I am very keen on cars. Just ask Mrs King how much time, effort and (unfortunately) money I have spent on the wretched things. I have never done anything truly silly but I do spend lots of time looking at Autotrader and working out what my vehicle strategy should be (and then not doing anything about it).

At one point I used to buy my second-hand cars from a dealer who sold the best cars in the world. When customers for these vehicles traded in their slightly more normal but none the less nice executive cars then I was the next tier of purchaser who wanted their trade-ins.

It worked really well. I got to buy some nice cars at a good price and so experienced the quite wonderful customer service which this garage lavished upon their new-car customers. They looked after me very well indeed. My car was picked up from home, serviced, returned and fully valeted for quite a normal servicing bill. Also, the sales director would occasionally ring me up when they had a car that I had mentioned as something I liked. This latter bit was quite spectacular. Once I was rung up perhaps two years after I had made a comment about a particular model. Their service was brilliant.

They also had a garage right in the middle of a city and I used to make sure that if I wanted to go shopping there I would pop in to pay a service bill and then ask if I could leave my car there whilst I popped to the shops. They always said “yes” and in the end the owner of the business sent me a letter confirming that I could use their facilities to park whenever I wanted to. Fantastic service once again.

Accordingly, I always told everyone I knew what a fabulous garage this was and sure enough, when one of my clients wanted to buy one of their “proper” cars I directed him to my friend the sales manager. Then another client wanted one and, finally, yet another. The garage sold one new top-of-the-range luxury model and two nearly new ones.

Despite my love of cars I am not a great lover of labels. I do not want my clothes plastered with “designer” logos, I am not interested in showing off where I spend my money and I don’t want labels advertising manufacturers anywhere on my person. However, my favourite garage simply misjudged me. I was more than happy to sing their praises, park my car on their forecourt and save up for another lovely second-hand executive.

One day I visited to pay a bill and was presented for all the sales I had got them with a box about the size of a shoe box. In it was a large bottle of champagne together with two Waterford champagne flutes with the logo of their luxury car brand all over it. Why! Can you imagine when a visitor to King Towers sees the glasses and asks after my car – which does not match the glasses.  If I had the car brand I would not need/want the glasses, as it is, I don’t have the car so why would I want the glasses? (In the end I gave them to a Charity Auction).

I never made a fuss to the garage and no harm was done – it was all with the best of intentions and indeed was very generous. However, it has made me realise how easy it is to decide what someone wants and then be so far wide of the mark. Indeed, in a funny way, it made me a little less keen on the garage – I’m not sure that was fair but it is amazing what actions can achieve by accident.

The real problem was they never asked me what I would like (actually nothing more than they were giving me in service) and decided for me. How many times does that happen in business? I would guess quite a lot. Also, if there are problems it is easy for one side to second-guess what the other side are up to – perhaps miles wide of the mark.

So, discuss as much as you can and if in doubt, get the mediator in. #AlbertSquareMediation are happy to be of assistance so why not give us a call?#AlbertSquareMediationEastAnglia which comprises David King and Anthony Wooding, offers a comprehensive civil and commercial mediation and co-mediation service. Anthony is based in Ipswich and David is at our office in Hadleigh. This office is available for occasional hire to non-ASM family mediators. If you would like to informally discuss a possible mediation, please either telephone David on 07917 472276 or Anthony on (07788) 428389. Enquiries concerning the hire of our office should be directed to David.

David King

ADR Accredited Civil and Commercial Mediator, Certified Accountant and member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (former Chair of the East Anglia Branch), university lecturer and trainer and a member of the CIOT Dispute Resolution and Litigation working group.