(Sorry been away from the blog so long, three children and being self-employed will do that)

A heads-up – don’t buy from Arnold Clark. Here’s why…
Long story short: bought a Ford S-Max last year from the Arnold Clark Ayr Peugeot branch – only my third car and first time in buying from a dealership. Now the S-Max Zetec was coming in at around £12,000 which was in the price range (we needed a seven seater as the wife was expecting our third child) and the reviews were fairly positive.

So goes down to Ayr, likes the car. It had a few minor issues which the salesman, Keith Mackay, assured me would be sorted. I say I’ll take it and that I’ll have rear parking sensors installed so I leave a deposit, have the full payment made at another branch (don’t live anywhere near Ayr so it’s a pain to go to and fro) and await the call that the car is ready.

Get the call, head down, Keith gives me the keys and heads back in to the storeroom. I’m about to drive off when the wife points out that the paintwork hasn’t been touched up (there were some marks and Keith had said they would be fixed) and the daughter points out that there are old sweets stuck to parts on the interior and the car hasn’t been properly cleaned. There’s also no manual or second key and the driver’s armrest is broken.

Speaks to Keith about these – quite disappointed that the car isn’t good to go – and he says to make an appointment to get these issues sorted. It’s not until we get home that we notice the cover for the back luggage area is missing (meaning people can see everything that’s in our boot) so we have to arrange to get one from another Arnold Clark.

Drive about a bit, everything seems fine (the car itself is very good. The compartments under the floor aren’t great storage space and there’s issues with affixing iso-fix for baby carseats but it’s a decent car and I’d suggest one to anybody with three kids or two kids and wanting a chunk of boot space.)

So, tries to get the car fixed which takes longer than expected (the joys of a newborn, a toddler and self-employment) as I can’t get down to Ayr and also, there’s not many days my family can be without it. During this time, Arnold Clark send me a second key but a gaffe at the post office means it’s returned to them.

During this time the reversing sensor starts to play up – it bleeps when there’s nothing behind me (for proof, see this video) and the car starts to tell me that the alarm system needs serviced – despite me being assured the car had been fully serviced.

Eventually, finds a date that works for everyone and Arnold Clark tell me that I have to take the car to the Rutherglen branch first of all to fix part of the problems and then take it down to Ayr (and no, they won’t cover the petrol costs).

I take it to Rutherglen (cracking roll and sausage in their canteen) and then down to Ayr – though Rutherglen couldn’t work out why they weren’t asked to do all the work as it was stuff their managed said they could do no problems at all.

So takes it to Ayr, gets the patter from Keith again (who, in fairness has always been polite and courteous) and leaves the car with them while I head off for some food and to get work done nearby. Come back at the end of the day only to discover that while they have fixed the reversing issue and serviced the alarm, the arm rest is still not fixed and will need parts ordered in (yes, I don’t know why it wasn’t ordered in either).

Arnold Clark then offer – after some prompting from me – to send it to a nearer branch, which is fine. So I drive off, thinking – ONE YEAR ON – that the end is in sight.

Two days later, the car alarm system starts telling me again that it needs serviced. Then, when I throw the car into reverse, the sensor stays on. And on. And on. Despite nothing being behind me.

At first I was ready to try and put up with it, but as someone pointed out to me “you had the sensors put in for a reason – to help maximise the safety of people around you and as you do the school run, you know what kids are like at the back or cars.” Aside from that, I asked them to be put in for a reason and if they don’t do that job then surely Arnold Clark should remove them?

So I started emailing Ayr and also mentioned the issue to Ford Social Media boss Scott Monty at an event who was pleased I liked the car but rightly pointed out that Ford had no control over where their cars end up in the resale chain (and he’s right. I was just venting as I was so pissed off.)

Anyway Arnold Clark have now come back and said pretty much “we’ll fix the armrest. Tough on the reversing alarm and the car alarm system. You’re well past the warranty”. And I am. But if they had done the proper job the first time, I wouldn’t be bothering them. I’ve got enough on my plate elsewhere to have these hassles.

So anyway, lesson learned by me. I’ll never be buying from Arnold Clark again as, given their dismissal of this, they don’t care for people’s safety. I would advise others to do the same. Anyone had issues with Arnold Clark?

UPDATE: Four hours after the blog post went up and many people retweeted it – whom I’ll thank later – Arnold Clark got in touch via Twitter to say the issue had been escalated. I then received an email saying that the local branch will look into all the issues. One year – nothing, four hours on the blog and we’re on the road to recovery. Social Media works.

UPDATE 2: I need to give Arnold Clark some credit. They took the car in for a week, repaired all the issues here, also put it through a MOT and replaced a tyre (charging me for neither) and gave us £100 in Toys R Us vouchers, which was a lovely touch.

Now I’d love to say that my faith in Arnold Clark is restored. It’s not. The car’s fog lights on the passenger side come on completely at random and the turn left indicator will just go off as well from time to time. On top of that, the boot’s harder to open. Now it may be coincidence but these issues didn’t exist before the car went in.

(And before you ask, no I wouldn’t take it back in to them.)

So, as their social media team had been emailing me and asking me, I’ve changed the heading on the blog post. Would I buy from them in future? In all honesty, I don’t know. At this point in time I doubt it, but if there was a cheap enough bargain I might be tempted. After all, I couuldn’t be this unlucky again could I?

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