Car salesman get a bad rap. Sometimes they are just too funny for words. Or is it pathetic? Not always, of course. You decide!
My husband, Steve, and I have been researching the possibility of purchasing a new-to-us truck. While not a necessity, a full-sized truck would make pulling a travel trailer easier-and-safer, enduring the longer trips more comfortable for me, save the time that is now spent filling up the gas tank of our current truck every 150 miles, and set us up for potential needs in retirement. Eeeek, I said the R word! This process of shopping has taken us online all over the internet and the country east of the Mississippi River. We have narrowed down the financing, make, model, and features that would work best for us. So we decided to ask for more information on a few vehicles . . .
If you ask for more information on an auto-trader type of website, the person who responds may or may not know anything about the vehicle of interest. A pop-up screen appears with the picture of Natasha, Megan, or some other cute gal, inquiring if we would like to “chat more?” Every time I have typed in a question via this method I am literally tricked to give some level of personal information before the mystery writer on the other end disappears to “ask a salesperson.” Virtually never does a complete answer follow but a notice that a real salesperson will call you SOON. This is true whether it is a Saturday night (and dealerships are closed on Sunday) or the wee hours of the morning! Good news: someone usually does call you back! Bad news: this will be every day for the foreseeable future until you block them! Sish!
If you happen to send an inquiry on a vehicle directly through the website of the actual dealership, the experience might be slightly better. Only problem is that you never really know to whom you are communicating. “Kami” has been calling us twice per day since we inquired about a truck and the inventory at the dealership where she works but she never really knows information about it beyond what we can both read on their website. Surely she’ll get back to me twice per day on Monday . . . and Tuesday . . . and . . . I think she is working from home somewhere remotely. At least she speaks fluent English!
Forget just showing up at a dealership and seeing what they have on their lot to take a test drive. In our town, the local dealership of a prominent automaker does not have any new or used current models on its lot of the type in which we are interested. NONE! No trucks! (Well, except for the 3 year-old model of an outdated style that reeks of cleaning and air freshening solutions! More about that one in a moment.) So it wasn’t until my husband decided that maybe it would still be nice to deal with someone locally, perhaps ordering a vehicle from somewhere else to be delivered to the dealership nearby, that we learned just how crazy this sales process can be. Let’s say the salesman’s name is JS.
JS got my husband’s contact information from a car-finder on our insurance company’s website and Steve filling out a form requesting more information. I called and someone said that they had a few trucks coming in a few days. The website of the dealership didn’t reveal that they had any trucks in their inventory, but when Steve called, his salesman said there were THREE TRUCKS being delivered by the weekend. “Would you like to come in for a test drive? Saturday afternoon at 1?” He said he would call if the trucks came in but never called back before the weekend. We headed to another dealership out of town instead.
Then JS called the next week to say that he had found the perfect vehicle for us in Cayenne Red (my favorite) with every feature we were seeking! He listed them one-by-one during that lengthy conversation. Was JS reading them off of the manufacturer’s brochure? The price was $9,000 above our top figure but he was still asking us to make another appointment for a test drive. Of course he was. Steve agreed when JS stated they could make some concessions on the price. The following Saturday afternoon we went to go meet JS.
We arrived at the dealership after stopping at a car wash for my Nissan Frontier that we might offer as a trade-in. We were kind of excited to be working with someone so close to home (as our hunt for a truck took us away from home for 6 hours the previous weekend) and what our negotiating skills might yield. As soon as we walked in the door, a young man sharply dressed in a wool overcoat greeted us and asked if we were here to see a Nissan Titan. Wow, yes we are! They knew we were coming! The only problem was that JS was with another customer and not available at that time; would we like to take a seat and wait? We asked to see the fabulous truck. This man would check into what he could do. He didn’t think they had any trucks that fit our description in their inventory though. We did not see any either.
The circus that followed was shocking at the time and rather comical to us a few hours later. A quick look around the showroom at this point found other young and middle-aged sales folks circling around as if sharks in dark waters searching for their prey. An older saleswoman drifted by, looked out the window in front of us, made small talk about the weather and the yard work she needed to finish, and thus consumed another 5 minutes of our wait for JS. The first salesman came over again then the “Manager” who was dressed more like a middle-aged model for GQ magazine than a car salesman working on a Saturday. He confirmed what the first man had revealed that there were NO NEW MODELS but he could show us a USED CURRENT MODEL if we wanted to see it. We were at the beginning of an acute case of shock yet agreed. What is going on? We said little between us.
An older black Nissan Titan appeared outside the glass doors nearby. It was not as the Manager had described and certainly not a current model! We had expressed early in our conversations with these sales folks and every other salesperson with whom we have consulted that the vehicle could not contain artificial fragrances of any kind. New car smell is one thing. Synthetic fragrances in a newer-used vehicle we test drove the prior weekend sent me into a 30-minute convulsive episode requiring prescription medication to stop it! The illness confounds the vehicle-buying process for sure but hey, we are in no hurry. This point is a deal-breaker, however.
Mr. GQ quickly re-appeared and conceded that the truck out front was a year older than he had initially stated, was his own demo model, and smelled heavily of fragrance. Hmmmm. THE MANAGER didn’t know the year of the truck he personally had driven for awhile? We appreciate that he at least disclosed about the fragrances. He suggested we come back later and we wondered why we would do that? Out loud we politely declined his suggestion; he shook our hands, thanked us for coming, and we left our local dealership. The cool, fresh air outside snapped us back into reality. What had just happened? We’re not entirely sure but being bamboozled is a part of it!
But wait, there’s more! Steve and I were still having a nice time together that afternoon which was a delight given the ravages of the illness that I have been battling for many years. We decided to head to our local YMCA walking trails for a hike then later have a nice meal at a fresh-foods type of restaurant that had recently opened. Somewhere within the next hour or so, came the rest of the story.
JS emailed us at 3:47 pm, stating he had just received our appointment confirmation from hours earlier and asking if we still wanted to come over to the dealership to meet with him? Um, we had left there around 3:30! Unbelievable. Inconceivable even! Was he saying that the FOUR salespeople we talked to in total did not let JS know that his customers had already been there for the appointment that several salespeople knew about when we walked into the door? Did JS not SEE the black Titan parked right outside the front doors and wonder who else was taking a look at it? Oy vey, we had to laugh out loud on this one!
Steve and I live in a smaller town and really try to support local businesses, even the national chains that might be owned locally. Our experience with multiple corporate-owned dealerships hasn’t gone that well, however. Tough to support the families (oh yeah, this line is a tear-jerker) of car salesmen who don’t treat you right! Did I tell you the story of another truck salesman 6 months ago who tried to sell me a model with the year-and-features that were different from the one he said he had on the lot for me to test drive? (They had just dropped in a bedliner that morning for me. How nice. But why then was it dirty?) Or the salesman at the dealership we visited last weekend who said they could treat their otherwise perfect vehicle for fragrances and would get back to us? He even called back to update everything then we never heard from him again. What happened?
Perhaps the title of this blog should be, The case of the still-hungry salesman. Strike 2: 2 weekends in a row these dudes have gone AWOL and that is o.k. with us. Perhaps their blog about us would read, The case of the challenging customer. That is o.k. with us too. Regardless, these are what you would call “first-world problems.” Life will go on despite the sharks in the proverbial waters of unsavory car dealerships. Thankfully, all car salesman and dealerships are not like this. We have a Christian friend who sells older used cars quite honorably. I just hope if this truck purchase is meant to be for us that we don’t meet anymore shysters like the ones we have encountered thus far. It’s o.k. if they try to wheel-and-deal, even post something online for sale to create intrigue (but not like another dude that claimed he was selling “by owner” when it was really “by dealership!”).
Next! Treat us dishonestly and you will never see our signature on the dotted line. We will go AWOL too! JJ and SH