Shropshire Star

Nathan Rowden: Important to drive home your rights

We all know the old saying ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’.

Important to drive home your rights

Now some people see this as a cheeky negotiation tactic that may be more suitable to Only Food and Horses’s Del Boy than themselves. But I use it myself all the time and reap the benefits.

Just recently I used it when out buying a new car.

Everything was agreed in the showroom. Myself and the salesman shook hands after agreeing the price with a few little extras chucked in – it was a pretty good deal and we were both happy.

But when I returned home later that evening I had received an email from said car dealership offering £1,000 off the price of your car if you took it for a test drive. Well this had not been mentioned to me by the salesman and I had no prior knowledge before entering the showroom of this offer.

But the deal had been done. We had shaken hands. I had signed a contract. But I also knew my rights, I was still in the cooling-off period and knew that all this could all still be cancelled. So did I really have a strong bargaining hand? Yes. Companies are desperate for a sale.

“You can’t contact them again?” I was told. How wrong they were.

I have built up a bit of a reputation as a whiner in the Shropshire Star and Express & Star offices. My social media posts complaining to companies have become something of a talking point. Some call them Rowden’s rants, but I disagree. They’re not the angry ramblings of a man who will whine about anything and everything.

I don’t moan on social media unless I feel it is necessary. In my view as a customer we should always expect good service from big companies. There is no need for bad service, and I will let a company have it with both barrels, in a polite way, if they fall below the standards I expect.

As long as you’re measured, have a legitimate complaint and are in no way offensive then there’s no reason not to give companies a hard time if they deserve it. And if social media doesn’t work then go right to the source and most importantly don’t go away. That’s what they want.

Anyway, back to the car. I called the dealership back and spoke to the salesman in question, and he admitted he had no prior knowledge of said deal, but asked me to forward the email and he would check it out with his manager.

Now I can’t complain about this salesman, he was thoroughly helpful and non-pushy throughout my dealings with him.

The deal he had done for me initially included one offer that could not be used in conjunction with this £1,000 test drive offer. That’s fair enough. But I asked for a new deal to be worked out all the same, just in case there was a saving for me.

There wasn’t. The original deal was the best I could get, but because of the confusion they offered to chuck in a free dash cam worth £180 to apologise. They had no reason to apologise really. I was only asking for the best deal.

But this was a case of ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’. If I hadn’t queried it out of embarrassment I would likely have been down the shop buying a dash cam. I had mentioned in our negotiations I was interested in investing in one due to some near misses on my commute.

Some may call it blagging or the gift of the gab.

“You’ve got more brass than me,” I have been told.

But actually it’s just about being savvy. I never impulse buy, really. Maybe on occasion I’ll take a fly on a record, but most things I research thoroughly, get price comparisons and get an idea of what I’m talking about and what I really want before hitting the shops. Google really is a marvellous tool.

Now I’m not condoning being obnoxious, rude and acting like a complete know-it-all. This will get you nowhere, and frankly it’s just not very nice.

But sometimes you just have to ask or indeed complain. My in-laws recently went on holiday and their return flight back was delayed for a considerable amount of time. When they returned home they were bleary eyed and understandably shattered having spent a long time in an airport.

However they weren’t for complaining. It wasn’t until my brother-in-law complained on their behalf that they wound up getting a load of money back. It was in the region for £450 each, which pretty much paid for their holiday.

The new rules are that if you’re delayed by more than three hours or your flight’s cancelled, under EU rule 261/2004 you are often entitled to between £110 and £520 in compensation depending on length of time. Money Saving Expert provide a simple walk through to claim this money.

It’s just being aware of what you are entitled too, and having the so-called brass to take the companies on. If you feel you’ve had bad service, or been given a duff deal, then do look online and see if there is any advice to help you out, I do it all the time.

Best of luck. I’m off for a drive in my new car, equipped with dash cam of course.