Buying a new car should not resemble a proctologist’s examination. Hub was in the market for a new car. His Honda Odyssey had served him well for 12 years but it was time for something newer and sexier. Being the scrupulous engineer that he is, he did a ton of research and decided on…a 2012 Honda Odyssey. That suited me fine. The vehicle is comfy, quiet and large, which is good because we carry a lot of stuff. In the summer, a folding picnic table, chairs, hamper and plug-in fridge (to keep the wine and salad cool!). In the winter, there’s our sports gear and roadside safety equipment.
But I digress. He signed up for the Automobile Protection Agency (APA), downloaded the new vehicle specs and pricing and information on what he might get for a trade in. Off we went to get the 2000 appraised. Got a great quote and with that in hand, we ventured into our local dealer in Newmarket to see if they would match the pricing and to look at colours. I mean, we’ve all been encouraged to ‘shop local’, right? We’d been in there a couple of weeks before, scoping out the model selections and speaking with a sales manager, who’d said they wanted our business and were prepared to deal. We’d offered to come back when it was time, when the dealer incentives were better and when we had figured out a price. It was time. We had a price. We went back. Well, the first words out of the salesman’s mouth were, “What do you want to pay?”
Not exactly what we were expecting, since we’d said we wanted to check out colours first. He said we couldn’t see any colours until we’d inked a deal. WHAT? Hub handed him the APA printout with the pricing and said, here’s the deal. The next thing Buddy did was to scoff at the printout. He threw out a low-ball price for a trade in, without even looking at the vehicle parked outside the door. Basically, he implied Hub was lying. I began to uncoil.
“But that’s right off the APA website,” says I. “I’d like to see the colours available for that model.”
“What do you want to pay?”
At that point, I walked away, muttering bad things under my breath. He’d burned the deal, as far as I was concerned. His attitude was poor, he made no attempts at being conciliatory and he treated us like we were idiots. Totally misread his customers – two adults who were going to pay CASH. Instant commission, Bucko. Plump up the month-end stats, too. Ongoing commitment to service the vehicle there, thus adding to the dealership’s profits. He’d also made a crack about having already spent time with us discussing the vehicle and taking us for a test drive. Like, excuse me, that’s your JOB!
Hub, of course, loves the chase, so he stayed to talk with the salesman, who was scribbling numbers on a sheet of paper and counter-arguing everything Hub said. When I’d finished reading the newspaper in the cavernous showroom, I wandered back. The ‘Sales Manager’ had joined the debate. He was holding our printout by the corner, like it was something dirty. He, too implied that we’d never be able to make the deal outlined on the APA website. “In fact,” he crowed, “I’ll bet you $50 cash you won’t make that deal.” Wow, that’s really professional, Bub. Denigrate your potential customers.
Never ones to back down from a challenge, we hied our way down the Don Valley to Parkway Honda, spoke to a first-rate salesman named Frank, who didn’t argue, didn’t quibble about the price, called to confirm the trade in offer, drove us out to the lot to pick out the colour we wanted and signed the deal. Honest, pleasant, helpful, patient. Time elapsed – 2 hours. That was last Thursday. We picked up the new vehicle yesterday. A lovely young man named Thomas, who’s studying kinesiology at York University, spent 45 minutes walking us through the features of the new Odyssey. He attached the old plates, we finished signing the reams of documentation, Frank presented us with a box of fresh cannoli as a thank-you gift and we drove home – happy. Now THAT’S customer service.
We’re going to Newmarket Honda this afternoon to pick up the $50.