By on September 16, 2016

ranger

Ask any car salesman: lying to the customer is a fine art. And when it came to the practice of that art, Bob was Picasso, he was Michelangelo, he was Jeff Koons, all wrapped up in a single grandfatherly persona. There was none better. He could scale heights of deception hitherto unknown at our dignified little Ford dealership. And it was through his efforts that we came, for the first time in perhaps decades, to the attention of the Ohio Attorney General.

I walked into the store one fall afternoon in 1995 to find a six-foot-three, silver-haired, square-jawed fellow in a good Hart-Schaffner-Marx suit standing at attention near the front door. “Bob,” he stated, giving my hand a shake that was impeccably calculated to intimidate in both duration and durometer of squeeze.

“Breakfast,” I replied, and wandered back to my desk to figure out how to get some. Over milk and donuts from the local grocery store, my main man Rodney gave me the lowdown on Bob. He’d been a service advisor for a rural Ford dealer since the ’60s. The dealership had closed and Bob had been kind of set adrift as a consequence. He’d decided to come to the city and try his luck in what we called “the front of the house.”

He was movie-star handsome, but he also walked with a limp that I heard him describe to various customers at various times as the product of a motorcycle accident, a hunting accident, the Vietnam War, and the Kent State student protest. He had a high, clear, country voice that sounded almost impossibly trustworthy. He looked you in the eye at all times. He told outrageous stories about hillbilly drag racing, bare-knuckle brawling, killing five-hundred pound feral hogs with a Bowie knife.

At first, Rodney and I snickered at his cornpone earnestness, his habit of putting one hand on his chest and casting his eyes to the sky whenever he said something that he thought was particularly worthy of your attention, his utter lack of awareness regarding established dealership sales procedures. We rebuffed his attempts at friendship with a combination of sullenness on my side and streetwise too-cool-for-school disdain on Rodney’s. Neither of us gave him more than a month in the business, max.

He’d started midway through September and he hadn’t put up a single sale on our board before the beginning of October. But then a funny thing started to happen. Bob started selling cars. He was second from the top in October, behind the 67-year-old guy who had a back catalogue of customers that spanned four decades. Rodney and I wrote it off as a fluke. When he was on top of the board in November, we stopped laughing. And when he held the leadership spot for the four months that followed, our mouths might as well have been sewn shut.

Bob could sell. And he could “hold gross,” often selling cars for sticker or above. He closed an absurd percentage of “ups”. I was in my 20s at the time and as of yet too arrogant and/or disinterested to think that I could learn anything from the man. But that didn’t stop me from watching a few of his transactions. What I discovered was disturbingly simple. Bob was a liar.

I don’t mean that Bob was a liar in the conventional car-salesman sense, where you obscure the numbers a bit and shade the trade and that sort of stuff. I mean he was a flat-out, bald-faced liar. He lied about the cars. It was a novel and fascinating tactic from my perspective. He could lie about anything.

“The Taurus might seem a little slow,” he’d tell an elderly customer, “but they have a secret coating that wears off on the cylinders and when it does, it don’t pass emissions anymore. But it does … ” and here he would wink, “get a lot faster.”

“If you decide you really want that back row in the Aerostar,” he said, pointing at the five-seat XLT that we couldn’t sell at any price to anybody, “just come on back and ask for Bob. I’ll sell it to you for two hundred bucks. Might even be free. We have some lying around. But they’re in the warehouse. Can’t get to ’em before the first of the month.”

“This little car is built right here in Ohio, by good people like you and me,” he smiled, pointing at a ’96 Aspire.

“All of our cars,” he reassured a worried-looking mother, “are available with front-wheel-drive.” I came to have a grudging admiration for his completely flexible approach to reality. But his passenger-car perversions of reality were piker stuff compared to the way he sold light trucks. If he needed to sell a straight-six out of inventory, he told the customer that the 5.0 liter blew up. If he needed to sell the 5.0 liter, he said that the straight six needed a $1,500 valve adjustment every 10,000 miles. He did “dealership add-ons” of locking differentials, new axle ratios, and pretty much anything else that the customer couldn’t easily verify — and he added them to the sticker at full retail.

Belatedly, I came to realize that Bob was a good liar because he’d had plenty of practice. Service advisors are, by and large, congenital distorters of the truth, serving as a sort of hugely flawed filter between customers who don’t know what’s wrong with the cars and mechanics who can’t be bothered to explain what they actually fixed. After 30 years or so of telling people they needed transmission flushes and new air filters and Christ knows what else, whatever sense of honesty Bob possessed had long since been replaced by an animal-like instinct for understanding what the customer would accept.

Bob’s customers started to come back. For their free Aerostar seats, for their limited-slip differentials, for their cars that didn’t get magically faster. This was a new experience for our dealership principal. He’d always hired relatively staid and honest people to work the sales floor. Rodney and I were examples of that: for the most part, we told the customer the truth no matter what that did to our chances of making the deal. But he’d been fooled by Bob’s honest manner and his country appearance. The first few times a customer came back to the dealer claiming that they were owed something, or that they’d been deceived, the dealer believed Bob’s disavowals. After half a year, that was no longer the case. Bob had to go. It was a new experience for all of us; we’d never seen anybody fired by a sales department for anything other than the cardinal sin of not selling enough cars.

Bob took a job as a service advisor for the megadealer across town. We all agreed it was a good fit. About 90 days after he stopped darkening our door and two-handed-handshaking our customers, we got a letter from the Ohio Attorney General. Apparently Bob had sold a four-cylinder, automatic-transmission Ranger on base-equipment tires to a fellow who wanted to tow a massive powerboat. According to the complaint the customer had filed, he had nearly been killed about a dozen times getting to the boat ramp. But when he started backing the boat down the ramp, it just kept pulling the Ranger backwards. He floored the pedal, expecting the all-wheel-drive to kick in.

This was not an all-wheel-drive Ranger. There really wasn’t any such thing as an all-wheel-drive Ranger. But Bob had told him that it had the same system as the AWD V8 Explorer, which had no 4WD knob. So you can imagine the customer’s surprise when the back wheels started slipping on the wet ramp.

The boat dragged the Ranger into five feet of water, where it sputtered and died. After both Ranger and boat were towed out by actual 4WD trucks, the buyer decided to get the State of Ohio involved.

I don’t know how they settled the complaint; I left the dealership before the process concluded. Nor do I know what happened to Bob. He’d be in his 80s now. I’d like to think that he’s sitting in a retirement home now, telling the tallest of tales to an admiring audience. Or maybe he’s standing in front of Saint Peter as we speak, trying to close that one last sale before it’s too late.

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71 Comments on “Tales From The Dealership: Who’s The U-Boat Commander?...”


  • avatar
    Point Given

    “Service advisors are, by and large, congenital distorters of the truth, serving as a sort of hugely flawed filter between customers who don’t know what’s wrong with the cars and mechanics who can’t be bothered to explain what they actually fixed. ”

    Very true. Worse than most salespeople to be honest.

    • 0 avatar
      Erikstrawn

      As a technician, I once asked my writer, “How do you sleep at night?”

      “On a full stomach.” was his reply.

    • 0 avatar
      Alexdi

      They sound honest?

      I’ve overheard a lot of these exchanges at Nissan dealerships. The issue seems less that the work is fraudulent than that it’s all expensive. My dealership wants $60 to replace the cabin air filter. $10 part, 3 minute installation. They want $200 for a battery. $100 part, 10 minute installation.

      On the upside, if the problem is clear-cut, they do usually manage to fix it. Intermittent or unusual problems, not so much. I can’t speak to whether independent shops would do any better.

      The conversations I’ve overhead on the sales side are something else entirely. The only ones who don’t feel like sharks are inexperienced or work for luxury brands.

    • 0 avatar
      sgtyukon

      I stopped using my local Nissan dealer’s service department when they charged me $30 more for a tire pressure monitoring sensor through the service department than they would have charged me for the same part in the parts department located in the next room. Installation was extra, BTW. I understand some degree of parts mark up for an independent shop, that buys them from another business. I don’t understand it at a dealer where they walk into the next room.

      Same dealer charges an hour of shop time to program an ignition key, in addition (of course) to the price of the key. How long does that take? Maybe 5 minutes?

      My other favorite service nightmare was at a Jiffy Lube where the guy told me I should change the fluid in the rear differential in my 86 Taurus wagon. I told him he could change it if he could find it.

      • 0 avatar
        dr_outback

        I’ve heard about charging more for parts sold through the service department compared to over the parts counter. I don’t really agree with that unless the warranty is lengthened if a part is bought through the service department.

        Key programming is usually sold at an hour of the techs time and usually takes .5-.75.

        One thing to keep in mind is that many techs are paid based on flat rate hours sold and not an hourly or salary. So that hour includes inspecting the car for any major safety issues. Due to liability reasons both techs and dealerships/garages have been successfully sued after an unsafe vehicle left the shop and the driver was not advised that the vehicle was unsafe to drive.

        Time is not free. So the tech’s time has to be covered as well as overhead. The costs add up quickly to hire and retain good employees.

        • 0 avatar
          Erikstrawn

          Service departments are 50% profit. I know because as a stock holder I get financial reports. As a technician I was paid $13/flag hour (starting technician with a 2 year degree) while the dealership charged $75/flag hour. Our managers were fighting for every penny to send up to corporate because if they didn’t bonus regularly they lost their job. Then the bonus targets were raised every time they hit them.

          Everybody was getting boned except upper management, who regularly demand seven figure bonuses.

          • 0 avatar
            dr_outback

            The overhead costs and profitability expectations have increased in recent years. Customers expect (demand) free car washes, free loaner cars (with free fuel), free snacks (free breakfast in some cases), free valet service with no mileage radius restriction, free repairs outside of warranty, to be greeted immediately upon entering an enclosed service drive with a $20k high speed door, and service costs competitive with independent mechanics and the discount chains that hire inexperienced mechanics.

            Independent shops are actually more profitable because their overhead is less and they charge for everything they do, but the customer thinks they are getting charged less because it isn’t the dealer.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        I have a better Jiffy Lube one than that. I used to have an 82 diesel Rabbit with a manual transmission.

        Got the oil changed. Clutch slipped like hell from the moment I left the ship, just before they closed on a Saturday morning.

        Fortunately, JL knew and admitted that they had screwed up, and they made it right. Better than right. They put a new clutch and flywheel in car that about 100K miles on it.

        The reason being that the “highly-trained” technician had started to put the oil back into the motor via the flywheel/clutch inspection hole at the top of the bell housing.

        For the rest of the weekend, I couldn’t get the car above 35 mph in top gear, with a zero to 35 time of something like thirty or forty seconds.

        It’s funny now, looking back on it, but at the time, at least until I was sure that JL would cover it, I was PO’d.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I met a bunch of “Bob’s” in Southern California dealerships. My neck would get sore from shaking my head at some of their tales.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…an animal-like instinct for understanding what the customer would accept”

    Given the internet’s contribution to the buying process now vs 1996, you’d hope the average customer today would accept less BS than ever.

    • 0 avatar
      FerrariLaFerrariFace

      You’d hope. Unfortunately the majority of car-buyers are not avid readers of The Flying Baruth Brothers.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      That might be what you think, but you must not deal with the public.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Having been on both sides of the sales desk, there’s liars on both sides. When I was a saleshog, I would get equally fantastic tales from my “customers” particularly about their sources of income. When I came on board an older member of the sales crew had a saying about “preachers, police and pimps, the best liars of all”, and was proved right a number of times during my tenure.

      That does not justify the actions of a pathological liar like Bob (or several of the other psychopaths I worked with), but customers lie as much as a saleshogs do. I eventually came to see it as a hazard of the job.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        I once was friends with a woman who worked in a company famous for making loans that were somewhat shakier than bank loans, but less shaky than payday or title loans.

        She said that in her business, they had a saying that any profession or trade that began with a P was trouble: police, preacher, politician, professor, printer, programmer, project manager, you name it. All of them problems, according to her.

        When I needed one of those loans post-divorce, to help finance some more grad school, I was careful to list my occupation as an IT consultant, rather than a programmer or project manager.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    A tale well told! Who cares if it’s true. It fits all of our preconceptions. Nice read, JB.

  • avatar
    pb35

    “He was movie-star handsome, but he also walked with a limp that I heard him describe to various customers at various times as the product of a motorcycle accident, a hunting accident, the Vietnam War, and the Kent State student protest. He had a high, clear, country voice that sounded almost impossibly trustworthy. He looked you in the eye at all times. He told outrageous stories about hillbilly drag racing, bare-knuckle brawling, killing five-hundred pound feral hogs with a Bowie knife.”

    To Bill Brasky!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Honestly, service should never be slaved to sales; it should never be a revenue-generating enterprise, and what quotas it should have should be limited to shrinkage and labour utilization.

    Anything else gets you Bob.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Six-foot-three, silver-haired, square-jawed fellow in a good Hart-Schaffner-Marx suit standing at attention near the front door.

    I didn’t realize that Jack had worked with Bob Lutz.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    maybe Bob was tracked down by one of his more irate buyers.

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    I can picture him at the bar, secure in his size and silver tongue, working an earnest deal towards the bartender’s twenty-year old daughter – and not realizing the bartender’s brother wears his Mongols MC cut in the room out back.

    Great read, Jack.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Great story.
    Excuse me. I have a trig mid term to study for.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    Surely at some point, the customer has to take some responsibility.

    If I’m towing 5,000lb or 10,000lb then I need to have at least some technical knowledge in that my tow vehicle has to have sufficient weight and power and that the transmission will hold up to the stress.

    I only tow occasionally and its usually just a car on a trailer but even I do sums in my head and I work out “if I’m going to need a bigger boat” (like Roy Scheider).

    Would I take the word of a flunky who has no care, no responsibility on a task that may kill me or those around me? no.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      You sound like Ruggles. LOL

      You would think that a buyer would be more aware but ask a pickup owner what his tow ratings are or ask them the max payload rating for their truck.

      I’m willing to bet that the majority of times you’ll get a blank stare and then a wrong number.

      I’m also willing to bet that the majority of people don’t even know about that little tag on the door jamb or B – pillar.

    • 0 avatar
      David "Piston Slap Yo Mama" Sanborn

      Our ’04 Mazda B2300 (a Ranger for sushi eaters) with 5-speed is rated at 1640lbs tow capacity with a Reese heavy duty hitch bolted to the frame.

      Neither sanity nor common sense dissuaded us from towing my 2000lb TR6 across the country on a 2000lb dual axle trailer. It *did* have electric brakes, the trick was making sure we never, ever came to a stop on a steep hill. I’m pretty sure it would have been game-over at that point, one can only slip a clutch so much before the magic smoke in it floats heavenward.

      I acknowledge that sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes the bar … eats you.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    That picture brings back memories from my distant youth. My Grandfather had an enormous wooden Chris Craft cabin cruiser – which my uncle would tow to and from the boatyard every year with his little Series Land Rover 88. Low range, about 10mph for the several miles there and back. But they never attempted to launch or retrieve the boat – that was done by the sling crane at the boatyard.

    I’ve dealt with a few clueless sales guys, but never a liar, at least for cars. In my previous job though, I got to clean up plenty of messes caused by the sales guys lying to close the deal. No fun at all to be the guy who shows up to do the install when the software just doesn’t do what the sales guy said it does, or not in the way he said it does.

  • avatar

    that was damn fun!

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    Couldn’t be any worse than my mom and stepfather who, on a handful of occurences, towed their 20 foot Bayliner open bow ski boat with my grandpa’s pristine ’85 Crown Victoria (which, she inherited upon his death… RIP Grandpa Jim).

    As for the pretty Panther, I remember it started overheating after making a few successful tow trips. Finally the trans gave.

    How to kill a Panther 101.

    Now, queue the onslaught of Panther Lovers everywhere to tell me how they could pull a house with their Town Car.

    As for Bob, Jesus. People and their lows never cease to amaze me. Ironically enough, I bet he retired at least mildly successful (if he is still around).

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Bob reminds me of the father of one of my high school buddies. He was a car salesman at the local Chevrolet/Buick/Oldsmobile dealer back in the 1990s. He loved to say things to customers like: “The quality remains after the price is forgotten.”

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “The quality remains after the price is forgotten.” That’s a gem.

        With my lemon Honda, I remembered the price every miserable day I owned it.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          …and you’ve been reminding us about it for quite a while now. It’s time to let it go. You don’t have to buy another Honda again, but you do need to move on.

          • 0 avatar
            06V66speed

            Lemons happen.

            I’ve seen VW Jettas that couldn’t be killed, Hondas that are notoriously crappy, and everything in between.

            A friend of mine had a 4Runner with less than 30k miles that needed its engine replaced. Catastrophic failure. Dead cylinder.

            It happens to the best of ’em.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            to be fair, nobody says that to someone who says they’ll never buy another GM product because their dad had a lemon in 1975.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            JimZ, agreed.

            People b!tch about cars that haven’t been built in 40 years and they didn’t own as if the company that built them flattened all of their pet kittens with a steamroller.

            Every car company builds lemons. Fact of life.

        • 0 avatar
          Rick T.

          Which was probably true of the Rolls Royces to which it refers. Your Honda and my 2003 MB E500 not so much…

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            ” Every car company builds lemons. Fact of life.” .

            Wait, what ? oh , no that’s simply not true ~

            Every single air cooled Volkswagen or GM vehicle I’ve ever owned was wonderful .

            In fact , I ~ oh wait .

            _nevermind_ .

            -Nate

    • 0 avatar

      I had a coworker who towed a pearson ensign all over the country with a crown vic.
      http://i155.photobucket.com/albums/s298/DannyboyUpstate/1978%20Pearson%20Ensign/6B78E97C-7E5C-4881-A5E7-74ABBB271C05-5373-00000242AE562B2A.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      Certainly through the 80’s Crown Vic’s were rated to tow 5,000 lbs if it had the trailer package from the factory. My Dad and Grandfather had a bunch of LTD’s through the 80’s and towed trailers with them. The chassis handled it fine, but the emission choked 351’s that had 140hp just didn’t have enough power. “modifications” were usually made as soon as the warranty expired to give more power.

      From memory that trailer package included dual exhaust (on 351’s), power steering cooler, transmission cooler, bigger radiator, heavy duty U joints on the drive shaft, towing axle ratio, additional wiring harness, high output alternator, heavy duty battery, and heavy duty relays. I think the package was a $200 option, it gave a lot of “good stuff” for not much money.

      Note to Panther lovers: I speak of 351’s because these were Canadian cars, and the 351 was an option up to the 92 refresh. Not available on USA cars I believe.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The MY88 and later 5.0 and 5.0 H.0. were 150 bhp and about 225 bhp respectively. My guess the 351 was still used either for greater torque which Canadian customers wanted or perhaps because 5.0 production was dedicated to the US market.

        • 0 avatar
          Jagboi

          The 5.0 was the standard engine, always in low output form (150 hp – EFI, 132 hp VV), the 5.8 was optional, stayed on the Variable Venturi carb to the end. The 5.0 got EFI after 1985. Town Car 5.0’s got TBI from 1983-4, then multipoint like the Crown Vic.
          The high output 5.0 (between 215-225 hp depending on year) went to the Mustang and Mark VII.

        • 0 avatar
          Ostrich67

          I worked at a Ford dealer in the ’80s. In the US the 351 only came in the Police package Crown Vic back then, it wasn’t available to the general public. Still had the horrible variable venturi carb.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    While reading this story, did anyone else conjure in their heads Bill Clinton with a cowboy hat on?

  • avatar
    mike1dog

    The best one I remember is a salesman, on his last day at the dealership, told a customer that he could have all the metric bolts replaced with standard bolts on a truck he bought. You can imagine the confusion the customer caused when he came in to get this job done.

  • avatar
    DirtRoads

    Wait a minute Jack, did you take a picture of your boat and post it here just so it can be a tax writeoff? Damn. I shoulda thought of that. Oh wait, I don’t write on the internet for a living. Dammit again.

    I knew a guy just like that, only he was in real estate and I don’t think a complete liar. He would sweep his hand across the scene, then up, and hold it, staring, while saying, “Visualize!” And he’d hold his hand there until you looked, too, and visualized with him.

  • avatar

    Best boat towing I ever saw was in Maine. Driving up Rt1 North of Ellsworth I crested a hill and coming up the other side was a mid 90’s tacoma with a 35′ lobster boat on a hydraulic trailer behind him. He was doing about 10 miles an hour in what I must assume was low range.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I watched a guy attempt to pull a 28′ center console with dual 250 outboards out of a boat ramp in Miami with a late 80s Toyota… SUPRA!

      As someone who launches weekly I could write a book on stupid boat ramp related activities. I’ve seen a few trucks up to their windshields in the drink due to traction challenging low tide versus weight events.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Great story ! .

    More please .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Anyone have the time to see if the Ohio AG did any such thing in 95 or 96? No? Enjoy the 4WD. I love this stuff. More please.

  • avatar
    Dinkster72

    This guy doesn’t surprise me at all. Just 2 months ago, while helping my mother shop for a new car, had a salesman at a Dodge dealer tell me that “There are only 4 manufacturers of cars that don’t shut their AWD off after 20mph. Dodge, Subaru, Audi and Mercedes.”. Hahaha! After that insult to my intelligence, we almost ran off that lot.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I wonder if the Audi salesman that told me that only VW’s diesels were under suspicion and none of the 3 liter tdi engines had a problem is still in the business?

  • avatar
    mic

    Excellent piece Jack! You are on a roll man!

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Guy should have had electric brakes on his trailer & he would have been just fine.

    I hope the guy in that picture was only using that Ranger to move the boat around in his driveway and didn’t get on public roadway with that rig. Scary!

  • avatar
    dr_outback

    “Service advisors are, by and large, congenital distorters of the truth, serving as a sort of hugely flawed filter between customers who don’t know what’s wrong with the cars and mechanics who can’t be bothered to explain what they actually fixed.”

    Hey! I’m a Service Advisor. You take that back! Haha!

    There are times when I school the techs and they school me. Because I see or hear about nearly every car that passes through the shop I learn about so many different repairs and problems.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    The sad part about Bob is he was probably suffering from some type of mental illness. People whose brains are functioning properly don’t act that way.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Greed is not a mental illness. Lying to close a sale is not a mental disorder, it is telling somebody a deliberate falsehood for material gain (getting paid).

      Our society seems to be drifting toward medicalizing any and every personality defect and deficiency. Unfortunately this is not a medical problem: sometimes people are just mean, evil, greedy, and/or stupid (either full time or occasionally). Allowing it to be excused as a mental illness gives the person a free pass; we need to call bad behavior what it is or we will get more of it.

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        Agree in calling a spade a spade but unless the stories were embellished by quite a bit telling someone a 2WD Ranger has AWD is beyond normal lying. Anyone who is thinking straight would never tell someone something as far fetched as that. IMHO he wasn’t playing with a full deck.

        • 0 avatar
          jim brewer

          A psychopath. Basically, someone without a conscience. They do develop a finely honed sense of what the other wants to hear. They may intellectually see that other people are bothered by this, but they don’t know why.

          Recent research shows abnormalities in the brain structure of such people.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Sociopath versus psychopath:

            “Psychopaths, on the other hand, are unable to form emotional attachments or feel real empathy with others, although they often have disarming or even charming personalities. Psychopaths are very manipulative and can easily gain people’s trust. They learn to mimic emotions, despite their inability to actually feel them, and will appear normal to unsuspecting people. Psychopaths are often well educated and hold steady jobs. Some are so good at manipulation and mimicry that they have families and other long-term relationships without those around them ever suspecting their true nature.”

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Jack, we need to grab a beer and swap stories. I spent a year in the business right out of college in the late 90s and it was the best education I ever had.

    Our top salesman, “Rick”, was a pathological liar who hailed from the East coast (presumably because people caught on to his scams and he retreated to the Midwest) and had the uncanny ability to sell anything to anyone. It was hypnotic to watch. In fact, I wouldn’t be half surprised if it turned out to by hypnosis that he used.

    You want a silver Jetta GLS automatic for your 18 year old daughter? No problem, you’re leaving here with that red, manual TDI demo that’s been on the lot for eight months. Oh, and yes, believe it or not, Volkswagen charges extra for the manuals.

    Our “Rick” was a 20something version of your “Bob” who ended up being run out of town and then running for city council somewhere, being kicked out of the race after it was discovered that he fabricated his entire resume.

    …if only his skills had been used for good.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Time for Jack to write a movie script about Bob, but change his name to protect the guilty. It is hard to believe anyone would be fooled by someone like Bob but then PT Barnum said there is a sucker born every minute. “The wheels and the steering wheel are optional equipment, the MSRP is for a base model and it will cost you extra for an engine and transmission as well.”

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Service writers are the biggest criminals on the lot. The tech will find the problem and the writer will sell the other parts related *first’*, staring with the most expensive, then call the victim back, claim they fixed that part and now found another part keeping it from running right or starting. The 3rd or 4th part actually fixes it. An $800 job turns into a $4,500 ripoff.

    If the victim declines after the 1st or 2nd “fix”, the car leaves on a flatbed, and may return when the victim has more money.

    Dealers know many take/tow their cars to the dealer just for the diagnosis only, to fix themselves at home. Of course they’re double screwed.

    • 0 avatar
      dr_outback

      Ethical Service Advisors, dealerships and independent garages do not act this way. Find another repair facility.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Most that get ripped off this way may not even realize it. When they do realize, what can they do? New car dealer “Service” are the only ones I’ve seen do this. All the time. All brands. They have to, it’s the nature of the ‘paid on commission’ beast.

        Consumers trust them way to much, as the absolute “experts” of their chosen brand of car. The best way to insure you’re not their next victim is never go there, after the warranty. Small stuff that’s covered under my warranty, I’ll fix myself or take to an independent, I distrust them that much. The free oil changes, they can keep!

        I’ve worked at or near dealers my entire working career, so the stories I hear are nonstop. Yes I didn’t say every dealer, every service writer

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ” No one ever went broke underestimating the American Public ” .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    Ol Bob is either still working at Ricart Ford or selling electric wheelchairs in South Florida.

  • avatar
    is_lander

    I think a lot of us have run into a “Bob” or have a similar story. One time as I was shopping for a new car, and I asked the salesperson if the car we were looking at was available with disc brakes all around; as I was pointing at the rear drum brakes in front of us. His very quick answer was, “yes this car right here has anti-lock brakes all around”. I already knew the answer to my question before I asked it. I immediately walked away from that dealer. Shady guy or incompetent sales person? Same result.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I play this game at Best Buy occasionally. I am bit of an audio / video geek and thus know how that stuff actually works. It is kind of fun to bait a clueless sales or tech guy into a total lie. They often just string together random buzzwords hoping you’ll get confused and then agree to hand over your credit card.

      The scary part is I think most car salesman aren’t really lying on purpose… I think they honestly don’t know the product that well. Sales occurs on a personal level, so its about a relationship, details are often not important if trust is established. For example when we purchased our Volvo I pointed out multiple times that it was not an “R-Design” despite all the paperwork that said so. I had to actually grab a brochure and circle the differences, then point to the locations on the car and show them what was missing. Granted these were minor trim parts but for the sale guy it never registered that his inventory sheet was wrong.

  • avatar
    gkhize

    I am an info security expert by trade but work on my own cars as well as those of friends and family. (I only charge for parts plus beer and/or baked goods) I’ve never had any personal problems with dealer service departments because I only use them for warranty stuff and know when to call bullsh!t with them. My friends and family; not so much. My sister-in-law went in for an oil change and was told she needed to spend $3000+ asap to replace a leaking steering rack on her $2500 Dodge mini-van. I tightened the loose line on the power steering pump and poured in some fluid I had on the shelf in exchange for 2 doz homemade cookies. Brakes and shocks are another area where I’ve saved people lots of money while stocking the beer fridge.

    Overall, the vast majority of service departments/repair shops are honest upstanding businesses. I recommend several local shops for stuff I can’t or don’t want to do that I trust with my own stuff. It’s unfortunate that the schiesters give everyone a bad name.


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