Advantages Vast selection of cars, low mileage, reasonably priced
Disadvantages Gets very busy at weekends
Take one extremely snowy morning, one husband who has worked a twelve hour nightshift and one mother-in-law. Mix them all together and what do you get? A recipe for disaster, that's what!A few weeks ago when the old white stuff decided to hit the country with a vengeance, my mother-in-law decided to book a last minute holiday (yay, a nag-free fortnight was on the cards) so she gave 'instructions' to my husband that she would need a lift to the airport. Forever the dutiful son, and the price we pay for a peaceful life, he agreed to collect her at 7.15 in the morning after he had finished work. It had been snowing all through the night and, being that early in the morning and not much traffic out, the snow was still lying quite thickly on the roads.
And then it happened:My husband decided to attach himself to the back of a wagon! Well, he attached the car rather than himself - literally! Basically, the front bumper had got caught under the back end of the wagon and got dragged along, but being an HGV, the driver was totally unaware of what had happened and carried on driving, never to be seen again. When my husband got out to check the damage, there was a gaping hole in the passenger door (but unfortunately not big enough for said mother-in-law to fall through) and the wing had been bent down over the tyre. After pulling the wing off the tyre, and as the car was still driveable, my husband carried on and dumped, oops sorry, safely delivered his mother at the airport.
(For those of you who are bored already by this little pre-amble, the review will start very shortly - promise!)In my husband's own words, he "couldn't be arsed" going through the insurance to get the repairs done, which would have meant a new door and a new wing, so he decided he would get another car.
*NB: At the end of the review, there is a twist to the story, together with a moral. It explains how we managed to afford a new car!Anyway, on with the review.
WHY WE DECIDED TO GO TO FORDS OF WINSFORD
Fords of Winsford won the "Which Car" award for Britain's Best Car Supermarket in 2002, 2004 and 2005. And with good reason too. We actually live 30 miles from Winsford, but it is certainly worth travelling the distance to get such a high quality of service.LAYOUT - EXTERIOR
On arrival, you will note there are ample parking spaces to leave your own vehicle while you go car hunting. After walking through the entrance, your view is literally filled with cars, cars and more cars. Quite understandable really as it is, after all, a car supermarket. All the cars are situated in numbered rows. I will explain the reason for this shortly. The cars are located in order of style, rather than make of car. For example, all the hatchbacks are together, all the estates are together, people carriers and so on. You should however bear in mind that they do occasionally vary the layout. When I bought a car from here about 8 years ago, all the cars were positioned in order of make, so the Vauxhalls were together, the Rovers were together and so on.I mentioned earlier that the cars are in numbered rows. The reason for this is that there is a FREE stock list catalogue at the front of the showroom which lists each and every car for sale that day. The list shows in alphabetical order the make of car, mileage, price and location in the car lot. The list is obviously updated on a daily basis.
LAYOUT - INTERIOR ===========Now this is one of the flashiest looking car showrooms I have ever seen! As soon as you enter through the automatic doors, you will find a stand containing the day's stock list and, if you are a serious buyer rather than just a window shopper, you are advised to take one of these before venturing into the forecourt. Straight ahead of you is the main reception desk where there are usually at least four assistants on hand to help you, whether it be an enquiry about a car, getting your own car valued or collection of your new car.
To the far left of the showroom is another desk, usually manned by two assistants. This is the key collection point where the keys to all the cars on sale are held.Across the front of the showroom are numerous smaller desks which are the work stations of the salesmen. Each salesman (I say salesman rather than salesperson as I have never seen a female at any of these desks) has their own desk and this is where the deals are sealed, paperwork signed and (ouch!) money handed over!
To the far right of the showroom you will find the 'Collection Point' which is where you go to collect your new car on a pre-arranged day.As with most car showrooms, they always have the flash sporty models on show. We were unfortunate in that, when we were doing the sealing and dealing for our new car, we had an early morning appointment and they had decided to move a nice little convertible out of the showroom. Only trouble was - it was parked next to the desk we were sitting at and we nearly got carbon monoxide poisoning!
There is a very pleasant waiting area at the rear with tea and coffee and a cold drinks machine. For those with young children, there are crayons and paper available to keep them occupied. There are public toilets and the building itself is extremely modern.TYPES OF CARS FOR SALE
Don't let the name fool you. By no means do they sell only Fords.
You can more or less find any make and model of car you want here with a choice of over 1500 vehicles . All the well known makes and models are available, together with MPV's, small commercial vans and transit vans. Fords of Winsford do not actually sell brand new cars, but many of the vehicles for sale have a very low mileage and are always in superb condition. They tend to sell a lot of fleet cars which usually have a low mileage and it is for this reason they can afford to sell them at such reasonable prices.
PRICING YOUR OWN CAR
After you have registered your details at reception, you are given a card with a reference number on it and this is your personal number for the rest of the transaction. You are asked to take a seat in the waiting area and you are then allocated a salesman who goes to your car with you, has a quick check over it, and then requests one of his colleagues to reinspect your car and give you a set price. This price is fixed against any car for sale on the forecourt, irrelevant to what price you pay for the new car.THEY EVEN GIVE YOU THE CAR KEYS
Ok, so you've been given a price for you car and you now know how much you have to spend. It's time to shop! Once you have seen a car you like, you note down the registration number and head off back to the showroom where you go to the Key Collection Point. It's simple. You just give the ladies behind the desk the details of the car, they key in your name into the computer and hand the car keys over to you. If you have seen more than one car you like the look of, you may take those keys too.FANCY A TEST DRIVE?
Now that you have had a good look at the car you fancy buying, both inside and out, had a sit in the driver's seat, started the engine and played with the 'boy's toys', you probably want to see how it handles on the road. Just return to the showroom and show your personal client card to the receptionist, telling her you wish to go for a test drive. You will be offered a seat in the waiting area and the salesman who valued your own car will be informed and will take you over to the car. He will drive it out of the forecourt by using a key card. Once on the road, you can take the to the wheel and away you go. In a way, this is similar to taking your driving test again because the salesmen have a set route where they take test drives. It usually lasts about 5 minutes but gives you the experience of various road layouts, i.e. small private roads, junctions and dual carriageway. In other words, you can see how the car handles in a built-up area, and what the speed pick-up is like on a long stretch of road at national speed limit.OK, SO YOU LIKE IT - WANNA BUY IT?
You have decided that this is the car for you. As if by magic, a smile appears on the salesman's face. The car is then driven round the back of the building where it is prepared for your collection at a later date.Now the salesman has good reason to be happy now because this is the point where the old proverbial dotted line gets signed and the deal is done. You are taken to the salesman's desk and he will go through the car's history such as service record, previous owners, engine size etc. You are not expected to pay the full amount for the car at this stage as this is done when you collect it. However, they do expect a £250.00 deposit to secure the purchase. At this time, you are asked how you propose to finance the purchase, whether it be by banker's draft, building society cheque or credit card. A word of warning though - if you pay by credit, you get stung with an extortionate fee for the privilege. If possible, they do prefer a building society cheque.
You are then asked when you would like to collect the car. As my husband was due to be in work a lot during that week, we asked if we could fix a date in about a week's time. The salesman advised that they do like to have the cars off the premises within a few days, so we reluctantly agreed to collect it three days later. As you will see later, this did not turn out as we had hoped and the salesman's keenness to get his commission resulted in us having to do a lot of re-arranging of insurance etc.FINANCE
When buying a car, you are nearly always offered finance by the garage, and Fords of Winsford is certainly no exception. They have in-house financial advisers who are happy to sell you finance to assist with your purchase, but the advantage of taking it through them is that it is arranged at the same time so you do not have to worry about getting this sorted elsewhere before deciding whether you can buy the car. However, I always like to shop around so this may suit some people, but not others.AND NOW THE EXCITING BIT - COLLECTING YOUR CAR
So the day has come. You have been busy getting your tax and insurance sorted out and off you go, armed with your tax disc and payment.While you have been counting the days to this happy event, the workshop staff have been busy getting your car in tip top condition. Any minor repairs will have been done and the car will have been fully valated for you. It is important that, when you have decided to buy this car, you check for any repairs that are required to bring it up to your expectations.
You will have been allocated a time to collect the car, and on arrival, you are met by your salesman. He will check the tax disc and also take from you your own documentation for your old car which you are trading in. The payment process is very quick and takes literally a matter of minutes. The salesman then asks you to wait on the forecourt while he brings your newly valeted car round to you.So you now have your new car and you are free to drive it at your leisure back to its new home.
As I said, all the sales people are male but, for you ladies out there, there are no patronising comments and female customers are treated the same as the men. When I bought a car from them a few years ago, I was so pleased that they treated me like a serious customer, not a dippy female. This was a refreshing change because when I bought my previous car from a small garage, I was told by 'Mr Smoothy' the salesman that as the car was white, it would look nice in the summer!!! Aarghhh!! I felt like saying to him "**** the colour, let's see the business under the bonnet!!!!" (Can you tell he annoyed me?) Anyway, there is none of that here - the staff are very good.AFTER-SALES SERVICE
Once you have purchased your car, you have a short warranty period where, if you find any faults with the vehicle or anything goes wrong, you return the car to them and the mechanics will deal with any repairs required.MORRISONS (ISN'T THAT A DIFFERENT REVIEW?)
Well, Morrison's supermarket have struck lucky here because they are situated just round the corner from Fords of Winsford and, oddly enough, have a petrol station! More often than not, when you buy a new car, there is not an awful lot of fuel in the tank so you are obviously going to want to fill up before driving home. Morrisons seem to get of lot of business from Ford's customers solely due to its proximity. Not the cheapest fuel around at the time we called, but certainly worth it just to get you home.GOOD POINTS
1) The wide selection of cars for sale at reasonable prices.2) No hard selling by the sales people.
3) Discount of £50 if you trade your own vehicle in, provided it was originally purchased from Fords of Winsford.BAD POINTS
1) It gets exceptionally busy at weekends. Easy enough to look at the cars, but if you want to speak to someone or take a test drive, be prepared for a long wait.2.) Don't be rushed by the salesman into arranging an early collection date. Although I would highly recommend Fords of Winsford, there was one slight drawback for us. We asked the salesman if we could collect the car in seven days, i.e. giving them plenty of time to valet it and for us to get the insurance and tax sorted out. We were told by the salesman that they like to get the cars off the premises within a few days of sale, so we agreed to collect it three days later. We arranged a cover note for the insurance, but the day before we were due to collect the car, Fords telephoned us to say they had found a chip in the windscreen which would fail an MOT so would have to replace the windscreen. This would take them an extra day. Unfortunately, my husband would be in the work for the next few days so would still be unable to collect the car until, what turned out to be, nearly seven days later. The problem we had was that the insurance on our own car would be cancelled as from the original collection date, so we had to reorganise this and pay an extra £5.00 to extend our original insurance. Not a big amount of money, granted, but we were not too happy at the inconvenience. If the salesman had agreed for us to collect the car the following week as we had requested, all of this could have been avoided.
Opening times: Mon-Fri 9am-7pm Sat 9am-5pm Sun 10am-5pmTelephone: 0845 4563770
Website: http://www.fow.co.uk/2006/index.aspThe website address is very useful as you can enter a search for the type of car you are looking for, maximum/minimum price, mileage etc.
AND FINALLY… THE TWIST IN THE TALE AND THE MORAL
And the moral? Never refuse granny a lift to the airport - you may clinch a new car out of it!!!Thanks for reading.
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