I’ve just been to the British Car Auctions at Walton Summit Bamber Bridge, and as I walked in the cafe the first person I saw was an old customer of mine, I will always remember him as he was responsible for one of the many scars that I have picked up during my career in the Motor Trade, (some physical some mental). This is one of many such incidents that customers think is acceptable behavior because they are doing it to a Car Dealer, but if you did it to them they would sue you.
The deal started off easy enough, he had a very clean Ford Escort XR 3 in Sunburst Red to Part Exchange which I had a customer for and he wanted to buy a New Vauxhall Astra GTE which I had in stock, all plain sailing until he took delivery of the Astra.
It was the morning of August the 1st the day when the New Registration numbers used to come out, I had meticulously planned my day and arranged deliveries every half hour confirming the handover times with each customer, but as usual, they can’t wait to be seen by their neighbors with the new registration, so they don’t take a blind bit of notice and all turn up at the same time usually, they are there waiting for you to open up, some garages even open up at midnight.
I was juggling, Keys, New Cars, Customers and Part Exchanges, the garage was gridlocked so the customers were asked to park their cars on the road to ease the situation, I would normally check the PX before completing the deal but our showroom was like the Alamo (If you’re new to Sales this is no excuse ALWAYS check! )
After the rush died down I set about tagging the keys for the swappers, retrieving the cars from the road and getting them lined up behind the workshop for valeting, I jumped in the XR3 put the keys in the Ignition and started it, as I moved forward there were sparks, a smell of burning and a red glow coming from the hole in the dashboard where the radio used to be, at first I thought it had been pinched by an opportunistic thief but that wasn’t the case.
I had valued the car with the radio in and at no time during the negotiation did the customer tell me he was going to take it out, otherwise, I would have adjusted my valuation to allow for fitting a new one, losing the cost of the radio wasn’t too bad but the problem now was that there was a fire behind the dashboard, when he removed the radio outside the garage he had just pushed the wire back into the hole, at some stage he had wired the radio up himself and hadn’t used an insulated Lucas connector on the end of the wire, the positive wire had touching earth had shorted out and melted, it was scything through the ventilation pipes behind the dash like a hot knife through butter, the coating on the wire burst into flames.
The customer had removed the radio outside the garage and pushed the wires back into the dash, but a soon as I set off the wire had fallen back and touched the cars bulkhead the Fords wiring had become the equivalent of a simple Electric Arc Welder, to safeguard against incidents of this nature a fuse is fitted into each circuit if any short occurs the fuse is designed to blow so that no expensive components are damaged and worst-case scenario that the car won’t set on fire,
I switched the engine off immediately but to my dismay the wire which was glowing bright red didn’t dim and it had started to burn, the wire wasn’t attached to a fuse or the ignition switch, the incompetent imbecile who had fitted the radio had wired it directly to the terminals of the car battery which was under the bonnet, the car was an accident waiting to happen from the moment the radio had been fitted and the accident had waited for me.
I pulled my sleeve down so it was covering my hand and reached into the dash to yank the smoldering wire out, it burnt through my jumper and the plastic coating stuck to my fingers like napalm but the wire gave way and this broke the circuit, I had stopped the fire taking hold and getting out of control but the car still needed a new wiring loom, several heater/ventilation pipes and of course a new radio, the cost of the repairs caused by his incompetence was £500, and the new Astra he had bought from us had a Radio Cassette fitted as standard.
Outdated second-hand radio sold in a Pub = £25.00
Telling all your mates in the Pub that you’ve got one over on a Car Dealer = ££££ PRICELESS
But if this is your Mantra too, be warned Dealers can be very patient, they learn quickly, they have very long memories, and there’s always the next time!
Dealers Don’t Get Mad, They Get Even!
Then Just To Be On The Safe Side, They Get Even Some More!