Lowdhams Lousy Legacy

by David Ellis

I suspect that I’m one of those people that Jeremy Clarkson loathes - I own a camper van and have the temerity to clutter up the roads of Britain and Europe with my 7 metre long leviathon.

So I suppose he would be smirking right now as I’ve had to return the van to the suppliers for some repair work.

But these are no ordinary suppliers, they are Lowdhams of Huddersfield - something of a legend about these parts for their absolutely appalling customer service.

My relationship with them spans some 15 years. So why do I keep still using them? Because they are the only importer in the country who supply the particular type of campervan that I wanted to purchase.

Like many organisations I have encountered, when you are wanting to buy something from them, they are attentive, helpful, friendly and accommodating.

And then once you’ve made your purchase, they are not interested, or they’re rude, or lazy, or out to fleece you because they know they have you over a proverbial barrel.

So it’s no surprise that when you ring Lowdhams and the answer phone asks for you to press 1 for sales, or 2 for the shop - that parts and service - the aftercare dimension of their organisation, is a lowly third. No surprise also that by the time you’ve selected 2 for parts, that nobody answers the phone, or that nobody answers the phone for service either. There is however a taped message that clicks into place, if you wait long enough, that invites you to leave your name and number and someone will get back to you - which of course they never do.

What does surprise me, is that this organisation declare that ‘your custom is important to us’ and that ‘we want to have a good relationship with all of our customers.’ And yet they behave in a way that says - you’re a pain in the ass and if you insist on coming back to us after we’ve sold you something we’ll treat you like… you know the rest.

Take the day I took my van up to them to be repaired.

I’d made an appointment to drop my van off at 1.30. However I was early and arrived at 12.30. The two ladies in the service reception said they wouldn’t take my keys because I’d arranged to drop off my van with a third colleague who was having her lunch. I asked politely if one of them could take my keys and I was rebuked by a waspish retort from one of the ladies I would have to wait until 1.30 because that’s when my appointment was made for.

When leaving a vehicle with them, understandably, they like to walk around the vehicle with you in the same way you would when hiring a car, a two minute procedure to check for any damage on the van. Understanding this, I again politely asked if either of the ladies in the reception area could do this with me so that I could return home. As they cackled that this was not possible, I was pointed to the café, where I could buy a cup of tea and wait until their colleague returned from lunch.

They then resumed their conversation, no doubt about the bloody customers who get in the way of their more important activities like making cups of tea and booking their lunch breaks.

Because I was with my son, who gets acutely embarrassed in situations like this, I retreated to their café to order an all day breakfast. Another unhelpful colleague then said that I couldn’t have the breakfast because she needed the grill for the staff lunches she was preparing, so could I choose something else from the menu.

You can imagine how I felt when I sat down next to the employees of Lowdhams tucking into their all - day breakfasts as I ate my slice of toast.

To ensure their place at the top of the tree for worst customer service in the world, when I went to hand my keys over to the colleague at 1.30 and do the van inspection, she told me that she couldn’t do it because it had been raining and therefore made it difficult for her to spot any damage there may be on the van!

Every attempt I’ve made to speak to the service manager/director has been deflected - I suppose they must get fed up of people complaining all of the time.

I have spent many an hour sharing tales of woe with other disgruntled customers at Lowdhams in their café or wandering around the site.

They are truly spectacular in the way in which they seem to get it wrong all of the time. I am hoping, because of my inability to reach their service manager, that this blog may find it’s way to him.

It’s not that difficult to get it right - and in fact it’s extremely good for business if you do.

I have enough stories about Lowdhams to publish a book - perhaps I will.

In the meantime, I’m still waiting for them to get back to me to let me know when my vehicle will be repaired. I won’t hold my breath.

Perhaps Jeremy Clarkson and Lowdhams alike would wish that I would!