Who's Sorry Now?
... and a good place to start seemed to me to be Renault's legal Claim against me;
in particular, the actual number of vehicles alleged to have been sold 'illicitly'
by me and therefore the amount of money involved in the law suit itself.
To do this I went line by line through the list of 217 cars that Renault said were
sold using the discounts available through the BALPA account, painstakingly tracking
each car through my own business records to match up the car, order, purchase price
and discount with the amount that Renault claimed I owed.
There was just one slight problem. Not all of the cars listed on the Claim were in
my records. Some of them hadn't been bought by me, yet they were still listed by Renault
as having been sold through the BALPA account.
Now how could that have happened?
Well, there is a very lucrative game played by Renault dealers. Their discounts on
new cars from Renault are quite limited, so some of them try to get hold of cheaper
new Renaults by sneaking purchases through corporate client accounts that are eligible
for bigger discounts than the dealer can get legitimately.
Some Renault dealers are even prepared to pay commissions to corporate account holders
to get access to their cheap cars from Renault.
'Noooooo' you say 'Surely that never happens?'
Well, I have news for you. Some of the cars put through the BALPA account and for
which Renault was suing me had actually been bought by Renault dealers.
First there was the independent Renault dealer 'Herd's of Isleworth', which used the
BALPA account to get extra discounts so that it could sell the cars to its own customers.
Take a look at this e-mail from the dealership's
Sales Manager, Peter Genari, on this very subject, with Peter asking about using the
account to sell cars for his own dealership. Which he did.
Peter even wanted to know what sort of commission I would want for letting him use
the BALPA account. (Though contrary to what the e-mail suggests, neither my company
nor I ever received any of the proposed commission).
And then there was Renault Croydon, a dealership actually owned by Renault itself.
Renault Croydon took the opportunity to help itself to the discounts available through
the BALPA account and then, when confronted about this, said it was all just a mistake.
Take a look at this witness statement given
to the Court to see how Renault Croydon salesman Toby
Johnstone tried to explain away what happened.
Notice that Toby Johnstone suggests the cars were
part of a batch bought by Renault Croydon which it then touted to customers?
Er, only, that's not true.
What actually happened was that I saw an opportunity to sell these particular cars
(sporty versions of the Renault Clio) just before they finally went out of production.
In fact, I sold so many of these cars in the last few months of production that Renault
Croydon had to put in extra orders with the factory, which delayed delivery. As a
result, two of my customers cancelled their orders because of they wouldn't wait for
So what did Renault Croydon do? When the cars finally arrived Renault Croydon sold
these surplus cars to its own customers, helping themselves to the extra discounts
available because the cars had originally been ordered through the BALPA account.
You see, if Renault Croydon had genuinely ordered the cars for itself, as Toby
Johnstone suggests in his witness statement,
then the cars would never have been allocated to the BALPA account in the first place.
Instead, right from the start the cars would have been ordered through one of Renault
Croydon's own accounts, the type of account that doesn't get such a high discount
as the BALPA account, and would never, ever, have appeared on the BALPA account, with
its much higher discounts.
As for the extra discounts that Renault Croydon got by using the BALPA account, maybe
it even charged its customers the normal price for each car and pocketed the extra
discount for the dealership.
Notice the 'Statement of Truth' signed
by Toby Johnstone just under his wholly untrue explanation
of what happened? Oh dear.