By on January 19, 2010

(courtesy:cruzautosales.net)

Grand news for owners of 1999 model year and later Pontiacs! Buick-GMC GM Brian Sweeney tells Automotive News [sub] that “one of our most important tasks is keeping [Pontiac owners] in the database and keeping them as service customers until such a time that the Buick portfolio has developed fully.” The plan: send owners of 1999 model-year and later Pontiacs coupons for free tire rotations and oil changes. GM sales boss Susan Docherty has spoken about the importance of these “free agents,” or GM buyers orphaned by the cutting of their brands. As well she should: it’s more cost effective for any business to keep existing buyers than win over new ones. But is it free oil change easy? If GM thinks it can make Buick believers out of the jilted Pontiac faithful, what does it say about the cynicism with which it approaches branding? Once again, GM’s need to build lost Pontiac volume for the Buick-GMC dealer net leads to the willful suspension of common sense.

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32 Comments on “Pontiac Owners: Would You Buy GM Again For A Free Oil Change?...”


  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    Can I get a coupon for the gasket job on my 99 Montana?  Oh wait, the engine blew up back in 05, at 60k.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    So in Exchange for my “free” oil change…I’ll get my mailbox stuffed full of BS junk mail to buy some new crap GM product, while at the dealer some punk Service Advisor will try to tell me I’m taking my life into my own hands if I don’t get the $299.95 Fuel Injector flush and the $189.95 tranny flush???
    Susan Docherty is as big a clown as all the other idiots that ruined GM, the only difference is she sits down to go #1.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Does this mean plans are to take Buick downmarket to appeal to Poncho buyers?    I ask rhetorically because I know GM always stands ready to take everything downmarket in the chase for sales.
    Actually I can see a modicum of sense in this.   Pontiac hasn’t really sold excitement for a long time (G8 excepted) so just why were people (non-fleet customers) opting for Poncho rather than Chevy – especially when the Chevies were sometimes nicer cars than their Pontiac clones?    If you could get these people in a Chevy, they’d have been in a Chevy years ago?  No?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Does this mean plans are to take Buick downmarket to appeal to Poncho buyers?
       
      Yes.  The plan is also to make Buick a Lexus competitor.
       
      I maintain that, if GM was going to play this game anyway, they’d be best to confine the damage to one brand (GMC or Buick) rather than both.  Either start making Aveos, Cruzes and Malibus with square wheel wells and leave Buick alone, or make Cruzes and Aveos with waterfall grilles and just rebadge the Silverado.  GM, of course, is going to make square-well Aveos (the Granite) as well as Cruze-sized Buicks (the Astra/Excelle).

      If you could get these people in a Chevy, they’d have been in a Chevy years ago?  No?
       
      Most people buy a GM car based on “demographic factors”, if you talk to a GM Marketing Nitwit.  Those demographic factors are, in real life, the dealer nearest and/or most willing to bargain.  GM tried to maintain a notional brand identity (eg, you couldn’t get two-door Cavaliers or convertible Malibus) but, functionally, there was no difference, and the money that was flushed down the toiled on Saturn, Saab and B-P-G should have gone into plugging the gaping holes in Chevrolet and Cadillac’s lineup.
       
      GM did, famously, kill Oldsmobile only to see those sales fail to return to Chevy or Buick.  This scared them into attempting similar culls today; they mistakenly believe that each GMC, Buick or Pontiac customer bought a GMC, Pontiac or Buick specifically because of the brand.  The reason for this misconception is that GM can’t bring itself to understand that the reason Olds buyers didn’t go to one of the other brands was that, quite frankly a combination of the other brands offering nothing worthwhile (Olds, at the time, has GM’s best product for the money), and Olds buyers were on their last cars anyway.
       
      If you wanted a car as nice as the last Aurora or Intrigue, you’d have to pay a lot of money for a Cadillac of dubious quality, step down to the truly awful, rental-grade Buicks and Chevrolets of the time, or you could just go and buy an Accord, Camry, Altima or Sonata.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    desperation coupled with a company bereft of ideas… or a good product

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    If GM are really taking branding serious this time, then Susan “I’m a big frigging idiot” Docherty should let Pontiac customers go. Pontiac buyers (allegedly) have a sporty bent to their car buying decisions. “New” GM doesn’t really have an accessible brand for them to go to. Yes, Cadillac is trying to be the American BMW, but that should be out of a Pontiac buyer’s price range. Maybe Saab owners could move to Buick and Saturn owners could move to Chevrolet, but Pontiac is stuck in the middle.
     
    I have a feeling we’re seeing the next phase of GM’s deathwatch. Its sequel.

  • avatar
    UnclePete

    Free oil changes for my Monaro, er, I mean GTO, with the hopes they sell me a Buick someday? Not likely. I get worried every time my car has to go near the dealer (which has only been for state inspections, the car has been completely trouble-free.) The only GM cars I could be persuaded into looking at would be Holden-sourced ones, which I still think seems unlikely.

    The last Buick I liked was the ’53 Roadmaster that my parents obtained for free from my grandparents in the early 60s. It was a big hulking black monster that held a charm to me, even though I was all of eight years old!

  • avatar
    nevets248

    not in this lifetime, “Hummer” Docherty. I serioulsy wonder how some of these Buick-Pontiac-GMC franchises are going to laast with only two nameplates to sell.

  • avatar
    Orian

    Sure, a free oil change here and there will get me in. Mailers? Good fire starter for my wood burner. Win-win for me.
    Not that I’d buy a Buick, or any other GM product in all likely hood again (My Grand Am has been pretty good to me compared to the last Hyundai/Kia products we’ve had), but the local Pontiac/Buick/GMC/Caddy dealer also has a Ford side and they were easy to deal with when buying the G.A., so I don’t mind potentially throwing them some service business.

  • avatar
    segfault

    GM just repurchased my lemon Pontiac G6.  Wonder if they’ll give me a coupon for a free oil change on the Altima I bought to replace it?

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I receive $10 oil change coupons from a local Toyota dealer. Their service is so poor and up-selling so strident I toss them. The last time they changed the oil they announced I needed their $225 brake service. I cleaned the grease off the steering wheel and left. Then I discovered they had not replaced the dipstick. I had to fight with them for a new one.

  • avatar
    RayH

    An extra $2000 on top of current owner loyalty incentives (normally around $1000 but sometimes more) toward another GM product would maybe get my attention.  Then again, I haven’t owned a Pontiac (or GM) since 1997 Grand Pee.

      Pontiac owners more often than not became Pontiac owners because of huge discounts.  I like the looks and hear good things about the GTO and G8, but wouldn’t have considered one for less than 8,000 off.

  • avatar

    I have a G8.  If GM decides to release that car again or another Holden under Chevrolet I will most certainly buy it. 

    But it would be nice if GM gave Pontiac owners a 1,000 rebate towards a new GM vehicle of any brand.  Which is what I think they should be doing.

  • avatar
    GrandCharles

    Free oil change without gammick (I can dream can I?)…as long as it don’t take them an hour like the only time i went there…i usually go to Penzoil…15 minutes zip-zap i’m outta there (I don’t have any facility here to do it myself)…anyway if it’s free i’ll take it and be on the look-out for anything fishy, won’t make me buy a Buick…until they bring that G3 Buick… you know they will…

  • avatar
    GrandCharles

    I might add that i don’t think that my next new car is gonna be a GM, see the depreciation on my actual Pontiac is gonna be bad as was the depreciation on the Saturn i had just before(the 2 only car i bought new). Seem like wathever i buy they kill. You must beware my next purchase! Anyway, not being a gambler i will take my business somewhere safer…just in case they kill everybrand except chevy and caddy or gets killed altogether…

  • avatar
    50merc

    Buick has an older demographic, so it plans to introduce a Pontiac-ized version of the LaCrosse. It will have chrome “silver streaks” on the hood and trunk, and a hood ornament with an illuminated plastic head of Chief Buick. Deep-dish rims will give it a Wide Track look, and bright strips on the window frames will boost perceived value. Marketing predicts selling 600,000 units a year.

  • avatar
    radimus

    I don’t go for free oil changes or free state inspections from any dealer.  They only offer them so they can go fishing around your car for other stuff they can try to talk you into fixing, whether actually broken or not.  I’d rather pay my indy mechanic and not have to deflect sales pitches and FUD as well as have the peace of mind that no one jacked around with my car.
     
    The other thing that annoys me is dealers who will perform a free “courtesy inspection” of your car when you take it in for a specific job.  Like the time I took a Windstar I had to the local Ford dealer for a transaxle flush.  I get a call where they try to tell me that my power steering fluid and brake fluid needs flushed as well.  Then I get the van back and when I’m trying to park it I find that it won’t go into the right gear if I move the shifter too quickly.  I get it parked and pop the hood so I can check where the shifter cable attachs to the transaxle.  In process I find that the hose clamp that holds the air duct to the throttle body was never tightened, and I know it was tight when I dropped off the van because I was the last person for tighten it.  If you want to get to the air filter in a 99 Windstar, which I figure they did when they performed their “courtesy inspection”, you have to remove this air duct.  It turns out the shifting problem was caused by a loose nut that holds the shifter linkage to the transaxle.  To get at the shifter linkage, you have to remove the same air duct.  It all seemed just a tad too fishy to me considering that the van shifted just fine before it went in for the trans flush.

  • avatar

    If you look at the anger directed towards GM at Saturnfans.com I say there is very little chance of those buyers coming back to GM. The same is probably true of Pontaic. Nobody likes to have their relatively new cars suddenly belonging to an orphaned nameplate. This is why I believe by 2015 GM will have a 15% marketshare. If a company reduces  its product line they are going to lose customers, and in GM’s case it may be close to 400,000.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      But Saturn had an actual following, despite their recent four-year foray into the mainstream (unsuccessful).
       
      Pontiac… eh. Does it really have a following anymore?
       
      We got bupkiss when they phased out Oldsmobile. Sure, the 60,000 mi warranty was nice (although the Aurora still isn’t at 60,000, the five-year timeframe was better than the standard three). Especially considering the car has had nearly $7,000 in parts replaced under that warranty. But other than the occasional sales pitch from Buick and Cadillac, we may as well not exist to GM. Doubly sad considering the $40,000 vehicle would bring around $5,000 today if we sold (thus, you can see why it’ll probably never be sold). Don’t get me wrong, the car was bought because of what it was, not because of any sort of investment, and it is still loved and taken care of, but if you guys think Pontiac owners will get any more love from GM than this (at best) cursory glance, think again.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    It is a good idea!
    I am not going to flame this, because I actually own a couple of GM orphans.
    My cars have always been serviced at the Saturn dealer. In the case of one vehicle – nine years. Now that dealer is closed.

    I asked Saturn at the time of their impending doom, where they recommended I get our vehicles serviced, since we always depended upon them for everything. Sadly, they couldn’t tell us because GM dealerships across this metro area are in flux. The dealerships I knew were being offed, or their bands were pulled. It is an absolute mess!

    If I was contacted by GM with coupons to steer me towards one of the city’s GM dealers who will take up servicing my Saturns – you BET I would take them up!

    And – if the service I receive from that dealer is as good as I used to get – you BET I would buy one of their cars! I would not have a problem switching to Buick or Cadillac when the time comes.

    So, instead of flaming this idea, why not listen to those of us in that situation? I bet their are thousands of potential GM buyers who feel similarly!

    My first question regarding this is, “What took you morons so long to recognize this?”

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      You guys don’t get it.
      This nine year old Saturn is still great because of the service is got over it’s lifetime. It still looks great because of it’s never-rust exterior. It gets incredible gas mileage.

      Would you be so incredulous if I was discussing a Honda? Or a Toyota? Or a Mercedes? Would you question the loyalty of a Jeep owner? The fact that you don’t understand, doesn’t mean your opinion is right. You don’t get it. Period. This little Saturn is proof the GM didn’t always do wrong. Look around. There are thousands of these cars still on the road. Driven by dedicated Saturn owners who love them. We got our cars serviced at our favorite dealerships, and now these dealerships are closed.

      GM spent billions to build up this customer loyalty. Now they are letting it wilt on the vine. Not having had service from another dealer since 1996 and suddenly finding our dealership and our friends gone – opens up this base of loyalty.

      The fact that you don’t get it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. You just don’t get it.

  • avatar
    ctowne32

    How many people who bought a pontiac 10 YEARS ago still own the thing? Or 5? GM cars are disposable. (At least all of the ones i’ve ever owned) Good luck chasing those folks out of the dealership with the Toyota they bought during cash for clunkers.:P

  • avatar
    bleach

    9 year old Saturn always serviced at the dealer?   And you want to find another dealer to service it? 

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Thousands of potential GM customers ? Perhaps.

    But the poll of owners on Saturnfans was nearly 70% against buying anything from GM. I doubt the Pontiac ” free agents” will allow themselves to be absorbed into the borg of GM’s “core” brands.

    It didn’t happen with Olds. Didn’t happen with Plymouth. GM’s sales dropped in direct proportion to the # of customers they abandoned when they closed Olds.So did Chrysler’s when it dropped Plymouth.

    Btw: If you have AAA, any of the garages signatory to AAA would be a good choice to have Saturn service done.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Sure…if that Pontiac happens to be a Toyota in disguise (contemplating a used Vibe…Toyota at GM prices…)…

  • avatar
    morbo

    Much like whynotaztec,  can I get
    1.  a new set of fuel injectors
    2. new body seal
    3.  new transmission cable
    4.  new heater blower
    for my then new ’03 Bonneville?
     
    Oh right, I took $8K hit trading it in 6 months later for a  used Mitsubishi Diamante.  Which is still on road 6 years later with no non-maintainence repairs.
     
    Never again GM, never again!

  • avatar
    ajla

    Looks like two free oil changes for me.
     
    As far as staying with GM in the future goes, I like the CTS and Zeta platform too much to stay mad at them forever.

    Last time I bought a car, I looked primarily at non-GM vehicles, but ended up with one anyway. I was born a snake-handler and I’ll die a snake-handler.

  • avatar
    cthill

    Is there any brand loyalty in a car purchasing?  For me the answer is a definite no.
    The purchases are generally so far apart that your situation has changed when it is time to repurchase (eg more money as you get older, more/fewer kids as you age etc.).  Also the amounts involved make doing proper research essential and worthwhile.
    Would anyone here buy brand X just because there last car was brand X.


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