Just when you think you’ve seen it all… you haven’t, apparently.
This letter came to me yesterday, in what appeared to be a hand-addressed envelope postmarked Santa Ana, CA. I assumed it was some sort of medical bill, but it turned out to be a fairly intricate sales pitch for a Dodge dealer located in Marion, Ohio, about thirty-five miles from me. As you can see, the letter purports to be a printed-out email from a sales manager who is desperate to get his hands on my 2009 Town Car. You know, this one:
I’m not sure why they need it so desperately. Perhaps they are playing a practical joke on someone who owns a white Town Car, or perhaps they are starting up a “Scared Transverse” program to convince people not to drive RWD cars. Either way, they’re offering 110% of Kelly Blue Book!
Those of you who have worked in a dealership know how this stuff happens. It’s a dead Tuesday and some guy pulls up in a rental, demanding to see “the decision maker” at the store. Your sales manager or GM is a brilliant closer but he doesn’t have any experience with being closed himself. So, before you know it, your dealership has paid someone $25,000 to “generate leads” for you that are, shall we say, not exactly up to Alec Baldwin’s standards.
The people who come in on these letters are looking to make impossible deals; they’re worse than regular “ups” by a factor of ten. At the end of the program, the company that sold it to your store points to the increased traffic, tactfully failing to mention that sales were about what they’d been before the start of the program. Everybody gets angry, someone gets fired, and the whole shop catches a case of corporate amnesia about the thing until the next super-salesman in a rental car knocks on the GM’s door.
What’s interesting about this particular piece of direct mail is the effort put into it. How did the Post-It get written? Was it an autopen device, some robot that writes letters and Post-Its and sticks them together and mails the whole thing out? Or is it a sweatshop somewhere in downtown Los Angeles? Could it be Chinese workers across the Pacific, faithfully copying the cursive shapes from a computer screen, assembling the letters, then filling a Maersk container with their earnest weight? The possibilities are nearly endless, but most of them are not cheering.
But I don’t have time to worry about the fate of the worker bee, whether American or Chinese; I have to high-tail it to the junkyard before they feed my 110%-of-Blue-Book Townie to Murilee’s Crusher!