In all the years and hundreds of car-purchase deals I have handled, I have heard some real doozies from dealers trying to lay on a line about why they can’t offer a level of professionalism that is expected elsewhere. This latest excuse regarding selling cars during a pandemic just might take the cake.
Recently, my team was helping an older gentleman in Texas purchase a used Tahoe. The fact that this is an older buyer is important context, as COVID-19 affects the older population in a more severe way.
We located a Tahoe at a local Chevy dealer, asked if the car was still available and requested an itemized out-the-door price with all taxes and fees.
Below is a text message exchange one of my agents had with an internet sales rep of Classic Chevrolet.
Read that last bit over a few times and let it sink in. Due to the coronavirus, which is getting worse by the day, this particular dealer is withholding very simple information that can easily be disclosed remotely via email or text. Instead, the dealer would rather put its own staff and potential customers at risk of infection.
I’ve covered in several posts that a refusal to disclose pricing information in writing is a foolish way to do business, and it is usually a red flag signalling you to take your business elsewhere. It would be one thing if the dealer was flat-out ignoring the pandemic situation, but to cite pandemic as an excuse to do the exact opposite of what responsible health officials are advising you to do is another level of stupid.
I’ll reiterate that all the predictions that said COVID-19 would alter car buying forever and make this process easier for customers was a pipe dream. Some dealerships have made small changes and adaptations, but the system as a whole still sucks. What we have found is that car buying during this pandemic has gotten worse, not better.
While I am fully aware that brands cannot dictate how their dealer network conducts business I reached out to a Chevrolet rep and asked if GM has provided suggestions, guidelines or expectations regarding how stores should sell cars in a way that prioritizes the health and safety of both customers and staff. We will update this post if they respond.