I staved off writing about my experience with my local dealer until I'd got used to them and had used them a couple of times for servicing issues.
I bought my used BMW from Knights North Staffordshire in Stoke-on-Trent. I can only say how well I was treated from the moment I walked in. I knew I wanted a used 3-series, but had no idea whether petrol/diesel or ES/SE/M-Sport.
Within a couple of minutes John Smith (yes, that's his name, well it's really Jonathan Smith) was showing me straight to the many 3-series indoors which he knew were out of my price range but could explain the difference in trim levels. Some people have commented about the way they are treated depending on how they're dressed. I was in my jeans and trainers on the first occasion at the weekend, and it didn't seem to make a blind bit of difference - John was interested in getting me in the right car for me.
He advised that I could take as many test drives as I wished, and if there wasn't anything in their group stock he could keep searching for my ideal spec/price through the dealer network and closed auctions. I took 3 different cars out for test drives - 320si, 320d SE and 320d M Sport. I wanted a 320d M Sport but there wasn't one in stock with Knights.
Two weeks later, and I had found three cars on the BMW site I wanted - located in Edinburgh, Manchester and Wolverhampton. He advised he could generally get other groups' stock, but sometimes had issues with getting cars from Stratstone. John had also rung me about the one in Manchester.
No matter, the car I wanted was at Benhams in Wolverhampton. John gave me a £250 discount without being asked - you may not think it much, but I thought the car was at the right price in any case - had it driven to Knights, MOT'd taxed and fully valeted within 10 days and stuck half a tank of diesel in. The finance was a bit hard to follow, but I got 4 years of shortfall/gap insurance for the price of 3 into the bargain. John also took me out in a test drive of my chosen motor before I signed everything. I did have to provide a deposit, but I think that's only fair. I was committing to buying a car from him in any case. They took my Vauxhall Astra at a very fair price (above what Parkers and Glass recommend for a p/ex) and it was no hassle with them taking the car off my hands.
If you've seen any of my other posts, you'll notice I've had quite a lot of AUC warranty work done. I had to jump up and down a bit over the DSC failure in order to not pay for a courtesy car (Knights charge £10 for insurance cover) but each time the work has been carried out, car vacced and washed and completed when they said it would be done. We've had a bit of argy-bargy over the release of paperwork to me.
I've also had my fair share of free Starbucks coffee at Knights... I think Knights is pretty good.
In summary, if you're buying a used BMW in the Stoke-on-Trent area, try John at Knights. He's extremely courteous and wants to know what car you're interested. Oh, and the price? Cheaper than car supermarkets - I know, because I spent the interim couple of weeks scouring the local area... I understand used car prices have risen slightly since October/November 2009.
Hope this is useful info to anyone looking for a dealer.
Extra: I got a quote from parts at Knights North Staffs for the Alpine hi-fi upgrade. "Expensive" would be an understatement. Nearly £1000. I think not.