After deciding to get rid of my faithful six year old gas guzzling four-wheel drive in favor of a more economical daily runner, my wife and I set out to spend two days running from the Southern suburbs to the far northern suburbs of Cape Town in search of that perfect car.
I never knew so many used car dealers existed and how willing they were to “do a deal”. Having almost given up on finding the perfect car, we were driving through Voortrekker Road, Maitland and set to hit the freeway back home when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted “The perfect Car”.
On display was a beautiful specimen, less than 2 years old, good bodywork, low mileage, well priced, what more could I ask for?
I inspected the vehicle and within five minutes, the salesman, Robin, had written up the docket agreeing to attend to the four items I felt would really make the deal worthwhile.
A couple of minor scratches, balding tyres, a crack in the windscreen and a radio tape to be replaced by a front loading CD player, were quickly agreed to by the smooth talking Salesman. Off we went very satisfied that in a couple of days, we’d be driving off in our perfect vehicle.
The first sign that something was not quite right came when I arrived to pick up the vehicle and was told that the windscreen damage had been repaired rather than replaced. I could clearly still see where the damage was, but, as it didn’t interfere with my vision and had cleared the roadworthy, accepted this reluctantly. The scratches had been nicely removed and the car looked great until I looked down at the wheels.
“Seeing you wanted the car sooner than we expected, we didn’t have a chance to do the tyres” was the Salesman’s curt response.
At this stage, I must tell you that I’d transferred the R86 000 to the dealers account and he’d confirmed receipt three minutes earlier, marking the sudden change in attitude.
He then proceeded to give me the address of a tyre dealer and off I went to have the new tyres fitted.
At the Tyre dealer, the manager walked around my car and then told me that he thought I’d do better to keep the old tyres as the replacement ones had less tread. I did a quick “What the...” and promptly phoned the salesman. Only after threatening to bring the car back for a full refund did he eventually agree to pay the cost of new tyres, saying, “If you buy from a second hand car dealer, expect second hand tyres. We deal in second-hand cars – I never said I’d fit new ones!”
Eventually, new tyres fitted, I drove home understanding that the “papers” would only be back from the License department the next day and that I’d have to pick them up next week. I switched on the noticeably second hand front loading CD player only to find that the CD player did not work. By the time I got home, the Radio had also stopped playing completely.
I phoned the salesman to be told that he’d find me another CD player and when I came to pick up the documents, it would be changed. Needless to say, even though I had phoned beforehand to confirm that they were there, I was told when I arrived that the papers were still at the license department and that they didn’t have another CD player at this time. “We’ll phone you when the papers are here.” was the disinterested response.
The fact that I’d driven from Noordhoek to Maitland was of little importance to the Salesman with the cash in the bank. "Thank God all our Customers are not as difficult as you" screamed his almost hysterical wife Stephanie, from the background. Stephanie incidentally, was the person who told me telephonically the day before that everything was ready.
Three days later, I picked up the papers and had them re-install the original radio tape player so that they could send the CD player for repairs. “We’ll phone you when it’s back” was the now rude response.
Seven days, ten days and finally two weeks later, I phoned, each time being told they didn’t know when it would be returned and would get back to me.
On Friday, having left four messages for Robin, I was fortunate enough to have him pick up the phone when I called.
“Are you deaf or what?” he screamed down the phone. “What is it about “we’ll phone you” that you don’t understand?” He slammed the phone down on me.
I sent a fax to them advising that they were in breach of contract and tendered the return of the vehicle for a full refund on 2 October. That morning I phoned to advise that I was on my way with the Car.
The Wife then became totally abusive telling me that I must be bored to tears and have nothing better to do. Forget about bringing the car in - you'll get nothing from us was her final hysterical outburst as she slammed the phone down once again.
I am now in a position where, having accepted a windscreen which was not replaced, I am supposed to accept a CD Player that doesn't work or just the radio tape?