Here’s a cautionary case study for car dealers everywhere. And it features me.
The lease on one of my family cars is coming to an end. In December I’ll need to hand over the keys after 36 months. I’ve really enjoyed the car more than I expected. I’ve even been toying with the idea of buying out the lease and keeping it. But here’s the trouble: The factory, the finance company and my local dealer are so clingy that I’m almost tired of dealing with them.
With three months to go before turning in the keys, I have received:
A letter from the factory offering me a new lease if I want to return the car ahead of schedule.
A second letter from the factory telling me that if I want to return the car early, I can start a new lease with no security deposit.
A Saturday morning phone call from the general manager of a local dealership telling me that if I want to return the car early I can have a new lease with no security deposit.
A phone call at home from the captive finance company -- unaware that the dealership had also called me -- telling me that if I want to return the car early I can start a new lease with no security deposit.
A phone call at the office from someone else at the captive finance company telling me I can additionally have $1,000 off the lease closing costs if I come in early -- unaware that both the dealership and someone from the finance company’s call center had already called me.
A phone call at the office from a salesman at the same dealership, unaware that his boss had already called me on a Saturday morning, telling me he was following up on “a request” I had supposedly made to the captive finance arm, but unaware that the finance company had offered me $1,000 off the closing costs.
A second phone call from the salesman confirming that the captive’s $1,000 offer was good.
Another phone call on my cellphone during dinner at home from the finance company “following up” on the request I supposedly made to the dealership salesman who had called following up on the request I supposedly made to the finance company.
An e-mail from a woman at the dealership informing me that she had “received my request” and asking whether my e-mail address was a good one to use.
Another phone call at the office from someone else at the finance company, “following up” on the request I allegedly made during the dinner phone call about following up on whatever call that was.
Another e-mail from the woman at the dealership informing me that a salesman was working on my “request” and planning to call me.
Another e-mail from the woman at the dealership telling me again that a salesman was still working on my request and asking me what my phone number is.
And I still have 80 days to go.
I asked the finance company to please stop phoning me at the office, but I suspect that if I hadn’t, this list would be longer still.
I mentioned to the salesman that it seemed like a lot of people fussing over one measly car return. He told me that his dealership simply has a depleted inventory of used vehicles and is eager to restock the lot.
Maybe. But from my end it sounds more like an automaker tripping over its feet to handle a sales lead.
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