Image: Porsche of South Bay

A story about a young man who strolled into his local Porsche dealership wanting to check out an expensive sports car has been making the rounds. The treatment he received was rude and unprofessional, but it could have likely been avoided with a simple phone call.

Cody James wrote a lengthy post on Facebook about his negative experience at a Porsche dealership. He opens with this:

Well... Today I had my first Porsche experience.

I have not driven a Porsche, nor have I sat in one, or even been around them. I have a rough idea of why they’re popular as some of my friends own the GT3RS, some own 911 Turbos and two have 918 Spyders.

I was swinging by Apple to replace my screen since I dropped my phone this morning, I drove past a dealership and decided to swing in. I have been saving for a while and while my goal is to snag an Huracan, I decided it would be cool to check out a GT3RS since so many people that I know love them.

Now in fairness to Mr. James, it is very likely that he had no idea that the GT3 RS is one of the most sought after Porsches in the lineup and that many dealers have a waitlist for buyers of this particular variant, and therefore the dealer doesn’t really have to work very hard to sell one of these models. Regardless there is no excuse as to what he claims transpired next.

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He describes how he was basically ignored by the sales staff and was told that the dealer doesn’t allow “joyrides”:

A girl named “Kelly” came out and greeted me. I asked her what the difference between the regular GT3 and the GT3RS are, I mentioned that I had recently let go of my GTR and it would be cool to have more ideas for what is next. She shocked me when she responded condescendingly with “We don’t let any kid just come in and drive these. We get dreamers all the time. Try the driving experience up the road if you want to joyride.” I was thrown back, puzzled and responded “Okay... well, I don’t need to drive it - and wasn’t intending on it. I’m curious what the differences are, it looks like it’s a sport package... so brakes, suspension and aero?”

After asking a perfectly legitimate question, though one a likely GT3 RS buyer would probably not be asking, he says that Kelly just walked away.

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After another encounter with the manager, Cody is then passed off to a gentleman named David who tries to persuade him to try out a Turbo S. Cody is not interested and wants to know the details on the purple GT3 RS in the showroom. David informs him that the car is on consignment (owned by a private party, but sold through the dealer) and that test drives are not allowed. Cody then notices that David has been doing some online sleuthing about him.

I looked over at his phone and he had a photo of me on it... I asked him if he googled me and if that is my Forbes page. He said “Uhhm. Yes. It is.” I paused for a second and asked if he was sending it in a text... he replied “Yes. I am.” I asked if he was sending it to his boss... he replied “Yes... well. Ok. Well listen, you know... my co workers were laughing because “here comes another f***ing kid thinking he can afford a Porsche. What a f***ing joke. Someone let him take some pictures so he will leave.”

“I wanted to prove them wrong...” he assured me. Then he followed up with “So did your parents give you money? like what do you even do for a living?”

Needless to say, Cody left the store with a sour taste about the Porsche buying experience.

So what lessons can be learned here? And if, unlike Cody, you actually are able to buy one of these cars but you’re worried about getting written off for your age, what should you do?

The first is that dealerships should probably not judge every customer by their age. That being said, it seems reasonable that a Los Angeles area Porsche dealer does get their share of young kids coming into the showroom with dreams bigger than their wallets wanting to drive some fast cars that they can’t afford. Cody was the exception to that rule and they treated him poorly.

(By the way, Cody reached out to clarify that he’s not “wealthy,” as an earlier version of this story stated. He said he’s just a hardworking young enthusiast who hails from a rough town and happens to be “just at the level where I can afford one mid level exotic.” So this is hardly the case of some spoiled millionaire acting out of turn at a dealership.)

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Unfortunately, Cody’s experience isn’t unique. Younger people experience this kind of treatment often whether they are looking at a 911 or even something like a Subaru WRX.

I remember when I was 20 years old going to a local dealer that specialized in Japanese performance cars. They had 300ZX turbos, FD RX-7s, and of course a few Toyota Supras. I figured I was hot shit rolling up in my Prelude asking for a Supra test drive. The owner said, “Sorry kid, we get a lot of young people wanting to drive these cars. Come back with a loan approval and I’ll give you the keys.” I was disappointed, but now I understand where he was coming from.

The reality is that people are sized up and judged by their appearance. No one wants their time wasted. A salesperson doesn’t want to be bothered with someone who isn’t a serious buyer and a buyer doesn’t want to be yanked around by sales staff who can’t be bothered.

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In a previous post, I wrote that calling ahead making an appointment to drive something cool is a much better approach and shows that you are someone actually in the market and not just there to kick tires. Now it’s likely that, even if Mr. James had made an appointment, that particular GT3 RS would still not be available due to it being a consignment car, but he may have gotten a different reception upon arrival.

I am not in any way excusing the behavior of this dealership, and in my experience working with Porsche stores regularly, they are usually incredibly professional and accommodating. But for any of you in the market for a car that is bound to draw some folks who are looking just to drive and not buy, the key to being treated like a serious buyer is to act like a serious buyer.

This post has been updated.