* Prices may differ from that shown
It's probably fair to say that car salesmen don't have the greatest reputation in the world. There may be some good ones about, but general consensus is that they are not the most trusted people in the world. Given our own experience with Polar Ford, it's not hard to see why.
I Like Driving in my Car
Polar Ford operates in the north west of England and parts of Yorkshire. They sell a range of second hand cars (mostly Fords, obviously) and have a good selection of vehicles at any one time. One of their main selling points (according to them) is that they are the only UK dealership owned directly by the Ford Motor Company.
This review refers explicitly to our experience with two particular branches of Polar Ford, in the north west of England.
A Tale of Two Cars
Mrs SWSt and I hate looking for cars, if for no other reason than it means dealing with car salesmen. My dad, on the other hand, loves it. So when we need a new car, we send him on a mission to scout out some possibilities which we can then go and view. True to form, he found two attractive buys: one at Polar Ford; one at another garage. Because we live a distance away from my parents, it would be the following weekend before we could get to view them. Not a problem: both garages agreed that if we paid a refundable deposit, they would hold them for us for a week. So, my dad handed over £250 to Polar Ford and arranged that we would return the following Saturday to look at the car and test drive it. In return they agreed that they would remove the car from sale.
Dude, Where's My Car?
As arranged, the following Saturday, we trooped off to Polar Ford. On arrival, my dad had a quick look around the forecourt, couldn't see the car and so went off to speak to a salesman who said he'd find out where it was for us.
Forty five minutes later, we were still there, standing around. No-one came out to explain what was going on. Eventually, the salesman returned and shame-facedly admitted that, despite our deposit, they had shipped the car off to another branch, where it had been sold. To say we were not impressed is something of an understatement. After all, by this point we'd wasted well over an hour standing around only to be told "sorry, we've sold your car."
In fairness, both the duty manager and the original salesman were horrified. The manager offered us some alternative vehicles which he said he would sell to us at cost if anything matched our needs, but unfortunately, they had nothing else suitable.
In a last attempt to salvage Polar Ford's reputation, he found that another branch nearby had a possible car. He rang the manager, explained the situation and requested that he offer us a good deal if we were interested, to help make up for their error.
It Isn't Quite A Jaguar
So, we all trooped off to the next garage. The car in question was a distinct possibility, so we sat down to talk figures. The manager was informed we were there and interested and so leapt into action to calculate his special offer that would redeem Polar Ford's tarnished reputation in our eyes. And what was his amazing offer? As "special customers", he proudly proclaimed that he'd give us a whole £500 off the asking price. Maybe this sounds reasonable to you, but to put it in perspective, on the car we eventually bought we negotiated a £250 increase in the initial valuation of our trade-in car, £250 off the asking price and a year's road tax. Particularly under the circumstances, a £500 reduction was nothing to shout about. They did eventually up their offer to something a little more reasonable but by this time we had lost all confidence in Polar Ford and so, having wasted another 90 minutes of our lives, we walked out.
To add insult to injury, when we looked on the Polar Ford website two days later, they had reduced the price of the car by - yep, you guessed it - £500. So, as "special customers", we were offered nothing that they weren't prepared to offer to any other customer who had just walked in and not had any of the hassle we had.
Silence is Golden
Needless to say, we weren't happy so (given how proud they were of their connection with Ford) I wrote a letter of complaint to Head Office. My dad also emailed the duty manager of the first branch to express our dissatisfaction. We heard nothing from either.
A second copy of the letter to Ford Head Office finally elicited a response when, about a month after the incident, the general manager of the first branch finally got in touch. In fairness to him, he admitted that the whole experience had been unacceptable and that the original error had been compounded by poor customer service. Whilst there was obviously a limit to what he could do by this point, he did at least reimburse the fuel costs for our wasted trip. This is the sole reason why Polar Ford has scraped 2 stars instead of the one they originally had.
I think it's fairly safe to assume that we couldn't really recommend Polar Ford.
(c) copyright SWSt 2013