I was on the phone but that didn’t stop the Two guys walking into my office, and as soon as I put down the receiver, the one carrying the brown paper bag threw it on to the desk in front of me, In my head, I had already stereotyped them and my dislike was instant, Mr D****** sent us, That’s for you if you let him have your first Mercedes SLK he said, I knew there would be cash inside the bag but as I pushed it back towards them I replied “Thanks but I’ve already eaten Lunch”
You can buy a lot of lunches with what’s in there Pal, there’s £10,000 and it’s yours when we pick the car up, now £10,000 is a lot of money, but to put it into perspective it was less than my yearly bonus which I would lose if I got caught, I’m a man of principle and although I had been offered plenty I had never taken any bribes in my life, I despised these men even more for thinking they could just walk in my office and “buy” me.
I wanted to say “I’m not your Pal and you know what you can do with your money” but I didn’t, instead I made the excuse that the cars were allocated at our Head Office from a pre-existing Order Bank, and that I had nothing to do with it, I didn’t want them to think that they could persuade me in other ways which wouldn’t be as pleasant as spending £10,000 so It was important that I remove myself from the equation, and not shift the owness onto any of my other reachable colleagues, He snatched the bag up and said “You’ll be Sorry” I’m already sorry that Ten Grand would have come in handy, I said as I showed them to the door.
There was a massive premium to be had on the first SLK’s I had taken enough orders to account for 5 years supply, though I had soon lost interest in delivering them when my employer limited us to £50.00 commission, he said that selling them was equivalent of taking a penalty kick, obviously the chairman had never taken a penalty kick in his life! Or he would have chosen another metaphor for something that was easy. We would normally have been paid 7.5% of the profit so this new commission structure would in effect cost me £20,000 in lost income, I’d already had enough of SLK deals especially as you had to spend ages with all the W.A.G.S, keep pestering us about when their car was going to be delivered, “You know when you rang last month and I said it would be approximately 5 years? well now its approximately 4 years and 11 months”
One of my predecessors had resorted to stealing from the firm probably in the belief he was getting the money that was actually owed to him, If he had been treated as badly as I had I could see how he could justify his dirty dealings, But the jury didn’t agree and he got sent to prison for several years, I am an honest guy and I also have a fear of confined spaces where there are no women, there was no way I was going to do anything underhanded no matter how cheated I felt.
When I started working for myself, there were many times I was asked by salesmen for a “dropsy” in return for making sure that I got the car when it came in, I always refused, this cost me a lot of good cars and a lot of potential profit, I had never done it and I didn’t see why they should but that’s the way I’ve been brought up, anyway this leads me to my story.
I had underwritten a car for a local dealer, one of my mates used to be Sales Manager there but he had just been moved on, I had agreed the deal before he was unceremoniously dismissed, he was far too nice for the job and his Salesmen were taking liberties with his good nature, they were also taking brown envelopes behind his back (cash off traders), I had warned him what would happen but he’d lost control profits were dropping (going in the salesman’s back pockets) and he paid the price with his job.
One of the Salesmen, in particular, was as bent as a butchers hook, he was also obnoxious and I had refused to deal with him, to my surprise he had been made acting Sales manager, talk about putting the Wolf in Charge of The Sheep”, It was the first time I had been back since they gave my mate the elbow and I wasn’t looking forward to it, I had already decided that I wouldn’t be bidding on any more of their cars but the one I was collecting was already presold and I would be taking in a part exchange that I could also sell quickly, this would be a good deal.
I wanted to pick it up asap so that I could get it cleaned, delivered and paid for. So I went early my lift dropped me off across the road from the dealership, I’d been told that the car was only due in at 2.00 pm but the dealership was opposite a retail park I needed to do some shopping and my favorite fast food place was situated there too. I had just ordered lunch when I saw the car I was buying roll up, pretty soon the customer drove off in his new car, what I wasn’t prepared for was when a rival trader who to conceal his identity I will refer to as Shit Head turned up and started looking around the car that had been promised to me.
I had fallen out with SH several years earlier but since then our paths had kept crossing, I banned him from the garage that I had taken over as manager when he came in to sell me some stock, the cars were poor and well overpriced’ I told him I wasn’t interested, he leaned over my desk to let me into “a little secret” he said my predecessor used to buy his cars at an inflated price, then they would split the extra money, I could have the same deal, so had that changed my mind? It had, I never paid him any attention before but now I thought people who knew what he was like would naturally assume I was taking backhanders too so I told him to get out and that while I was in charge he needn’t bother coming back.
I saw “Wolfie” the Sales manager reach into his pocket and take out his mobile, I reached into my pocket and took out mine, I knew what was about to happen and sure enough, it rang, Wolfie started speaking, I always knew when Wolfie was lying because his lips moved, “I’ve got some bad news for you, the customer has rung up to say that he has sold his car himself and that it won’t be coming in Part Exchange” “Oh Dear, That’s is a shame I said, because I have some bad news for you too, look across the road,” I waved to him then added sarcastically “would that be the car that’s not coming in part-exchange that you’re stood next to, or am I seeing things?”
It was hard to say who I disliked the most, SH or Wolfie, from what I could see the car looked nice, my customer would be happy with it and I was determined not to let either of them get away with it, “The cars been promised to me, and I have presold it” I said, Wolfie replied, “sorry we’ve invoiced the car now you’ve missed it” I took out my mobile in front of them both and made sure they could both hear what I was saying, I rang the garage and asked to speak to the General Manager, told him there had been a mistake and a car that was being promised to me had been sold to someone else, he apologised and tried to console me by saying mistakes do happen, he was fobbing me off, and couldn’t care less (The GM was now of my Christmas Card List Too) but that changed when I said do you mind me asking how much it was sold for as I didn’t think that anyone would have beaten my bid of £5000, there was silence while he looked at his management system, he suddenly took an interest and said wait a minute I’m coming down.
Wolfie was called into the office and 10 minutes later they both emerged, apparently, Wolfie was a gifted liar or his boss was too stupid to live, there had been a clerical error and the car had been mistakenly invoiced out at £4500, roughly translated Wolfie was selling it cheap but getting a £500 dropsy which he was now going to have to give back, but somewhat amazingly he was still employed. My story didn’t end there though as SH must have had a customer for the car too, either that or he just didn’t want to be beaten by me, he chimed up “I still want it and I will give more money than him”
The General Manager was an ex Accountant, he obviously had no morals either and i could see the £ signs light up in his eyes, he turned the situation to his advantage and to settle matters once and for all he came up with the idea of an auction, me and SH had to write a cheque out with the maximum figure we were prepared to pay, the winner’s cheque would be banked and they would get the car
To say that I was furious was an understatement, I had always “stood on” with them in the past even when cars had been blatantly miss-described or they had undisclosed faults and weren’t worth what I had originally bid, you have to take the rough with the smooth they always told me, it seemed like I was still waiting for the smooth, I was just about to give the GM and Wolfie both barrels when I had a bright idea, I had already planted the seed that Wolfie and SH’s business dealings weren’t exactly on the level, part 2 would be to hit SH in the pocket and teach him a lesson he wouldn’t forget.
I pulled my cheque book out and began writing furiously, looking in SH’s direction I said, “Nobody gets one over on me!” SH picked up the Gauntlet and accepted my challenge, he wrote his cheque out and handed it to the GM, I folded mine so SH couldn’t see it and passed it over, the GM read SH’s bid out loud £5,500, to be fair it was a really good bid and I wouldn’t have paid that, I started walking to the door, SH was smiling as he thought he’d beaten me, I glanced back and winked at him, the GM started to read mine out loud but then his voice trailed off, on my cheque written in capital letters was ”Stick the car up your arse”
I have never been back to the garage but a few weeks later I ran into one of the garages other Salesman, when SH got in the car to drive away the Engine Management light was on, it turned out to be an automatic gearbox malfunction which was to cost £2500 to repair.
I’d had a lucky escape, so all’s well that ends well