Joining the bailout chorus

Earlier this month, I decided to follow the leads of the banks
and car manufacturers and bang off a letter to Chancellor Brown
(oops – I mean Darling), asking to be slipped into the next bailout
package.

Graham HillIt’s getting tough out there, so why should it just be the
large organisations to benefit from any handouts? After all, things
are getting tighter for us all, and us brokers are helping the
banks and the car manufacturers to get more people and businesses
into new cars, thereby doing our bit to save the car manufacturing
industry and the environment at the same time.

Everyone, including the banks, would be winners and I’m not
requiring billions – a mere £100k should manage to keep the wheels
oiled and receive my full support throughout the next six months
when, of course, as Chancellor Brown (er, Darling) has predicted,
the current crisis will be over. I’ll keep you posted on the
progress of my application, hopefully from the shores of Bali.

Given the current circumstances most businesses are desperately
trying to hang on to existing customers and collect new ones.
Unless of course you happen to be a car leasing company – then of
course you enjoy limping, as you love shooting yourself in the
foot.

How not to retain customers

My ‘favourite’ lessor, the one that I’m not allowed to mention
by name, has been at it again. A client phoned up and asked for an
early termination figure, as circumstances had changed and he
wanted to upgrade his car. The contract had run two years out of
the three-year agreement, and, as most brokers are aware, lessors
normally ask for around 50 per cent of outstanding rentals when
there are fewer than 12 months to run on the contract. But not this
caring, sharing lessor! When the client checked the figure he was
given, it amounted to 95 per cent of the outstanding rentals.

When he queried the figure the customer services person sounded
surprised and explained that they had given him a discount! Yes, 5
bloody per cent and the loss of another client that it took years
to convert to leasing.

But this lender is not alone. Another customer had two cars with
the leasing arm of a French car manufacturer. He contracted to
cover 30,000 miles per annum but a dramatic change in circumstances
(he contracted out the job he took the two cars to do) meant that
the cars were only going to travel 10,000 miles per annum, meaning
at the end of the three-year contract the cars would only cover
30,000 miles instead of 90,000. The customer contacted the leasing
company, as he was only halfway through the agreement, only to be
told the lessor wouldn’t reduce the rentals, only increase them if
a customer covered higher mileages. How daft is that? (And, I
believe, illegal.) So there’s another lost customer.

No wonder I’ve been turning to the medicinal brandy of late and
in need of a government bailout.

Happy Christmas to all my readers. Let’s hope that 2009 isn’t as
painful as it is currently looking. I’m off to get some brochures
for holidays in Bali.