I'm really miffed with Ford in Cambridge. This week, I took my fab little red Ford Ka, which is about to turn one year old (7,000 miles on the clock, running like a dream) for its first yearly service. I bought it last year, got a great deal (literally, 25% off the original showroom price) on a brand new 5-miles-on-the-clock Ka, just weeks before I passed my driving test. We've taken great care of it, Andrew's been the only person cleaning it - both because I'm a lazy cow and because he puts such love and care into it. He uses these fancy shmancy cleaning products acquired through a friend who's a professional detailer (really high class valeting) and it always looks amazingly shiny.
As a rule of thumb, when he gets his car serviced at BMW, he always asks them not to wash it. I didn't do the same when I went to Ford, which was a stupid move, because they cleaned it. The paint finish now looks like a bunch of children cleaned it with dish soap and gritty sponges. In the space of 3 hours, my car went from looking brand new to looking pretty averagely scratched.
Trying to discuss with the car valeting service manager, Brian, at Ford was pretty pointless. He wasn't having any of it, "my boys didn't do this. We clean 200 cars a day and they don't do it that way." Well... if you clean 200 cars a day, you probably don't give each one much attention or carefully rinse your washing mitts in between, do you? He offered to polish it "as a good will gesture", but still didn't admit he was in the wrong.
Andrew's taking on the job of polishing as much of it out as possible, and I'm in two minds about getting his detailing friend to come and machine polish it properly. But one thing that's for sure is that I'll get Ford Marshall in Cambridge to annotate my file to say never to wash it when it goes in for a service, thank you very much, we'll do it ourselves.
I know a lot of people will roll their eyes at this and say "well, your car still runs, doesn't it? What's the big fuss?" but I care. I like my belongings to still look good over the years, especially when it doesn't require huge amounts of extra time and it means it lasts that much longer without needing to be replaced. My iPod is scratched to high heavens after living in my handbag, and that's fine, it's so disposable. But my iPhone has a nice red case to avoid it getting damaged. And my car doesn't go through Tesco carwash.
So if you're in the Cambridge area and get your car serviced at Ford, think twice before letting them give it a clean while you're there. And if you're that Nissan 350Z owner who also complained about scratched paintwork a few weeks ago, I'm sorry, we still haven't got through to them.
Now, I hope this post gets right up there in search engines when someone looks for Ford Marshall. Not because the rest of the service is poor, it's great in fact! But it'll be a word of warning for those who like their paintwork scratch-free!