Some people are never satisfied, as car dealers know.
Sean Kane, a consumer advocate, set out deliberately to buy a used vehicle with an open safety recall at a CarMax store in Massachusetts. He succeeded, purchasing a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee with three unfixed recall orders on it. Now, he's upset that CarMax sold him the Jeep.
CarMax did everything it had to. The company's website includes a link to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's VIN Look-up website, which shows whether cars on CarMax's lots are under recall. (For all I know, Kane used that link to decide which vehicle to buy.) A CarMax salesperson told Kane about the recalls, and Kane signed forms confirming that he had been told.
As CarMax said in a statement, Kane had "the opportunity to walk away or return the vehicle."
But Kane says CarMax downplayed the severity of the safety issues. In other words, CarMax should be faulted because it didn't stress sufficiently -- says Kane -- the significance of the recalls.
Kane also wonders whether the salesperson would have told him of the recalls had Kane not raised the question first. We don't know, but CarMax's people are trained to make sure every customer knows if the vehicle he or she is buying is under recall.
Kane says he went through with the purchase because he wanted to see how CarMax handles the sale of vehicles with open recalls. Well, now he knows: in full compliance with the law.
You got a problem with that?
Sure, they could have done more. AutoNation has decided not to sell any car with an open recall. The policy grounds about 5 to 10 percent of its inventory and, since rivals are unlikely to do likewise, effectively gives the retailer a marketing competitive advantage.
Kane didn't go to AutoNation. He went to CarMax as a stunt. He and his supporters want all car sellers to be banned from selling open-recall cars. Including private sellers? If not, why not?
For some reason, the CarMax incident reminds me of a tale about the famed Japanese movie director Akira Kurosawa.
A movie studio once built for the perfectionist director a full-size, historically accurate 16th-century Japanese castle to be used as a samurai-film set. The studio heads were flabbergasted to learn that he wasn't satisfied. "What's wrong?" they asked.
Kurosawa replied, "You used nails."