Last year I bought a new car. This was a very opulent thing to do: I have never owned a new car before. Buying a new car costs an awful lot of money, but at least once you’ve got it you are guaranteed trouble free motoring, right? Wrong, apparently.
As I said, buying a new car costs an awful lot of money – we weren’t exactly troubling the Porsche or Lamborghini showrooms, but it’s a big decision. We waded through loads of reviews, road tests and brochures and in the end our decision came down to practicality rather than excitement. We bought a Ford Focus.
I know; so middle aged and middle class!
Now don’t get me wrong, the Ford Focus is a great car. It looks pretty good, it gets great reviews and we got such a good deal from the Bristol Street Motors that we could afford the Titanium with lots of bells and whistles. It’s also a diesel, so great fuel economy too. It’s just not very exciting.
Anyway, to inch my way slowly to the point, we took delivery of our new car on 12 July last year. All went well until 4 March 2011 when a dashboard warning light came on. In the old days, with the sort of cars I used to drive, this was an occupational hazard and something to be ignored. This is a new car though, with a warranty, so they’ll sort it out for me. Back it went to Bristol Street.
The light was warning me about the ABS and traction control, so it seems pretty serious. It quickly became apparent that it would need some new parts so, a perk of warranties and dealerships, we eventually got a courtesy car, albeit a bottom of the range, sign-written petrol Fiesta.
The problem was apparently caused by corrosion in the wiring loom resulting from a problem in manufacture. Bristol Street had to order one from Ford. Ford didn’t have one.
Really? Jeremy Clarkson once described the Ford Focus as “more common than Wayne Rooney’s sister”; thousands of them must be produced every day. Surely somewhere there’s a warehouse full of wiring looms. Apparently not; one had to be made especially.
So we waited.
And we waited
Then we waited some more.
Finally, after a couple of false starts, we were offered a different courtesy car – a like-for-like replacement from Ford Rental. After a catalogue of inexcusable incompetence, wasting two and a half hours of my wife’s life, they finally delivered a petrol version that only my wife would be allowed to drive. Very helpful. We told them where to put it and kept the Fiesta.
Eventually we got the good news that the loom had arrived and Bristol Street, who had been brilliant throughout, quickly leapt into action and repaired the car immediately. We got it back on 9 June. At this time I had owned the car for 332 days and for 97 of those it had been sat on the forecourt waiting to be repaired.
Well boo-hoo you may say: if all I’ve got to worry about in life is how long it takes my new car to be repaired, perhaps things aren’t that bad. And maybe you have a point, but is this level of service typical for Ford? What about other car manufacturers? Should I just shrug resignedly when the car that I paid a lot of money for is unavailable to me for 30% of the time I’ve owned it?
Ford certainly seem to think so. Requests for some kind of compensation have been shrugged off with vague offers of ‘a goodwill gesture’ and even these have dried up since I got the car back.
Maybe they think I’ll forget about it now and go away.
They don’t know me very well…