By Tom Kline, Lead Consultant & Founder, Better Vantage Point
This is a real letter of a real dispute from a real customer who was really upset.
The content is real. (The content inside the parenthesis is not.)
“Good Day, Mr. Sales Manager (Who every car dealer has had at one point or another),
I am writing concerning the white 2014 Hyundai Sonata that I own with my wife. Throughout this whole situation, I have remained silent. (He had not, in fact, been silent at this dealership, as I later discovered. He had complained to a lot of managers who did not escalate the situation appropriately or bring the problem to a conclusion.) I can’t anymore as I feel you and the dealership are giving my wife and thus me, the run around. (This appeared to be true.) It’s my opinion that DeAngelo, a salesman, and possibly the service department, perpetrated a fraud and now you are perpetuating fraud. (Not exactly, but I listened to the story.)
I do not need to go into details. We all know them. Not only has it ruined our credit – I’m driving a 1994 vehicle, with no expectations of getting financed for a newer vehicle with my current credit score – it has also put us under a mental and financial strain to have 2 car payments. (Mostly true.) While all of this was done by individuals, they were employed by you making you equally responsible and liable. You leave me no choice. If this matter is not resolved amicably between us by very soon, we will refer this matter to the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office for investigation and possible prosecution. (He was very serious about the criminal charge aspect.) We will also consider retaining an attorney for possible civil litigation.”
The dealer had recently sold this customer the Hyundai and he was $7,000 upside down, plus, adding insult to injury, he had a blown transmission with an estimated $5,000 repair. He tried to trade it in at multiple dealerships but was unable to. And DeAngelo? He “helped” the customer buy an additional vehicle from the dealer based on additional promises (“the fix”), that were not very realistic. Let’s just say he didn’t act in the straightforward manner that most dealerships would hope for.
They called me in.
I ended it.
Always with courtesy and kindness.
Money was spent, but ultimately money was saved.
The customer later emailed me and said, “Thank you Mr. Kline. I have nothing but respect for you as a man and businessman.”
When a sales manager gets your dealership into these situations, it is time to look for another one. That is risk management in action. That is mitigating your risk, ensuring these costly instances do not occur over and over again. The next time will cost more. And then more, again. And then you will be spending real money to resolve easily avoidable problems. (It happens.)
I’ll bet, if you look at your dealership’s reviews online, you will likely see the complaints about your sales manager. Smart dealers use online reviews to self-police. If you read those reviews with an open mind, you will see what is going on with your business. Best practices say you should answer each review courteously and invite the customer to call you. Then, a reliable resource should reach out to the customer by telephone and try to fix the problem.
(And this will knock down the number of claims – both real and imaginary – that potentially cost you a lot of money.)
(And that’s the truth.)
About the Author
Tom Kline, a former dealership owner with 30+ years of experience, specializes in solving dealership problems through risk mitigation remedies, compliance, and dispute resolution for dealerships. Tom is the Lead Consultant & Founder of Better Vantage Point and has worked with publicly-held and private dealerships. Kline routinely speaks at national conferences.