Where Your Author Has an Awful Dealership Experience
I’ve shared my experience in choosing a suitable replacement for my Subaru Outback recently. And while that mission was accomplished successfully at the end of December (story coming soon), I was left with a tale to share about a particular dealership and its “customer service.”
Time for a quick story about how not to treat the customer.
Having narrowed down the initial group of candidates to the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, I still wasn’t sure whether I wanted something new or used. The pricing wouldn’t be much different in either case, but the 2019s lacked the top-tier SEL trim of prior model years. Swaying the decision toward a new one was a certain very large Volkswagen dealer near a big city in Illinois. They had an appealing price on a new Golf SportWagen with a tan interior. I filled out the online contact form with my information, and was rewarded with a phone call a few minutes later.
And that’s where the sales experience started downhill.
I explained to the salesman that I was A) an out-of-town buyer several hours away, B) interested in making a cash transaction for a new Golf, and C) did not have a trade-in to complicate the deal. He replied with “Great, so when would you like to come in and talk about pricing?”
At that point, I reiterated I was several hours away, and would need to conduct this transaction over the phone and have the car shipped. “You want to have it shipped,” he said with some disbelief in his tone. After some reassurance that I’d done this before (more than once, actually), he said he’d get back to me with pricing. An email arrived a few minutes later with a copy of the sales ad from their website. After I asked if the price was negotiable, he sent the following message, pasted here verbatim:
“I apologize, but we just don’t conduct business that way over the phone/email.
We’d be happy to discuss pricing with you here at the dealership!
Did you have some time this weekend or next week to come in and go over those options?”
Apparently, the largest-volume Volkswagen dealer in the country does not use internet or a telephone to conduct business. Said largest dealer would also request that I drive from out of state to have a conversation about buying one of their cars. I asked to speak to someone who’d be able to help me, specifically his sales manager. A reply shortly thereafter assured he’d have his manager contact me “when someone was available.”
A day and a half later, Salesman Two (not a manager) phoned to talk about the deal. He questioned whether I was an out-of-town buyer, to which I replied I was. His tone changed then, to one of condescension. “You know the check will have to clear before we release the car onto the trailer, right?” Gritting my teeth, I responded affirmatively and asked if the dealership had any shipping companies they worked with regularly. Salesman Two replied they did indeed work with several shipping firms, and he’d get back to me with a quote.
Two days later there was no follow-up, though I did receive an Are You Satisfied text from whomever at the dealer. After a “No” answer, two more days passed and Salesman Three had his turn. At this point I had an opportunity to explain the situation from Salesmen One and Two, stating again my wish to see what we were talking about with regard to shipping. He took my address and promised to return my call later that day. You can see where this is going.
After zero follow-up from Three, I received another Are You Satisfied text five days later. I responded that nobody seemed interested in assisting me with a vehicle purchase, and that I was disappointed in my experience with the staff. No reply to that one, and in five more days I handed over a check to a Volkswagen dealer that was actually interested in my money. It was a terrible sales and customer service experience, but maybe I expected too much.
Perhaps once a dealership gets so large, twenty-something thousand dollars just isn’t worth the trouble.
[Image: U.J. Alexander/Shutterstock]
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