Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
How NOT to sell a car....
Background: I would like to buy a new car. No hurry. No pressure. It's a good time for me, and I can still get a decent, book value private sale price on my car. It's in terrific shape, at a fair price, and I would have no qualms whatsoever selling it to a friend or family member.

I made the mistake of visiting a dealership prematurely a few weeks ago, and this past weekend I went online and asked for some quotes VIA EMAIL.

I found a car I liked on the website, but there was no price listed. The site said: "Please complete the form and we will email you with a quote*".

This is getting rather humorous, so I will post them in order:

Message #1:
Please send me a price quote via email for Stock #3060. Thank you, Broadsheet
Response #1:

This e-mail is an auto-response to your request from "Al's Car Dealership" for information on the 200X XXX. We'd like to thank you for your interest in Al's Car Dealership" and for the opportunity to take care of your automotive needs. Please take a moment to respond to this e-mail with the most convenient method of reaching you.*

Make an appointment to visit "Al's" and experience the excitement of the ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE!

Message #2
Al -

Thank you for your prompt response. Please respond to my initial request for a price quote via email for Stock #3060. Also, per my initial correspondence, I prefer email. Someone from your office called me on my cell phone this afternoon (which I did not provide in the information I submitted, but which is on my home voice mail in case of emergency only). As a result, I was interrupted at work at a very inopportune and inappropriate moment.

Ideally, I am interested in a 200X XXX series with XXX. I would very much prefer a manual transmission, but I realize they are not as common. I am particularly fond of the grey-green metallic shade of this model, but as long as it's not white, I'm open to the color of the car.

Other stock numbers you have that I would be interested in are 19662, and 2833.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Response #2


I want to apologize for the inconvenient phone call that you received yesterday. On another note we have a great selection of vehicles that you are currently interested in. I would like to schedule a time that is convenient with you so that you can visit the dealership this weekend to test drive the cars that you are interested in. Please call me as soon as possible so that we can discuss this GREAT NEWS!!

Thank you again for your inquiry,


Message #3

Dear Al,

Thank you once again for your prompt reply, but please respond to my initial quote request. I am evaluating a variety of other dealers, other models, and other cars. I would like to have all my research, specs, and pricing done prior to a test drive to streamline the decision making process. I am ready to purchase a car. This will be my third and last request. Customer responsiveness and the ability to listen to customer needs is a criteria in the decision making process. So far, "Al's Car Dealership" is 0 for 2.

Response #3 (after I copied the string of emails above to the owner of the dealership)
Dear Ms. Broadsheet, Thank you for your e-mail and apprising me of your experience at our dealership. I do extend my sincere apologies and appreciate your calling this matter to my attention. It is going to be the topic of our weekly meeting and hopefully there will not be a reoccurrance. We, at "Al's Cars", strive for professionalism and customer service. Results of those efforts have shown in surveys conducted by our parent dealership of North America that ranks our dealership #1 in customer satisfaction in the entire mid-Atlantic area. Every now and then someone slips and this, unfortunately was one of those times. Again, my apologies. We would like very much to sell you the car of your choice. I have shared your e-mail with my two managers and have asked them personally to get involved and see that, given the oppoptrunity, you are taken good care of. I am quite certain that your experience will be truly professional and in the manner we strive for. Sincerely, Al

Another email followed shortly with the price quote I've been asking for on line for a week now. I might actually take a test drive if they behave themselves.
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:45 PM  
5 Editorial Opinions:
  • At July 26, 2005, Blogger Epiphany in Baltimore said…

    I can't wait to hear the third response.

  • At July 27, 2005, Anonymous DaB said…

    It's interesting how car dealers approach internet sales in different ways. Yours is all about getting you in and giving you the hard sell rather than just providing the details you seek. I was dealing with a salesman online when my mom was looking for a new car and that "internet sales consultant" was great. All correspondence was through e-mail (until the end, when I called him) and he didn't try to mince words, cajole, prod, or sell. He just provided the info and told me to let him know if I wanted to come in.

    Ultimately he nearly had a sale, but while I was dealing with him my mom went to a brick and mortar storefront and got her car for $400 less. The internet guy said he just couldn't beat that price.

    Sorry for the book, but I think Al's might want to take a look at how others handle internet car sales. They don't all suck. Of course, my mom wasn't looking for a XXX, and XXX salesmen tend to be snooty jerks who think they're doing you a favor by selling you a car.

  • At July 28, 2005, Blogger jwer said…

    Of course, you must realize that you've totally given away the make of the car by leaving in the "ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE" part...

    Just like a chick.


  • At July 28, 2005, Anonymous (Nom de Plume world premiere of) Ghurkha Tom said…

    I say: no test drive without a written commitment from them to provide ACTUAL QUOTES on ALL their inquiries, as they advertise.

    We, your loyal blog readers, can then test the proposition! Vive la Broad-o-sphere!

  • At July 29, 2005, Blogger Broadsheet said…

    Dab: Depending on the physical distance of the online versus offline dealership, and the cost of the car, $400 is not an unreasonable tip/concession if the service was great.

    Ghurkha Tom: Mark - is that you???

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