By on January 9, 2009

“Hi Mr. Baruth. First, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to assist you and please feel free to email or call me at the number provided if you have any other questions you need answered. I have a vehicle with a MSRP of $29,995. I can sell you that for $29,482.” Interesting. In the middle of the American automotive market’s worst implosion in living memory, what car could possibly be so valuable, so desired, so smoking hot that the maximum negotiating room possible would amount to an ungenerous five hundred and thirteen dollars off sticker? Give up? It’s a Pontiac G8. A 2008-model Pontiac G8. 

My first exposure to Pontiac’s Holden-by-any-other-name came at the San Diego press launch last summer, and I was so smitten that I permitted myself to be videotaped by the General’s PR flacks gushing incoherently about how the G8 “challenges the BMW 5er on home ground and carries away a win on value” or something equally inane. I also made a call from the hotel that evening to my younger brother, a multiple-Mazda owner and SCCA National Solo trophy recipient, suggesting that he investigate the possibility of buying one himself. I knew he’d been interested in the G8 from the moment the first photos appeared but had been waiting to hear the full scoop on the faux-Pontiac’s over-the-road capabilities. 

“Go ahead and buy one,” was my advice, “and the V6, if you’re so inclined, is almost as good as the V8.” That’s true, by the way: it would be perfectly possible for a so-called “performance buyer” to enjoy driving the plain-Jane G8. During my evaluation of the V6 model in the curvy canyons south of San Diego, I utterly humiliated a group of hardcore Ducati-mounted sportbikers in such egregious fashion that I received a written reprimand after the event from a GM corporate toad for “dangerous vehicle operation”. A good car, solidly executed. 

I flew home from San Diego full of hope that Pontiac finally had a car for which very few excuses need be made. Yes, the G8 had a few weak spots – flimsy interior pieces, unfortunate color choices, a visual distinction between the “standard” and GT models so miniscule that GM’s own flunkies repeatedly mis-identified the two during the press event – but it also had solid pretensions of automotive greatness. It was worth buying.

Ay, there’s the rub: buying the thing. In the six months that followed, my brother learned firsthand about the misery of dealing with Pontiac dealers. This is the same group of people, remember, who effectively held the first batches of 2004 GTOs hostage, demanding ten-grand markups and no-questions-asked deposits before finally panicking and selling the backlog of unwanted Goats for invoice minus holdback in enormous, humiliating newspaper ads which inadvertently slaughtered the car’s residual value. The attitudes of these domestic dealer ding-dongs, seemingly formed during the brief halcyon days where the Grand Am was GM’s best-selling automobile and served as the exclusive transport option of every stripper, Wal-Mart cashier, and three-hundred-pound, trailer-park-bound, human hippopotamus in the Midwest, could best be described as “aggressively unfriendly”.

My brother’s experience started with an attempt to “pre-order” the car. He was assured time and time again that the cars would be “impossible to get” and that only a sizable deposit would guarantee a spot in line. When the G8 began to pile up in dealer lots despite the predicted shortage, he was repeatedly denied a test drive despite being a respectable-looking thirty-year-old who wore Canali suits and appeared with his wife and young son in tow. After multiple incidents where dealership personnel made it plainly obvious to him that it would be doing him a favor to let him so much as sniff a G8, he gave up and bought another Mazda. I can’t blame him.

Still, hope springs eternal in the human breast, particularly when the human breast involved spent hours watching “Knight Rider” as a child and longingly watching the third-generation Trans Am “GTA” roll thunderously through the neighborhood. With nearly half the G8s ever produced still silently flat-spotting their tires in dealer lots, my brother thought he’d try one more. Again, he visited, called, emailed tirelessly, serenading his office with the sound of the various dealers’ on-hold music via his desk speakerphone, waiting for a low-options G8 GT at a reasonable price. The e-mail which opened this article represents the best offer he’s yet seen.  Mark my words: when the last Pontiac dealership in this country is either razed to the ground or ignominiously remodeled to sell Chinese crapwagons, it won’t take a Heinrich Schliemann to discover the story of why GM’s Excitement brand found itself stripped of its flaming chicken wings and buried in the cold, dead ground.

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93 Comments on “Bubblegum Death Experience: Pontiac Gets What It Deserves...”


  • avatar
    jfsvo

    I had a very similar experience. Initially, I was completely blown off by the salesman. When I told him I’d like to drive a GT he told me, “All we have available is the one in the middle of the showroom.” He turned and walked away. Nice.

    About a month ago I returned and said I was very interested in a GT, in black. A different salesman told me they were “selling like hotcakes” and would call me when they got a black one in. I didn’t even get the standard offer to check the other dealers. I have yet to receive a call and have subsequently stopped waiting by the phone. Perhaps I got off on the wrong foot when my first question was asking how they were going to get rid of all the Solstices outlining the sidewalks of the building (there were literally 20 of them at this small dealer).

    But it seems this was a blessing in disguise as the used market for these is excellent… at least from the buyer’s perspective. I hope to get one in the low 20’s this spring after I sell my Mustang.

  • avatar

    I can relate; recently I was helping my father with car shopping. Thinking that there were deals to be had, GM being in the shitter and all, we went to the local Pontiac/GMC/Cadillac/whatever-else-they-can-cram-into-a-single-lot dealer to check out a G8 GT. Upon entering the place, the only sales person in the place was a surly old fellow who seemed to have utter disdain for our inquiry. He informed us that the G8 GT was full MSRP. 42 000 smackers (Canadian). No incentives. No zeros to be found in finance rates. He made no attempt to sell us on the car – no deals, no description of how it drives (let alone an offer to test it), nothing. We walked out within 5 minutes. The much-touted incentives are only found on the less (least) desireable models, turds that shame the dealer lot by their mere presence. The G8, apparently, is too good to be affected by the woes of GM. And that’s why they have sold next to none in my hometown (a perusal of the used ads for three provinces came up with one example, a V6, for near-MSRP. That’s not mentioning the fact that you will not see one on the road that side of Montreal). Come to think of it, I’ve only seen one on the roads here in downtown Montreal – a town where you can trip over a 100K+ car every three blocks.

  • avatar
    eamiller

    Maybe he can try the Kokomo, Indiana Pontiac dealership that just closed up shop (see http://www.kokomotribune.com/local/local_story_007150438.html ).

    Mind you, this was the only Pontiac dealer left in a GM/Chrysler town. Perhaps he can pick one of the numerous G8s left sitting on their dark lot at auction.

    Any GM dealership with the audacity to risk a sale with a token gesture in the face of extinction reaps what it sows.

  • avatar
    Potemkin

    You gotta love those dealers, is there any doubt they are a huge part of why GM is going down the crapper. Oh well in 6 months you can get one for cost.

  • avatar
    Sabastian

    I’d go for a slightly used one at half price:

    http://www.blueknobauto.com/auto_detail.php3?id=48534

  • avatar
    63CorvairSpyder

    Just another example of arrogant shortsighted jer_off dealers needing to, wanting to write a home run deal on a “hot?” car while weeds are growing up around most the cars in his storage lot. They’re always are looking for the next “mark”, the next “score”.

    As I’ve written in many threads in recent months, dealers share a significant amount of the blame for the demise of the Big 2.333……The “buyers experience” many people have endured for decades has helped drive customers to the imports. And yes there are plenty of slimy import dealers as well.

  • avatar
    cardeveloper

    G8 sales are very ugly. Little over a thousand cars a month.

    Bonus money has an extremely negative impact on a cars future. Just about every car that gets bonus money courtesy of your local dealer, will inevitably tank about a year later. Customers get pissed off and will go buy something else instead of waiting for their car. It’s been proven over and over and over again. But, there is no such thing as integrity in auto sales. Except the dealer I bought my Daytona from. Owners son, that dad would should the doors before he’d ever allow a single car to be sold above MSRP. WOO HOO, an honest dealer… too bad they sell the sinking Chrysler brand :(

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    If GM had this car 10 years ago that would have been something that might command a first year “market adjustment”.

    But now these Pontiac dealers better hurry up and dump their G8s before the cheaper, better looking (subjectively) Camaro comes out, because after that the G8 is dead.

    Even now there’s the Hemi Charger and Challenger and Mustang GT for this to compete against, the G8 good but hardly special.

  • avatar
    clive

    Even Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealers in tiny Winnipeg, Canada have a similar snotty attitude…twice I’ve walked out (from different dealers on different sides of town) after being subjected to the same crappy attitude others describe here. And I was only enquiring about Allures (LaCrosse) and G6s. The attitude I got was as if I was trying to buy a $100,000 car dressed in dirty jeans. Now those same dealers have G8s, G6s, G5s, and G3s (Wave/Aveos) overstocked and overflowing from their lots. I will look at the 2010 LaCrosse when it comes out, but I won’t buy from any of the local dealers…likely get better service from an internet retailer. That snotty GM dealer attitude is a huge turn-off. Don’t know where the dealers and their staff learn this behavior from, but you have to wonder if it’s part of GM culture.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I was a little surprised to see a new G8 on display in front of our local Costco a couple weeks ago. Apparently it’s covered under the Costco fixed price car buying program, FWIW.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    I wasn’t given the opportunity to drive a G8 either, but I didn’t press the point. It wasn’t that offensive because I wasn’t in the market to buy one immediately anyway. The problem is, I won’t consider a car I can’t test drive, so this dealership won’t see me again when I’m in the buying mood in a few months.

    Amusingly enough, the Porsche dealer I also visited was much more friendly. I’ve no doubt that if I’d wanted to try one of the lower-rung 911s, he’d have been fine with that.

  • avatar

    A friend of mine had her heart set on a beautiful blue Chevy Cobalt. She’d gotten her Nissan Sentra in a wreck and said it’d feel weird to buy another.

    A couple days ago she texted me, saying the deal fell through. Apparently, they were assholes at the dealership and so she’s going to be driving her mom’s Hyundai for a little while longer.

    Her next vehicle? Probably a Hyundai Tiburon.

    This is part of the reason why I dread getting my next car in maybe another three years. No good vehicles on the market, the recession will make sure R&D stagnates so I’m stuck with the choices they’ve got right now. No good fuel-efficient trucks. No decent fuel-efficient vehicles that can go down a mile-long dirt road day after day without falling apart.

    And if things go as they’re going right now my choices will be Ford, Hyundai, Toyota, Honda and Nissan.

    Man, the more I look at the auto market the more I think it sucks.

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    So, why don’t we get our story straight here. There is huge criticism for massive discounting, red tag sales etc as destroying the value of a vehicle. Yet, you lament the absence of huge discounts on a G8?

  • avatar

    The Pontiac dealer here isn’t bad… it’s pulled up by the fact it’s also an Acura dealer.

    Shame that at the same time, it pulls down the Acura dealer.

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    “Perhaps I got off on the wrong foot when my first question was asking how they were going to get rid of all the Solstices outlining the sidewalks of the building (there were literally 20 of them at this small dealer).”
    Its called being civil. Why would you start out in a confrontational manner? You probably got what you deseved.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Saw a G8 GT at almost $5K off MSRP, but that’s still $10K more than that deal Sabastian pointed out.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    the Grand Am was GM’s best-selling automobile and served as the exclusive transport option of every stripper,

    Hey, now. My ex had a Firebird. Later, she leased a new 750i.

    Most strippers own Acuras, Toyotas, and Mitsu Turbo Eclipses. Or so I’ve heard.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    When I went to test drive one the dealer was much the same way. He said that they were selling all of them for above MSRP. “Selling all of them? What about the six on your lot?”

    “…”

    “Thought so.”

  • avatar
    JG

    They’re all the same. This guy wouldn’t let me test a new chevy pickup when I went to the dealership, said he’d let me drive one at some “huge indoor sales extravaganza!” that was coming up. So, like a fool, I went. And he balked again.

    So I bought a Mustang over the phone from a small town dealership. 3 days after I bought the car Ford lowered the price by 6 grand. A few months later I took the car in for a block heater install, and the tech left out half of the coolant, causing my next-to-new car to overheat a mile out of town.

    The car dealers, their culture, their practices, all very instrumental in their demise. Don’t get me started on how people get treated buying houses around here. You’d think that those in the business would be licking your boots when you’re buying the biggest ticket items in your life. Know why we’re disadvantaged when buying? Because we don’t have any CASH. They have the credit, they have the power. You don’t feel like strong bargaining when you’re trying to trade in your 3 yr old Mustang that you’re 5 grand upside down on, despite a big down payment!

  • avatar

    What Mazda did he buy since he didn’t get the G8? I had thought all this time he was looking at a 1 series, not the G8. I was convinced he was buying a 135 for a while.

  • avatar
    pharmer

    I have personally experienced the same treatment at numerous GM franchises and at a Dodge dealership. Even my 58 year old retired attorney father experienced the cold shoulder when trying to purchase a new Corvette.

    Egregious case #1 is when I went to a local Chevy dealer specifically to look at and price out one of the new Malibus. This was a month or so after they were introduced, and the dealer had several in stock at varying levels of trim.

    When I asked about them, the saleswoman’s response was “they’re great cars, they put everything else to shame…but we’re not doing test drives, we want to save the cars for serious buyers.” I may have been a buyer had I driven the car, but we’ll never know. I still don’t see many Malibus on the road.

    Egregious example #2 is when I was shopping for pickup trucks. Dodge was running some good deals last winter, so I stopped in to look at the leftover 2007 Rams. I was not greeted on the lot so I went in to ask about a specific truck. The salesman was the biggest jerk I’ve ever met…for example

    “Yep, that’s a nice truck.”

    “Nah, that’s equipped just the way buyers want, there’s no incentive on that truck.”

    “If you think you need to drive it first you’re obviously not a serious buyer.”

    The best dealership experiences I’ve ever had were at a very big Honda dealer, two different Audi dealers, and a BMW dealer. All I need is a pleasant greeting, someone to talk with about the car, and a little respect. Doesn’t seem too hard to me.

  • avatar
    ajla

    My friend got a test drive in a G8 GT this last October.

    He told the salesperson that he had driven the Charger R/T earlier in the day (he really did), and the Nissan Maxima earlier that week (he really drove that too), but wanted to see how the G8 compared. They let him drive one just like it was a G5.

    Still, I’m not sure what kind of price offer they gave him.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    I just want to get the GM attitude typology straight … it’ll be on the exam. The dealers are ding-dongs, and the corporate lackeys are the flunkies, right?

    Shame about the car … nice Blaupunkt audio system!

  • avatar

    So this is why I’ve only seen one G8 on the road near me…

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    Sounds to me like the dealers are just waiting (praying) the market picks up so they can inflate the price again.

  • avatar
    golf4me

    Huh, around here you can get them for a song…maybe another sip of Bob’s Kool Aid is in order.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I can’t speak from personal experience when it comes to Pontiac dealers. However, I think it’s fair to say that the issue of poor treatment by dealers isn’t limited to the domestics.

    The worst service I’ve ever experienced was with a BMW dealer and the best was undoubtedly Saturn (both for buying and service). When we were shopping or a Mazda5 a couple of years ago the only dealer near us who had what we wanted (a loaded model with the manual trans) was such a jerk to my wife that she vowed to never give them our money. We eventually found one at another Mazda dealer 30 miles away. Most of the contact was by phone and when we got there they had the car waiting and were great to work with.

    For a good amount of time, Saturn had the best customer satisfaction going but their sales still sucked wind due to a dearth of interesting cars. Toyota has consistently ranked pretty poorly in terms of sales and service satisfaction but buyers appear willing to deal with it.

    Likewise, I recall back in the 1980s when Hondas were super hot (so much so that some of their U.S.corporate folks ended up in jail for taking bribes from dealers for more inventory) buying one was extremely painful. They got used to taking orders, marking up their cars, and making money hand over fist that they eventually had to relearn how to “sell” cars when things slowed down.

  • avatar
    MM

    GM is like a broken record. Will never forget in the summer of ’80 (I was 10) when my family went to the Olds dealership to test-drive the new Cutlass Supreme that all the moms on the block had to have. I remember the salesmen gathered at the window in their plaid jackets, one of whom pointed and laughed as we pulled up in our ‘woody’ 72 LTD wagon (we were not affluent then). Mom was so humiliated she cried. Never forgot that.

    That experience spared me the ‘GM ownership experience’ of DexCool meltdowns, plastic manifolds and hardware coming off in the hand. My extended family has bought more than 26 cars in that time, and not a single one wore a GM badge.

    In Christmas 2005, I bought Mom a new Honda Accord, my wife a new Odyssey, and myself an Accord EX. Cash all…around $2-3k off msrp each with virtually zero pressure. GM wasn’t even shopped. Memphis Honda dealer even delivered the Ody to the house on the 25th with a red bow, which they provided.

    Honda thrives (or at least survives). GM can, should and will become a historical footnote. Mediocre cars, childish marketing, abysmal customer treatment.

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    My dealership experiences have been extremely varied, regardless of brand. There’s only one exception to this which was Saturn, but unfortunately I haven’t had any interest in any of their products for over a decade.

    I’ve bought a number of Hondas, and the dealers have ranged from amazing to abysmal. One of them couldn’t be bothered to walk across the street to see if they had any Civics with manual gearboxes; my choice was to drive an automatic within spitting distance or leave. I left.

    Toyota dealers have been pretty universally awful with arrogant, mean, and aggressive staff. Take-a-number-and-we’ll-get-to-you mentality. Like buying a car from the Soup Nazi.

    I tried to buy a 3 series twice. One dealer refused to even accept that I knew which car I wanted, and proceeded to jam the wrong trim level, transmission, and color down my throat. The second BMW dealer, upon learning of my poverty-stricken desire for a mere $32,000 car, directed me to a sofa to pass the time as “there are several 7 series customers coming in so you’ll have to wait.” Like a stooge, I sat there, and as various salespeople streamed past my cushy leather perch I learned my priority level before the hour was up. I bought another make of car.

    VW was okay as far as the sales experience was concerned, but the car was so deficient in quality and the service department so combative when asked to correct said deficiencies that I doubt I’ll ever be back.

    Lexus has ranged from creamy smooth to sandpaper (I’m looking at you, Jim Falk…)

    I don’t think the dealer situation is at all particular to GM. Clearly these folks are real dolts if they don’t see the need to discount the clearly-unpopular G8 to move them off the lots, but I don’t think it’s a Pontiac thing. It’s a car dealer thing.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    An interesting story but, as other have pointed out, far from an isolated incident with a specific marque. There were undoubtedly Pontiac dealers unwilling to come off MSRP for the abysmal Aztek a year after it was introduced, too.

    In fact, the classic example of the “that’s the price, take it or leave it” attitude would have to be the original VW Beetle. It would seem to be one of the first (at least in recent memory) where the salesmen were specifically trained to never budge of MSRP. That kind of no-haggle attitude went a long way to eventually driving VW sales into the ground years later. My dad bought a much larger, more practical ’64 Valiant instead. Of course, VW’s still selling cars in the US and, apparently, is in much better financial shape than Chrysler, too.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    There was a G8 GT up here in the Twin Cities recently with 7,800 miles on it selling for $19,xxx.

  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    Pontiac dealers in our area have for years continued to newspaper advertise one year old Grand Prixs at basically half of MSRP. An amazing and recurring customer training program to virtually guarantee that any person with a brain would NOT pony up to buy any new Grand Prix. Add this to years of horrid styling examples and the Pontiac brand has managed to destroy its own stature.

  • avatar
    udham

    When I was in the market for a new car in fall of 06, I had my heart set on a GTO. There are two pontiac dealerships in town, one had 10 odd sitting on the lot, I showed up, and well, walked out of there in under 5 minutes because of the “customer service”. The other had 2, one manual and one automatic, I went there, got a test drive in the auto after a bit of asking, haggled, and haggled some more and got out of there with an 06 brazen orange GTO. The customer service at the place was not great, but it was not bad either.

  • avatar
    Pahaska

    Not all GM dealers are bad. Over the past few years, I have bought four vehicles (3 full size pickups and car) from two local GM dealers and I would go back to either of them in a moment.

    The car (Buick) had a few build problems and long-term mechanical problems. The three pickups (2 diesel) have been virtually perfect. Only a door squeak during warranty on one of the three trucks.

    I never felt disregarded or put down at any time. On my last diesel, they practically begged me to test drive. I passed since it was virtually the same as the truck I was turning in.

  • avatar
    partsisparts

    If you do not like the treatment you get from your local dealer, go to another one. Look at it from the dealer’s standpoint for a minute. Probably get 3-4 people a day trying to drive a G8 with no intention of buying one. Then, if you go in there with an attitude,or trying to talk price BEFORE the test drive,his motivation wanes. Putting miles on a new car makes it harder to sell.If I was a Pontiac dealer I would screen my customers before the test drive to see if they are really interested in buying one and also have the means. Or are they an enthusiast trying to compare it to their own car. I would not let everyone drive. Maybe most of the posters failed the screening process.

    Shame on those Pontiac dealers for trying to make money on the only decent product they have that they can make money on!!!

  • avatar
    mcs

    One of the final straws for me with a Detroit brand was when I showed up at the local Ford dealer for one of the numerous attempts to fix one of the many problems on my brand new Expedition. They canceled my appointment when I showed up because they said they only allowed Saturday service for vehicles purchased at their dealership and they noticed an out of state dealer sticker on the back.

    Contrast that with the BMW service manager that went out into a dark parking lot at closing time and removed and replaced my radio from the dash to get the security code to re-activate the radio (the car had been in storage for a while) and charging me nothing. Or when I had my brakes and rotors replaced at 38K miles and was told “no charge – it’s covered under the maintenance plan.” In addition, every time I’ve been in for service of any type, I’ve received a follow up call from BMW to find out how the service call went.

    Both the BMW and Porsche dealer have little social events like family barbecues, cocktail parties, and driving events. They know how manage a good customer relationship. Something other dealerships, both Detroit brands and otherwise, could learn.

  • avatar
    partsisparts

    Think of the average gross profit per car at the local Ford dealer and the average BMW dealer or Porsche dealer for that matter and the differnce should be clear. They simply can afford to pay people more and get more dedication from them.The average Ford store cannot afford spending big money on social events right now.
    Also some dealers want to take care of the people who buy cars from them, their competitors.

  • avatar

    For the record, guys, I’m not naturally a Detroit basher, and I’ve worked in the dealership biz myself.

    I would suggest that it’s normally possible to get slightly better treatment from a Big 2.8 dealer than one would from a Nissan, Honda, or (particularly) Toyota dealer. Toyota dealers are almost the worst in the business; if it weren’t for the collective cabal of goat-ropers and chicken-rapers known as “Volkswagen dealers”, they’d be at the bottom.

    The specific problem I wanted to point out is that Pontiac dealers, as a group, have reacted to having “hot product” with the worst, least productive attitude humanly possible, and that they’re gonna suffer as a result.

    When I sold Fords in 1995, the Explorer was as hot as hot got… but we sold them fairly, without drama, with plenty of test drives, plenty of sales effort, and reasonable pricing. That attitude made the Explorer a 420,000-unit sales success that year, and we ended the 1995 model year with empty lots. Compare and contrast with the G8.

  • avatar
    Usta Bee

    My story in buying my 2002 Prizm is a little bit different. I went out car shopping on my mountainbike in February of 2006 because my previous car had died. I saw the Prizm advertised online so I went out to the dealership on my bicycle. After seeing the car I checked it out thoroughly for accident damage repairs, and looked at it underneath to check for any damage or leaking fluids. While I was doing this the salesman walked out and asked if I needed help. I told him to go get the keys because I wanted to check it out under the hood, and open up the interior and trunk to check them out.

    After he opened the car for me and I looked it over I told him I wanted a test drive. He let me stash my bike inside the showroom of the dealership while we test drove the car. After coming back from the test drive I told him I was interested and showed him a local competitor’s ad for an identical car that was priced lower. He went to his sales manager and offered me a price that beat the competitor by a good amount, and I told him that it sounded like a deal and to show me the total with all the out the door costs. I had previously called three notary publics in town to find out what the title transfer costs would be through them, so when the sales guy came back with the dealership’s higher paperwork costs I told them he’d have to match the notataries price if I was going to take the car, and he did. Mind you I did tell him I was paying cash and would take the car that day.

    After we setteled on the price I rode my bicycle out to the bank to get a cashiers check for the car, and to go home and get the plates off my old car. I really didn’t have to as the salesman offered to drive me the 5 miles to my house to get my old plates, but I refused. I came back on my bicycle within the hour with the check and my plates and in the meantime they had washed the car for me. I gave them the check, put the plates on the car myself, threw the mountainbike in the trunk and drove home.

    The creepy part is that the salesman who sold me my car sends me cards for Christmas and my birthday with his business card inside.

  • avatar
    golf4me

    Bridge2far x2

  • avatar
    jeremie

    To those who defend the dealers I say this- All of these bad experiences damage not only their own businesses but the entire brand. Car manufactures should protect themselves by requiring dealers to provide a positive experience.
    Personally the most offensive practice is selling above MSRP. The nerve!

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    The G8 is a 32k car, it’s not like its a Porsche.

    Even if the dude at hand has no intention of buying the G8, if its really so awesome that might change, and at the very least he’s going to be telling people how cool the car is. Adding a few miles to the odometer in exchange for good word of mouth is probably a wise decision.

  • avatar
    gmbuoy

    jeremie :
    To those who defend the dealers I say this- All of these bad experiences damage not only their own businesses but the entire brand. Car manufactures should protect themselves by requiring dealers to provide a positive experience. Personally the most offensive practice is selling above MSRP. The nerve!

    Almost every state has franchise laws that make it impossible for manufacturers to discipline dealers for poor customer handling.

    Selling above MSRP is called capitalism. If you don’t wish to pay the price buy something else. The market adjusts to your behaviour

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    > If I was a Pontiac dealer I would screen my customers before the test drive to see if they are really interested in buying one and also have the means.

    And how would you do that? Would you require potential testers to be, old, white, and wearing a suit? Do you suppose anyone else might “have the means” and the desire?

    This view is fundamentally shortsighted. Word of mouth can be such a strong influence. Every positive experience I have, I spread to as many people as I can. Negative experiences, even more. This networking effect isn’t apparent when you’re superficially judging that single customer, but you can be certain that it’ll affect the long-term business of the dealership.

    Like others, my best experience was in a Saturn dealership. No pressure, very pleasant, and made me want to buy a car. The pity of it was that the Aura I tested was inferior to the Malibu across the street. $2000 less, yes, but still inferior. Even the Sky Redline failed to pique my interest.

  • avatar

    “Look at it from the dealer’s standpoint for a minute. Probably get 3-4 people a day trying to drive a G8 with no intention of buying one”

    Those words “look at it from the dealers viewpoint” should be on the tombstone of dealers.

    YOU NEED TO LOOK AT IT FROM THE CUSTOMERS VIEWPOINT not the other way around.

    You have 5 people come in to look at a car and they want a test drive. Four of them are time wasters but one of them is a serious buyer. The problem is that you really don’t know which one of them is the buyer.

    Do you really think its better to blow off all five in order for the one buyer to prove himself as the serious buyer, or should you treat them all as serious buyers in order to land the one that actually is one.

    Any dealership that does that deserves to go out of business.

    I have had that experience (being denied a test drive) years ago at a Nissan dealership. I’ve had numerous friends and family experience that. We were all serious buyers. Its not the true customers fault that there are a lot of lookey loo time wasters that by appearances are identical to serious buyers.

    Why the hell should I look at it from the dealers standpoint if I am a serious car buyer. Its your job to give me the test drive and if your any good as a salesman you should be able to run my credit and qualify me as to whether I am a buyer or not during the test drive.

    God I hate lazy people is it asking too much if someone goes to a dealership for a test drive that they should be able to do so in a respectful manner? I ‘m worth a lot of money and I dress like crap. I’ll give you a secret a lot of successful people don’t care too much about things like clothes and outward appearance. My parents were millionares, my brothers are (were one is deceased) millionares and i am close. You would never guess it by our looks or our cars ( Corrola, Taurus, Intrepid, Xb) (except my one brother with the LandRover)

  • avatar
    jeremie

    gomboy:

    The market adjusts to your behavior

    Doesn’t seem to be adjusting very well lately.

  • avatar

    One of my favourite anecdotes comes from the father of one of my good friends –

    A self made man, this fellow doesn’t flaunt his wealth. He dresses in jeans and polos, and aside from his choice in cars, you wouldn’t guess he was a rich fellow. Back in the late 80s he stopped in to a Porsche dealer to look at a 930 turbo. He waited around, asked one of the sales guys for info, and got blown off. So he left without making a fuss and drove across town to the other Porsche dealer. He told them about the jerks at the other place, got all the help he needed, and bought the car on the spot. Once he had his 930, he wheeled across town again to the asshole dealer, parked out front where the salespeople could see him, walked over to the salesperson who blew him off, and bought a Porsche hat. That, my friends, is why you do not make assumptions about the customer.

  • avatar
    factotum

    The creepy part is that the salesman who sold me my car sends me cards for Christmas and my birthday with his business card inside.

    Usta Bee, I wouldn’t consider this creepy. It’s good business practice. In sales trainings I’ve taken, a common recommendation is to ask customers for the names of n people who would also like to buy or receive service. And maintaining good, persistent relationships increases the chance that the salesperson will gain additional business (commission).

  • avatar
    KalapanaBlack

    Sherman Lin :
    January 10th, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    “Look at it from the dealer’s standpoint for a minute. Probably get 3-4 people a day trying to drive a G8 with no intention of buying one”

    Those words “look at it from the dealers viewpoint” should be on the tombstone of dealers.

    YOU NEED TO LOOK AT IT FROM THE CUSTOMERS VIEWPOINT not the other way around.

    You have 5 people come in to look at a car and they want a test drive. Four of them are time wasters but one of them is a serious buyer. The problem is that you really don’t know which one of them is the buyer.

    Do you really think its better to blow off all five in order for the one buyer to prove himself as the serious buyer, or should you treat them all as serious buyers in order to land the one that actually is one.

    Any dealership that does that deserves to go out of business.

    I have had that experience (being denied a test drive) years ago at a Nissan dealership. I’ve had numerous friends and family experience that. We were all serious buyers. Its not the true customers fault that there are a lot of lookey loo time wasters that by appearances are identical to serious buyers.

    Why the hell should I look at it from the dealers standpoint if I am a serious car buyer. Its your job to give me the test drive and if your any good as a salesman you should be able to run my credit and qualify me as to whether I am a buyer or not during the test drive.

    God I hate lazy people is it asking too much if someone goes to a dealership for a test drive that they should be able to do so in a respectful manner? I ‘m worth a lot of money and I dress like crap. I’ll give you a secret a lot of successful people don’t care too much about things like clothes and outward appearance. My parents were millionares, my brothers are (were one is deceased) millionares and i am close. You would never guess it by our looks or our cars ( Corrola, Taurus, Intrepid, Xb) (except my one brother with the LandRover)

    Precisely. The mantra about customers always being right only goes so far, but it does have a good deal of traction. The dealer exists to court potential buyers and provide them with the means and information to buy a car. It is not to drive away anybody but those ready to buy this moment with cash in hand. If this other guy is a dealer/salesman (as I suspect, as he’s spouting this “dealer’s point of view” bs), he’s not a very good one. But then again, most aren’t. Common sense dictates this. Treat everybody well. Don’t get yourself taken total advantage of as a seller, but look at every person as a potential buyer and give them a reason to buy from you. Or, at the very least, don’t give them a blatant reason from the beginning not to buy from you.

    Of course, the adversarial nature of US car dealers is wholeheartedly nurtured, promoted, and rewarded by state franchise laws (negotiated largely by – you guessed it – dealer-affiliated special interest lobby groups) that make it impossible for the manufacturer to set prices and levels of service.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    It seems like what drives most of these guys is the idea that for every lost sale due to a poor approach, there are always two others to be made. That, plus the exceptionally thick, indifferent skin they have to develop in what is just about the most ruthless, cutthroat business extant. It’s the nature of the business and it’s not for the faint of heart. Unfortunately, that kind of cold-hearted survival instinct shows through, all too clearly, in far too many potential customer exchanges.

    Frankly, the best auto deals I’ve ever done were those where the salesperson quickly realized that I was serious about buying, had done my research and knew my stuff, then handed me off to the sales manager to conclude the deal. Both of them knew and understood their jobs. I think the key to a successful, painless auto purchase (at least for those who want to buy a car with a minimum of hassle) is simply being able to get rid of the sales drone fast and getting down to business with the person who is really going to approve the deal. The whole experience then hinges on the skill level of that guy. The point is, the faster you get to see the sales manager, the faster you’re going to know if you’re really going to buy a car or not.

    If you have a lousy salesman, then a miserable sales manager, either of which are incompetent or want to play games, well, it’s time to walk.

  • avatar
    George B

    Frustrated with car dealerships and car salesmen? Lets pick a state where citizens can bypass the legislature and get the signatures for a ballot initiative to allow direct sales from the car manufacturer to the buyer. The whole dealership experience just adds cost and frustration to the process of buying a car.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    When I was 24 (back in 2003) I went to a Cadillac dealer and scored a test drive in a brand new CTS without even asking. I went just to look at it and he said, you want to drive it?
    I remember commenting about how the car felt slower and had much more road noise than my current car. The salesman was almost apologetic about that and said the road noise was to give the car a sportier feel. I guess it helped that I pulled up to the dealership in a 1999 Deville. I think it was the last time I went to look at any new GM car. My $0.02.

  • avatar
    63CorvairSpyder

    Auto sales….been there done that

    Auto sales management….been there done that

    Auto purchaser…been there done that

    1. #1 sin of all salesmen especially car salesmen is pre-judging an “up” or custmomer. If I had $10.00 for every time I saw that on a sales floor, I’d be a richer man.

    2. The level of education of most people employeed by car dealers is high school. At most dealers even the management are rarely college degreed. This lack of “finishing” surely helps led to the culture in a dealership and ends up in the negative buying experience that most of us have alluded to. This is not a knock on people without a college degree, it is just a fact of life. Do Fortune 500 companies hire sales people without degrees?…..not many.

    3. I usually go to buy a car looking scruffy because I want to avoid the pre-judging salesman who runs away when he sees me. I want to get the guy who sees me as a buyer. I generally say, “I’m just looking”, if I’m jumped on as soon as I walk on the lot.

    4. I always go to buy a car with 5-10K cash in my pocket. That way if I buy one I can use it for a downpayment or if I get blown off by a jerkoff salesman or dealer I can flash it on the way out the door while I shout for all to hear, “I really wanted to buy a car today”. I’ve actually had a sales manager come running after me once as I drove away.

  • avatar
    partsisparts

    When I was talking about having the means… Means alot of people come into car dealers looking to pay $200 a month for a $40,000 car with no down payment. It has nothing to do with prejudging or how you look.
    I do agree with most people with money do not look like they have money.
    Why should people look at it from a sales person’s point of view? It may help you see the whole picture. Dealers are there to do business not entertain an enthusiast who might recommend the car to a friend. What about the sales person? The guy he does not wait on because he was on a test drive with an enthusiast may be a buyer.
    And yes, I was a salesman and a very good one. (Ford Legends and Leaders Club 300/500 Gold Member) (avg 25-30 cars per mo) The mantra I always lived by was take a full swing with everyone, but do your homework first. Sit them down and get into their head first, find out what they are doing there. A few easy questions asked the right way are all you need.
    I am no longer a sales person but work for a major auto manufacturer .

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    partsisparts,

    Dealers do business by virtue of having a desirable product and positive experiences. Doesn’t matter what you’re selling – cars, cocktails, couches, whatever.

    If someone, anyone, expresses interest in what you are trying to sell, you’d be best served by trying to make them yours.

    The funny thing is, we’re talking about a Pontiac. Not a Porsche, Mercedes, Maserati. A Pontiac. I could walk in to any one of those highline dealerships and instantly get behind the wheel of any number of 80-100K whips.

    If the salesmonkey or soon-to-be-closed-GM dealer somehow thinks that G8 is soooo neat, he decidedly deserves his place in the soup kitchen line.

  • avatar
    dzwax

    Nobody cares about the salesperson’s view.
    Sorry,

    Get over it.

  • avatar
    partsisparts

    I understand nobody cares about the salesperson’s point of view. I am just explaining what is going on in his head.

    And with some of unbelievably arrogant and rude statements made by some of the posters here it really reminds me of why I got out of the business.

  • avatar
    carguy622

    Every brand has bad dealers… Toyota, in my experience, is the worst. One Toyota dealer was actually practicing his golf swing while he was talking to me. Lexus is terrible as well, they let me test drive the car for about 100 feet, and just because I’m young and don’t wear fancy clothes, he gave me the cold shoulder. No IS250 for me then.

    But there are also good dealers… The Acura dealer just gave me the keys and said come back when you’re done. I bought the TSX. Volvo had a great dealership experience but only with a particular salesman. I was almost tempted to buy the S40 over the TSX just because of the salesman. I bought an Accord and Civic from the local Honda dealer and never had trouble there either.

    As far as being unreasonable negotiators… I was interested in a convertible and found a 2008 Saab 9-3 with a manual. It was September of this year, and the dealer would not take off more than 1,500. I knew he could do better, it was a leftover, it was a manual, and it was blue with a blue top, not the best color combo. I even had him test drive my TSX and we agreed on the trade in price, but he would not budge. Three months later the car was still there. I ended up keeping the almost paid off TSX and leasing a Miata for 2 years. Glad I didn’t get the Saab now.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    The Pontiac dealers are certainly foolish if they are making it hard to buy the G8. I could hardly endorse over incentivising the car and killing residual value, but they have to match the price with demand.

    I remember when I was getting my Audi TT having similar experiences. My local dealer was asking me to pay $200/month more than a quote I already had from another dealership. Then they treated me like crap every time I came to that dealer for service because I didn’t buy the car from them.

    I agree that all makes have bad dealers and I feel that most dealership experiences are terrible.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    There’s good and bad dealers of every stripe. Admittedly, the 2.8 are dragged down by their customer demographic, but, as pointed out above, the appliance salesmen at Toyota shops can be especially brutal.

    GeorgeB:
    Frustrated with car dealerships and car salesmen? Lets pick a state where citizens can bypass the legislature and get the signatures for a ballot initiative to allow direct sales from the car manufacturer to the buyer.

    Now THAT’S an idea! Methinks California could work!

    And if it went to ballot, it’d be interesting to see how the California Car Dealers Association could work the phrase “We’re Saving California’s Children” into ads opposing the initiative.

    This would make the debate over Gay Marriage look like an accountants’ debate over tax deductions…

  • avatar
    Durask

    My personal experience:

    As a rule, all dealers are unpleasant – be it import or domestic. Once in a while you run into a rare exception.

    Here in the Boston area where imports rule, on average they kiss your a** more at a domestic dealership because they are more desperate and on average people are the most unpleasant at Toyota and Honda dealerships (the attitude being “you stupid tool, you are going to buy our cars, anyway, why bother being nice to you”).

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    So, what I’m hearing (reading) is the dealership experience sucks big time for most people. That means the first company that figures out how to give a uniformly good experience coast to coast, finds a way to win new customers in a declining market. Let the race begin.

    As an aside, I worked breifly as a car salesman – new and used- at a GM dealership, in the late ’80s. I always felt out of place- I wasn’t nearly as misanthropic as the other salesmen, I didn’t use profanity, I didn’t think of everyone as suckers, and I didn’t think “buyers were liars”. Maybe that’s why I only averaged two sales per week?

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    On January 10th, 2009 at 2:58 am, MM wrote:
    GM is like a broken record. Will never forget in the summer of ‘80 (I was 10) when my family went to the Olds dealership to test-drive the new Cutlass Supreme that all the moms on the block had to have. I remember the salesmen gathered at the window in their plaid jackets, one of whom pointed and laughed as we pulled up in our ‘woody’ 72 LTD wagon (we were not affluent then). Mom was so humiliated she cried. Never forgot that.

    Damn. That’s terrible.

    On January 10th, 2009 at 1:36 pm, JEC wrote:
    One of my favourite anecdotes comes from the father of one of my good friends –

    A self made man, this fellow doesn’t flaunt his wealth. He dresses in jeans and polos, and aside from his choice in cars, you wouldn’t guess he was a rich fellow. Back in the late 80s he stopped in to a Porsche dealer to look at a 930 turbo. He waited around, asked one of the sales guys for info, and got blown off. So he left without making a fuss and drove across town to the other Porsche dealer. He told them about the jerks at the other place, got all the help he needed, and bought the car on the spot. Once he had his 930, he wheeled across town again to the asshole dealer, parked out front where the salespeople could see him, walked over to the salesperson who blew him off, and bought a Porsche hat. That, my friends, is why you do not make assumptions about the customer.
    That’s so awesome. One of the most amazing car dealerships I’ve ever been to was a Porsche dealership (I would have been around 10 at the time), in Dallas. My dad went there to buy a Boxster, and later walked out with a Boxster S and a great deal. That was, oh, almost eight years ago? Maybe four years ago, my dad went in there (with a different car) just to look around. The salesman remembered him. By name. He looked at my dad, paused for a few seconds, then said, “Hey, your $name, right? You bought the black Boxster S!” Incredible.

  • avatar
    63CorvairSpyder

    @partsisparts:

    You sound as though you were a very good salesman. You sound as though you didn’t have to play games with people in order to sell them a car. You’re a guy I would have liked to have sold cars with, a guy I would have liked being on my sales floor when I was a manager, and a guy I would have liked buying a car from. Unfortunately, most car salesmen aren’t like you, most are “hot shots” who are the reason for the rants on this thread.

    As far as people coming in to buy $40K cars and thinking they can pay $200/Mo with no down…. well they’re just plain stupid. The bait’n switch, low ball dealer ads are responsible for most of those.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    You sound as though you were a very good salesman. You sound as though you didn’t have to play games with people in order to sell them a car. You’re a guy I would have liked to have sold cars with, a guy I would have liked being on my sales floor when I was a manager, and a guy I would have liked buying a car from. Unfortunately, most car salesmen aren’t like you, most are “hot shots” who are the reason for the rants on this thread.

    Thank you. I wasn’t anywhere near the top producer (the top guy would sell 15-20 per month) and and a couple other guys would sell 3 or 4 per week. The manager didn’t seem to care one way or the other if I stayed or left. I wasn’t the bottom producer either.

    There probably aren’t enough good managers, seeing as how most rise from the ranks of salesmen and most of them are people you’d rather not hang around with.

    Hey, let’s you and me start a car sales business :-)

  • avatar
    rudiger

    63CorvairSpyder: “Unfortunately, most car salesmen aren’t like you, most are “hot shots” who are the reason for the rants on this thread.”Indeed, for every half-way decent new car salesman (we’re not even talking the loathsome used car variety here), there seem to be at least a dozen who easily fall into the traditional sleazeball category. Think Jerry Lundegard (William H. Macy) in the movie Fargo.

    What’s ironic is that, as others have pointed out, cooperative state legislatures allow the auto dealer network to operate exactly like they want with virually no oversight. Auto dealers truly have no one to blame but themselves for the widespread and long-standing reputation of using underhanded, deceitful sales tactics which undoubtedly played a role in the dismal state of the domestic auto industry today.

  • avatar
    jnik

    Yathink these dealers won’t f*** up sales of the new Buick Lacrosse the same way?

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    It might make a nice QOTD to ask people what could be done to make the dealership experience better?

    Obviously not doing those things that people are complaining about, but concretely how does that come about?

  • avatar
    Durask

    Here in the Boston area Buick dealers would run and fetch you coffee, they are desperate b/c hardly anyone here buys domestic cars these days.

  • avatar
    clive

    Obviously this article has hit a nerve with many of us…any idea where we could take this discussion from here? How can we (as consumers) let GM (and others) know we would like to continue buying their product (I’m very interested in the 2010 Buick LaCrosse and other upcoming GM product) but that we’re not willing to put up with being treated disrespectfully or with condescension from high-school educated sales staff with attitude? We (consumers) are not willing to put down $40K or more of our hard earned money to be treated like underage teens being bounced from the bar…I’ve had better treatment buying a $400 computer from Best Buy than I’ve had buying a $26K car…it doesn’t make any sense.

  • avatar
    Durask

    clive:

    Honda and Toyota buyers seem to have no problems with being treated disrespectfully or with condescension from high-school educated sales staff with attitude. :)

  • avatar
    partsisparts

    63 Corvair:
    Thanks for the kind words. I made a good living for a lot of years and had a great following. But,after a while the business does get to you. The idea always was make a friend, sell a car. Then sell his friends. There are a lot of salespeople like this, unfortunately they do not get a lot of press.
    As I have stated before, if you do like the treatment you are getting from your salesperson, LEAVE and go to another store. Find a guy who is looking to make an honest living to feed his family.

  • avatar

    The dealer attitude is nothing new. However, in previous times, the outcomes were a bit different.

    In 1976, I walked into a Pontiac dealership in Tulsa, OK.I had the cash in my pocket for a new Trans-Am. I was, however, wearing ratty blue jeans and a tie-dyed T-shirt at the time, like many college kids of the day.

    I walked up to the Trans-Am on the showroom floor. When the salesman approached, the first words out of his mouth were “Are you buying today,son, or just looking?”

    I walked out, drove down the street and bought a gorgeous black Monte Carlo.

    I was still incensed about the treatment I got at the Pontiac dealership, I went back and insited on a meeting with the owner of the franchise.

    Unlike today, when I told him what happened,he called the sales manager in and instructed him to let the salesman go. I received a letter of apology from the dealer a little over a week later.

    Boy, have times changed!

  • avatar
    philipwitak

    back in the the early 1970s, while vacationing in the palm beach area, i happened to drive by a large dealership selling exotic cars. i was only about 21 or 22 years old at the time; i was the proud owner of a 66 e-type that i had purchased about a year earlier and i was very excited to finally have an opportunity to see actual examples of these magnificent marques i had only read about, firsthand.

    the main showroom had just three cars on display: a bright red 365 gtb ferrari ‘daytona’ on a riser to the left; a silver maserati ghibli spyder on a riser to the right; and an acid green lamborghini espada i would have sold my soul for, on a rotating riser in the center of the room.

    all i wanted to do was look around and the salesguy couldn’t have been more accommodating. first we talked for about 10 minutes, then we went outside and perused vehicles in the lot and then, just as we were about to go back inside for a tour of more cars stored in back, a taxi pulled up and a rather messy-looking guy about my age got out and went inside, just ahead of us. i recall making some sort of snide remark to the salesman about a guy like him, dressed like that, coming to a dealership like this.

    about a half an hour later, i emerged from the back room to be informed – much to my surprise – that that kid, who looked as though he didn’t have two nickels to his name but had actually recently inherited a significant estate, was in the process of purchasing ‘my’ green espada.

    i learned a very valuable lesson that day – one that has stuck with me ever since.

  • avatar
    srclontz

    Several close friends of mine are car shopping, and all are telling me the same story. The dealers are up to their old tricks and they aren’t dealing much more than usual. Apparently, they don’t care that sales are down, and would rather lose sales to competing dealerships and brands than cut the price.

    My dream is that, as a result of this financial crisis, negotiated prices for cars go the way of the Model T. Car dealerships hate the free market, and are unwilling to compete openly and fairly against other dealerships. With the industry in collapse, I feel for the people who build the cars, and work for the parts suppliers, but the dealerships deserve every bit of misery they are experiencing.

  • avatar

    I agree with Srclontz. Maybe things will change but I’m not holding my breath waiting for it to happen.

    It might make me a bad person but it makes me smile to see the dealers suffer and go out of business. You can’t have a situation where you institutionalize mistreatment of customers and expect any sympathy.

    I feel that every time a dealer goes out of business an angel gets its wings.

  • avatar
    claudster

    “Honda and Toyota buyers seem to have no problems with being treated disrespectfully or with condescension from high-school educated sales staff with attitude.”

    I would think that these customers put up with this because they know they are buying a good car, and will not have to come back to the dealer any time soon, and most importantly not having to go through the horrors of trying to get warranty work done, that would happen in a domestic brand dealership.

    Case in point. The Mazda dealer I bought my 3 from, despite being slagged in the Mazda forums, is miles ahead of what I experienced at the local GM dealerships in the north west part of the GTA.

    Deal was done in an hour with no hassles. Can’t comment on warranty service, but regular service was fine. Dealership followed the Mazda menu to the letter without any bogus up sells.

    Haven’t dealt with the local Honda or Toyota dealers, but they have been pleasant to talk to and even offered me a test drive on a quiet afternoon without me asking, or even indicating that I was car shopping. Just kicking tires on my daily walk.

    A sharp contrast to the local domestic dealers that pounced on me and told me that there were all sorts of deals available and to come in and talk.

  • avatar
    CamaroKid

    Things haven’t changed.. In Sept 1982 I went to the local Pontiac dealership to look at a new T/A.. There was one in the showroom I got in and sat down… I was dressed in cotton dockers and a polo shirt. And I was 18. I didn’t want a test drive, all I wanted was to see the car. (My grandfather had recently come into “some” money and was going to buy my a GM car for my high school graduation.)

    A salesman came over and actually asked me to get out of the car. I told him that I was interested in the car and I asked him for a card and a brochure. He refused asked me to leave the dealership…

    Pretty much across the street was the Chevy dealer… I went there next… sat in a new Blue on Blue FULLY LOADED (A/C, power seats, T-Tops, crossfire) Z28. Salesman comes over and makes some joke about how much “tail” I could get with the car. He explains about the tires, the new suspension, the EFI system and he gives me a brochure without me asking (I still have it BTW)…

    Then he blows me away… He says, “Can I see your license?”… I say why? He say “cause you gotta drive this baby to appreciate it!” I actually said “You are going to let me drive this?”
    He laughs and says “Only if you want to”…

    Well as you might have guessed, first stop was at the Pontiac dealer next door… The salesman was in the doorway waiting for the next customer… From the open T-Top, I smiled at the AH and said… “Thanks for helping me, but I think I like the Camaro better.”

    The next day Grandpa and I sat down with the Chevy Saleman and we Factory ordered my Z28… It arrived 9 weeks later. The salesman had it in the middle of the showroom with a big blue bow on the hood… 25+ years later I still have both the car and the bow.

    Some salesmen get it (and get the sale) and some don’t

  • avatar
    jthorner

    In my experience there are good dealers and bad dealers for just about every brand. You can normally tell which kind of place it is within minutes of walking in the door. If I get the wrong vibe, I simply walk away.

    My last car buying experiences were with a Honda dealer and an Acura dealer, both of which were very professional to do business with. It helped that I started with the Internet/Fleet sales person. Normally these people are much more experience and much less BS prone than the average vulture circling the showroom. In some dealerships the fleet guy/gal even works out of a different building from the main sales floor. It also helped that I had done my research ahead of time, but of course I test drove every model I was considering before making a final choice. First I did my rounds of test drives, then I came back to the make-a-deal business once I knew what I wanted.

  • avatar
    ERJR

    Clive,

    I actually let Ford know the treatment I got at one dealer back in 2006 when I looked at a Mustang GT. They said I had to buy it first before I could drive it. He said if we gave test drives to everyone, we would have a line out to the street. I should have said to the guy, yeah and if you did maybe I wouldn’t be the only customer at this dealership. I emailed Ford customer service and they didn’t apologize, they just told me to go on the website and pick out a blue oval certified dealer and visit them. I told them I didn’t want to go through what I just went through and waste even more of my time. They just kept telling me to go on the web site and pick a dealer. I’m curious if the treatment from Ford direct would be better now. Probably not.

  • avatar
    rtz

    That line about the strippers, etc. People; he didn’t make that line up. That’s really exactly the way it was back then in regards to those cars and who drove them. Absolutely keen observation.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Sherman Lin:

    Those words “look at it from the dealers viewpoint” should be on the tombstone of dealers.

    YOU NEED TO LOOK AT IT FROM THE CUSTOMERS VIEWPOINT not the other way around.

    Right on.

    I have had nothing but trouble from General Motors dealership service departments. Olds, Pontiac, three or four Chevvy dealerships, and more that I can’t remember.

    The Toyota, Mazda, and BMW dealerships were better. The Bimmer service department had cookies in the waiting room, plus free carwashes on Saturdays. But the real deal was when they put a new convertible top on my Z3 a week after it was out of warranty!

  • avatar
    JaysonAych

    Just a couple of months out of college, I found myself on a Hyundai lot looking for a new car to replace the constantly-breaking down Tempo I suffered through my last year of school in, and the sales experience couldn’t have been better. Had plenty of cars to choose from and a salesman that wasn’t pressuring me. I found the car I wanted with exact options I wanted, he didn’t balk at a test drive at all despite my youth and new-to-the-game financial status, we worked out a good deal, and I drove home that same day in it. A few years later I needed something bigger…after searching around, I found a good deal on a car I wanted at a Dodge dealership, and they were very amiable and worked with me. During that search though, I’d been to a Ford dealer who spent much of my time on the lot criticizing my then-current car because it was a Hyundai, even though I really liked that car and it performed admirably for me…I’d just outgrown it. I left that lot pretty quickly.

    Later on, I went with my dad while he was looking for a car, and he’d found a lightly-used Kia Optima that he really liked at a dealer that was pretty friendly, then went to a Chevy dealer to see what they had, and the salesman there was highly confrontational, did nothing but bash Kia and their cars, and didn’t ever provide any positive argument for one of the many Classics (previous-gen but “new” Malibu) littering the lot that he was trying to shove down my dad’s throat, other than to say Kia makes junk and to not-so-subtly insinuate that my dad was stupid for even considering one. His jabs cut to the point that I seriously thought at one point that my dad was going to take a swing at the guy. Excellent salesmanship indeed.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Like a stooge, I sat there, and as various salespeople streamed past my cushy leather perch I learned my priority level before the hour was up. I bought another make of car.

    You should have done what I used to do at the Benz dealership when I was there on time and they made me wait an hour. I found a nice convertible in the showroom, perched in the driver’s seat and waited. They notice you when you do that!

  • avatar
    1169hp

    A friend of mine who’s a finance guy at a Lexus dealership outside of DC wrote this:

    “the Grand Am was GM’s best-selling automobile and served as the exclusive transport option of every stripper, Wal-Mart cashier, and three-hundred-pound, trailer-park-bound, human hippopotamus in the Midwest”

    While accurately reflecting the mode of transport chosen by the Wally World cashiers and Heffalumps, I take pause with reference to the ladies of interpretive dance. Everyone with a pocket full of ones’ know that the dancers choice lies in the 3 gen Eclipse Spyder…

    The bottom line is, if you walk into a Pontiac dealer, whip out your check book and ask for a sales manager, you’re going to drive out in a G8 at invoice minus the $1k rebate. I mean really, how hard is it? The writer’s brother is obviously doing it wrong. Negotiating on the internet or phone only adds unnecessary time and frustration to the process. Go to a dealer, pick a car that you want to drive home that day, write a check for your down payment while submitting an offer for the car at invoice minus rebate or incentive. The sales manger will take a shot or two to bump you. Hold your ground, then tell them you are leaving and will stop payment on the check. Bingo, they agree to the price and you go home with your car.

    The author is attempting to belittle the Pontiac salesmen for attempting to build value in their product and earn a profit. What’s wrong with trying to do that? Seeing as how every other Pontiac sold in the last 20 years has sold at invoice, you can’t blame them for trying to make a little money on a car that is getting rave reviews in the press. If you can’t get to a price you think is fair, then you don’t buy. It’s a simple as that.

    Now, how do I turn this knowledge in to a money making business? Blogging? Consulting? I’m open to ideas…

    gm

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    So, Camarokid:

    CamaroKid :

    In Sept 1982 I went to the local Pontiac dealership … A salesman came over and actually asked me to get out of the car. He … asked me to leave the dealership…

    Our failed education system was already at work back then, eh?

    Pretty much across the street was the Chevy dealer… Salesman comes over and makes some joke about how much “tail” I could get with the car.

    So you’ve had the car for almost three deades now, was it true?

    We Factory ordered my Z28… It arrived 9 weeks later. The salesman had it in the middle of the showroom with a big blue bow on the hood… 25+ years later I still have both the car and the bow.

    And the brocure! Nice story; and I get the part about the salesmen who do and don’t.

    A question: Have you had body rust-through like I had with my 83 Trans Am? By 1992, it had bubbling paint and holes throughout.

    How has your crossfire injection held up over the years?

    I liked it while I had it, but I’m glad I got rid of my Trans Am when I did; by 1994, something new was going wrong on a nearly-weekly basis. Those rear disc brake calipers were problematic and expensive. Stock shocks were impossible to get in the towns I lived in during the 90’s, and the dual exhaust pipes cost an arm and a leg even at Tuffy or Midas.

    The V8 had nice power, but all in all, my car was not even trustworthy as a backup car. In retrospect, I realized that one can’t have one of those old F-Bodies without having a daily driver first.

  • avatar
    akear

    In summation the G8 is a dead duck. It didn’t last very long.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    I’ve never been denied a test drive in 30 years of car buying. But then I haven’t been looking at cars since I bought my last one nearly 4 years ago. I don’t dress up to go to the dealer’s showroom, but I let them know immediately that I am BUYING a car in the next couple of weeks. My last buy was at a Chevy dealer, the first dealer I visited, and I plan to shop first at the same dealer next time. They gave me a good deal, and treated me well. :-)

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    While accurately reflecting the mode of transport chosen by the Wally World cashiers and Heffalumps, I take pause with reference to the ladies of interpretive dance. Everyone with a pocket full of ones’ know that the dancers choice lies in the 3 gen Eclipse Spyder…

    1169HP,

    Not all entertainers like spyders. My friends mostly dislike converts, but that’s just my friends. That, and some girls really do like turbos. But I’m glad you are an observant sociologist. Or at least, go to non-slummy clubs.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    In order to afford the Pontiac, the strippers need to hold day jobs as Wal-Mart cashiers? Did I get that right?

    A Ford dealer earlier this decade dissed the Honda, Nissan, Toyota competition while I was walking out with him to the lot to test drive the car. This is probably typical, I would think. Maybe he’s a stripper too – you never know.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    In order to afford the Pontiac, the strippers need to hold day jobs as Wal-Mart cashiers? Did I get that right?

    mtypex,

    Uhh, no. Strippers/Entertainers/Exotic Dancers come in many flavors. Some live up (down?) to whatever the worst stereotype you can imagine.

    There are some others that are certified (and employed) EMTs or college students at highly-rated and high-priced 4 year private colleges. Really. It’s an outlet or an income.

    Regardless, if they are any good at the job, and for the ones who are good, it is just a job, even in bad times, 3K for 3 or 4 days a week is not uncommon. In cash.

    The ones who drove Grand Ams were not the “A” team.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    It’s the GTO all over again. Don’t import enough of them to meet the meager demand, declare the pubic doesn’t want imports, kill it.

  • avatar
    tankd0g

    “Bridge2far :
    January 9th, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    So, why don’t we get our story straight here. There is huge criticism for massive discounting, red tag sales etc as destroying the value of a vehicle. Yet, you lament the absence of huge discounts on a G8?”

    This is the fruit those tactics bear, now a GM car without a deep discount is an obvious scam.


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