Dealer loses business after calling cops on customer on test drive
By STEPHANIE ZIMMERMANN firstname.lastname@example.org March 24, 2012 11:40PM
THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU
Updated: April 26, 2012 8:29AM
D ear Fixer: This is another complaint about bad customer service for your “bad manners” columns. Some time ago, I visited a suburban car dealership on a Saturday. They were busy, so instead of sending a salesman with me on the test drive, they just took a copy of my driver’s license and insurance info and let me drive alone.
I’ve lived at my home for almost 20 years, and I’ve never been in trouble with the law. But they called the police because they said I had the car out too long.
As I pulled back into their lot, a police cruiser followed me in. Then the salesperson told me they would not order the extras I wanted or the color.
A week later, the salesman called and asked if I was still interested in the car. I told him no, because he had called the cops on me — and because I was able to get the color and extras I wanted at another dealership!
Margo Scharlach, Hanover Park
: Thanks for providing today’s reminder about why customer service matters. And at a minimum, not calling 911 on your customers!
And now, read on for another perspective:
Dear Fixer: Sometimes the consumers are the ones with bad manners. I worked at a store in Glenview and at least once a day someone would come up to pay while talking on a cellphone. They would continue their conversation without acknowledging that someone was ringing up their purchases. If I had a question — credit or debit? — I would get a death glare. How dare I be so rude?
It made me feel pretty small to be treated this way — like I was a lesser person.
The good news is The Fixer will be bringing back our “turn the tables” column this summer, in which we’ll let business owners, service people and front-line employees vent about their most obnoxious customers. So start compiling your stories and watch this space for updates on when to send them in.
The date of an upcoming Spanish-language workshop to inform consumers about natural gas and electricity competition has been changed. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on April 1 at St. Anthony Church, 11533 S. Prairie.
A consumer’s tale of woe
Kim was in no shape to purchase a vehicle, and the used car dealer knew it. If this were a happier story, he would have advised Kim to think awhile before making a major purchase. But instead, he went for her throat. Here’s what happened:
Kim’s husband had died. She had just received the life insurance money and decided to use some of it to buy a van. But it was overwhelming.
“At the dealership I became distraught and was crying. ... As I was talking to the finance person, I was ready to write a check for the full amount,” Kim wrote to The Fixer. “He told me to just pay for half of it and I could pay the rest off the next day if I wanted to.”
This, of course, made no sense — though Kim wasn’t in any shape to think straight. Why would she finance part of the car if she had the money to pay cash upfront?
“I did as he suggested just so I could get out of there. The next day, I called the number he gave me to pay the car off and was told I couldn’t as they had not received the paperwork and did not know how much the payoff would be.”
You guessed it: They had put Kim into a loan. And by now, she owed interest. She refused to pay the interest and later learned the financing company had a lien on the van.
Buying a new or used vehicle is one of the most stressful purchases. You can improve your chances by not shopping in times of crisis — or, if you must do so, bring a strong friend who can watch your back.
Getting the runaround on a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at www.post-trib.com.