A new lease every 2 years … no matter what

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News

The elderly man was a regular customer.

He drove his pickup to the Chevrolet dealership a number of years ago, entered the showroom and looked for his favorite salesman. I was told this story by a suburban Detroit dealer.

The man was a GM retiree in his early 90s.

The two-year lease on his S-10 pickup was about to expire, and he was ready to order a new S-10, loaded, just like his current S-10, with every available option. The retiree showed up every two years for decades to place an order for a new Chevy.

For 15 minutes or so the conversation in the showroom centered on what the elderly man had been doing the past two years. He traveled a lot.

Finally, it was time to get down to business. The lease payment was discussed and accepted, so the salesman walked outside to check the S-10 for damage, wear, mileage, the usual stuff.

The two-year-old S-10 looked brand new. But the miles clocked on the pickup's odometer mileage were beyond belief.

As the salesman walked back into the showroom and returned to his desk, he asked the elderly man in somewhat of a loud voice, "What's wrong with the odometer?"

"Nothing," the elderly man said.

The salesman stared at the man and in a voice of disbelief said, "You drove the truck for two years, but there's only 394 miles on the odometer!"

Several members of the sales staff heard the comment. So did a customer, sitting nearby. They looked in the direction of the elderly man. Everyone within earshot was anxiously awaiting an explanation.

Finally, with a smile on his face and a bit of laughter in his voice, he said, "I didn't feel like driving."

The S-10's odometer was checked. It was working. The dealership's service department concluded that the odometer was accurate.

True story.

Do you have an amusing story to tell? An unusual trade-in? A bizarre repair? Strange customer behavior?

I'm looking for comical experiences that have occurred at dealerships that I can share with the readers of Automotive News. The timeframe is wide open. The story can be about a recent experience or something decades old. Either way, the stories must be true, and I will include the contributor's name with each tale. Got a story? Contact me at 313-446-0360 or rkranz@crain.com

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