How the high rollers buy a Rolls-Royce
Ian Robertson: An easy sale
Ian Robertson, BMW's global head of sales and marketing, was discussing the impulsiveness of some car buyers -- especially high rollers -- when he recalled his days as CEO of Rolls-Royce. Rolls was displaying a car on the 18th fairway at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
"We had a Rolls-Royce on the lawn about five years ago. Bloke turns up and says, 'Yeah, I'll take it.'
"'Well, it's actually on the lawn,' I said.
"'Yeah, but I want it.'
"It was 475,000 U.S. dollars, and he got out a black American Express card. Well, giving me a black American Express card wasn't helpful because I didn't know what to do with it.
"Fortunately, it was Sunday lunchtime and [the Concours d'Elegance] was all ending in about three hours time and I rang the dealer just south of San Francisco and said, 'I've got a customer here with black American Express card. Can you take the number?' He put it in and said, 'No problem, I'll come down with the plates.'"
The American Express Centurion Card, known informally as the black card, is exclusive to superwealthy customers. If you have to ask what the limit is, you don't qualify for one.
"The dealer said to me: 'This guy is really smart.' By buying it on his black card he clearly got a kick out of it, but he also got enough points for first-class airfare around the world."