My Journey To Hell

Last night I took a trip to the local Ford dealership, from whom I have leased or purchased 3 cars in the last 6 or so years. The occasion for this trip is that the lease on my last car ran out and neither my wife nor I was in any hurry to replace the car immediately as our need for 2 cars has decreased substantially. After doing a little background research online, I visited the dealership to look at cars and get a lease price on one I had my eye on…

Then I entered hell.

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Why do dealerships bother hiring people who accomplish nothing more than looking like window dressing? The car salesman, whose knowledge on of cars and sales appeared to be extremely limited, appeared not to have been able to make a single move short of picking his nose without consulting someone else. That someone else was always the mysterious “manager” who apparently is the only valuable employee. At this dealership he was the only one who could produce things like prices, payments, etc. Obviously punching a few numbers into a computer is much too sensitive a job for the salesperson.

There were maybe 10 sales guys milling around like it was a fraternity party whose kegs had not yet arrived, yet only one person holed up in an unseen bunker could magically produce a price in 20 minutes of waiting. Mind you the price was listed on the window of the car I was interested in. When the salesperson returned from his excursion into the bowels of the dealership waving a printout of the price he looked very proud of himself.

I reminded him that I had not asked for the price of the car, I wanted to know what the lease payments (for tax reasons leasing is the only option I was interested in) for the car would be. His reply was, “No one leases anymore since residual values are much lower these days.” That is the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard. This particular dealership frowns on leasing and will do anything they can to avoid making one, and apparently this line if part of the sales training, since I’ve heard it before from them. Other dealerships are plenty happy to lease you a car.

I again stated my interested in getting a lease price. Rather that giving me a price he offered to call me when the manager could run the numbers. 16 hours later I have yet to receive this call. Note that this is how they treat a repeat customer.

The game plan at car dealerships seems to involves keeping you waiting around for hours, hiding the financing terms until the last minute, getting you attached to the idea of buying the car, then loading on whatever crap the can in the mile long sales sheet. Is it any wonder that the profession is held in such low esteem?

Imagine a job where you literally could do nothing without consulting you boss. You could sell, lease, quote, offer a test drive, unlock the car without standing in a line to get one persons attention. It sure as heck would be a depressing job that may explain why the salespersons have a shelf life shorter that farm produce.

Good job Koon’s Ford Sterling***, you’ve just created another satisfied customer of CarMax.

*** I wasn’t going to name the dealership, but as way to prompt some decisive restructuring of their archaic business practices I think they deserve to be named. I’ve got three words for them that were popular during the tech boom, “Empower Your Employees.”

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6 Comments

  1. Paul August 13, 2003
  2. punctilious August 13, 2003
  3. jen August 13, 2003
  4. James Joyner August 13, 2003
  5. Sean Hackbarth August 14, 2003
  6. Susie August 14, 2003