Dealerships can get a bad reputation for being sneaky, sleazy, and downright rude, but even if the “customer is always right,” that doesn’t mean they are always bright. Here are some wild tales from the other side of the sales floor.
I used to work at a German car dealer. We had a sales person sell a manual transmission car to some one who had never driven one and didn’t test drive the car. When they came to take delivery of the car they drove through the showroom Windows because they thought they had the car in reverse but we’re actually in first.
We also had a car come in for a vibration that ended up being a cracked bellhousing caused by a bad flywheel. Our brand rep at the time said it would not be covered because the car had after market suspension. The customer proceded to trade the car at another dealer for another German v8 sedan and do a burn out in our drive thru. He also mentioned that we could all go F ourselves.
Best part is I later ended up marying his niece.
First off, this job only lasted 3 months, with me literally getting up and walking out after my boss gave me a choice of shutting up and doing my job or walking out....after asking her if I was working Wednesday.... Anyways, this hell hole, Toyota dealer at the Jersey Shore is run basically by the whole family, with my boss being the wife of the owners son. My position was internet sales, and was set up for a bait and switch deal. We read out of a binder with a script, and you had to follow it to the tee. Skipped a sentence, or answered what the customer asked, prepare to get berated.
So one guy from New York calls me, asking for a specific truck from color to options. One of our lines in the binder was, “hold on one moment, and I’ll take a look at my inventory. You then put them on hold, set the phone down on the table for about 60 seconds, and come back as though you just read every option and color vehicle on the lot. When we picked up, we would say ,” after looking, we have a great availability of that vehicle, when is a good time for you to come in and look?” If you noticed, it was legally set up so we didn’t say yeah we have the car your looking for. The guy gets a little huffy on the phone and says,” So you mean to tell me, you have one of the three trucks on the entire East coast that I am looking for?” I tried to reread the script to push past, but he wasn’t buying it. He says, “ So if I have to drive all the way down there (about 2 hours) and come on that lot, and you show me anything other then the truck I’m looking for, I’m coming in there and kicking your ass, you hear me?” At this point and time, I wasn’t ready to commit to having my ass beat. I said,”hold on a minute sir, let me double check.”So at this time, my boss (who’s desk was behind me) begins to chew me out for not sealing the deal. I tell her this guy is looking for a specific truck, and is not screwing around, coming form New York, and basically threatening me. Her response,” Okay, but why didn’t you get him to come in? After some back and forth, she took over, only for her to get thrown in the same corner as I did. When she got off, a second round of berating commenced on me.... BUT WAIT THERE”S MORE!!!! Since you called/gave us info/didn’t buy a vehicle when you came in, we had your information, and kept it for around 90 days, so guess who had to keep calling back every other day to ask if he was ready to come down and look at our selection. Needless to say after the first time of calling back, he let me know he wasn’t coming down.
Another guy was calling me from Afghanistan, driving a military truck when he called. The guy was super friendly, and I always thanked him for his services over there. He was getting ready to come home after his tour, and had $36,000 cash in hand, and wanted a particular truck in stock, which was in the showroom, right outside my window. Now this truck was loaded, and had a sticker of a little over $50K. Every week he would call me, and ask if it was still there, and I said yes, and asked if he could get it for $36 cash in hand, and I had to reluctantly say yes. I say reluctantly, because when I asked my boss the first time, she burst out laughing, said hell no, but get him in here anyway. A week before he was getting ready, he called again, and we said our ususal stuff, but on the inside I feared pissing this guy off like the New York guy. Thankfully, that same week I gave the “Take this job and shove it” walk out.
Many people weren’t buying the script, this was just after the economy collapse, and everyone either had shit credit, or was looking for the deal of a lifetime. when they had credit, they would attempt to deal with you right there on the phone. Didn’t get them in, or gave them the price of the car? Commence the berating. Shit credit people loved hearing we’ll work with you, only to be either ignored when they showed up, or laughed out the door. Brought in a shit credit person? You guessed it, some more berating, but this time by both my boss AND the salesman who dealt with them. Since I was internet sales, I didn’t deal with any negotiating, I was to just bring you in, then I was to hand you off to Joe Schmoe, who I then had to say, I’m so sorry, I have someone on the line right now, but this is Joe Schmoe, he is our truck/car/van expert, but not really. What car you were buying, they were the expert.
Oh did I mention my own grandparents, who are loyal Toyota owners came in and got suckered by them? I was closing the sales department down, and I go to grab my coat, and there is my grandparents hammering out the paperwork. Even though I let the salesman know they are my GP’s, he continued to screw them over by selling them a bare bones, no optioned Camry, at a stupid price, I would say close to sticker, since they are easy to sucker them by saying this is a good deal, they shake their heads agreeing.
For more clarification on the grandparents story go here.
I worked for a dealership a few years back, and a salesman once told me that a couple came in and wanted to look at and test drive a ton of cars. Being as they had wealth, he continued to help them through their decision. Eventually they bought a car, and when they were signing papers, the wife asked the salesman if he wanted to have sex with them. He ended up taking the offer, and gaining two lifetime clients.
A guy walked into our showroom one afternoon, and sat down with another of our sales guys to talk about a new car. He was wearing a very thick gold chain, with a pad-lock instead of a clasp. A few minutes later, an older guy walked in and sat down next to him. We assumed it was father and son, but boy were we wrong. Started off normal at first, but then we started to notice odd things. When we were ready to go out for the test drive, the younger guy asked the older guy for permission. He did the same thing when it was time to sit back down and go over numbers. Before making any decision, or doing anything, the younger guy would ask for permission from the older guy.
Then, while waiting for F&I, we asked about the chain with the lock. Turns out it was a master and slave relationship. And not just the two of them. Another guy joined them, with the same chain-lock around his next. Turns out they have to ask his permission before making ANY decision. They also can only refer to him as “Sir”. We thought that would be the end, but it got even more odd.
All three were very big into S&M, including bondage competitions. They proceeded to show us pictures of them during the competitions. No modesty or asking if we wanted to see them, they just got them out like it was a totally normal thing.
Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong in my book with any of this. Everyone has their own personal desires and fantasies.
We had a customer drop off a Sienna Van that was handicap equipped. The person that normally drove the vehicle had some leg issue and the van was equipped with the accelerator and brake pedals reversed (I still don’t fully understand how that helped anything but that’s what it was) the person who brought the vehicle in the service drive failed to mention that little nugget of information and when the lot kid got in it he hit what he thought was the brake and went rocketing through the drive and crashed into a wall. One of the girls that worked in service was pulled out of the way at the last second and would surely have been killed.
My wife has a handicapped equipped Sienna van and I have seen many vans and vehicles with various adaptations for disabled drivers. I have never seen one with the pedals switched. If anyone has any information as why someone would do this, please share in the comments.
I’ve worked in service about 30 years, so to say I’ve seen a little of everything is an understatement. Once about 25 years ago I was service managing a Chevy Buick service department. One of our regular Buick customers had been coming in on several occasions complaining that his car was making a loud whistling noise. After multiple technicians had checked the car, the customer finally agreed to let me drive it overnight, about 60 miles round trip. The car was as quiet as Grant’s tomb. After returning the car to the customer, he came in two days later obviously agitated that the noise was re-occurring. After a very animated episode of fist pounding on my counter, I asked him: “Do you hear the noise now?” His hearing aids were turned up so high they were feeding back and whistling very, VERY loudly. Sometimes we fix the car, sometimes we fix the people. And then there are the other times . . .
(Image via AP)
Do you work, or have you worked, at a dealership and have a great story to tell? Send it to AutomatchConsulting@gmail.com with the subject line “Dealer Horror Stories.”