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Which dealer did you buy your new van from?



VIP Member
North London/Herts
T6 Ocean 204
I am so disheartened with the service of the salesman that I'm on the point if binning the whole idea.

The service was the same when I bought the Beach last year, its the only situation I've ever been in where I have to chase salesman to spend money.. and I think if it wasn't for my perseverance I wouldn't have got the Beach last time around. Seems nothing has changed :doh

Service I have received

SMG, called about a van they had on eBay, gave me a quote, I asked if that was there best offer and never heard from them again, quite a strange transaction and the guy seemed very uninterested.. spoke to Roy. No offer of an alternative van, no quote for a new van. couldn't get me off the phone quick enough. Van is still on eBay.

Robinsons Van centre Norwich, enquired about a pre reg van on the VW used van site which was a good spec, the guy gave me a quote which was good, I wanted the weekend to speak to my wife and decide which we did, called back to place the deposit and the guy told me it might have been sold and he had to speak to his manager. Week passed now and never got a call back despite chasing.. given up now! The van is still on the site and is now £4k more then what he offered it to me for.

Beadles Dartford the best of the bunch, went to see a newly new van they had in person which wasn't quite what we wanted, but he spent a lot of time putting the spec of a new van together with me but sadly only a very measly discount meant I had to walk away.

Colindale - with the new van spec decided I tried to phone around to compare prices 'sorry we do not discount Californias' very blunt to the point and didn't offer anything else.

Hatfield - Called to speak to a new van salesman left name and number.. No call back
I must admit to being scepticalof them anyway as their used vans are the dearest on the VW site so didn't hold such hope (used vans at new prices).
I must tell you about an experience with the above dealer last year when we enquired about a SE they had, I spoke to a guy and made an appointment for me and my wife to have a demo the following day, go to the appointment to be told it was the guys day off!!, the other sales guy seemed very put out to try and help me and showed me another van which he had been using personally that was down the road in a Tesco carpark. I asked for a quote.. never called me back. Never heard back from the guy that made the appointment.

So now I have finalised my new van spec I just need to order it and I'm about to place my deposit through Drive The Deal but before I did, I find it interesting reading about deals that you guys have had at dealers, including matching Drive the Deal and free accessories etc I'm struggling to get a call back let alone a discount! so who did you guys use and what deals did you get? Can anyone recommend a dealer (and the salesman?) I'm prepared to travel when spending £50K!!
Blimey - that's terrible!

I've had similar service when enquiring about a Golf R (a while back) so bought a BMW!

I bought from Guy in Preston (VW Van Centre) - he was pretty decent overall.
Nothing wrong with using Drive the Deal, as frustrating as this is, once you know what you want.
The people I dealt with were super, Eurovans.

I filled a general enquiry form off the company website, had a reply back the next morning from the Crawley Sales manager asking me to give them a call if I wished (I had specified on the website contact form to only be contacted by email).

I called, told them I had a very specific spec, was invited along to look at their demo, all of two days old, and stood in their yard staring at a vehicle that virtually matched my spec!

Five minutes of pleasant discussion, price agreed, it became mine three months later, presented in immaculate condition and with an offered full-on walk round and walk through of the van.

I was fortunate, and in one sense so were they, that I was familiar with the Cali and had a very good idea of the spec required. No need to sell, just show me a bit of service at the right price.
Give Hugh a call at SMG Cowfold, I have purchased my vans through him. Excellent service, always phones me back and keeps me updated
We worked out the exact specification we wanted and got a price off Drive the Deal. Contacted a couple of dealers;
Liverpool matched the price but on a slightly different spec.
Sheffield were a few £100 more but the exact spec, colour we wanted.

It does help to know what you want and what you are talking about.
Also we did the deal the week before Christmas. I can't help but think this helped a fair amount.
Speak to Alan Jackson at Manchester Van Center, very helpful, good deal.they sell a lot of california's so very knowledgeable.One of the managers has his own personal california and takes it all over Europe,sking etc so also good on discussing options.
Took delivery of our new California 180 DSG BiTDI BlueMotion last Friday from Manchester Van Centre (placed order 3rd week of Sept 2014).I would just like to thank Alan Jackson (sales executive) and Matthew Johnstone (business manager) of VW Van Centre Manchester for making this once in a lifetime experience a pleasure.When we arrived at the dealers to pick the California up Alan had moved some vehicles out of the showroom and put our California in the centre so he could give his legenery two and half hours hand over in the light and warmth of the showroom. Alan and Matthew both have California's as company vehicles and have a story or two to tell. So if you are looking for a dealer to purchase a california this is my recommendation. (Photo's to follow)
In my experiance it does not go hand in hand that you get the best deal from the most knowledgable dealer,in fact the dealer who is not geared up to sell California's will find it harder to hit their target so in fact will have to give more discount to achieve the numbers.Also the more successful the dealer is the bigger there target gets.
The best time to do a deal is at the end of the season or before Christmas .

I think the best way to buy a Cali is find a knowledgeable dealer ,ask all your questions and then get a Dtd quote and offer the dealer who has done all the work the deal if they want to match it
+1 for Guy Vincent at Preston, our Cali is coming in March, after deciding on our spec and checking DTD prices I spoke to Guy and he got back to me very quickly with a v. Good price. No sales bull or smooth patter, always gets back to me very quickly with any queries or requests I have. Very knowledgeable too, made the decision to go with them ( my local dealer) very easy.
+1 for Guy - same comments as larrylamb

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rippers said:
I must tell you about an experience with the above dealer last year when we enquired about a SE they had, I spoke to a guy and made an appointment for me and my wife to have a demo the following day, go to the appointment to be told it was the guys day off!!, the other sales guy seemed very put out to try and help me and showed me another van which he had been using personally that was down the road in a Tesco carpark. I asked for a quote.. never called me back. Never heard back from the guy that made the appointment.

It's a joke and quite similar to us really when we bought ours way back in 2009.
On my first visit to my local dealer (Barnstaple VW) I went in to see the van salesman about a used cali - they didn't have any at the time but he took my details and said he'd contact me when they got one in.
Amazingly some months later he rang to say they had one in stock and would I be interested in viewing it, I said yes and we booked an appointment with him for the Sunday.
When we turned up there was no sign of him, another salesman rang him and discovered he'd forgotten about the appointment and was at home, and worse still he had the keys with him so we couldn't look inside or have a test drive.
I persevered and second time round he was there so was able to take it for a spin.
Sadly he knew nothing about the cali and it's features so he had to go and get the salesman from the audi garage next door to come out and demonstrate it to me! We got a good deal though so it was worth the effort.
The franchise has gone now, with a new dealership built across the road. I wonder if they're any better - couldn't be any worse!
Thanks guys I'm actually feeling jealous of some of your experiences. I change my cars quite often and out of all the dealers I found VW the worst and it seems like the same 'not giving a crap' attitude with every salesman at every VW dealership. I wanted a new beetle for my wife not so long a go and it was the same story then. I do sales for a living and none of the VW salesman I have met have known their products, their prices, their stock, the accessories.. I find it bizarre and stressful.
We ended up giving up on the terrible service and bought a Mini Countryman and the service was first class from start to end.
If there was a realistic altenative to the California that I liked then I wouldn't blink an eye at ditching VW. That said I have to admit the Marco Polo Merc does look interesting!

Whilst I said I don't mind traveling, Prestons is 9 hours round trip!
Part of me also is thinking based on my experiances.. screw the dealers and just do Drive the deal they will deliver it to my house!
Rippers, you don't need to go to Preston to order etc, i have done everything over the phone and email so far. It is a fast train to Preston from London 2.5 hours, and a nice trip back with a big smile on your face when you pick up :D
I flew to Manchester, got a lift from the dealer to Preston, drive it home.

One thing I didn't like; NO after sales service at all. All other cars I've bought have had follow up calls to check everything is okay. I was also offered a frankly diabolical px price for my Defender; I got £2k more selling to a local dealer.

However Guy knows his stuff and does follow up quickly. I had to bargain very hard (I actually got close to not buying it when negotiations went only the dealers way) but we got a great deal in the end.

I'd just expect a bit more (or any!) follow up after spending that much money.
I bought mine from Dave Miller in the Edinburgh van centre in Bilston. Great service seeing as I was in NZ and bought it from him via email and 2 calls. Then i shunted it onto a lease scheme for work and he refunded my deposit which was quite nice and unexpected ! I've had a couple of niggles which have been dealt with really well.
Thank you to everyone for first listening to my rants and second for actually being sympathetic to my situation, I half expected a back lash :?

I have been contacted through a dealer on this site and very happy with everything and its now subject to finance being approved :thumb

Wish me luck :oops:

ps still no call from the Hatfield dealer or any others :lol:
rippers said:
If there was a realistic altenative to the California that I liked then I wouldn't blink an eye at ditching VW. That said I have to admit the Marco Polo Merc does look interesting!

+1 to that. As with Mini our local BMW dealer is brilliant from initial point of contact, sales and servicing. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and actually listen to you. If they made a camper van it would be on my drive now.
Why the hell VW seem to find it so difficult to do god only knows.
and as we are into the +1's so plus 1 for the BMW comment.

One can argue that BMW are in a different, and far more expensive, bracket than VW but then try working out the cost of a BMW 120 with a similar performance and spec golf ... the BMW is cheaper.
Audi,BMW and Mercedes dealers have most of their bonus paid on customer satisfaction surveys response time to sales enquiries and follow up calls etc etc,VW clearly do not !
We 'tried' to buy a Cali SE from Hatfield.

My wife was due to go into labour at the time so I said we'd get back to them after the birth.

I've since contacted Hatfield 3 times, even tried the sales manager and contact form via the web... no response.

It's interesting that their lack of response has lead to us questioning when to buy and now we're waiting for new model. If they had been on the ball I think we would've ordered back in July and would've been taking delivery any time now!
As for BMW and Mercedes... we have both and their service has been absolutely rubbish.

Our BMW had a clutch judder from new and it took 6 months of arguing for them to change it. Plus a long string of other after-sales issues.

We ordered a new Mercedes with electric front seats... after delivery we noticed only one of the seats was electric, the other manual. Contacted dealer to be told they did know but forgot to tell us. Months of stress and they eventually gave us the cost of the electric seats back. Again, another list of other after sales grief.

I think it all comes down to individuals. I know I always treat my customers with total care.
Well I can now announce I had a PM from Hugh at SMG yesterday after a tip off from another member and he gave me a quote which I was happy with, just had the call and the finance has been approved so my Cali has been ordered :thumb
Estimated week 18 gonna be a long exciting wait! and hopefully long enough to save up for the Sportline parts to fitted at the dealer
Depends very much on the dealer - when we bought our BMW I tried six dealers across the UK. Two were dreadful beyond words, one was okay, two were really good and I ended up buying locally.
Our nearest Audi and Merc dealers are well known for being dreadful but others are very good

The Cali buying experience definitely doesn't feel very "premium" - the van centres are a bit low rent, they never have good coffee (!) and you feel a bit like you're buying an old Caddy or something. The car dealerships are definitely a lot better and I wonder if they should sell Calis from them instead? Having said that, our local dealer is both; my experiences have been very mixed indeed. And when I enquired about a Golf R, a Tiguan and a Yeti (all at different times) I was more or less ignored, offered no test drive and such dismal p/x prices, I ran away fast.

Strangely, I just bought my Subaru off a small dealer in Chepstow. It's run from his house, all fairly low rent but I found them incredibly honest in their ads and they really do look after the cars they sell. Refreshing.