Ok, here's my experience of ordering an A500 from Wessex of Cardiff.
My initial impressions at first visiting the dealership weren't good. 20 minutes of wandering in and out of the showroom and dealer forecourt before anyone spoke to me. When I finally was approached and I made it clear I was interested in an A500 I was assigned a member of staff who (unknown to me) wasn't a Abarth specialist. He was just a used car salesman. The Abarth specialists of which there are 2 excluding the manager (I think) weren't available.
I went for a test drive in an A500 esseesse. The salesman came with me of course and it went ok. I thought the route wasn't a very good one and a little short. Plus sport mode wasn't activated, a big mistake in my opinion as the car really comes alive when sport mode is activated. The salesman commented that he had driven and A500 with the sport mode activated and deactivated and that he couldn't tell the difference! I thought that was odd.
We get back to showroom, at this time I had already made up my mind that I wanted one. I told the salesman that I wanted to place an order for one. Inside the showroom he grabs a hot drink for me and we start using the Abarth configurator to specifiy my A500. Whilst doing this it quickly becomes apparent that his knowledge of Abarth cars wasn't great. I found this very frustrating as he seemed unable to answer my questions and spent more time consulting with his superior to get answers to my questions than he did sitting with me. At the time I didn't know this was because he was only a used car salesman. In hindsight I probably could have avoided this if I had phoned to book a test drive rather than just showing up. Oh well.
I place an order for the following, A500 in Bossa Nova White, climate control, blue & me, red leather, alloy gear knob, auto dipping mirror, xenon lights, split folding rear seat, red chequered roof, red side stripes and 17 inch Petal alloys. My salesman filled in all of these on the order form except for the alloys! At the time I didn't notice that ommission.
The deal is made, we shake hands and I'm told I will be contacted soon with an order update. I wait for over a week but I wasn't contacted.
I contact Wessex, I mention that I was told I would be notified about the status of my order. I'm then informed that the salesman who dealt with me had left! That explains why he didn't get back to me. I get an apology and am told I would be contacted by someone else.
I wait for over a week again. I still haven't been contacted. By now I am fuming, something I really can't stand is people failing to contact me after saying they would. Especially when I'm buying a 17k car from them. So I complain to head office.
The result of that is transformation! Richard, the manager of the Abarth brand takes over my order. He gives me regular updates of the order status and explained about the staffing issues which were the cause of my initial experience. As compensation my car will get a full tank of fuel, the Permashine treatment and Abarth mats and I'm pleased with this result.
When the time came to collect my car, excitement turned to disappointment when I realised that the A500 that had arrived had all the options I expected, except for the 17in Petal alloys. I tell Richard of this and he checks the order. He shows the order to me and I can see that the alloys weren't present on the order form itself. Again this is the fault of the original salesman, and partly mine for not noticing it when I confirmed the order. This is where Richard really went above my expectations and tracked down a demonstrator which had the alloys I wanted and had them swapped on to my car. In my opinion he didn't really have to do this and I had to find another Â£175 to get them. But it transformed the car and I really am grateful to Richard for allowing me to do this.
Overall my experience has been positive and this is mainly because of Richard, he was courteous, attentive and very helpful at all times. Plus I've been given a Wessex umbrella and offered a free valet in 2 weeks time!
Anyone considering buying an Abarth from Wessex should not judge them solely on my experience, I think it's unlikely the staff issues I've had will happen again. But maybe booking a test drive would make it more likely that you are dealt with by a genuine Abarth sales person!