At your service: When sales sinks service
By Russ DantuFeatures Business Intelligence
Aggressive efforts to make deals happen can hurt your brand.
I just leased my third Toyota 4Runner a month ago. All have been leased through the same Toyota dealership here in Calgary. I love my 4Runners, as you can tell. When we do repeat sales, the cycle should be so much easier. Unfortunately, my third experience with this dealership was a nightmare.
I got a call from a sales representative back in April, asking if I’d like to trade in my 2019 model for a 2023. I was clear right from the start that I was open to a deal only if my payments didn’t go up and I got some money back after the trade-in, which is how it had worked in the past. After getting me in to the dealership to have my 2019 assessed, she came back with offer after offer with hugely higher monthly payments. She was clearly hearing only what she wanted to hear and hoping I’d drop my requirement that my monthly costs not go up.
After five such attempts, I pointed out that it didn’t look like they were able to make the deal I wanted and that I was content to walk away and keep my 2019. Her reaction was to promise she’d be able to get there but, for some reason, I had to come in to the dealership again. She then rescheduled our first appointment and kept me waiting for 20 minutes past the time for the second. Only to present a deal for a model that was not the one we had discussed. They promised to update the offer with the correct vehicle details. I had to chase her for two more weeks before that information was forthcoming, by which time I’d made another payment on my 2019. I mentioned this and was told my new payments would be adjusted to reflect the additional payment I had made. But when I went to sign the paperwork for the new vehicle, not so much.
The finance person told me the payments couldn’t be adjusted and the amount of my additional payment would have to be added to my refund on the trade-in, which I’d need to discuss with the sales manager and representative. After trying to ignore me for two weeks, the sales manager first tried to deny the existence of the deal to reimburse me for the payment (difficult, as I had a text string), then cried poverty, then tried to pawn me off with a credit card back charge when the agreement had been cash. I navigated these rapids and arrived at an appointment to (again) come into the dealership to receive my refund. This appointment was cancelled no fewer than three times before I was finally able to close the deal on the agreed terms and walk away from this dealership, likely never to return again.
It’s pretty clear what was happening here. An eager sale representative, probably with too much on her plate, was pushing the envelope to make a sale in an environment were prices are up and deals hard to come by. Then management tried various tactics after the fact to protect their margins. But someone, somewhere, should have reflected on the long-term impact to their business of giving a long-time repeat customer such a run-around. Please think about this story the next time you or your sales person is tempted to just get the deal then make it work on the balance sheet by other means.
Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer service for over 15 years. Visit russdantu.com.
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