Car Buying Customer Service Experience

Sorry for the late post today! It’s been a very long day and I only got home a few hours ago. Don’t worry, though – I have enough material for a whole new blog posts if I so wanted. Actually, it’s going to be a three part series.

So what did I do today? I went car shopping. I hadn’t really been car shopping before – it wasn’t an experience I have ever been too involved in. However, today, I went all out car shopping.

I had done all the expected stuff already – I knew what car I wanted a (a used V6 Toyota Highlander), how much I could afford, what dealerships had the car in stock, and so on. I compared prices online and printed out the specs for three cars. I also convinced my father who is much better at this process than I am to come with me. I am a pretty good negotiator, but am not so good when it comes to the car dealership head games.

Car 1 was at a Dealer A, Car 2 was at Dealer B, and Car 3 was at Dealer C. Here’s how the experience went:

Dealer A
Dealer A was a small Toyota dealership. I had called the dealer in the morning to see if the car I was interested in was still in stock. They weren’t able to tell me right away – they had to call me back in 15 minutes or so. The dealer did call back and they had the car in stock. The guy on the phone (calling him Bob) gave me the name and number of a different guy (Bill) who I should look for when I got there.

I went to the dealer and noticed a sign above the door that said they were committed to superior customer service. The company’s telephone recording and web site also tried to make that awfully clear. I walked in to the showroom and waited for a minute or two (no one said hello or acknowledged my presence) and actually overheard two employees talking about the car I wanted. I walked over and introduced myself. Bob was quite a bit younger than Bill and very enthusiastic (borderline obnoxious). He went on about how I would get the best price from Dealer A and how they were the best. Bill was a quieter, older guy.

Bill led us to his cubicle and told us to make ourselves comfortable. He offered us water, coffee, etc. We said we’d wait outside and that we were okay. Bill disappeared for 10 minutes. He comes back and says the car is out front. We go out the door and I see the car in the back of the lot (the lot isn’t big, but I would not say that this car was out front). He leads us to the car, hands me the keys, and so on. The car has damages to the upholstery, some minor scratches, and so on. We weren’t too impressed.

I asked Bill if he was able to get the warranty records for the car. Apparently, this is not an easy thing to do and Bill made us quite aware of this. To him, the said records simply did not exist. I told him we weren’t interested in the car. After some chit chat about how a good price could convince me otherwise, we left.

Dealer B
Dealer B was a large Toyota dealership. They were the only dealer able to tell me (without having to call me back)  if the car was in stock. It wasn’t the largest one I’ve seen, but it was easily several times larger than the last one. They had a special building for used cars.  As we got out of our car, we were intercepted by a sales guy. He was an older guy as well (will call him John).

As we got inside, another guy with a thick accent of some sort (George) who was definitely obnoxious (way more than borderline) kept on talking. He had the keys to the car and started (though briefly) arguing with John about who’s customer we were. John disappeared to get the car from the lot and we were subjected to George. He commented on me having a folder with notes and a notepad and everything else he could find to talk about. I eventually found myself walking outside while he was mid-sentence (something I never do) and he followed me and kept on talking. I was close to telling him to just shut up and/or leaving.

He saw another customer walk in and immediately gravitated towards them. A few minutes later, he was talking to them and I could hear fairly loud profanity and another mini-fight with another sales rep. He was completely unprofessional and made the experience even worse than it usually would have been. In the mean time, John was no where to be found. Eventually, he came back with the car.

The car was in better shape than the last one. It had some exterior paint scratches, but seemed okay. We asked for the warranty records and John went in to get them. Fast forward 15 minutes: he was no where to be seen. No one followed up or anything. We left. On our way out, we saw George putting the car back.

Stay tuned for the Dealer C experience tomorrow. I’ll also recap what each company did wrong (and right). I can’t say it gets much better. On Thursday, I’ll write about what car dealers can do to make the car buying experience better. Car buying is such a miserable experience and the car dealers don’t make it any easier.

6 Responses to “Car Buying Customer Service Experience”

  1. New Car Directory » Blog Archive » Car Deptford New Nj - Andretti Finishes Fourth At The Honda Grand Prix In NYSE Car - Auto Racing Daily said:

    Apr 03, 07 at 7:28 am

    […] Car Buying Customer Service ExperienceI had done all the expected stuff already – I knew what car I wanted a (a used V6 Toyota Highlander), how much I could afford, what dealerships had the car in stock, and so on. I compared prices online and printed out the specs for … […]

  2. Car Buying Question said:

    Apr 04, 07 at 1:07 am

    […] can do to arrange the car buying exposure better. I can t say it gets lots better. … Trackback· […]

  3. Service Untitled » Interview with Jack Hightower - VP of Sales at CarMax - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    Apr 26, 07 at 9:54 am

    […]   I’ve talked more than a little bit about car dealers and customer service (post 1, 2, and 3). After having my miserable experience shopping for cars with some other companies, I decided to contact CarMax and see if they were interested in an interview. I got an interview with Jack Hightower, who is CarMax’s VP of Sales. […]

  4. Black Belt said:

    May 25, 07 at 10:02 pm

    Do You Know Anybody Who Got Ripped Off By a Car Dealer? I need storys for my new book. Can you ask around. My new book will be out with in 4 weeks. Just go to my website to submit story if you got ripped off.



  5. autoverleih said:

    Aug 20, 08 at 4:51 am

    Thanks for the informative post.. and thanks for adding our comment to the blog.

  6. Jordan said:

    Jul 09, 09 at 2:36 pm

    My father swears by this process. He’s bought two cars, as good deals.