Jamie LaReau
Jamie LaReau
Retail / F&I Reporter

Don't promise a customer what you can't deliver

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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani once said that to succeed, it is best to “under-promise and over-deliver.”

Many dealers do a stellar job of over-delivering for their customers.

But customer relationships are delicate. A mistake in one area can undercut goodwill built in another.

In a dealership, the service department is where customer relationships are made or destroyed. That’s where the real customer retention takes place.

I’m a case in point.

In December, the windshield on my 2013 Volkswagen GTI cracked -- for the second time within a month. There was no sign that a rock had hit it. I had replaced the first factory windshield, but when it happened again, in the same location, I questioned if something was wrong with the frame or fitting to cause it to crack so easily.

I called my dealership. My salesman assured me the service department would look into it and, no matter what, take care of me.

It did not.

I repeatedly had to call the service adviser inquiring as to the status of the windshield replacement. He either did not return my calls or brushed me off, saying he was working on trying to get the manufacturer to pay for it. After three months of no progress, I pressed him and he said Volkswagen would not pay to replace it and he passed me off to an independent windshield replacement company.

I am not angry about paying to fix it again. But I feel disrespected and frustrated by the service adviser’s lack of communication. And I feel duped by an empty promise that the service department would take care of me, when in fact it did not.

I liked my dealership and felt the sales staff had integrity. I enjoyed the easy, smooth sales process and paid a price I thought was fair.

But when it came to service, it over-promised and under-delivered.

In my mind, it failed.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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