I am loath to write this story, because to do so I have to admit that I am gullible and got snookered. As part of me is a teacher, I chose to write this story as education (and amusement) for my fan club. As my fan blub, you must promise not to bring this up every time you hear a similar story and say, “Well, Dodie got snookered once, ya know.”
If you cannot keep that promise, then stop reading and never ever look at this story again.
I needed a new car. My KIA is 200,000 miles and things are starting to go wrong. If I don’t have a new car very shortly, my customers are going to be very upset when their cat or dog starts getting very very shaggy as they wait for me to pull up in their driveway with Miss Daizy pulling her buggy full of my gear.
Yep – that bad.
I started shopping around. Since the KIA was the absolute best car I ever owned, she never broke down, ever. She only had to have her clutch replaced (at around 130,000 miles) and we did some maintenance motor work at that time. Other than that, she was a great car. Right now, she’s running on a dead cylinder, and when you only have four of those, running on three is a big difficult!
STEP #1 – Have a detailed goal (These are my replacement car requirements.)
- 4 wheel drive, so I can get to my customers in bad weather
- Standard transmission, so I can control my car in bad weather
- Dark interior, so the dirt from the farm and pet hair from grooming is hidden
- Hatchback, so I can store my gear in the back and have easy access
STEP #2 – Make a plan (Start shopping on the internet and stop at dealers)
Since my KIA was such a good car and all KIA’s come with 10 years 100,000 mile warranties, I went straight to a KIA dealer. The new KIA Sportage is a sexy little SUV. Emphasis on LITTLE. The new KIA is not big enough to fit my gear in the back. Dammit.
I started shopping on line. I looked at the Ford Escape. Nice little SUV with a 10 year – 100,000 mile warranty. Oh, that’s good because I drive like 30,000 miles a year so at least I’d have a warranty for 3 years. Did some research on consumer ratings and WHOA NELLIE. Very poor consumer ratings.
All the Chevy vehicles in the size I need are not available in standard transmission.
The Subaru Crosstrek is a cute and sporty looking SUV, but I can’t tell if it’s going to be too small like the KIA Sportage. And the Subaru Forester is a very affordable larger SUV. Both have the four things I’m looking for and both have very good consumer ratings.
I stop at Ciocca Subaru on Hamilton Blvd.
STEP #3 – Execute said plan (car shopping is very annoying)
First, I am pleased that I was not “mad rushed” by five hundred sales people. The receptionist smiled and was pleasant and she called ONE salesperson over to assist me.
Second, I see several people in the dealership looking at cars and I don’t hear a lot of “pushing” from the sales staff. What I mostly hear is education as the sales staff seem to really know their cars and the limitations and expectations for those cars.
So, I greet my salesperson, Scott and I tell him I’m looking for a car comparable to my KIA. Small, easy on gas, 4 wheel drive, standard trans, hatchback. He educates me right away on the all wheel drive system in the Subaru vehicle. All vehicles are all wheel drive and they do not have 4 wheel drive.
I quickly text Marc. I ask him to go check into the all wheel drive thing and tell me if it is going to help me in bad weather.
Scott looks in the back of the KIA at my grooming gear and he takes me to see a Forester.
Ah ha. He didn’t even look at the Crosstrek, it must be too small – dammit.
He shows me the Forester. Talks to me about the Forester and he is saying pretty much the same things about it that the consumers are reporting. Dependable, high mileage, great miles per gallon.
The one we’re looking in is automatic so I ask about standard transmission. He says they may not have one on the lot but let’s look around. We mosey around the lot and
Here is a brandy new one (yes, I was looking at used ones to save some money) that has a standard transmission. It is a really pretty blue color, but the interior in white.
WHITE???? HOLY CRAP.
Well, I told him right up front that WHITE is not for me. And honestly, I was a bit hesitant to get in it because I’d been working all morning, and I had been at the barn with the horses, so I didn’t know if I’d leave a dirt impression on the white seat. I did ask to test drive it though, figuring they could detail the seat if I smudged it.
INDEED! He goes and gets the keys, leaving me staring at the car for 10 minutes.
(LESSON #1 in sales tactics … leave the potential buyer alone to contemplate the beauty of the new car.)
He opens it up and I get in. Ah, the seat is okay. Not like some cars I’ve sat in. Not as comfy as the truck but a little better than the KIA I’m driving now. And lots of room in the front. I like that. All the controls are exactly where I’d want them to be. This is a low-end model so the seats are manual adjustment, not power adjustment, but I’m okay with that. I move around the mirrors, adjust the seat and steering wheel and start it up.
We go out for a little test run. Although Scott has a running commentary going on all the features and how to use them, I am totally ignoring him as I feel how it handles as I careen through some 90 degree turns and how it shifts as I jump off a stop sign and how it brakes as I cruise into a red traffic light.
I have to laugh. I ask if it has Sirrius radio. He says it is an option for the Forester but this car doesn’t have it. He points out that this particular car DOES have a CD player. Mwhahahahahaha … who the heck listens to CDs anymore?
It does have auxiliary so I can plug in my phone and listen to my play list. And when I crank up the radio, the speakers don’t crackle (I think I blew Scott’s ear out at this point because he doesn’t listen to me much after this.)
We go back to the lot and I park the car. It is a 6-speed and the reverse requires a little effort on my part, to remember to pull up the knob. It does have a swoopy back up camera which comes up on a digital screen.
Oh, does it have GPS built in on this nice little screen?
Okay Scott. I like it. In fact, I think I’d like to have a Forester but I need a dark interior. In fact, if I’m gonna buy a new car, I want a black one like this one over here.
Yes, the black Forester is a sharp looking car.
Scott says, “Well, you know about black cars.”
I respond. “Yes, I drive a black KIA and I drive a black pickup. And your point is?”
He points at the car I just drive. “Well, that’s a nice blue color.”
I have to admit, it is a nice blue color. “Yes, indeed. And it has a white interior and that is not going to work for me.”
So we go back into the dealership and he looks online for local dealers with a black on black standard trans Forester. He comes up with three.
Okay, I tell him that I have to get to my cat appointment and I’ll either be back later this afternoon to talk to him or I’ll call him to come out on Tuesday after I get back from my Endurance competition.
At that point, I become non-essential. (sigh) Sales people.
While grooming Smokey, I am thinking about the Forester car and decide that it is what I need to replace the KIA. I call Marc and have a brief discussion with him about finances. We have been saving money but don’t have $23k in the savings. Being self employed, our credit ratings sucks and we’ve not been able to get financing for a long time. We’re pretty sure that we won’t get it now, either.
I call Scott and tell him I’m coming back to work some numbers with him. He says okay, but is a bit distracted. I’m guessing he is with another customer.
I get back to the dealership at 6:05 pm and he *IS* with another customer. Oh, well. I’m not waiting around. I haven’t had dinner yet and Marc stopped for a stromboli (mmmm) so I give the receptionist my name and phone number and tell her to let Scott know that I will come back in on Tuesday. I really need to get home and cook my food for leaving tomorrow morning anyway.
On my way out of the parking lot, Scott is walking towards me and he flags me down. I tell him that I’ll be back on Tuesday. He says, “Wait! I’ll get someone else to take this guy on a test drive and we can sit and talk numbers.”
So I park the KIA and sit in the lounge for 10 minutes and wait.
(LESSON #2 – leave the customer alone, waiting, to give them time to think about that new car.)
We sit down and start the negotiating process.
Step #1 – What is the KIA worth as a trade in. Kelly Blue Book, in poor condition says $2200. The dealership offered me $1000.
I countered with $1800
He countered with $1250
I said I would not take a penny less than $1500
He has a paper he’s writing all this on and he agrees to $1500. I circle the trade-in value and initial it as acceptable.
Next, the Forester is on sale (yes, I’ve heard the radio ads) so he reduces the sticker price $750. We circle that and I initial it.
Now he wants to know how much I can put down. I tell him and we circle it and I initial it.
He comes back with a monthly payment number and it’s well within my budget to make the payments. I agree.
Now, let’s talk about getting one with a dark interior.
Let the fun begin!
He tells me that they may not be able to trade with another dealership to get a black one. And they can maybe work something out for the one I test drove. Give him a minute.
He gets up from the table and leaves. In about 5 minutes I see the one I test drove roll up and park right outside the window where I’m sitting. Scott gets out and gestures to me to come out.
He says, “Let’s look at this interior.
Right …. No thank you. The interior in WHITE and I don’t want white. In fact, I so much don’t want white that I don’t want white.
So he says, “Well, maybe we can reupholster it.”
WHAT?!?!?!?!? Are you kidding me? The cost of that would be outrageous. And I say that to him.
He responds, “We can seal the fabric so it repels dirt.”
Obviously this guy has no clue what a horsewoman drags around with her all day.
“No, Scott, I don’t want a white interior. Let’s go see about getting a black on black one.”
We go back to his desk and the pretty little blue car is sitting right outside the window staring at me. It is very sad that I don’t want it and it is doing everything but weeping oil from it’s headlights to let me know that. It has a complex because it has a white interior and no hard working farm woman wants to take it home. I try really hard not to look at it because it’s breaking my heart to see it all alone out there.
LESSON #4 – Put the car in front of the customer so there is no escaping the wistful puppy dog eyes.
Scott says he has to go talk to his manager about locating a black on black and getting the purchase numbers. He is gone for about 10 minutes. For ten minutes I assure the car outside the window that someone will come along to love it and give it a good home and not to worry that I am not interested in the white interior because there are people out there that work in offices all day, don’t have pets and small children and they will definitely want to have it even with the white interior.
It is now 6:55 pm, I have been here for 50 minutes.
He comes back and asks what it would take for me to go home with the blue Forester. His manager is willing to throw in three (yes, that is 3 times) detailing on the interior with sealant so that the white stays clean.
“Uhm, how does that work?”
“Okay,” I respond with some sarcasm. “Since Subaru is only offering a 5 year 60,000 mile warranty, if your manager will throw in a 100,000 warranty along with the detailing and fabric sealing, I will take this one.”
He quickly says, “Oh, he won’t do that because that’s a couple thousand dollars.”
I shrug, “Okay, then let’s find a black one and work some numbers.”
He gets up and leaves me again. It is now 7:15 pm.
He comes back with a big smile on his face and says, “Okay, we can do that.”
“Really? He’s gonna give me the 100,000 mile warranty?”
Do you even think that I made him write that on his sheet so I could initial it? Do you even think that I thought about that one small little detail? I was just so excited to hear that I would get the extended warranty for free as part of the deal that I looked out the window at the car and said, “Let’s do it.”
Oh, Dodie … you’re an idiot.
I told him that I could have Marc do an on-line application and if it is all approved I’d come in on Tuesday and we would finalize the deal.
He says, “How far away is your husband.”
I say, “Twenty minutes.”
He says, “Call him and see if he’ll come in. It only takes a couple minutes.”
LESSON #4 – Never tell the customer exactly how long something will take to accomplish.
It is 7:22 pm and I call Marc. He grumbles at me (probably because he’s all settled in for the evening after a hard day of grooming) I tell him that he just needs to fill out some credit stuff and then we can leave because we’re gonna do all this on Tuesday after I get back from my competition.
I give Scott my credit info so they can get started on the financing review. I’m pretty sure they are gonna say “NO!” and it’s going to be a waste of time, but you never know until you try.
They don’t allow smoking on the property so I take a walk off property to smoke while I wait for Marc. (Smoking Nazi’s .. )
Marc arrives at 7:46 pm and they get his credit info. I tell him that we’ll be out of here in a couple minutes. I want to show him the car but it’s gone. I ask Scott where it is so I can show Marc and he says they took it back to get cleaned.
Well, so you can drive it home tonight?
WHAT? I thought we were going to do this on Tuesday when I get back from my competition and have time to clean out the KIA and everything.
He says, “Nope, you’re taking it home tonight!”
We got approved? You’re kidding me, right? And at 7.49%? Really?
Well, now. That’s exciting.
We wait and we wait and we wait and finally the credit manager takes us into the office to sign a hundred and one forms. It is now 9:15 pm.
He explains the Ciocca Promise warranty to us. That take about 15 minutes. Holy Crap. However, it sounds like a most awesome bumper to bumper warranty and I’m pleased to have gotten it for free as part of the deal. It’s only 90,000 mile and not 100,000 but that’s okay, it has far more in it than just warranty. Pretty exciting.
We start signing paper after paper. One paper comes across that is the Ciocca Promise Warranty and it has a value on it $2299.00 … WOW, that is great that I got that for free as part of the deal to take the car with the white interior.
WHITE … groan …
We get to the most important paper, the one with all the numbers on it for the car purchase and I stand up out of my chair. Yes, it’s true! Ask Nicholas, the finance manager. The numbers are NOTHING like what we discussed. In fact, they are thousands of dollars more than we discussed and the trade in isn’t even correct.
I sit back down and start busting out on the numbers. Nicholas flags in a floor manager to talk to me. I tell that guy that these numbers are all wrong for what Scott and I agreed to. They pulled out Scott’s scribble paper and start making the changes.
Did I make Scott write down about the warranty? Well, there is a little scribble there that I wanted a 100,000 warranty, but I did not circle it and I did not initial it and they won’t honor it. The floor manager says he can over ride the 90,000 and make it 100,000. Will that make me happy?
Oh yes, I’m hot, but I still have my professional face on.
Just as I’m ready to open my mouth and speak the words to take their white interior and shove it up their ass, Marc reaches over and touches my leg. I look at him and he mouths (Do you like the car?)
Nicholas the finance manager and the floor manager are watching me and Marc very closely. I hate that.
Marc raises an eyebrow at me. I glare back. Marc shakes his head. I am still glaring back. Then he shrugs which means it’s totally up to me and he doesn’t care.
It is 9:47 pm. I am tired, I have not eaten since lunch. I need to pee. I just want to get out of there because I still have things to do to get ready to leave for my competition in the morning.
It’s a new car. We got financing. We need a new car.
I point out that this is not what I was promised but I’ll take the over ride for 100,000 miles.
They quickly change all the paperwork and I sign it.
Dummy me. I got snookered.
LESSON #5 – Get things done as quickly as possible so the customer has no time to study and reflect on the purchase.
We have a new car!
I left for the endurance ride the next morning and had five hours of driving to reflect on how well they played me on purchasing that car. WOW. I have to say, I am rather impressed by their sales tactics. I have to give them points on that. In fact, I need to learn from their constant maneuvering of me because it was brilliant!
I had an enjoyable weekend (read the story here) and didn’t think on it anymore until my five hour drive home. Then I had more time to reflect on how they snookered me out of a free warranty.
I get to finally drive the car all day on Monday as I am working in the Poconos. I put 300 miles on the car and I have to tell you, go buy a Forester. It is a remarkably well handling little SUV. I was very very impressed with the car and I am happy to have one. I wish it was black on black, but I really do like the blue color! It’s a happy blue and since I’m a happy person, it suits me.
MONDAY! Karen from Ciocca called for a follow up. Being the infamous Dodie Sable, I bluntly told her about getting snookered. She was taken aback and told me she would check into that and get back to me. She never called me back. I had given her my cell phone number and told her I was on the road all day, just leave a message and I’d call her back. I guess I scared her with my complaint. Or maybe she knows all about the infamous Dodie Sable and once she realized it was me, she decided not to “Go There”.
Scott called my office phone and left a message … He said that he told me I would not get the warranty for free.
LIAR! LIAR! PANTS ON FIRE!
Oh, that message from Scott pissed me off royally. Especially as I would NEVER have bought that car with a white interior if I didn’t think I was going to get that extended warranty as part of the deal. Never never never. I would have stuck to my guns and told them to find me a black on black Forester.
Or, I would have went to another Subaru dealer to see if they had a black on black Forester. YES! I really liked that test drive and decided I wanted a Forester. I didn’t care where I bought it.
So, I called Scott back. When he realized it was me (the infamous Dodie Sable) he told me he was with another customer and quickly asked me if he could call me right back.
Sure. (really?) I gave him my cell phone number.
He did call back in an hour – on the office phone again. Marc called me on the road and told me Scott left another message.
By the time I actually did hook up with Scott, he was on his cell phone, which he told me was dying so we might get disconnected (hmmmm … me thinks that if I get all wound up at him we’ll get disconnected)
LESSON #6 – if the customer waits long enough, he or she will forget all about the anger.
By this time, three hours later, my short lived temper tantrum had fizzled out while I waited for him to “call me right back”. I was back into Dodie-Amusuement-Mode at being snookered. I didn’t read him the riot act. In fact, I didn’t mention it all even though he was trying to draw it out of me. I figured if he wanted to tell me on the phone the same thing he told me on the answering machine, THEN I would give him the “what-for”. But he never mentioned it.
Ciocca will be having a survey person calling me. They have asked me throughout this entire process to give them the best rating that I can and if (for any reason) I did not feel I was given the royal treatment I should let them know so they could fix it. Okay, I let Karen (the follow up caller) know and no-one even got back to me to discuss it. So, how should my answers reflect this when that survey calls me????
Oh my …. (evil grin)
In the meantime, I love my new little car. Thank you Ciocca for my new little car. I’m going to go buy some black seat covers today and hide the white.
TUESDAY! I am out an about, driving in my new little car that is fabulous, visiting my customers. (I’m telling you, if you need a new car, go buy a Subaru Forester. It’s amazing!) I called Ciocca and asked to transfer to the Service Department. I got their voice mail (sigh)
Really? In the Service Department?
So I left a detailed message about getting the car set up for the sealant detailing and I had a couple of minor issues that I wanted to get resolved. They are pretty minor but very very important.
- The seat belt will not shut up. I don’t wear it, I don’t have to wear it, I can’t wear it (due to my neck injury) and in most cars, eventually the car will give up after telling you to put the damn seatbelt on … but not this car … this car is INSISTENT that I put it on NOW NOW NOW … I read the manual and it said I can disable the sounds but I have to take it to my dealer to have that done.
- The power jacks are not “hot”. When I turn the car off, the jacks go off. This is not a good thing. I don’t drive long enough to charge my phone while the car is “on” and apparently my old GPS uses more charge than it’s getting while plugged in because on Monday I lost the use of both items when their batteries went dead. So, I need at least one jack rewired so it is hot all the time and will charge my equipment even when it is shut off.
- What is with this rear seat middle seat belt harness? In the KIA I was able to disconnect it from the roof. In the Forester it is all one piece and does not disconnect. Cant hey remove it? It’s annoying and it’s in the way of my gear.
Pretty simple little items, yes? Everything else is remarkable! I really like this little car.
While grooming, Nancy from service called back and left me a message. Sorry, didn’t get your message because my PHONE IS DEAD. Stupid non-hot power jack.
Also, Steve (the Ciocca general manager) called and left a message for me to call back. Sorry, didn’t get your message, either, because my PHONE IS DEAD. Stupid non-hot power jack.
See … I wrote up this blog and shared it with Scott and Nicholas at Ciocca … I thought they’d be interested in knowing how well educated I had become while visiting their dealership. Oh yes, once = My Bad. Twice? Never gonna happen again, true that.
I called them both back once I had the car running and could be charging my phone. I left a message for Nancy (because once again I got voice mail at the service desk.)
OH, let me tell you about this neat feature we don’t have in any of our other vehicles. My phone is now blue toothed into my car so when the car is running, I can talk on my phone hands-free. I really like that! And it’s so clear! I can hear people without any trouble.
Steve came right on the phone and immediately wanted to know how he could make things right for me regarding my anger. He read my blog.
Uhm, I’m not angry. I’m simply telling a story about how I got snookered.
He asked me to please not say that because they had no intention on ever doing that to any customer. He wants to know what he can do to make it right.
Oh, my … is this a challenge?
The time to make this right was YESTERDAY … BUT …. Being the blunt, get to the point person that I am (I have to maintain my infamous Dodie Sable reputation) I tell him that they could take this blue car back and get me a black one, or they could give me a refund of the $2299
Then we get into a discussion about how they never promised me a warranty and he’s sorry that there was a miscommunication on that.
Really? Because if I hadn’t have been promised a warranty, I would not have taken this car. Why? BECAUSE IT HAS A WHITE INTERIOR.
He says “but we got you financing and we pulled in favors to get you a good rate.”
(redirect – you know, this is another lesson because that floor manager was really good at redirect, too on Thursday when I was trying to figure out how their numbers were thousand of dollars off my numbers. They must have an entire training seminar on how to redirect.)
I tell him I really appreciate that they got me good financing, but I was promised a warranty.
He says that yes, he was part of the negotiations on Thursday evening and he said that he would give me sealing of the fabric and a power train warranty to 100,000. But the warranty that I purchased is much better than all that and I should be happy.
raise an eyebrow
No no no, Mr. Steve. That is not how the conversation went between me and Scott.
He tells me he will run some numbers on the difference between fabric sealing and power train warranty and get back to me.
Whatever. I like this car and I have black seat covers on order, so whatever.
LATER IN THE DAY.
Steve calls me back and tells me that the value of the power train warranty and the fabric sealing is roughly $750. He is willing to refund that to me to keep me happy.
I quickly run the numbers through my head. Now, the warranty that I did purchase is a superior warranty. It has many many more things in there than I had asked for.
But I have had more aggravation and consternation, not to mention my time (which is very valuable) wrapped up in this venture. I am truly appreciative that Steve wants to make this right and he feels that I have been shorted by $750 on my purchase of this cute little car. In fact, I am pleased that I am receiving so much attention over my dissatisfaction with the purchase process.
How about $1000 and I am completely satisfied and will update my blog and will give you high ratings on the survey?
Perhaps I should have countered higher.
It’s all good. I truly didn’t expect anything so I am completely satisfied. And I received a very good education. I have purchased many new cars over the years and this is the first time I ever got snookered … so I have learned what NOT to do the next time I purchase a new vehicle. The education itself was far more valuable than the refund of $1000.
So, I do want to say, YES, I will purchase another vehicle from Ciocca and I will recommend their dealership to people … just take along my checklist!
- Know what you want and stick to it. If you want black on black, then only BUY black on black. Do not accept less or settle for different.
- During negotiations, make your OWN list and ask the sales guy to initial each promise. Write the promise out in full, do not accept little scribble notes.
- If at any time during the negotiations you do not get what your want (see item #1) simply get up and walk away. It’s that easy. I learned that they are not allowed to carry weapons so they can’t shoot you in the back as you leave.
- At the time of signing paperwork, carefully check the numbers on all the pages to be certain they are correct with what you were told they would be.
- If you find problems afterwards, do not hesitate to write a blog and send it to the sales person. Social media is very powerful!
PS: I wrote this blog on Monday August 18th. I did not push it out to Facebook and Twitter and yet by this time (Wednesday August 20th) I have over 500 hits on it. (Stalkers, aren’t they great?) So, today I will push it out to Facebook and Twitter and I expect the hits to triple just today.