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Auto dealer service department true story

Incite on why some auto dealers may be willing to sacrifice customer satisfaction in order to secure maximum profit.
I worked for an auto dealer service department that had a tendency for playing hardball with its customers.

Why would they do this? Isn’t the customer always right? Doesn’t the dealership value your business? 

Well this auto dealer had an exclusive area franchise and considered themselves the only game in town. If you decided to try another auto dealership of this brand you had to drive more than an hour to get there.

This cornering of the local market was used by the auto dealership against its customers. The owner of the dealership would get excited when customers would get irate and would usually handle the complaints in person, which is very unusual.

He had a complete service department staff to handle such matters. But he enjoyed the confrontation so much he would push everyone aside and handle the automotive consumer directly.

When the customer would get to the point when they realized who they where dealing with and that conversation was futile, they would threaten a lawsuit. 
Well the owner had a standard response he used on the irate customer when they threatened to sue. He would say, me and my team of lawyers have deep pockets and live for litigation, see you in court.

And that was the end of the conversation. Either you spent the money on litigation or you accepted the dealerships pricing decision. ninety percent of the people would give up at this point but the other 10% would actually go to court over the given issue.

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When the owner said he was willing to go to court he meant it. I remember many days when the owner and selected service department staff would dress up and go to court.

The good news is he lost as much as 50% of the time if the case did go to court. When he came back from his losing court cases he was chewing nails and veins were popping out of his head. This man hated to lose.

On one occasion we had a customer take a different route. The customer made a big picket sign and took off from work and picketed the auto dealer service building from open till close.

This picketers wife would take over so he could have lunch and bathroom breaks.
Well after 2 days the owner finally got a court injunction to stop the picketer.
The picketer was removed with great force by local police (kicking and screaming comes to mind).

The funny part of the story was the auto dealer service department employees where all pulling for the picketer. The owner treated his employees worse than his customers.

I could write a whole book just about this one dealership and its owner. The auto dealership was crammed with so much inventory there was no employee parking.

The entire staff (except the owner) had to park a mile away at the city ball field and walk to work in –30 degree wind chills and heavy nor’easter snowstorms. I worked at this dealership for two years because I enjoyed working on the exclusive product line and didn’t want to drive the hour and 15 minutes to the next closest same brand name auto dealer.

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So if your wondering why the auto dealer service department is not treating you fairly, you might take a look around the area for another same brand dealership to visit. If there are none, then you might just have your answer.

I have a lot more incite on why the automotive business is stacked against its life blood (the customer).
Mark Gittelman is an ASE Certified Master Technician With more than 23 years experience in the automotive repair business. For more free automotive information and stories visit the Auto-Facts blog. Or if you would like to post a car question visit his auto repair help page.