It not a secret that I am highly opinionated and really struggle to say anything positive about the UK's car dealerships. There is something depressing about walking into a main dealer and knowing, one way or another, you are going to get shafted. Whether its because they tell you your Piston Return Springs need replacing or your Spladger Valve is clogged up there is this terrible feeling of doom from the moment you step foot in one. (Just for the record neither of those parts exist)
I have a good deal of knowledge when it comes to engineering, mechanics and diagnostics but I find myself with that same feeling of impending doom if I have to discuss anything with a dealer. I have had technicians lie to my clients about how many hours of work it takes to complete a job. Had uneconomical repairs done that have cost them three times in labour than it would have to replace the part. Its not until I have come across a bill for something that my clients have realised they have been taken for a ride. It happens a lot, and its not something that happens to women more than men. Most men I deal with know as much about a car as their partner and in fact its these men that are often taken for more of a ride because they are too afraid of not looking manly to question the seemingly obvious.
It isn't just servicing cars that is a minefield of over priced worries. The dreaded phone call to the parts department ALWAYS get me. Where you have to know more about your car than the guy on the end of the phone to be able to order a replacement windscreen wiper and what surprises me though is the sales departments. One would think they would be hungry for your money but in alot of cases if you don't want to buy what they have lying about then they are sluggish with responses and cold.
Without doubt buying from a car dealership is the most painful and depressing thing on the planet. Until you get the car obviously then the most painful and depressing thing on the planet is taking it in for a service and finding out your Giddlepin has expelled itself from the Flange hole.
So, you can imagine my delight when I came across a dealership that made me feel nothing but happy from the moment I first dealt with them. So delighted that instead of my normal moaning, I decided to tell you about them. Share the wealth and all that.
Mercedes-Benz Colindale is the garage I am talking about. If you live within a 20 mile drive of this garage then I can thoroughly recommend you go out of your way to use them. It is worth it.
Firstly they have the bonus of being part of Mercedes Benz. A company that isn't without its problems but, in my experience, cares hugely about its customers and is actively trying to do something about customer service and after-sales. Mercedes is my stand out manufacturer for caring at the top. This is slowly filtering down through its dealerships and Colindale is the top of this pile in my experience.
Firstly the salesmen are there to do a job, not be your fake best friend. They aren't pushy, they don't judge and nothing is a complication. I dealt with Michael Davis and fell in love with him. Ok ok so it helped that he was gorgeous. There is a great working environment, I was given a tour of the enormous site and every inch of it just feels relaxed and fresh. Its not like a stuffy showroom. The workshop is fantastic and there is a VAST storage area on this site. As far as parts go this would always be my first phone-call because I think there is very little they don't hold in stock and Ian Frith, After-sales Manager runs a brilliantly informed team. The offices above are open and designed beautifully and it was as I walked up here I found another reason for Colindales success.
Chris Warwick is the training and development manager at Mercedes Benz and after numerous conversations I can see why any staff member he works with would be inspired. He has the exact recipe to create a sales team that hit targets but balance that with knowing that their customers exist AFTER they walk out with the car. They sell for the customer NOT just for the commission and, in my experience, when things go wrong - which happens to even the best companies - they know how to act and care for their clients.
Colindale score a huge 5/5 in my tests and continue to impress me. If you see buying a car as a full experience and want support from beginning to end of ownership then get in touch with these guys. Steven Glibbery and his team come with a huge stamp of approval from me
My review of the Fiat 500 and their flagship store, Fiat Marylebone, will be up later in the week. Its pretty shocking and not as upbeat as this one!!
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