A visit to The Car People – Review

I’ve mentioned a few times now that we need a new family car.  We have in fact needed a new family car for somewhere in the region of around 14 months.

Our Ford Mondeo Estate was fabulous as a family of four and a dog – lots of room for everyone.  But then Amy came along, we added another car seat into the mix and it all went wrong.  It’s pretty much impossible to get three car seats across the back of the Mondeo – we Dave has looked at it every which way, researching car seats, different widths, different options for different ages.  But no.  We have spent the last 14 months driving two cars everywhere.  It’s expensive (double the fuel obviously!) and hard work.

We Dave has been looking at new cars for a while now, sussing out what our options are and narrowing it down to shortlist of a few cars so we had a fair idea of what we were looking but at the same time were more than open to suggestion.
We’ve always bought private second hand in the past – I’ve actually never had anything do with buying my own car, my Dad has always just sorted it for me and told me how much I owed him (just another way in which my Dad is a complete legend and fixes everything).  As such I’ve never actually been to a used car dealership before.

We are hoping that we might be able to get a new car this summer, by new I of course mean new to us!! We had looked at The Car People website and knew pretty much that the cars were out of our budget (sadly) however it was a good opportunity to try out a few of the cars we were considering and compare them side by side.

The Car People claim to be the “hassle free way to buy a car” promising not to sell you a car but to let you buy one.  I must admit I was dubious about these claims!  We’re all used to the stereotype of a used car salesman aren’t we!  I was worried about the hard sell, particularly as I knew we wouldn’t actually be buying at the time.We actually live really locally the the Manchester branch of The Car People so we were there shortly after it opened on Sunday morning.  It’s easy to find, just a few minutes off the M60.  Sunday morning was a very cold and foggy morning, probably not ideal for car shopping in fairness however we need to take the opportunity to go whilst Ben and Chloe were away as I don’t think we’d have been particularly successful with those two to keep an eye on!  To make things easier if we decided to test drive any of the vehicles we’d taken along Amy’s first stage car seat – the theory being that the infant carrier is much easier to move about and fit into a different car than her newer car seat.

As we working on a “mystery shop” basis I’m afraid all the photos were taken rather sneakily on my mobile phone so please do excuse the poor photography! 

When we arrived at The Car People we were greeted by Mark on Reception.  He explained that we were free to explore the showroom for ourselves and see if we found anything we liked the look of or he could check the system to see what was available.  We decided that despite the cold and snow we’d like to get out into the showroom and have a good look round.

The showroom is laid out in such a way as to group types of cars together making it easy for you to find what you’re looking for all in one place and also to compare cars with one another.

There were plenty of staff dotted about the showroom clearing snow off the cars and so forth.  I was pleased to note that whilst we were acknowledged and greeted with a friendly hello, we were left to our own devices.

We made our way to the back of the showroom to look at the MPVs and Large Family Cars.  I was initially surprised to find there were just seven people carriers, I think I had expected to find far more.  That said there was plenty of choice in that we were able to look at a variety of people carriers and large family cars.  We looked quickly at the cars writing off a few and working out which we wanted to look at more closely.  The car which has remained steadfastly at the top of our shopping list for quite some time now has been the Ford Galaxy – it’s the biggest of the cars we have been looking at and we were looking forward to being able to have a proper nose.

The cars are laid out in such a way as to make it easy for you to get a good look all the way round.  Each car has a notice with basic details about the vehicle displayed in the window along with a cash price and information about finance payments.

Not quite the ideal weather for car shopping!

Once we had picked out several cars we were interested in we looked for someone to help us out a bit more.  There were plenty of staff around and we were quickly asked if we needed any help, though at the same time we didn’t feel pressured to talk to them if we didn’t need to.  Naomi checked which cars we wanted keys for and went off to collect them for us.

Once Naomi had brought the keys over for us she stood back and let us look at the cars by ourselves.  We appreciated that we were free to explore the vehicles and discuss our feelings about them without a pushy sales person jumping in with their opinions.  We didn’t feel that she was hovering or harassing us at all, just waiting to answer questions if we needed her.

It was really helpful to be able to look at the three different cars at the same time, close to each other so you could really compare them thoroughly.  One of the things we were comparing was the boot size – we have Thomas to consider and also with the ages of our children we need to think about fitting a pushchair and all sorts of other associated paraphernalia in there too.  Naomi suggested we fetch our pushchair and try it in each of the cars to get a real feel for it.  She was really knowledgeable about the vehicles, at least as far as we questioned her.  As Dave had been doing lots of research we knew many of the features of the vehicles we were looking at already.  We spent quite some time getting in and out of the different cars, putting seats up and down etc etc before eventually deciding that the Ford Galaxy was still top of our wish list.

Our chosen car . . . if anyone wants to buy it for us? haha

At this point Naomi offered us the opportunity to take the car for a test drive whilst the guys in the office took a look at our own car to work out an part exchange value in case we decided to go down that route.  Whilst Dave worked through the paperwork to book the test drive and to give information about our own car, Amy took full advantage of the children’s play area.  This was fantastic as it meant she could get warm, enjoy a bit of freedom and be thoroughly entertained rather than having to sit still on my knee while we filled in forms.  (I also noted there were a number of vending machines for snacks and drinks should you be in need of a little something!)

A photo posted by Colette B (@goingonanadventureblog) on Jan 18, 2015 at 4:19am PST

We made our way to the back of the showroom to look at the MPVs and Large Family Cars.

Naomi came out with us for the test drive and this was where I expected to start to feel a bit more a hard sell but no, she just sat in the car with us and joined in our conversation about the drive but without pushing her own thoughts on us.  One of the things I loved about the car was that it just felt “normal” to me – I think mainly as I’m already familiar with driving our Ford Mondeo.  The test drive route was only short and stuck within  40mph speed limit which was a little frustrating as I didn’t feel I could really test what “poke” the car had.  That said it did mean I was able to try out parking the car at the supermarket so that Dave and I could swap places.  (Having a go at parking the car was important to me as it’s obviously a very different shape / size to our current car – I’m pleased to report I was able to park it relatively easily considering it was my first drive!)

When we arrived back at The Car People we realised that the car we had been driving was actually a petrol when we had intended to look for a diesel so Naomi then offered to look for other similar vehicles available within the company which could just be transferred from other branches for us should we wish to make a purchase.  She found several more vehicles with their pictures and specifications for us to look at.  We were also brought the valuation on our own car which was so ridiculously low that we both had to stop ourselves laughing out loud.  (Dave later explained that it wasn’t a reflection of the true value of our car but more that it was of no value to The Car People and they would just send it straight to auction.)

We explained to Naomi that we would go away to consider our options – to look at the value we might get for our own car selling privately and also to look at the availability of cars to purchase privately.  She was completely happy with that and at no point did we feel remotely under pressure to commit to anything else.

So, at the end of our hour and half visit to The Car People, Manchester? 

* I’m really impressed with the set up at The Car People, it’s really is hassle free.

* All the staff are friendly and helpful without a hint of pressure.

* I would never have considered buying from a used car dealership in the past however after our experience yesterday I would be tempted to consider it now should our budget stretch that far.  The level of work done on the cars to check they are up to a set standard is impressive and reassuring – something you would never get buying you car privately.

* I really, really, really want a new car NOW

*Disclaimer – I was asked to test drive The Car People experience as a mystery shopper by a third-party. The views expressed in this post are my own; this is an honest, uncensored write up as ever*

*Read more reviews here*


  1. Kelly Cruickshank
    January 19, 2015 / 3:16 pm

    I'm pleasantly surprised that you had a good experience. It's definitely changed my opinions on car sales people, we'd definitely consider The Car People when we need to get a new/2nd car

    • January 19, 2015 / 7:14 pm

      I was really surprised Kelly, I was sure we'd suffer a bit of pressure. I would definitely recommend checking them out based on our experience yesterday.

  2. January 19, 2015 / 4:30 pm

    I always thought places like this were really hard sell but it sounds like you had a great experience! x

    • January 19, 2015 / 7:14 pm

      So did I Donna but I think The Car People focus on it as a bit of a USP – and they really stick to it from what we experienced.

  3. January 20, 2015 / 8:11 am

    Sounds like you had a very productive experience. Its nice to hear there was not hard sell! #TriedTested

  4. January 20, 2015 / 8:11 am

    We had a similar problem when our third child came along. It meant that only four of us could go anywhere at any one time – no whole family outings unless the eldest got crammed in the back between two car seats. We bought a Toyota Rav from our own local second hand dealership (I don't trust private sellers to be honest about the condition of their cars!) and it fits the bill perfectly. Lots of room for everyone and a big boot too! ๐Ÿ˜€ #TriedTested

  5. January 20, 2015 / 8:22 am

    I think with a used car dealership customer service is of the utmost importance. I particularly dislike high pressure tactics. This sounds like a place I would certainly consider if I was buying a used car.

  6. January 20, 2015 / 8:24 am

    Sounds like brilliant service, sometimes your left not trusting car salesmen x

  7. Jenna Richards
    January 20, 2015 / 8:37 am

    Trying to find the right car can be a stressful experience so it's good to hear that you had a pleasant visit to The Car People. I love that they have soft play for the little ones too!


  8. Blogger Mummy Lauren
    January 20, 2015 / 9:00 am

    I don't have any experience as far as car dealerships go, but it looks like they have the place very well thought out. I like that they have a play area for the kids, that's a great idea for families!
    I don't drive yet but I'm hoping to get my provisional in the next few months x

  9. January 20, 2015 / 9:09 am

    Great that there was no hard sell. I hate car shopping, only getting involved at the test drive stage once my other half is 95% sure what car we're planning to get #triedtested

  10. January 20, 2015 / 9:33 am

    Sounds like it was a good experience – knowledgeable staff and not being put under pressure are two very good things. We've always bought from used car dealerships and have had mixed experiences mostly down to how much pressure we were put under to buy. Thankfully hubby is very good at dealing with that side of things!

  11. dambaby.com
    January 20, 2015 / 9:36 am

    Living in Amsterdam, we donโ€™t even own a car. Itโ€™s brilliant. Everyone takes their kids by bicycle … and families with multiple kids put them in what is basically a giant wooden box on the front of the bike (bakfiets). If and when we return to the UK, itโ€™ll be one of the things Iโ€™ll miss the most. But there is a certain freedom and comfort about having a car. Great you found somewhere that could be so helpful, and child friendly.

  12. January 20, 2015 / 9:51 am

    They sound like they have a very good set up there. I hate having a hard sell too and it always puts me off so that would make me feel much better to go along knowing this wouldn't happen. I've also had the classic situation where no one will talk to me because I'm the female with the children, all they want to do is to talk with my husband. But I'm the one who knows the budget! I hope you find the right car for you soon.

  13. January 20, 2015 / 10:03 am

    I don't drive but my husband I and bought out first car together at the end of last year, what a minefield, I don't have a clue about these things, but it sounds like you had a good experience and it's great when you don't feel pressured.

  14. January 20, 2015 / 10:11 am

    It sounds like you had a great experience….It sounds a really well thought out place. It's so good they didn't give you the hard sell….That annoys me so much x

  15. January 20, 2015 / 10:29 am

    What a refreshing review about a used car dealership. Then bingo it has a soft play area so clearly they've worked on the softer side of selling which was also testified in that they didn't hassle you. Oh, I hope you do get your new car soon-ours gave up in autumn and you realise how challenging it is ferrying the children around to groups etc without a car!Best of luck!

  16. Bean
    January 20, 2015 / 11:32 am

    Mummy bean says we need a new car :-/ the soft play area looks like a great idea ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. January 20, 2015 / 1:02 pm

    That's really great that they weren't at all pushy; I'm glad some places are starting to realise that that is what we want and we are more likely to buy from them if we don't feel pressured, I hope you get the car of your dreams soon! ๐Ÿ™‚ x #TriedTested

  18. January 20, 2015 / 1:58 pm

    Gosh I find looking at cars the most boring thing ever so if it is hassle free then it has to be good x

  19. January 20, 2015 / 2:22 pm

    Sounds like you had a good experience, I think we've visited the Car People in the past and found them not to be too pushy, and definitely a plus with soft play!

  20. January 20, 2015 / 3:50 pm

    Wow a car dealership with a decent play area for children – unheard of in my parts! #triedandtested

  21. Karen Monkeyfooted Mummy
    January 20, 2015 / 5:09 pm

    Gosh that sound much better than our last (rather insulting) experience at a different car supermarket. Well done them!

  22. January 20, 2015 / 6:54 pm

    We're thinking about getting a new car as well. We only have two kids, but they sure take up a lot of room! ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. January 20, 2015 / 7:15 pm

    We also need a new car so this is really useful. It's great that you were able to get on and look at the cars without being interrupted!

  24. January 20, 2015 / 7:50 pm

    We have been here before, they were very helpful. Reading this makes me want a new car again

  25. January 20, 2015 / 8:27 pm

    What a great place – Mummy SO needs a new car. Ours is 14 years old and hanging on (just about!) #TriedTested

  26. January 20, 2015 / 8:48 pm

    How cool that they had a soft play inside for the kids! I think more boring adult places need these for kids, especially when you're car shopping although my son likes to sit in every car possible which usual gives the sales guys a heart attack as he pushes all the buttons and the horn @_@

  27. January 20, 2015 / 8:53 pm

    Sounds like you had a great experience and how fantastic is that play area?! We may well have to look into a new car when number 3 comes along so will certainly consider the Car People!

  28. January 20, 2015 / 9:44 pm

    This sounds great – we've definitely experienced the opposite end of the spectrum when looking at used cars before and pushy sales people really put me off.

  29. Mrs H
    January 20, 2015 / 9:49 pm

    I can't get over the fact that they had a soft play area for kids. That is amazing. I would have worried about being hassled and put under pressure too. But it sounds like you had a really good experience. Thanks for the review. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

  30. January 20, 2015 / 9:54 pm

    That's super and how fantastic that they had a soft play area. Yay, to getting a new car, I want one too! x

  31. FromMummy ToMum
    January 20, 2015 / 10:29 pm

    I don't drive, but I am in process of learning and getting ready to buy a new car. It is a daunting thing for us and neither me nor hubby have any ideas about cars and certainly don't want to get ripped off. The Car People sound very honest and would hopefully help us out!

  32. January 20, 2015 / 10:40 pm

    I have always bought second hand cars from dealers in the past as you just have that cover in case something goes wrong. I was so glad I did when I decided to treat myself to a Mini last year. It was a terrible hassle and over the year that I had it, it broke down five times. The dealers were absolutely terrible at customer service not mentioned any names (ahem, Stratstone Mini Derby) and after much to-ing and fro-ing and arguing with them, I managed to get them to take back my car. I have now bought a Ford for the reliability! ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope you find your new car soon xx

  33. January 20, 2015 / 10:53 pm

    "As we working on a "mystery shop" basis I'm afraid all the photos were taken rather sneakily on my mobile phone so please do excuse the poor photography!" Hahahaha love this!! #triedtested

  34. Janine Dolan
    January 20, 2015 / 11:58 pm

    This looks like a brilliant setup. Exactly what I need! We are looking for a second car to replace the one that is broken at the moment. Nightmare trying to shop between all the different brands.

  35. katefever
    January 21, 2015 / 9:16 am

    It sounds like a positive experience, much nicer than some car sales rooms we have been in. Love the kids play area so you can chat without having a toddler running riot lol. #TriedTested

  36. January 21, 2015 / 12:36 pm

    It sounds like you guys came away with a good experience and I'm sorry but how insanely cute is that photo of Amy!!! hahaha!! Love her. xx

    • January 21, 2015 / 7:22 pm

      She's a cheeky face isn't she! x

  37. January 21, 2015 / 8:51 pm

    We are desperate for a new family car since we went from a family of three to a family of four. I always feel like I will get the hard sell so it puts me off looking. #TriedTested

  38. January 21, 2015 / 9:10 pm

    Argh I feel your car pain! Since Elsie was born we haven't been able to go anywhere as a family unless we take two cars, so it meant I couldn't go down to see my mum at christmas. In fact, Elsie has never visited my mum at all so it needed sorting! My car broke down 2 weeks ago and it was the kick up the bum we needed- we now have a 7 seater! Woohoo! Despite it being a mum car, I really love it. Its brand new and lovely to drive. Hope you get a new car soon! x x x x

    • January 23, 2015 / 10:15 am

      So jealous!! We've just not had the money to shell out on new wheels but it must have cost us a fortune driving two cars everywhere for the last 14 months!

  39. January 22, 2015 / 8:58 pm

    Sounds like you had a nice experience car shopping, one thing I hate is feeling pressured when looking at cars. It is such a big stress as it is. I have some friends who have a Ford Galaxy who love it, so good choice!

  40. Victoria MyLittleLBlog
    January 26, 2015 / 7:46 pm

    never seen a child zone at a car place thats brilliant!

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