#7 The Strangest Sales Experience Yet (Part 1 of 2)

A Personal Car Shopping Experience (Part 7 of 8)

This post is the first of two on the XYZ SUV lease story. Read the conlusion in Post 8.
After six weeks of online research, multiple store visits, and test drives, my wife Lisa and I agreed we’d lease a new, 2019 XYZ SUV. In a previous post on our vehicle shopping process (Post #2), I mentioned that we found a helpful, knowledgeable salesperson at the first dealership we visited. However, despite asking him to call me in follow-up because we were seriously interested, he never reached out after our initial visit. So, quite simply, he would not get the deal.
Searching online for another dealership that had an XYZ SUV in the color we wanted, I found one and emailed the internet sales manager to confirm he still had the vehicle in inventory and to get a price. The gentleman responded promptly with a lease payment that met my ballpark expectations, so he, the store’s finance manager, and I exchanged several emails and arrived at an agreed-upon deal. It was at that point that the finance manager requested an online credit app be completed, and after running it, assured us we had the deal. Wanting a fast contract signing and vehicle delivery, I made an appointment for a Sunday afternoon that worked for both the salesperson and our family. In a Wednesday phone call with our salesperson, he indicated that he would have the vehicle removed from the showroom floor and would have it ready to drive home Sunday. Up to this point, the deal process was smooth and efficient. 

That Sunday, Lisa and I arrived at the dealership a few minutes early for our afternoon appointment. The store was a little quiet for a weekend day and as we walked in, I noticed our vehicle on display in the showroom blocked-in by a pickup. I knew it was our vehicle because in the windshield was a sold tag that congratulated us on our purchase in letters big enough to read from 30 feet away. Nice gesture, but my five-letter, one-syllable last name had been mis-spelled despite the five or six emails I had sent the store with my full name on each, and the online credit app completed at the dealership’s request. Quite a few thoughts were running through my head: The vehicle wasn’t outside and ready to go as promised. It also had plastic still protecting some interior items, foam surrounding the seat belt receivers, two factory-applied window stickers, no gasoline in it, and it had the sign in the windshield with my mis-spelled name. As my wife inspected the vehicle, I whispered these observations to her and said something along the lines of, “Let’s see where this goes from here.”

The salesperson walked up and from his nametag, I knew it was him. He was outgoing, smiling, and professional. Right over his shoulder was a plaque on a showroom wall that indicated he had been the “Salesperson of the Month” the last two months. Seeing him and the plaque, I felt a little more comfortable as we exchanged greetings.

He invited Lisa and I to view the vehicle for a few more minutes and in the process, I found a small scratch/or mar on the fender that I couldn’t rub out with just my finger. I asked him if he could have a lot attendant use a little cleaner paste on it while we were signing papers and he smiled and said nobody was around to help with that today… we should make an appointment with the service department. Keep in mind, that his dealership would be a nearly 60- 75-minute drive (one way) during a weekday commute trek, so, I reiterated my request, and he said he’d take care of it. 

Excusing himself, our salesperson said he’d be back in a few minutes. Lisa and I continued to examine the vehicle. We were then 15 minutes into what I expected to be a 45-minute process. Little did we know at that point that the process would literally be over two hours long and would be 90% sitting around doing nothing… except hearing our friendly salesperson’s life story… in detail, starting at age 16!

The second half of this post (Post #8) describes what happens next and how our experience concludes. In the meantime, please consider these observations for your comments: Why are simple action promises made (such as having the vehicle ready) and not fulfilled? How can you ensure this doesn’t happen? The “congrats” sign was a nice touch but completely fell flat when my name was mis-spelled. What excuse is there for that missed opportunity? Last, how can a large dealership have nobody around to handle a simple “fix it” request to make a vehicle right for delivery?

About the Author

Mark Krach is vice president at automätik, an organization dedicated to “Eradicating boring training from the face of the Earth.” He has nearly 30 years’ experience in the automotive industry—having worked for a manufacturer, a dealership, and as an automotive training writer and facilitator all over the U.S. and Europe.