7 customer satisfaction snags to avoid

Donna Harris covers automotive retailing for Automotive News
We’ve written about the seven most common legal snarls in the F&I office. But let’s be real: Dealers don’t have to commit a crime to lose a customer.

Automobile Protection Corp., the Atlanta provider of EasyCare service contracts, surveys more than 25,000 dealership customers on a monthly basis to find out about their sales experience. APCO compiled a list of the top customer complaints about the F&I office:

• Negotiating fees when customers thought they had a final price. The biggest beef is service charges that tack on “hundreds of dollars” to the vehicle’s base price.

• Keeping customers waiting. Some complain they had to wait a few hours to meet with the finance office.

• Using scare tactics to sell products. For example, one finance manager told a customer, “Just wait until things start to go wrong. … Anything can go wrong — the whole vehicle is a computer.”

• Talking down to the customer. Customers complain that some F&I managers were demeaning and rude.

• Failing to explain fully what products cover. Some complained they were misinformed about coverage or given little if any explanation about contracts they were asked to sign.

• Pressuring customers to buy something they’ve said they didn’t want. Finance managers should take no for an answer.

• Failing to handle paperwork in an orderly fashion. Customers complained the finance manager was disorganized and the paperwork took too long.