Shopping for a Family Vehicle

I’d like to share a short story, with a very important lesson in Customer Service.

Mark and I went to The Car Store, in Laurel, DE, this morning, to look at trading in his pick up for something that can carry our growing family.  Mark arrived shortly before me, and had already found a salesman to help him.  I walked in the door, sat down beside Mark, and…..NOTHING!  The salesman didn’t even acknowledge that I had walked in the door, and being 6-1/2 months pregnant, I’m not easy to miss.

Strike 1.

The salesman continued putting Mark’s information in his computer (and ignoring me) until Mark had to go out to his truck to look for a document.  Only then did the salesman say hello and ask how I was.  He never introduced himself, asked for my name, or even asked why I was sitting at his desk.  

Dumbass.

The salesman and his manager went out to appraise Mark’s truck, still not knowing what vehicle we, THE CUSTOMER, were looking at.  Eventually, the salesman comes back and asks what we are looking for.  We tell him that we had looked at the Jeep, parked right in front of the window, online.  He brings us the keys and tells us we can go look at it.

Strike 2.

Now, I would like to take this moment to inform those who do not know, that I work at a car dealership.  I sit in on our Friday morning sales meetings.  And, several years ago, I sold vehicles.  Therefore, I know how the process is “supposed” to go, and I know the standards at my dealership.  My first comment to Mark, when we were left alone, was “Al White would’ve fired that fool.”

None the less…

We re-enter the “showroom” and sit back at the salesman’s desk (I still don’t know his name), and he comes out to tell us that the vehicle is $4,000 more than the price we saw online.  I called “Bullshit.”  He tried to tell me that because Mark was getting financed through this “special” bank, they had to raise the price.  I repeat, Bullshit.  I explained to the salesman that the price of the vehicle is the price of the vehicle, no matter how it gets paid for.  

He called for his manager.

Said manager tried to tell me that the online price was only for “well qualified” or cash customers.  BULLSHIT!  I’m not stupid, and I know how the car business works.  He continues to say that this “special” bank charges additional fees that raises the cost of the vehicle.  No, sir.  Let me explain to YOU how this works.  The price of the vehicle is the price of the vehicle.  

Period.

Can the bank charge additional fees?  Yes.  Does the dealership have the right to pass those along to the customer?  Yes.  But don’t try to tell me that it changes the actual cost of the vehicle, because it doesn’t.  Mr. Manager still refused to admit he was wrong.

Strike 3…You’re OUT!!!!

I about fell out of my chair when Mr. Manager told me that if I didn’t like it, we could leave.  I smiled, and said, “Have a nice day.”

Mark and I proceeded to go to my work.  I wanted us talk to some of my salespeople.  Now, unfortunately, he could not get financed through the dealership that I work at, due to certain circumstances, but I figured my guys could shine a little light on the situation. 

I told one of our salesmen what had happened, and he was floored.  He could not believe what they tried to pull.  He did, however, suggest we try the main location of The Car Store, in Salisbury, in hopes that they would treat us better.  I had to clock in and get to work, but Mark went to Salisbury, to look at a Chevrolet TrailBlazer we had seen, also online.

However, this time, I sent him prepared.  We printed the online listing of the vehicle, including the price.  I told Mark to keep it folded in his pocket until after the salesman told him a price, then pull it out and point out that the vehicle is advertised online for less.  If they didn’t plan on matching the advertised price, he was to leave.  I also told him not to mention his situation, or do any paperwork until AFTER they gave him a price and showed him the vehicle. 

Notice: I said “showed him the vehicle.”  This is a salesman’s job – to sell the vehicle by demonstration.

Mark was immediately impressed with the customer service at the Salisbury location.  A salesman greeted Mark ON THE LOT.  Mr. Salesman pulled the vehicle out of the line up and gave Mark a full demonstration of all of the vehicles features.  Then, he offered a test drive. 

That is how it is supposed to be done.

Mark asked for the price of the vehicle, and was told a number that did not match the online advertised price, but when he showed his salesman the print out, the salesman immediately agreed to the price we had expected.

Smart man.

Mark and the salesman, then sat down to discuss numbers, at which point Mark shared our experience at the Laurel location, and asked if he could expect the same jump in price. 

Mr. Salesman was baffled.

Wow.  Two salespeople, working for the same company, in different locations, but completely opposite ways of doing business.  The salesman in Salisbury explained that the “special” bank may charge an additional fee, but the price of the vehicle would remain the same as advertised. 

Appeased, Mark continued with the process. 

At this point, I get a phone call.  Mark starts spitting off numbers, as I scribble as fast as I can.  The salesman broke down every charge, so there was no place to hide any additional fees.  The “special” bank did charge a couple hundred extra for their financing, but nowhere even close to $4,000.  I asked my few questions, and got prompt, honest answers from the patient salesman, listening on the other end of the phone.  I told Mark that I believed he was being treated fairly, and that the final price that he had been given was fair and just.

Mark bought the truck.

The owner of The Car Store (both locations) was informed of our experience at the Laurel location, and promised us that he would handle it promptly.

There are several morals to this story.

Moral #1:  Don’t judge. – You don’t know what someone has been through, or what they know, just by looking at them.  The salesman and manager at the Laurel location saw a young couple expecting a child, and thought that they could charge whatever they wanted, and there was nothing we could do about it.  Boy, was he wrong.

Moral #2:  If a person walks into a car dealership, they are going to buy.  –  If they walk out your door without buying, they just may buy at the next place they go.

Moral #3:  Don’t piss off the woman.  –  The old belief is that women know nothing about buying a vehicle, so there is no reason to address her or make her happy.  That is no longer the case.  Ask the salesmen that I work with.  They will tell you that if Momma ain’t happy, no car gets sold.  I didn’t have any control over what Mark chose to purchase, but because I work in a dealership, he trusted my judgement and took my advice.

Mark and I, both, now have vehicles large enough to carry our family – all four of us. 

As for the salesman and manager in Laurel, I certainly hope that the higher ups in Salisbury followed through with what they said.  I would love to take the TrailBlazer to their store and invite them out to see the “The Car Store” decal on the back.  I bet they’d shit their pants.  All they had to do was be honest.  Oh, and admit that I was right (because I was).

Well, that’s the end of tonight’s lesson, so as always…

Annabelle & Christopher, I will love you for forever and a day.

Auf Weidershen.

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