No sale


Apart from riding fast motorcycles, evaluating cars, writing about kit, eating a lot and staring at pretty girls, my job requires me to ring up motorcycle/car dealers. This is primarily due to monthly price updates and the occasional alteration to trim levels. It sounds boring, mechanical, but trust me when I say it's quite the opposite.

This is a generalisation, but I'll say it anyway - 90 per cent of salespersons aren't passionate about what they sell at all. This is understandable if the product in question is innerwear, since being passionate about innerwear will instantly make you a social outcast. And this isn't restricted to automobiles either. In fact, the only saleable item which could evoke some passion is an automobile. And magazines for over 18 year olds, if you know what I mean. Everything else is just a white good.

And yet, every month, I spend a considerable amount of time on the phone trying very hard not to laugh because the salesman has just explained to me the virtues of Anti-Braking System (sic) or because he has just confessed to me that another manufacturer's 150cc motorcycle is, in fact, better. And that the receptionist is a cunning, materialistic woman who is having a wild affair with the Service Manager. Really, this happens so often that we had to dedicate a column to it in the magazine which my Labrador diligently pens every month.

Then there was the sales man at I met at a Tata-Fiat dealership, who, after some prodding, admitted he didn't know how to drive. And having taken him into confidence, he suggested I'd be better off buying the car in the other half of the showroom unless I wanted to spend three months waiting for some man in Brazil to dispatch a replacement left hand side rear-view mirror, if I were to ever damage mine. I can't tell you what side of the showroom he was working on, of course.

However, this entire deal is, apart from being very funny, very annoying. It's understandable if the man selling a front-wheel driven hatchback can't enlighten you, excitedly, on the subject of 'oversteer'. But when the man on the other end of the phone tells you why Anti-Braking System is 'very important', argue with him. Tell him you think he should sell water purifiers. That he is as right as the word left. And that you now know exactly why the Service Manager is a hit with the ladies.