New car – the story continues

March 24, 2007

In pursuit of the replacement car, we last week test drove a Skoda Fabia Estate from the garage round the corner. It must be in with a good chance of winning some sort of award for dullness. I think the only reasons BishWife got me to try it were a) that her friend has got something similar, and b) to scare me into bucking up the search: “if you don’t find something soon, I’ll buy one of these! I mean it!”

Well, it worked, sort of. I started combing the papers for other cars: anything but a Skoda! I found a few that I liked the look of – Ford Focus, Honda Accord, a newer Primera, Nissan Almera Tino – and today we packed up the MiniBishes and went forth to look at them. However, BishWife was sidetracked by the appearance of a Vauxhall Zafira on the car lot, and before I knew it, I was test driving the thing. It is almost as dull as the Skoda, but bigger and heavier with no CD player and no sun roof, but with air conditioning and two extra seats in the boot. I had a few reservations: there were a few minor but probably expensive bits of interior trim missing, the brakes squeaked, and I could rub silver paint off the rubber door seals with my finger, indicating some respray work.

Anyhow, BishWife was taken with it and the MiniBishes liked it too as they are young enough to be impressed by plastic cup holders. On top of that we were offered about £500 for the old Primera which was about £350 more than we’d expected so we ended up paying over a holding deposit and arranging for an inspection. And then the fun began.

We are mug enough to belong to the AA, so BishWife rang them about getting a report done on the car. They gave her the number of a partner company called DEKRA who do their inspections for them and said that she should expect a discount as an AA member. At last – something back in return for those subscriptions! So the number is rung and the inspection duly arranged, whereupon BishWife enquires if they don’t need her AA membership number to arrange the discount. This is the gist of the conversation:

“Oh, this is the wrong number for AA inspections. To get the discount you need to ring a special number that they give you.”

“This is the number they gave me.”

“Well, it’s the wrong one.”

“So you can’t give me my discount?”

“No.”

“Well can I cancel this booking and ring back on the other number to re-arrange it?”

“You can, but I ‘ll have to charge a cancellation fee.”

“Aaaaaarrrrgggghhhhh! Stuff it I can’t be bothered to fight about it, we’ll pay full price.”

Honestly, what is wrong with this blinking world? We hear nothing but how important customer service is and how much is being invested in improving “services” and yet it sometimes seems that whenever you want something, it’s a struggle. It falls apart so often it can’t be coincidence. I was so annoyed that I’ve emailed the AA with a complaint. We’ll see what happens, but this time next month we could be with Green Flag instead.

Anyway, it looks as though, barring an unfavourable report, we’ll be having a Zafira as our next car. Sigh. I can start to see why men often go out an buy their own cars once they’ve settled on one that suits the rest of family. Except there’ll be no money left of course. And we still need a CD player. Or should that be an iPod dock or SD card slot now?

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