Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Just get us behind the wheel

In an important area, the internet has failed me and it took my son to put it into perspective. After too many years in my vehicle it's now time to pony up and get a new car. Following a time worn path, my son and I trekked to the dealer where our objective was to compare the handling of two interested models. It took us nearly 90 minutes to get into a car. Here's what happened:

1. we were first ignored;
2. then deemed unworthy for taking up the time with a 'Senior Consultant';
3. pawned off to a junior salesperson as the person we were speaking with was expecting an appointment to arrive soon;
4. told that it's too bad we are looking to buy a car this month ("last month we had much better deals")
5. explained that, despite purchasing 2 cars from this dealer, we were not 'loyal' customers because none were now being financed
6. asked to cut short a test drive (5 minutes into it) as the dealer was going to close soon and paperwork had to be done

My son put it best...'dad, these cars are great, if I were a salesperson, I would do everything I could to get someone behind the wheel and let the product sell itself'. Sadly, the salespeople we saw were unnecessary friction in this process.

This brings me to the disappointing internet experience that's exasperated the turkey stuffing left in me. Vowing to 'get respect' I configured a car at the manufacturer site and, using a link, sent the configuration to the closest dealer for a quote. Unfortunately, the dealer was not interested in reciprocating electronically and wants me to visit prior to talking turkey. Grrrrr.

Enter 'the Club'. I am biased; I love shopping at Costco as it's a brand I really trust. Value, quality, discovery, it's all there. But not with cars. I filled out their forms, knowing my shopping was done and now hoping for a clean buying experience. Instead, I am barraged by emails with the subect "Hi, Please contact me' or 'your VIP number is enclosed'.....Grrrrr.

AAA is no better. The no hassle, no negotiation promise, from the dealer AAA directs you to is only for vehicles in stock. You want a configuration they don't have on the lot and the gloves come off.

Perhaps, the Zipcar experience is my salvation. In any event, it's unfortunate that too many organizations let their business processes get in the way of exposing a great product to their perspective customers.

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