I have been quite critical of customers over the years and was really of the opinion that most of them deserve what they get, I have heard every excuse under the sun as to why they need their deposits back and why they can’t proceed with the sale this is usually due to a condition called buyer’s remorse, I have heard some very Imaginative excuses and seen some Oscar winning performance’s I think the most used excuses are “My Wife’s just Told Me She’s Pregnant” “ I got home last night and my Daughter Told me she’s getting married, and I will have to pay for the wedding” or “I’ve been made redundant” I dare say that sometimes it has been true, but not always.
I am not a believer in keeping deposits even when I knew they were lying through their teeth, it’s too easy to get a bad name even when you treat people fairly (and I would like to think I did), the disgruntled deposit losers tell their stories of how badly the dealer treated them to their friends, they only get to hear one side of the story and for everyone they tell you may lose a potential customer, if their friends repeat the story, as with Chinese Whispers it gets exaggerated even more and it could go on forever, in this day and age with the internet and social media it’s far better to just give them their money back, cut them loose and forget that you’ve ever wasted your breath talking to them, I could write a book on the subject of “Cockers” and the times where I have been left out of pocket by a customer who changed their mind,
In the 80’s we used to advertise in a publication called the Westmoreland Gazette, its main catchment area was the Lake District and surrounding areas extending to about 100 miles away from our garage 4 wheel drives were very popular in that area due to the large Farming community, hilly terrain and inclement weather, we used to stock a lot of 4 wheel drive vehicles and wanted to promote them there as the people tended to be more affluent and we used to sell quite a lot of cars through the newspaper.
Mr A had left a £500 deposit on a White Ford Sierra 2.8 XR4x4 he had seen the car advertised in the Gazette and had traveled quite a distance to buy it, it came out in conversation that he had really wanted a Blue one but had been looking for months without any luck so he had decided to settle for a White one which was his second choice, £500 was a big deposit in those days but he had also asked us to get a tow bar fitted the car wouldn’t be worth any more with this addition and part of the deposit was to make sure that we wouldn’t be out of pocket if he did cock, I had serviced our car, it had been valeted, we had fitted the tow bar, I had fuelled it and taxed it for 6 months it was all ready to go, Mr A arrived at the duly appointed time to pick the car up, or so I thought, but he’d actually come to ask for his deposit back.
He was in tears as he explained to me that his Wife had been diagnosed with Cancer, he couldn’t afford to go through with the deal now and he would need to keep his Car which was a lot more economical than the 2.8 Litre Sierra, his Wife was going to have to give up work so there would be only one wage coming into the household the medical bills and the added expense of traveling to Christie’s hospital to take her for the extensive Chemo Therapy treatment she was going to need was going to be cripple his finances.
It did cross my mind that she had looked remarkably well when she had come with him to buy the car, and that in the week since I had last seen him, she’d gone to the doctors, been examined and diagnosed with the big “C” they were all good reasons not to buy my car but he hadn’t needed to give me them because as soon as he had mentioned the word Cancer, I was already writing a cheque out to refund his deposit, Cancer is a horrible disease that had taken several of my friends and relatives and I couldn’t believe that anyone would tempt fate by pretending their Wife had it, I asked him to pass on my Best Wishes he left my office wiping away the tears, promising that if or when she recovered he would come back and buy another car from me.
The Lake District is one of my favorite places and a couple of weeks later I was driving onto a car park in Windermere, as I had taxed the Sierra I had decided that I may as well use it, they were actually quite a rare model so it was a bit of surprise when I saw another XR4x4 in front of me, It was a Blue XR4x4 and it was an even bigger surprise when I saw Mr A and his Wife getting out of it, She seemed to have made a miraculous recovery and looked very well indeed, however, Mr A went very pale and looked as though he had developed a heart condition when he saw me.
one of my old managers used to say “All buyers are Liars” that’s not true but I bet it’s quite a high percentage.
Mr A’s Oscar winning performance put a dent in my faith of human nature and I have had a lot more dents and have become a lot more cynical since, I still can’t believe it, even if it was to save my life, It would never enter my head to pretend that my Wife had got Cancer, never mind if it was just to get out of buying a car that happened to be my second choice of colour, it makes me wonder whether Mr “A’s” Wife ever did succumb to ill health or if the customers who swear oaths on the lives of their “Mothers” “Children” etc have been left grieving at their untimely deaths and wishing they had just told the truth and forfeited their deposits.
In the UK there is about a 1 in 3 million chance of being struck by Lightening, wouldn’t it be poetic justice if they were the people who had stood in a Car Dealers Office hand on heart and said “May God Strike Me Down If I’m Lying”
In the following Video you see a guy walking home after he’d sold his car to a dealer, he told the dealer that it was the best car he’d ever had, as he was walking out of the door with his cash he added ” May God strike me down if there’s anything wrong with it that I know of ” 😉