Automotive Blog

A test drive from Milan to Munich

Cg Bog

When I was a young boy, I dreamt of one day owning an Italian car. I was absolutely fascinated by the shape and the engine sound of the handful of Italian cars my father had successively driven and loved. 

Saturday - 8.00 am. Today is a great day. My dream is about to come true. I have decided on the model and have spent a couple of hours on the brand’s website, playing lengthily with the car configurator and finally specified in full my future ‘toy’. It is decided, the exterior colour will be dark blue with clear leather seats and beautiful 17’ inches alloy wheels. Because I’m a kind of geek, the car will be full of options: from the large glass sunroof to the advanced NAV system and from the Bluetooth connection to the Xenon headlights. And because I’m a bit petrol head as well, I do not hesitate from allowing myself the most powerful fuel engine in their range, more than 230 HP! Absolutely not politically correct I know, but terribly exciting and fun! 

Saturday - 11.30 am. To confirm my choice, I decide to book a test drive with a comparable model.  By chance, the dealer is only 20 kilometres away from my home and has the right model with the right engine as a demo car.  An appointment is immediately set up for the end of the afternoon.

Because I want to share my joy with my family, my daughters and my wife accompany me as I need to get their point of view… although, of course, they won’t be able to change my mind.

Saturday – 3.00 pm.  We leave the house in the car I plan to trade in, I can’t be bothered to sell it myself.  It’s a beautiful winter’s afternoon, crisp and cold but the sun is shining, the trip to the dealership is sheer pleasure.

Saturday – 3.30 pm. The Guillaneuf family are in the show room, all smiling. A similar model is on display and the charm works, the 3 girls like the body shape. Great, a good start!

15 minutes later, the salesman introduces himself. No need to explore my needs as I know exactly what I want and I give him a print out of the specifications provided by the online car configurator. Once at his desk, the salesman checks the configuration. At this point, my troubles begin:  “I’m sorry Sir, the exterior colour you’ve selected is not the exact match on screen to your copy, in fact the blue is much darker than you imagine.  We have one model with this colour in the storage area so you will able to make up your mind”. A couple of minutes later he adds “I’m sorry but one of the packages you have selected is no longer available. You can get access to the same set of options but need to purchase them separately, it is a bit more expensive”. This is a bit annoying but, after all, it is not a deal-breaker.

Saturday – 4.30 pm. We are all in the area where the new and used cars are prepared prior to being handed over. The model with the dark blue colour is there and actually, it is not too bad. The salesman starts his demonstration and my daughters are fascinated by the large glass sunroof and by the details that especially appeal to children such as the two cup holders popping up in the rear armrest, however my wife is a bit dubious about the boot size, but nothing significant enough to change the decision.

Saturday – 5.00 pm. The salesman looks stressed as he takes a phone call “I’m sorry, the car we planned to test drive is still on its way back here, my colleague has been a bit delayed. Whilst waiting, we can, if you want, talk about the budget and the trade-in”

Saturday – 5.15 pm. The salesman and I start the negotiations and he checks the car I am trading in. We discuss step-by-step the value of the trade-in as obviously I need to compensate a bit for the increase in the new car price. It is a long discussion but we finally agree on a budget. The children are starting to get agitated, they are hungry as we have spent almost 2.30 hours in the dealership, we did not expect to stay so long.  My wife has nothing to placate the children and we have still the test drive to do…

Saturday - 6.00 pm. The salesman picks up his phone again and moves away from his desk. He comes back and seems to have something bad to say: “I am really sorry. We won’t be able to test drive the car today as, unfortunately, the car is the dealer principal’s and he has lent the car to his son who is currently driving along the motorway to Normandy for the weekend…”

The disappointment is massive and the behaviour of the dealer is absolutely unacceptable. The salesman is embarrassed and tries to find a suitable solution “If you like, I can arrange the test drive one day next week, at your home, at any time that suits you.  I will call you next Tuesday to fix an appointment”. I feel a bit like a child in front of the Christmas tree who is not allowed to open his presents, but I need to react as an adult. I give the salesman my business card and ask him to call me on Tuesday, so that we can agree on the test drive appointment. I think to myself that maybe, in order to make up, the dealer will agree to lend me the car for a couple of days?

Saturday – 7.00 pm. We are on our way back home and it is dark, everyone is fed up.  The children are tired and hungry and they scream and squabble and my wife is worried because now all the evenings’ plans are running late. I’m still mulling over the dealer’s behaviour. The trip back home is a nightmare.

Sunday – 10.00 am. After one night of reflection, I am now looking more positively at the situation, I have been waiting for my dream to come true for nearly 40 years. I can wait another 2 or 3 days.

Tuesday 11.00 pm. The salesman did not call me today…

Wednesday - The salesman did not call me today…

Ad libitum…

In fact, this true story happened exactly 2 years ago. The salesman never came back to me, I really can’t say why, the deal was practically in the bag, all that was left to do was to arrange a test drive and take my money!

I did not contact another dealer of this Italian brand, I was too disappointed by my experience. Instead, I put my old car on a classified ads website and sold it within a week. Now, I’ve bought on the P2P used car market …… a nearly new German Premium brand car.

From Milan to Munich – One way ticket.

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