First impressions count

We hear this alot don’t we?

I know somebody who worked in a bank and there was a really strict rule about not judging people coming into the bank to open an account.  To not treat the person looking incredibly scruffy as though they were a tramp.   The rule was brought in back in the seventies when a very scruffy man did walk into a branch and enquire about opening an account.   The clerk looked at his messy hair, un-shaven face and crumpled shirt and said that they didn’t think that he would be a suitable customer.

Turned out that scruffy bloke was Mick Jagger.

People going for job interviews are told that a decision is often reached by the interviewer with a matter of seconds.   Walk in with your head high and an outstretched hand and you will gain more brownie points than if you shuffle in and mumble “all right?”.

So why am I telling you this?  You may well ask.

A couple of months ago we  went to Brooklands for J to drive an AMG which was our birthday present to him.   He has now driven a whole host of luxury cars, very fast, despite only being 18.    What he doesn’t know about cars isn’t worth knowing.

As we arrived early (if I am involved we arrive everywhere early) he and I wandered around the showroom looking at the various cars.   Smiling at the toddlers pretending to drive the £300,000 super cars and avoiding the convertible Smart cars that looked like something out of the Little Tike catalogue.

“Here you go” said J at one point.  “This is the one you need”.   He was pointing to a G Class.   Think Hummer.   Think  square.   Think as far from SLS sexy as …. well as my body shape is from Kate Moss’

I had to agree.   It was gorgeous.   And also £88,000.   J got on his phone and went to Autotrader to look up the cost of a second hand one, since I am having to consider selling my car because it is getting close to 200,000 on the clock and needs more spending on it to get it through the MOT than it is worth.    There were a lot within my budget so we tried to look inside but it was locked.  Odd since the others cars were unlocked and had children clambering all over them.

Spotting a man with a walkie talkie and a name badge I wandered over and said “Hi, I am interested in the G class.  Is it possible to see inside as it seems to be locked”.

He looked at me and said “Sorry, we only open it for genuine customers”.

And that was it.

In a fraction of a second he had decided that me with my Mulberry handbag and looking not too shabby with a smartly dressed teenager in tow were time wasters.

That we were not interested in the car and we were having a laugh so  were not worthy of being able to inspect more closely a car I might be thinking of buying.

“What makes you think I am not a genuine customer” I replied

“Then you would need to go to the sales desk downstairs, they have the key”.

And with that he turned on his heel and wandered off.   No “Really sorry but sales have the key to that vehicle, can I take you down to them?”.   “Oh I do apologise, please follow me”.

Nothing.

Just a decision made that I was wasting time and therefore could sod off basically.

Well if that is the attitude that Mercedes take to their potential customers we shan’t be replacing Mr B’s CLS with another one when we consider replacing it.

And I won’t be buying a G Class any time soon.    I will also be reluctant to let J or C replace either of their cars with a Mercedes.

As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman:  “Mistake.  Big mistake.  Huge”

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  • What the actual FRACK? That is so disgusting, I can’t even begin to imagine why he’d look at you and assess you as not being genuine customers, you’re a gorgeous, classy lady who I’d have thought was directly within Mercedes target market. Shame on Mercedes, they’ve lost a client who’d have brought a large slice of class to their brand. I hope they’re kicking themselves.

  • Terrible customer service! Some of the most ‘well off’ people I know are the scruffiest anyway! Plus Mercedes would have to be paying their sales reps a hefty salary to be able to afford all new Mercs themselves too I imagine… so the guy with the walky talky is probably in no place to judge!

  • Hate this, in my younger days when I wore a cross between punk and hippy style I actually used to get followed around shops as if I was a prospective shoplifter. Do not judge by appearances in retail, let’s face it there are an awful lot of really scruffy celebs around so dress is not an indication of wealth. My husband went into a posh shop on Saville Row many years ago and asked the price of something in the window, the reply was “if one has to ask then one can’t afford”, my husband slapped a huge wad of cash on the counter and said “gimme”. Worst thing is, I won’t even set foot in really posh shops now (like Harvey Nicks) as I’m worried about being made to feel embarrassed about being in there – sure its out of my price range but I’d love to take a look around. Harrods are good though, even when I first visited there as a 15 year old I never felt uncomfortable – good service is something you can take to the bank. I’d write to their head office and complain, they should know how their staff are complaining.

  • Wow. I have a friend who had the same experience when she bought a car. They looked at her in her jeans, sweatshirt, long hair and no makeup and declared that she couldn’t afford a Ford Escape hybrid. She told the guy…”well too bad, I was paying cash” and went and bought it at another dealership. Unreal.

    I get the first impression thing for a job interview, but as a customer? It’s not like you went in wearing pajamas (Which is increasingly popular street wear here in the States-awful-the test of the world already thinks we’re lazy as it is). I hope you complained. He should be fired.

    • Actually, I (mild-mannered me) *did* complain, flashing my Merc key as I did so (slightly childish, that bit, I know). My point was really that they shouldn’t talk to anyone like that. The bloke on the desk looked suitably taken aback, but I doubt the Sales guys will change any time soon. They were too busy chasing the exec/doctor money, and will continue to do so.

  • Wow. That happened to me in Louis Vuitton. In Cologne. I was looking at a purse and I went to take it off the shelf to look inside (as you do when buying a purse) an the shop assistant rushed over and said rudely to me whilst pulling the purse out of my hands “YOU are not allowed to touch anything, if you want to look at something I will show it to you.” At which point I took out my platinum credit card and remarked loudly to my mum, guess I’ll go over to Gucci and spend my money there! Sales assist looked a bit miffed. (To be honest I wasn’t going to buy it byway because spending €700 on a purse without half the features I wa looking for was a no no, plus if then have to pay back that €700 plus commission exchanges)

  • Somebody should post this thread to Mercedes Benz in Germany. They will be mortified, and the UK sales people will all have to go through retraining. Do not let this drop; you will get redress, and you should.

  • Cheeky guy! Women’s Aid have a word for men like that. He’s a tool pure and simple! What a moron? If anyone asks about a car they’re thinking about buying it and that could be the difference between being serious or not! Grrrr…

  • I agree 100% with Neil.
    Perhaps point out you were desperately anxious to become a customer?

    Wrt interviews “smart casual” should be the choice – but don’t forget the SHOES!

  • I HATE bad customer service. It is the one thing that will get me moaning for weeks, letting loose on Twitter, etc. It is just so unnecessary, really insulting and quite suicidal for brands to partake in.

    Saying that, some of the best customer service I have ever had in this country has been in an Essex Mercedes dealership. And I said so to them on the feedback form. We were comparing BMW, Audi and Mercedes. The Audi cars were filthy (yes, even the new ones) and when we were wandering around the showroom and finally asked if someone could help us, they said “Oh, that’ll be so-and-so over there on the phone. He’ll be off in a while.” We gave him another 10 minutes and left for BMW. At BMW the guy was half asleep and seemed to wonder why we’d want to do a test drive when we could just skip that and go right to the paperwork. He then gave me a glass of water with lipstick marks on it. My husband told the man we were still shopping around and we left. At Mercedes we had a very professional yet friendly man come over to us after about five minutes of looking at cars. We asked him some questionsn then he showed us the car we were interested in, listened more to our needs and interests then suggested a different car (same value) that ended up being a wonderful car for us. He continued the excellent service every time I called with a question (it was scary buying that kind of car for the first time, so I had a lot of Q’s), and even when we went in after we bought the car he always stopped to say hello. He is the reason we went back for car number 2, even though we were then served by another, but equally helpful man. I think I may have embarrassed my British husband by telling the salesman too many times how good their customer service was!

    Different branches, different managers, maybe that’s the reason? It’s disappointing to read this isn’t a company wide policy as I was singing their praises over here in Essex, assuming the message of great customer service came from the top. I feel really disappointed and annoyed for you, T.

    x x

  • I work in Social Media for a very large brand and we would be mortified if one of our customers shared an experience like this. I really do think you should take it further, if only to ensure that you save someone else going through the same experience!

  • i too have experienced this kind of service before many many years ago, you’d think that things might just change with time.

    i was only young, we are talking about 15 years ago now and they clearly thought the same thing about me when i went into a showroom to eye up a new convertible. they could not be bothered to interact me what’s so ever. every answer to my questions was met with a half hearted answer. so i left. however the look on their faces when i trotted out into the car park and started up a 50k car and drove away was quite the pretty woman moment! i did by a new convertible but it wasn’t from them! ha ha ha ha

  • I love that quote from Pretty Woman. I think about it a lot. Every time something crappy happens to me in a potential sales situation. I’ve just had 2 really good customer service experiences this week, and I will write about them, just because they made me want to. It wasn’t hard, they just did something nice. What goes round comes round…

  • I LOVE customer service questions, both good and bad. Of course everybody has an off day, but when the service is like what you experienced, it’s just sooo juicy. That said, the good stories are fantastic as well. We recently had a flat and used KwikFit’s service where they come to your house and fit a new tyre right there. Fast, efficient…friendly tyre guy who didn’t treat me like a moron or be all “love” this and “darlin'” that. I’ll be interested to hear what the car company thinks of your experience.

  • :O how awful! And how rude! Customer service seems to be going downhill lately.