A Tale of Two Retailers

  06 May 2019

If I may corrupt the title of one of my favourite books by Charles Dickens, in the past few weeks I have experienced a Tale of Two Retailers.

I’m in the market to buy two cars and after several dips into Auto Trader found two of interest. One was with a specialist dealer selling a sports car which, as it happened, I had owned several years ago. The other was a franchised JLR retailer and I made appointments with both.

The specialist knew I was a former owner and obviously keen and yet when I arrived it took some time to find the keys, longer still to jump start it and even the most cursory glance under the bonnet revealed the absence of any coolant… I will leave aside the broken key fob (when one was found), iffy handbrake, bubbling paint and a gap on the bonnet where the badge should be.

The JLR retailer was the complete opposite and gave me the one thing I looked for – confidence. I knew the car was well priced, been HPI’d, the brief test drive – my decision, not the dealer’s – confirmed all I needed to know about how it drove, I trusted the business and we shook hands on a deal in probably no more than five minutes.

Of the two I would have said the specialist had the easier job because, by definition, anyone travelling to see one of their cars must be interested. Given that I had previously owned the car made me an even hotter prospect and it wouldn’t have been a hard sell. And yet I had zero confidence in the dealer or car and felt angry that a potential customer should be treated with such contempt.

The JLR people didn’t do anything special or clever, they just did what was needed and oozed professionalism. So take a bow Hatfields Land Rover Liverpool.

To finish by corrupting one of Tale of Two Cities’ most famous passages – it was the best of retailers, it was the worst of retailers.

John Swift


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