The Ultimate Buying Experience
Dave Brock, Partners In EXCELLENCE
(Download PDF Version)
For those of you that have read my other
white papers, you know at times I am prone to rant. Be forewarned, this
I have long been a fan of cars manufactured
by the German Car company that promises the “Ultimate Driving Experience.”
It is a weakness, I think my only one, but their cars are wonderful to
drive. They do represent an “Ultimate Driving Experience.” I only wish
that the buying and service experiences were half as good. Unfortunately,
they are among the worst.
The dealer sales people do an OK job. I
have a difficult time faulting them, after all, they are trained by the
German Car company and must implement their programs. Also, it’s not
difficult to sell to a person who has already made up their mind to buy a
very expensive car at list price. Basically, their job is manage the
transaction as efficiently as possible. My sales person did that reasonably
well and was friendly in the process. I had some minor aggravations, but
I’m a tough person to please.
As the transaction ended, the Ultimate
Driving car was mine, I was handed a customer satisfaction survey. It
didn’t surprise me, I had been handed the same survey when buying previous
models and when picking them up after service. The survey said: “We want
to be known for providing Excellent service. You will be called to ask your
opinion of our service. Please respond Excellent to all their questions.”
Hmm, that’s interesting, I am being
instructed what my buying experience was and how to respond to the survey.
As I mentioned, I’ve received the same survey from other dealers for this
German Car company before. They are the same, each survey instructs me that
the proper answer for my buying or service experience must be “excellent.”
Clearly, they really don’t really care about
my opinion or want to learn about how to improve the buying or service
processes. It seems they just want to “stuff the ballot box” for the JD
Powers survey. Also, they don’t appear to have much respect for the ability
of their customers to have independent and well formulated opinions about
their buying and service experiences.
While annoying, I didn’t think much of it, I
had seen these before, it wasn’t annoying enough to waste my time on
ranting. I wrote it off as another “clever idea” from a marketing person
for this German Car company. It is unfortunate when they really don’t care
about the customer, I guess when they sell the Ultimate Driving Experience,
they don’t have to care.
A couple of weeks went by, I was enjoying
the Ultimate Driving Experience. Then, I receive a letter from the
financing division for the German Car company. The letter states that I owe
the company a large sum of money for damaged to the leased car I turned in.
I was shocked, the car I turned in was pristine. There was not a scratch on
the car. The inside and outside of the car were immaculate, the mileage was
very low, friends laughed saying the new car smell was barely gone. It
could not have been my car.
As you might expect, I immediately called
the finance division of the German Car company. In speaking to the agent, I
was told there was serious body damage to the car, damage to two fenders, a
door panel, the roof was pushed in, and so forth.
After some time, the agent said there was a
possibility that the damage had been caused by the transporter, taking the
car to the wholesaler. He said it wasn’t unusual and that he would waive
the charges. I was grateful and relieved, he handled the situation fairly.
I did have some closing charges for the car and asked if I could pay them
immediately by credit card. He completed the transaction, gave me the
credit card transaction codes, saying that he would send me paperwork saying
the matter had been closed.
Well, problem resolved, but how could they
make such a big mistake? I was happy that the agent was reasonable and
averted a potentially serious misunderstanding, but concerned that it could
have been a potentially very serious problem.
I was upset with what had happened. Where
was the dealer inspection, showing no problem? Why did I have to go through
all this unnecessary work to resolve a problem that was the result of errors
between the dealer, the finance company, and their wholesaler, and the
contracted transporter? I called my sales person and told her my
experience. She was shocked, she said something like that should never have
happened. She would immediately look into it and get back to me. I thanked
her and told her I would look forward to her response.
A couple days passed, then I received four
letters from the finance company. Actually, they were two copies each of
two letters. I guess they really wanted to make sure I got their message
since they sent each to me two times. Each letter was dated the day after I
had spoken to the agent for the German Car company finance division, cleared
the matter and paid the outstanding balance. Each letter was signed by the
person I had spoken to.
The first letter was an invoice for the new
amount that I had paid the previous day. The second letter was a seriously
worded notice demanding payment:
“Dear Mr. Brock:
As of August 27, 2002,
the balance on your account at ALV
Financial Services is $X,XXX. At this time, we will accept $XXX as
settlement in full. If payment is not received by September 26, 2002, this
offer is null and void.”
WOW!! This had gotten
really interesting! I was being threatened on something that I have already
resolved and paid,
more importantly, for a problem I didn’t cause. What are they doing? Is
this the way they treat their customers and then demand reviews of excellent
service? It was even more upsetting, considering that in the past 5 years,
I have bought and financed about $200,000 in automobiles from them.
As you can imagine, I was more than a little
angry. Again, I call my poor sales person to ask what is happening. She
again expresses her shock, says that some dreadful mistakes have been made
and promises to look into it. She asks what can be done to make me happy.
I respond that I want the issue resolved and an apology from the company…
yes, I am a little demanding, I did say the president of the finance
division should call to give me an apology, but I was angry.
Well, over two weeks have passed. I am
still enjoying the Ultimate Driving Experience. I have heard nothing from
the dealer, the German Car company, or their finance division. Frankly,
don’t expect to hear from them, I don’t think they really care about their
Maybe they will send me a customer
“We always want to
deliver EXCELLENT customer service. When a representative calls you to ask
about your experience with this transaction, please indicate your
satisfaction by responding EXCELLENT to each question.”
So much for the Ultimate Buying Experience!
© 2002, Partners In EXCELLENCE, All
Partners In EXCELLENCE
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