison Services.