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i turn REALTY into REALiTY

What has happened to good, honest customer service?

After putting nearly 200,000 miles on my 11 year old car, it was time to put it to pasture (that’s code for handing it down to my newly licensed teenager). So, after much deliberation and many sleepless nights (not just about the car, but about my son driving too!), I decided to bite the bullet and go car shopping.

After listening to all of the advice from my family and friends, I chose to purchase a used vehicle (2005 model), thereby avoiding the instant depreciation that occurs as you drive the new car off the lot. Thus my saga begins…

You know the story – You arrive on the car lot and the smiling salesperson steps out to greet you – My tale was no different. The nice salesperson met me, asked several questions, let me take a test drive, etc… Long story short, I ended up buying the car. Notice I said that I bought the car. He didn’t sell me the car. There is a difference. I knew what I wanted, and my salesperson told me that the car I was driving had all of the features that I had requested. That was mistake #1 for me. I was too emotionally attached to the car that I didn’t bother verifying whether or not what he told me was the truth. Turns out, it wasn’t! No IPOD connector, no satellite radio installed.

So, I’m a few days into driving my car, and I’m wondering why my salesperson hasn’t called to see how I was doing. I always follow up with my clients after they buy a home from me, and I just expected that this salesperson would do the same. Turns out, he no longer works for the car dealership and nobody will tell me why. I then found out that the other items promised to me (thankfully these were itemized and written down in the contract) were never ordered.

I end up speaking with the General Manager of the dealership, explaining my situation, and he’s empathizing with me, trying to calm me down, basically doing all of the things a good Sales Manager should do when a problem arises. The thing is, my problems aren’t being solved. All I’m getting are explanations and excuses. So, I give him time to further research the issues. Mistake #2 (open ended time with no specific date for deliverables).

About a week goes by and nothing gets resolved. All I got were more excuses when I called. This time, I drive down to the dealership (45 miles away!) to speak with the General Manager in person. More excuses ensue, but this time he tells me that my salesperson never would have promised me the things he did because that’s not how they do business. He then proceeded to tell me that I must have misunderstood what I was told (forgetting the fact that I had in writing one of the promised items), and that they could not honor the promise because they didn’t make very much money on the deal to begin with.

What is wrong with this picture? A salesperson makes a promise to close a deal, then leaves the company (or gets fired), then the General Manager says they can’t honor the promise because they didn’t make any money on the deal? I’m then asked to “work with them” and “compromise”. I don’t think so! I believe that if somebody makes a promise, they should live up to that promise (verbal or written).

As consumers we should expect to be treated fairly and dealt with in good faith. Otherwise, we can choose to take out business elsewhere. If you are wondering about the name of this dealership, it is Robert Larson Mercedes of Tacoma.

As of this writing, I am still waiting for my issues to be resolved (3 weeks after my purchase). But, I do love my new (used) car, and my clients get to ride in luxury (even without the satellite radio and IPOD music). I’ll keep you posted on my progress…

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