Tag Archives: missing the point

Car Browsing Redux

2 Jun

A couple of weeks ago, I did a post about my experiences at three auto dealers when I went out car browsing – not shopping – browsing. I made it crystal clear to everyone and anyone I spoke with that I was not buying anything that day, and that I was sniffing around, kicking the tires, looking around at stuff. I was not, at that time, in the market to buy anything.

But I probably will be in a month or two. So I was narrowing down my choices.

I was very critical of Dave Smith Ford. The owner, Dave Smith, left a comment yesterday:

Mr. Bedenko,
As the owner of Dave Smith Ford, I have to say that I am extremely dismayed at your opinion of our Ford dealership. I feel compelled to defend myself, and my salesperson whom you refer to as “a bit pushy”.
I read what you wrote on your blog, and from what it sounds like my salesperson did exactly what any good salesperson should be expected to do. Assuming that is you didn’t come into the dealership looking for a new washing machine. To sum up your experience, if I may:

1. He introduced himself,
2. He tried to determine your wants/needs,
3. He demonstrated the product,
4. He asked you to buy the product.

I sincerely apologize for not being able to get together on an aggreeable price. Unfortunately, (to my dismay) it seems as if price negotiations and haggling will always be a part of my industry. But from the sounds of it, you never intended to purchase a Ford Flex from ANY Ford dealership.

As for the decor of our dealership, I have to thank you for your advice! We have been planning on updating our office furniture for quite some time. However, with the recent downturn in our industry, we thought it better to put such purchases on hold.

I can tell you that almost 80% of our business is repeat and referral. And our CSI scores are consistently above our peers. Obviously, we don’t have to have the biggest, and fanciest facility to have happy customers.
In closing, I would like to say that we, as well as the majority of dealers out there, have been a member of the Better Business Bureau for over 30 years, we give roughly $15,000 per year to our local charities, we pay close to $100,000 per year in school/property taxes, we pay over $100,000 per year in health insurance premiums, we pay over $50,000 per year in liability premiums (I thought I saw one of your readers say you are an attorney so I’m sure you know all about the pitfalls of our litigious society), and last but not least we are proud to employ 65 of the BEST people in the Western New York! Yours truly, Dave Smith.

Attaway to completely alienate a dissatisfied potential customer. Frankly, I’m shocked that anyone would defend the anachronistic and yes – pushy – experience I dealt with.

Mr. Smith, I told your salesman over and over again that I was just looking, that I was in the market for a vehicle and the Flex was on my radar screen, but I wanted to check it out. I told him several times that I wasn’t in the market to actually buy anything that day. He wasted my time. By the time you came back having driven my trade, I was ready to go. Instead, I’m so polite I let your salesguy start haggling with me over a car I had told him time and time again I wasn’t going to buy that day. What part of that don’t you understand?

As I mentioned to your salesperson, and in my earlier post, I’m preliminarily looking around, winnowing down the list of potential vehicles to buy. Want to know what I mean by pushy?

1. Protesting and continuing with the haggling after I had gotten off the phone with my wife, found out that the baby was up from her nap, and it was time for me to go home. Your salespeople should listen to the words coming out of my mouth.

2. After completing a test drive of the white Flex Limited that had been driven up from Florida, asking me if that was the car I wanted to buy. I responded (again) that I wasn’t buying anything that day. Then he asked, well if you were, is this the car you’d be getting? I responded (again) I wasn’t buying anything, but if I was hypothetically buying a Flex, then I’d be interested in that model. That’s when he whipped out a “sold” sign and had me place it under the wiper. Subtle like a brick – trying to get me into the “I just bought a car, and I’m definitely buying this car” mindset by giving me the feeling of ownership, despite the words coming out of my mouth.

3. As he did the financial breakdown of that white Flex Limited, he wrote down all of its wonderful features, wrote down my trade and went over all of its fantastic features, broke down the price, and then drew a line with an x. He asked me to sign it, and had no good answer as to what I was signing. I’m a lawyer, so I know it’s meaningless. I know the elements of a contract, and we had none. An average layperson off the street might think you’ve got a contract the moment you sign something. That’s not just dumb and uncomfortable. It’s sleazy and deceptive.

4. I don’t need a babysitter. I need a salesperson. As I mentioned in my post, the Flex sells itself. I don’t need a hard sell from an eager salesperson. He was a nice enough kid, but wouldn’t leave me alone for a minute. The goal was to not let me leave the dealership without buying a car. Again – try listening to your potential customers once in a while.

Let me now address specifically some of your complaints:

I sincerely apologize for not being able to get together on an aggreeable price. Unfortunately, (to my dismay) it seems as if price negotiations and haggling will always be a part of my industry. But from the sounds of it, you never intended to purchase a Ford Flex from ANY Ford dealership.

That’s completely inaccurate. I told your salesman over and over again that I didn’t intend to buy any car that day from anyone. Thanks to your whiny and self-indulgent comment, when, in a couple of weeks, I am back in the market for a larger car, possibly with three rows, I may consider the Flex, but it won’t be from you.

That’s great that you’re generous with your salespeople and your charity. But that’s not what this is about. I’m not generally in the market for American cars because I perceive them to be poorly designed and unrefined. This is changing, and I’m opening my mind. I’m used to a certain level of service and non-pushiness from my car dealers – hell, Volkswagen of Orchard Park, where I’ve bought about 3 cars so far, also has a pretty crappy-ass dealership design, but they’re friendly and not at all pushy there. They let me look. They let me try. Then they back off when I make it clear I’d like them to back off.

So, kudos to you for your customer service scores and you have my condolences about the state of the auto industry today. Your customer retention rates are enviable.

But in a couple of weeks, when what I’m waiting to have happen happens, and I’ll be looking to plunk down money for a new, larger vehicle. I’ll be sure to look elsewhere, as you’ve basically told me to go screw myself.