I recently received a call from my truck salesman, who claimed he had what he described as the perfect truck for me. He advised I needed to grab it ASAP before it was snapped up by somebody else.
I told him I wasn’t looking for another truck and if he had read my column in that month’s issue of Truck News, he would be left in no doubts as to my plans for the future – and they didn’t involve buying another truck.
I completed my trip and went to a party that weekend; work and trucks were not topics I wanted to spend much time talking about.
But there were a few drivers there, so inevitably the conversation turned around to trucks and one of the guys said he was going to go back on long-haul after a couple of years on city work.
I know this guy well. We were on the same plane from England and did our training together. I was also best man at his wedding a few years ago, so I guess I owed him for that.
So I said if he was serious about returning to long-haul, I would buy another truck and give him a job.
He agreed and the next day – after checking that it had all really happened the night before – I called the salesman and did a deal for the truck over the phone. So that was that, I now have two trucks.
I managed to call in and take the truck for a quick test drive, but apart from seeing that it hadn’t been knocked around, it didn’t tell me too much.
A 10-minute run around the block isn’t going to give much indication of how a truck will perform for the next few hundred thousand miles, but it seemed a good truck and I was happy with it.
Has it all been clear sailing from that point? Of course not.
First of all, my driver was due to have a knee replacement in October. The expected recovery time was four to six weeks, so it would be two months from the point that I said yes to the time that my man could hit the road.
I managed to talk the dealer into holding on to the truck for as long as possible and they were very accommodating, which when you consider that they could’ve sold that truck a hundred times for more than I had paid, that was pretty good customer service. I offered to give them a larger holding deposit to ease the pain a little for them, but they insisted that they were happy to wait and help me get all my ducks in a row.
I spent a bit of time exploring various different finance options, both with the dealer’s finance arm and with all the high street banks. I then went to my accountant and we discussed all the options and decided on which would be best for me in the long term.
The decision was made and I started working on that, the deal I settled on was good, the company was a pleasure to deal with and worked with me every step of the way.
I had certain stipulations I demanded and nothing was a problem.
To be completely honest, I was shocked at how accommodating they were – after all, I was only buying one used tractor unit, not a fleet of trucks.While all the background stuff was going on I was still out working.
I had a few signing sessions at the truck stop in Headingley, Man. as the dealer’s finance guy came out to meet me to make things happen without me having to take time off.
The whole process was made very easy for me.
My driver went under the knife and that all went well; he was in pain for a while, but the general consensus was that it was no less than he deserved anyway. His recovery went well and he was ready to go after the recovery time he had told me he would need.
The dealer delivered the truck to the yard and the guys in the shop had it in for decals and the satellite installation before I got back from the trip I was doing.
I then had to wait another week for the hitch assembly to be fitted so I could use it on the LCV work I do.
I was going to be driving the new one myself, first because it has a 13-speed rather than the I-Shift that my bionic knee-equipped driver would need and secondly, because I wanted to.
By the time all that was done it was nearly the end of November. It made no sense to put it on the road until the beginning of December, so it sat in the yard looking pretty until then, but it hasn’t done much sitting around since.
The way Christmas and New Year’s Day fell meant that my usual schedule wasn’t interrupted at all and both trucks have been out there putting miles under the bumper without problems so far.
So 2016 has started very well so far. I have no plans to get any more trucks just yet, however the salesman has called and told me about a very interesting deal on offer and I know of a couple of good drivers looking to move, so who knows what’s around the corner?
A fourth generation trucker and trucking journalist, Mark Lee uses his 25 years of transcontinental trucking in Europe, Asia, North Africa and now North America to provide an alternative view of life on the road.