Dealers, prevent costly investigations by taking consumers' complaints seriously. Treat them like ransom notes, says Reynolds' Terry O'Loughlin.
Unresolved consumer complaints are one of the main drivers of dealership scuffles with state attorneys general, said O'Loughlin, director of compliance for Reynolds and Reynolds Co.'s documents business.
The dealership's reputation can take a big hit, and even worse, it may end up losing business and paying hefty fines. If dealerships give customers the runaround when they try to talk with the staff about a complaint, customers will likely turn to private attorneys or file the complaint with a state consumer protection agency, O'Loughlin said.
Conversely, if dealerships address complaints quickly and keep paper trails, they will be more likely to stay out of regulators' crosshairs.
"If the dealer had resolved those issues before they ever found their way to the attorney general's office, no one would know," O'Loughlin told Automotive News. "That's why [the complaints] don't get noticed."
One complaint is unlikely to incite an investigation, but if complaints accumulate over time, officials could be knocking on a dealer's door, O'Loughlin said.
"That complaint gets placed in the stack. Say if that F&I manager is not being fair to consumers, he gets four, five, six consumers angry, they all get put in the file, and all of a sudden the investigators are looking at the file," he said.