Tales of Dealer Hell – Round 2

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by Joe LaMuraglia
Sunday, May 10, 2009 – The photo above represents the 2009 VW Jetta TDI that my brother purchased yesterday. He takes delivery next Saturday. The entire experience was nothing short of painless. Other than my impatience with the response time from the salesperson, it couldn’t have gone smoother.
I write this as a continuation of the story I posted yesterday. The difference between the two dealership experiences couldn’t be wider. The VW dealer answered my email query within a reasonable time frame with the information I requested. There were no hard sells and when we arrived at the dealership he showed us what we wanted, answered all additional questions and had the deal signed within 30 minutes.
I have yet to hear back from Prestige BMW in Ramsey. We were able to find the original contract and calculate that it will be less expensive for my brother to either turn the car in and pay the remaining payments due or simply park the car and make the payments until it is due in September. It would be great if someone at Prestige BMW would bother to get back to us to help us work this out. The contract loosely states that there may be “additional penalties” for early termination. All I want to know is what they are.
If Prestige BMW is smart, they will take the car back, accept one lump payment equaling the amount due on the lease and then turn around and sell the car. If they try to slap an early termination penalty on him, we’ll simply park it until September.
Let’s see if Ms Thang decides to call tomorrow. Stay Tuned.

Friday, May 15th –
Well, BMW never bothered to call. I had to call them two more times before I was able to get the information we needed. There will be no additional penalties for turning the car in three months early My brother simply needs to make the final payments and the car will be out of his life.
A few lessons learned from this experience:
1. If you have a lease car, stay on top of your mileage. It can be quite costly if you guess incorrectly and end up maxing out your mileage before the lease term is up. In this case, my brother estimated he’d be driving another 7,000 miles before the lease was due. At $.20/mile, that comes out to $1,400!
2. If you are in customer service of any kind, you should assume that all of your customers’ sphere of influence is at least 10x what it was 5 years ago. With the advent of blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc, everyone has the ability to share their good or bad experience with considerably more people than ever before.
3. Treating customers with respect and communicating with them in the manner they choose (in my case via email with Joe Heidt VW) is the best way to facilitate a sale.
End of story.

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