Buying a car from Robins and Day Chelmsford
The one thing about being off of work is that I have the potential to be far more productive. Sometimes that works out well, and the fact that I’m buying a car from Robins and Day Chelmsford this week is a testament to that.
I often carry a guilt complex at work and think that if I am in an office, I shouldn’t be making personal calls or taking a full lunch break. Even when I am skiving (which for some reasons falls outside of the guilt complex) I still feel as though I shouldn’t be doing stuff in my own time, and so there would often be times when I would sit at home not doing any work, but feeling too crappy to actually get on with anything of my own.
These past couple of days have been wonderful. I drove to see Marina and her new baby yesterday up in Ely, and though I only spent an hour or so with her it was good to see them both, and it ticked a box on my must-do list which I thought I may not get round to actually doing.
From there I drove into Cambridge and had a coffee in the local Costa before having a wander around.
Cambridge is a lovely place, even when you have to negotiate your way past a Big Issue seller every 300 metres. Once I’d wandered around there I headed to London, parking in Bermondsey and walking up to London Bridge.
I love that walk at any time, given that I had worked nearby for so long, way back when, but walking it in the sunshine was absolutely glorious. I got the tube at London Bridge to Green Park, wandered along Piccadilly and (obviously) stopped for coffee in the Costa there too, before meeting up ad-hoc with Alan and having yet more coffee followed by a swift pint.
I eventually got home around 10 pm, sat up for an hour chatting with Tasha before going to bed.
This morning I was up at silly o’clock, my body having failed to realise it can be afforded a lay in once in a while (though I’m surprised I slept at all given the caffeine that must have been pumping through my system), and decided to head to Chelmsford as I was due there at 10 am to see the local Peugeot dealer, Robins and Day Chelmsford, about a test drive.
I’d spoken to James at Robins and Day Chelmsford the previous week (in fact, it was the first thing I did after being told they were letting me go) and he had said that he could sort me out a new car for about £290 per month inc servicing, 3 years tax and insurance under the Peugeot “Just Add Fuel” scheme.
Given that I have historically had nothing but problems with old cars, and that all I wanted was a reliable car that would get me around when needed (visions of breaking down with 4 kids in the car disturbs me), I figured that I probably wouldn’t find a better deal than that.
A week or two before that I had spoken to a car leasing company who quoted similar figures without insurance, so my thoughts weren’t totally unbased.
I took the car for a test drive and it was, in all honesty, a bit disappointing. I’m not a car geek in any way, shape or form, but going from a 2.0 Ford Mondeo which shifts bloody fast when you put your foot down to trying out a 1.6 Peugeot 308, I was surprised by how little oomph the new car had.
That said, it drove well enough, even without breaking any speed limits, and as we got back to the dealers, I asked James how much he could knock off of his original quote, remembering that he had told me there was a little room for manoeuvre. He asked what I wanted to pay and I said as close to £250 as possible, thinking he’d meet me around £270.
Ten minutes later, after he had been to see his manager, he came back, full of apologies saying that he had quoted the wrong price to me before. He pulled up a screen and showed me what he had done wrong, and explained that he had pressed a non-lease button, or something (which led me to believe that he hadn’t included insurance).
He said that he had spoken to his boss and that they had deducted £2.5k from the original price of the car, which was the maximum they could offer, but that still brought it out at £307 pcm.
To say I was annoyed was an understatement. I told James that I understood mistakes could happen, but that I had come in hoping to get below £290 and all of a sudden it was £20 more expensive. He reiterated that they had taken off as much as they could, and apologised again.
I sighed and asked him what free stuff he was going to throw in. He went away to speak to his manager and came back again, saying that they could throw in some paint and furnishing protection stuff which was normally around £250, as well as some luxury car mats.
Given that one of our earlier conversations had been around how little I care for the cosmetics of a car, I thought this was a strange offer, but James went on to say that any additional stuff like parking sensors would have to be put on the system against a car reg and that this would then have to be charged and was something they couldn’t waive.
He then dragged me out to look at the colour of the car that they were able to get for me. One of the conditions I had given when we first spoke was that I needed a car within the week, and wasn’t overly fussed about additional extras or the colour.
James had said that he had black, silver and grey (the latter two I’m sure are the same bloody colour!) that they could get in at short notice, and as such he was now showing me the grey one.
“Nice colour, don’t you think?” he asked me enthusiastically.
“Well, it’s very grey.” I replied, quite bluntly.
We strolled back to the building and he asked me what I thought. I said that I was frustrated and disappointed that I was now being told things were over £300.
“Ahh, but don’t forget that you won’t have to worry about insurance or tax for three years, so you’ve saved money there.”
He was upbeat and confident, and I recognised the sales traits a mile off.
“But from my point of view,” I explained, “I had all of that last week. And last week it was £20 cheaper.”
The words hung in the air slightly and once we got back to his desk, he disappeared again before coming back to advise me that he had spoken to his manager and - he looked around shiftily as he spoke more - they had put it into the system as a staff member sale, which gave them an extra discount and it was now £296.
I’d been there for over an hour and a half by this stage and was getting bored. I knew that I may get slightly cheaper, and possibly even slightly better cars if I shopped around, but it was in the ballpark of what I was expecting to pay, and I would get it that week.
“Do I still get the mats and the paint stuff?”
We shook on it, I signed the paperwork and got it all sorted. His manager came over and offered me the use of a pool car over the weekend if they weren’t able to get the car in by the weekend, which was fine and I made arrangements to pop back in tomorrow to sign the rest of the finance agreements.
As I collected up the first few bits that I had signed, including the cost breakdown, I scanned my eyes over it.
“Er, James…” I asked, “why have I paid £400 for metallic paint?”
“Ahhh. That was… Well, that was the cost of the metallic paint as they were the only colours we had in stock.”
“You didn’t tell me that.”
“Yes I did, I definitely did - remember I told you that we had just three colours in stock?”
“Yes, the black, silver and grey, I remember that, but you never mentioned that it was metallic or that it’d cost me.”
“I did! I definitely did.”
I sighed. This was getting boring now. No wonder the price had fucking shot up. Then I realised that I had been banging on about the car for 90 minutes over the sake of £20 per month, of which I had gotten some back.
“You little shit, you bloody never!” I said it with a smile and quickly added “fine, don’t worry about it, it’s done now, but you bloody didn’t say it.”
I wandered out of there mentally shattered. I was expecting maybe an hour at tops talking about it, not the almost-two it actually took. Still, at least I have a car sorted now, something I cannot be without living so far from the kids and with the coffee thing going on.
Then this afternoon I met with a guy from Natwest about the coffee shop.
After my HSBC experience a week or so ago ended with me feeling as though it may be difficult to get this financed, the man from Natwest couldn’t have been more helpful. He asked questions about the business, seemed excited by the prospect of it. picked out the positives of the exclusivity we are being offered and even broke down how he could help me get started.
Effectively he is proposing that the bank takes as much equity as possible and then give the rest as an unsecured loan, which I’m sure HSBC would have to do if they were to offer me it.
There’s still a couple of things to get sorted. I have to hope that the property valuations are there or thereabouts, and that nothing untoward comes up on my credit score (including the new Peugeot financing deal which I may have forgotten to mention.)
All in all though, a good day, if I ignore the long-winded rubbish I had to put up with at Robins and Day Chelmsford.