By on September 7, 2010

In the middle of closing a deal on a 2010 Fusion Hybrid, the buyer asks the salesman: “Didn’t I trade in a 1928 Whippet for a used Model A with you?” Salesman Al Steinmetz whips out his meticulous sales notebook, and says “Yes, I credited you $12.65 for a 1928 Whippet as a trade in for a 1929 Ford Model A that you bought for $25. On July 29, 1939”.

Car salesmen love repeat business, but not many are still around after seventy-one years to take advantage of it. Or keep records of every one of the thousands of other transactions Al Steinmetz has ever made since. So if you’re still feeling screwed over on that Granada you bought back in ’74, Al can go over the numbers with you. And you’ll probably leave happily, driving a new Ford, quite likely. Honesty and longevity has that effect on folks. At eighty-eight, Al is still on his game.

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24 Comments on “Car Salesman Has Repeat Customer After Seventy-One Years...”


  • avatar
    obbop

    Does he still think it rides akin to a Mercedes?

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    He should be called “Fordman.”

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Awesome story!  In Eugene, naturally.

    The 1928 Whippet was a handsome car: http://www.gvmvdc.org.au/images/clubphotos/images/1928%20Whippet.jpg

    No SYNC here: http://www.myclassiccarcollection.com/files/WHP-1928-001_I04_Full_Size.jpg

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    Apparently that’s the kind of loyalty you get when you don’t sell pink cars to colorblind people!

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Just damn

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Wow, what a memory! I’m hoping I’m still on this planet at 88 years of age, much less still working…

    Hooray for Mr. Steinmetz!

  • avatar
    JasonH

    Was he trading in the Model A?  I’ll give him double what he paid for it.

  • avatar

    marvelous story, thx.

  • avatar

    Nullo’s identity unveiled!

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    In 1985, I was shopping for a new car. I dropped by a Pontiac dealer to check out the 1986 Tempest. The salesman who scooped me up, was an older gentleman, probably in his 80s at the time. He introduced himself, and we exchanged pleasantries.

    He wanted to know about my family as he had known several Schwartzes in his time. My Grandfather (who was deceased at that time), and my Father (who passed away a few years later), had both been lawyers active in civic affairs. When I gave him their names, he thought for a few seconds and asked me if my Grandfather had lived on a certain street before WWII. I said that he had lived there in the late 1920s and the 1930s.

    The salesman said I recall trading him a Pontiac sedan for a Pierce Arrow Limousine around 1932.

    I nearly fainted.

    My Father had often told me the story of how my Grandfather had received the Pierce Arrow Limousine as his fee for liquidating a bankrupt taxi company in the early years of the Great Depression, and in 1932, concluding that he needed to economize for the long run, had traded it for a Pontiac sedan.

    I didn’t buy the Tempest, it was the same car as the Celebrity, but it had a higher sticker.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Mr. Schwartz, are you Canadian?  The last Tempest was Canada only and related to the Chevy Corsica.  The Celebrity was related to the Pontiac 6000.  (I say this as a former Celebrity owner and with an uncle who had a 6000.  Well Uncle Tim was always a sportier guy anyway.  {rolls eyes})

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    We have a guy whose been around close, but not quite as long, as Mr. Steinmetz.    I’m always amazed at how he can remember so many years worth of customers, their children, and their grandchildren, on sight, as well as remember what they like in a car, and always seems to know the right thing to show them first before they even ask.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’m curious to know what the inflation adjusted price for the traded Whippet and the purchased Model A would be.

    Either way this story is really cool.

  • avatar
    210delray

    That is an amazing story; thanks for posting, Paul!

  • avatar
    Syke

    My father had a couple of guys like that at his Chevy dealership (we’re talking 45-50 years ago).  And yeah, they used to amaze me with the stories about deals they had done back in the 1920’s.
     
    One thing’s for sure: Nobody stays this long in the car business by trying to rape and rob every customer that comes thru the door.  Somewhere along the line, I get the feeling that this guy is reasonably straight . . . . . well, for a car salesman, anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Yeah, it’s called karma. Sad to say, it’s all too rare, especially in auto sales. Intentionally screwing over a customer might make a quick buck, but it’s unlikely to garner repeat business. It’s also unlikely that most car salesman really look at the job as a life-long career. I’m not sure I can blame them much as the whole management structure is based primarily on short-term gains, i.e., greed. Hell, a couple of times I bought a car and called back a week or two later to find that my salesman no longer worked at the place. In fact, I can only recall one time returning to a dealership a few years later to speak with the same guy I had the first time.

      I suspect this Steinmetz guy’s (and his employer’s) attitude wasn’t one of making as much money as he possibly could off of every customer, but just making the sale was enough, even if the commission was small.

      It vividly reminds me of the Edmunds article when a writer went ‘undercover’ to be a car salesman. During the interview process to get hired, he quickly learned that the only thing that really got the attention of the interviewer was when he was asked why he wanted to be a salesman, he would answer, “To make lots of money!”. Nothing else during the interview process seemed to really matter much.

  • avatar
    fastback

    DId I get my links crossed up & click onto ‘the Onion’ by mistake????

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Is this the whippet he traded in?
    http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc4/hs404.snc4/46704_429159891667_626121667_4857186_6701063_n.jpg
    I saw it by the side of the road in Keremeos, BC.

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