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What Was Your Best Experience at a Car Dealership?

Someone buying a new Saab back when buying a new Saab was a thing.
Someone buying a new Saab back when buying a new Saab was a thing.
Photo: Getty Images

Around these parts we spend a considerable amount of internet ink railing on car dealers. They don’t make it difficult for us to do this—there is no end to tales of rude salespeople, shady deals, questionable math, insane markups, service nightmares and the occasional joyride. But the dealers and techs who are great at customer service don’t end up in the news much. Let’s shine a light on them for a change.

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For this weekend, we ask: What was your best experience at a car dealership, either in sales or service?

We all know what a headache either can be on a good day, even for the most car-savvy among us. But there’s an equal or greater number of good sales folks and techs out there, and we all know they have a tough racket to deal with—long hours, shitty pay, pressure, crazy managers and difficult customers make it a less-than-enviable place to be.

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I’ve owned two Mini Coopers, bought in two different states, and I’ve always been impressed with the easygoing, newcomer-friendly, low-pressure approach I’ve gotten there—even in stark contrast to the BMW dealer that may happen to be directly attached to the building. Like Scion used to do, Mini seems to be aimed at younger, newer buyers, so at least in my anecdotal experience the situation there is a lot kinder than the culture at some shops.

Then, instead of the grifters trying this gig for a short while, you have the career salespeople who cultivate customers as long-term clients, and I think on the average those people are far better at their jobs than most. Those people don’t get as much recognition as they deserve.

Let’s change that. Tell us your good dealer stories.

Editor-in-Chief at Jalopnik. 2002 Toyota 4Runner.

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DISCUSSION

i4gotmykey2texlax84
I4gotMYkey2TEXLAX84

I will post mine from the other side of the equation.

Was in car sales (high end brand) as a rookie sales rep. Because of eagerness (and being broke), rose to top of my dealer in short order. Had a client referred to me, trading in an old Jeep GC (believe it was an 01 - this was back in 2011 so memory is a little hazy). Car was going to be an auction piece, though it was in decent overall shape.

Client was going into a new SUV (one I am still fond of) but when presented with all of the detail paperwork after working out the deal, she broke down in tears over losing the Jeep. I was trying to soothe her saying she had a great run with the Jeep, but would love the new one, etc., but nothing was working. Turns out it belonged to her son, who had passed fighting overseas some years earlier. Now I understood.

Although I realize anything I could do moving forward wouldn’t come even within a stone’s throw of the sentimental value of this Jeep, I thought there had to be something to impart his memory in her new vehicle. Luckily, the Mom provided the idea when she asked for the stickers left on the Jeep (his college and branch) removed for her keeping. I ordered (with a colleague who served as well) new stickers and had them placed on the new car, as well as getting the old ones heat-gunned off (they weren’t perfect and it took an hour for detail) and put on a backing sheet to frame.

To say she was surprised was an understatement. Her tears moved me to tears, and she hugged me tighter than anyone ever has except my own Mother. This particular customer and I are still in touch to this day.

Now, I am at a different brand, in a different position and whenever I am presented with a situation where frustration is prevalent (be it from any side of the business), I like to think about this customer, as it helps me to see things with (hopefully) balance and clarity.

I get dealerships are stealerships, but hopefully there are times when we want to operate the business on a fair level; one where we keep the relationship between the dealer and our customers at the forefront.