Why you should never buy a car from the Citroen main dealer attached to Citroen’s UK Head Office!

Posted by Chris Green on Tuesday August 23 @ 9:46 am

The Citroen C4 I was supposed to buy - you can see the wheel arch dent in this pic that was not fixed as agreed

The Citroen C4 I was supposed to buy - you can see the wheel arch dent in this pic that was not fixed as agreed

This past weekend I was supposed to be picking up a new (well, low-mileage used) car from Citroen’s Slough dealership. The one directly attached to Citroen’s UK headquarters in Slough. As you’ve probably already guessed, things didn’t go to plan and I am about to deliver the most deserved naming-and-shaming ever.

After a rocky start, I’ve had the best part of five hassle-free, but expensive, years’ service from my trusty and beloved Rover 75. Unfortunately, as much as I want to keep the 75 until it’s old, rusty and the doors fall off, its low mpg (24 on a good day with the wind behind you) and my 70 miles-a-day commute mean that it’s just not a financially viable car to keep using seven days a week. I’m pouring around £350-£400 a month into the petrol tank, and that’s a big expense. The car was bought in a different time, when I commuted to work on the Tube and only really drove at weekends. In that scenario, owning a V6 gas guzzler was a manageable and enjoyable luxury expense. Sadly, it’s now a much larger dent in my pocket that I can no longer sustain.

Having looked around a fair few car marques including Skoda, Kia, Nissan, Fiat, Peugeot, MG and Ford, I settled on a Citroen C4. I found a viable example of the car, a Citroen Approved Used 2008 (57 plate) 1.6 HDi (Diesel) VTR+ in Puss Beige (Sahara Gold) with Citroen’s EGS semi-automatic gearbox. Fortunately, I’m not fussy about car colour at all. The car can allegedly achieve 62mpg (manufacturers claimed combined fuel consumption) and had a nice array of toys on it including cruise control, speed limiter, stability control, trip computer and a boot that you could comfortably stuff a dead body into without folding the rear seats down. You never know when this might come in handy!

Having viewed the car at Citroen’s Slough dealership (remember, this is the one directly attached to Citroen’s UK headquarters in Slough) on July 30th, we proceeded with an agreement to buy the car (on finance) on agreement that certain remedial work be carried out on the car prior to handover. These items included:

  • Repairing a large paint scuff and dent on the passenger side rear wing wheel arch
  • Repairing a large paint scuff on the passenger side front bumper
  • Investigate and mend faulty electric mirror control on driver door window control panel
  • Replace or skim warped brake disc on drivers’ side rear wheel

I was assured this would all be done, and we shook on the deal (and I paid a £250 deposit). We agreed for the handover of their car (and my part exchange car) to take place on the morning of August 20th – giving them a full three weeks to complete all the works on the car to a high standard, including completing the bodywork repairs to Citroen paintwork and corrosion warranty standard.

We arrived at the dealership (Citroen Slough – the one directly attached to Citroen’s UK headquarters in Slough) at 9am on August 20th as agreed, only to find no sign initially of the sales rep. He showed up about five minutes later as we were fetching coffee from their machine – all fair enough so far. Whilst he was very keen to get me to sign a myriad of paperwork (as well as get another £750 out of me – the rest of the cash I was down paying on the car – which I stupidly paid up straight away, albeit on a credit card so have some protection), I was more concerned with inspecting the car before I made the sale final.

Having been asked to sign a checklist confirming that everything was in order, I downed my pen until I could inspect the car, and produced my own five page check-list of things based on information and advice from the Citroen C4 Owners Club forum.

Reluctantly, the sales rep led me out to where the car was waiting in their collection area.

The first thing I inspected was the bodywork repairs – which were a joke! The rear wing repair was pathetic; with no effort made to restore the wheel arch crease and curve (it now has a completely flat patch in the middle of the arch. There were also clearly visible dents still around the centre of the damage as well as paintwork scratches.

The front bumper scrape looked like it had been T-Cut polished as part of a wash and wax, and nothing else. They again only did the middle of the scrape, leaving the ends of the scrape untouched and a large deep scratch above it untouched and dirty. They also managed to create fresh damage in the form of scraping the passenger-side body-coloured bumper insert so deep it’s down to the underlying plastic. Looking at the damage, it would appear that either someone reversed into the car, or the car has hit a bollard or roof support in a car park.

There is also paint damage in the passenger side front wheel arch lip (down to the bare metal, but easy to touch up to seal it. After these botched bodywork repairs, they then had the cheek to apply the £299 GardX protection I paid for – an utterly pointless exercise on such bad bodywork that, thanks to the shoddy work (and no work in the case of the front bumper) does not conform to Citroen paintwork and corrosion warranty standard

Next, I checked the boot wiring loom rubber sheath. The wiring loom in the boot is subject to a recall at present, as the loom has been fitted too short/too tight on a significant number of cars, causing it to rub on the bodywork, breaking the cables and causing the electric boot lock to fail (there is no key override). When that happens, you can’t open the boot.

The wiring loom rubber sheath where the wires exit the main car and enter the boot lid looks a bit manky where it joins the boot lid itself, suggesting it is going to be susceptible to water ingress in the future, if not already. The dealership insists this particular car is not subject to the boot wiring loom recall. However, I expect this to be an area for future problems, if not from broken cables then from water ingress based on the malformed and ill-fitting wiring sheath.

The car was advertised and sold as having a full dealer service history. However, on finally seeing the service log book it was completely blank! It turns out there were no manuals with the car, so they put an old spare set in (and incomplete at that, just the main user manual and log book, no getting started guide, no RD4 car stereo manual). After much arguing, a single A4 laser printed page (that looked like it had just been knocked up in a hurry in Microsoft Word) was produced, claiming to detail the full service history from a Citroen dealership in Wrexham where the car was first registered and allegedly maintained. Suffice to say this was not convincing. It also has no value as nobody will accept the piece of paper as a legitimate service history and proof of accumulative mileage.

Furthermore, I asked for proof of what work had been carried out on the car by Citroen Slough. A printout was produced that revealed they replaced 2 wiper blades, had a new remote control key produced and they claim to have replaced the Air Doseur (which is known to leak oil on a C4, dripping into the Alternator which is directly underneath it). On inspection there was an oil stain on top of the Alternator. However, the Air Doseur does not look new at all, and had dirt and other muck on the two rubber pipes, suggesting it’s been in place and undisturbed for quite a while.

No evidence of addressing the brake disc issue or the dodgy electric mirrors control on the driver’s door panel. Also no recent service (allegedly the mystery Wrexham dealership did it in November last year) – the oil was as black as tarmac and Citroen Slough failed to even do a basic courtesy oil and filter change, instead sticking me with a £200 service bill almost immediately in order to make the car safe and reliable to drive.

On further inspection, I noted that the faux carbon fibre trim surrounding the gearstick was extremely loose and had acquired several scrapes and indents in it, which I am confident were not there when I first inspected and test drove the car.

The car also only had a 10-month MOT, not the full 12 month I was expecting and as would be normal with any other manufacturer-approved used car of MOT age.

I also discovered the two front tyres are two different makes. Both rears are factory Michelins, but the driver’s front is a Goodyear, and the Passenger front is a Pirelli! Both have completely different tread patterns and the wear is uneven. I consider this to be extremely dangerous, a view that has been backed up by both the RAC and by Michelin, Citroen’s recommended tyre supplier. Replacing the tyres will cost in excess of £300 if I have to do it.

Odd tyres and a mixture of tread patterns on the front will significantly compromise handling and grip, as well as overworking the stability control and ABS as it tries to compensate.

The end result is I refused to take possession of the car. I scooped up the V5 for my Rover, along with its manual and service history and the keys and walked out. They still have my £1,000 and I’ve stupidly allowed them a window to make good the car when I should have reclaimed all my money and never set foot back in there. However, having received expert advice, I am no longer prepared to accept the car in its current form at the agreed price.

The simple fact of the matter is I’ve had to endure significant aggravation, cost, lost time and, quite frankly, was left quite upset at the disgusting way I was treated on Saturday. This included the sales rep I was dealing with went and grabbed a decidedly yobbish and extremely aggressive colleague (who’s presence was never explained or justified) to try and intimidate us into taking the car as was without complaint (which didn’t work). The problems, the botched remedial work, the additional damage to the car caused by the dealership, the odd tyres, the damaged and loose trim panel around the gearstick – it all damages the resale value of the car, my confidence in the car, my confidence in the dealership and its ability carry out any of the work properly, and my confidence in Citroen full stop.

I highly expect my next visit will reveal the car still has not been prepared as agreed and I will be rejecting it for good and claiming a full refund of the £1,000 I’ve paid so far as a deposit.

Full Disclosure: Following several attempts to complain via Twitter to Citroen UK, I received a very polite and constructive call from their PR department. They in turn escalated my complaint to an extremely confrontational, rude and argumentative person at the Citroen Slough dealership (a real let-down as I was hoping for progress on this). The individual who called displayed little interest in rectifying anything other than begrudgingly addressing the bodywork and getting the original dealer that allegedly maintained the car to reissue and stamp a service history booklet. He demonstrated no interest in delivering good customer care, rebuilding trust or making good the obviously poor performance and attitude displayed by the staff at the dealership and the overall sub-standard state of the car.

On the basis of this so far, I would have to say avoid buying a Citroen car from a Citroen main dealer, and in particular avoid Citroen Slough at all costs!

19 responses to “Why you should never buy a car from the Citroen main dealer attached to Citroen’s UK Head Office!”

  1. Malcolm Sleath says:

    I love the fact that, “Citroën UK Official Site. Discover Award Winning cars from Citroën – Explore Our Range Today” appears in an ad at the top of your blog.

  2. Liz says:

    They also claimed to have fixed a scrape on the opposite side of the front bumper that was “down to the black”. The photo of the front of the car that they supplied was taken from that side, there is no such scrape visible.

  3. Chris Green says:

    Hi Liz

    You are correct, they did claim to have fixed a non-existent scrape on the drivers side front bumper – had forgotten about that. Here’s the dealer’s original pic of the car – as you can see, no scrapes visible:

    Citroen C4 front view - no evidence of the scratch they claimed to have repaired AFTER this pic was taken

    Chris

  4. Jonathan says:

    Disgraceful service and I’d half-expected to hear that all the staff who provided you with the customer-service equivalent of breaking wind in your face to come from France as well.

    Out here in Dubai (yes, cheap petrol but let’s not get into that one) what matters to potential car buyers is that the car has an excellent support workshop. Mercedes has had a bad rep out here for a long time but so has Citroen – which no longer exists properly out here as a result.

    Does this mean you will now come to Dubai Chris? I’ll take you dune-bashing to get your mind off things.

  5. Paul Ockenden says:

    I once owned a Shitroen. I had it from new. Both the car and the dealership were awful. There’s no way I’ll ever buy another one of their cars again. Once bitten, and all that…

  6. Peter Smith says:

    Hey Chris – you should try Mercedes they’re even worse – the dealer tried to rip me off for over £1400 on a service last week for work that didn’t need doing and over charging compared to quoted servicing prices.

    Read all about it at http://hottotrotmarketing.co.uk/blog/

    They deleted my complaints form their Facebook site 3 times – Joke!

  7. Chris Green says:

    Hi Peter

    Just read your blog – amazing stuff. I thought Citroen Slough were bad, but that Merc dealer is clearly trying to con everyone who sets foot in there for aftercare.

    All I can say is that most (but thankfully not all) main dealers are a sodding joke! Having worked out a deal whereby I was prepared to accept the C4 from Citroen Slough (and get all the issues in my original blog post sorted), they’ve subsequently screwed up my GAP insurance and are making excuse after excuse about why it hasn’t been fixed. They have also failed to provide one of the manuals for the car and are also stalling over that. I still haven’t had any paperwork through for the car’s warranty or breakdown cover! When I chase I’m fobbed off over and and over again!

    Fortunately, I’ve found a tame Peugeot/Citroen dealership in Basingstoke, close to my office, that has so far done a good job correcting a few warranty repair issues. Was in there this morning having the pipe from the washer bottle to the pump replaced after the original sprang a leak. No grief, no inflated charges, work done quickly and car returned in good order.

  8. Tyres says:

    Hi Chris and everyone else,

    Firstly, I cannot believe the bad service that you received. Did anyone official ever reply to you? I have never heard anything good about citroen to be honest. Their DS series look ok but the reports about quality just sounds horific! I even read on a forum once that they overly exagerate the fuel consumption figures… I will make sure I stay clear of them!

  9. Nigel says:

    Hi Chis,
    I think i can top yours and the merc. Last July i bought a Seat Alhambra from Marshalls in Cambridge, they forgot to change the timing belt that was a year overdue, and when they were doing that they noticed the rear shocks were leaking and a split in the front cv gaiter.
    This was all within the first couple of days of ownership, the vehicle then went on to have a series of electrical faults breaking down completely in October and then again in December.
    They had the vehicle back for two weeks in November to find a misfire which i had diagnosed for them only for them to tell me it was fine, this was true until December when it worsened considerably to the point where i could no longer drive it.
    I created a large amount of fuss at this point and said i no longer had any confidence in the vehicle and i wanted a replacement.
    By the end of January they had managed to sort it so i could exchange my vehicle for a Citroen C4 Grand Picasso, i didn’t have a choice it was you take this one.
    Within two weeks the vehicle had broken down, it was -14 and in the middle of nowhere with passengers on board (yes these vehicles are used as taxis) i managed to get the vehicle by restarting it and being able to drive about 250 yds before stalling again to a village where i could off load my passengers and get the car looked at. The fault was the fuel filter which should have been changed on the previous service at Citroen main dealer but for some reason they had forgotten.
    I have now had a problem with my steering, this has been going on since April and nobody seems to be able to find the cause, Citroen Cambridge put it down to wear and tear but i don’t think 45k miles which is when it started is the right mileage for things to go majorly wrong, so far at my expense i have had to replace front and rear shocks, top mounts, anti roll bar links, discs and pads, drop links, track rod ends, tie rods, and now on third set of tyres as well as the fuel filter.
    The problem with the steering is vibration and jarring, i get vibration under braking at various speeds and the steering jars when i turn left or right. To me both faults seem pretty major, the vehicle is now on 63k miles and has cost me a fortune in repairs.
    My experience with Marshalls in Cambridge has cost me 8 weeks of no income in the past 12 months which i can catergorically prove and about a additional 3 weeks that i can’t prove all in all i think this is by far a worse experience and still not resolved.

  10. Tommy Quinn says:

    Sir,
    I’m about to go along the same lines as you and slag Citroen to bits. I feel when I bought the car I was conned out of my 3 years interest free payments and now I’m being shafted by Citroen head office.

    T. Quinn
    Scotland

  11. Tommy Quinn says:

    Hey Chris Green,
    I wish Basingstoke was near me I would you new found Citroen dealership in a flash.

    T. Quinn
    Scotland

  12. Marina says:

    I’m with you all the way. Will never buy another Citroen again. We have had nothing but trouble since day 1. And yes Headoffice need to go on some PR course. My car now won’t reverse and they are going to charge me 12 hours labour (£650) just to remove the gearbox to see what the problem is, and then the price of fixing onto of that!

  13. car service says:

    Never trusted the Citroen main dealers, always try and rip you off

  14. dissatified owner says:

    Yes, Citroen seem to have lost their way. I had a lovely C5 but I recently changed for a new DS5 – what a big mistake – lovely styling but rides worse than a farmer’s cart. It’s that bad I will be getting shot of it, I just don’t want to drive it any more as the ride is absolutely dreadful. Citroen UK aren’t a lot of help.
    Anyone else had same problem with DS5 ride quality?

  15. Leggoman says:

    I have the new c4, 2013. It has been at Citroen for 5 weeks, waiting on parts, new parts fitted still don’t work right.
    They have had the car longer than me.
    I took it in again to day hoping it was going to be fixed? Joke,
    Took some photos of the screen and of the satnav module. Then told we will let you know when we find out what’s wrong with it.
    Should of had a replacement car, no car for me, it was never booked. Had to wait for them to look at it.
    If like me you speak you mind then Citroen just don’t care, they took my money thats all they care about. NO aftercare service skills at all.
    You can’t trust Citroen, I’ll not have another no matter how nice a car they make as they can’t back it up when it goes wrong

  16. Chris Green says:

    I know what you mean. I had no choice recently but to use another Citroen main dealer for a repair (leaking injector seal). Took them a week to do a 2 hour job, promised courtesy car never materialised either so had no choice but to work from home for the week, which didn’t go down well with my employer (I live 40 miles from the office, not accessible via public transport from where I am). Had to constantly chase them to find out what was going on – never once reached out to me. Didn’t even call me to say the car was ready.

  17. Geo Barr says:

    My citroen C1 had a service at main dealer on monday, 10/3/14, £396 pound they charged, they changed brake fluid, on saturday 15/3/14 driving in a 50 zone towards a roundabout my brakes failed, scary, pulled in to halfords, checked level, guess what, nop brake fluid, got r.a.c. out, they found a screw had been over tightened and the thread striped, got a tow truck, cost £132, got car to citroen dealer, they said oops sorry, we will replace parts if i pay half, no way i said i want money for tow truck, tell you what they said we will do the job for free if you forget tow truck money, what do i do next.

  18. leggoman says:

    I it was me, I would be sending them a bill for every penny you had to spend on getting your car back to them to fix what they did.
    your car was ok before it went in for a service, so it was bad workmanship.
    I would not pay a penny to them, if you paid by card I would stop payment till car is fixed then take out payment for tow truck, and any thing else you paid for, if any money out of bill for service is left give it to Citroen.

  19. leggoman says:

    update on my dealing I now have my car back, fixed. but what hell it was to get things sorted out.
    7 weeks in total, 4 trips to citron being told nothing was wrong with car, they had parts on back order, not telling me that. fitted new cpu audio unit programmed it gave me car back saying it was fix, shout down the next morning, took it back that day, they booked it a few days later for three days.
    they had to do a computer link to head office tech dept, who programmed the cpu audio unit, found two files messed up which only they could fix. no main agent can do it.
    All this was done after almost coming to blows in the car park with two managers who said if you don’t like our work take your car and go.
    i said I paid you for the car, you have messed it up, you fix it, ill come in every day till it is. three days later fix.

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