Wednesday, May 03, 2006

You Asked for It, You Got It--A Hard Time

A couple of weeks ago, I almost bought a car from Marietta Toyota.

A friend had recommended a Toyota Avalon, saying he found it to be a very comfortable and reliable car for travelling. I have never found our 2004 Honda Accord EX V6 to be comfortable for anything for more than about ten minutes--this is my fourteenth Honda and/or Acura, but they have lost the quality control, fit, and finish that made their autos appealing to me for almost thirty years now--so I checked it out.

The Avalon is indeed a comfortable car, so I made an offer. The salesman's initial offer, based on list price and with a trade-in calculated into the deal, came to $20,200 difference. I countered with $18,000, tax and everything, total difference. This wasn't as bad as it sounded; Jack, the salesman, had calculated my trade-in value on a base model Accord V6 and not the model with navigation (I had looked it up on two different sites to get an idea of value, and he was about $1500 short of what both of them said for a car with less than 15,000 miles on it). I told him to let me know if we had a deal, and I left for a meeting.

Within an hour, Jack (the salesman) called to say we had a deal. Later that afternoon, I drove back to the dealership, ready to close the deal. Jack welcomed me, and said that we were all set; I'd have to pay... $21,685.00.

Yep, that's higher than his initial offer. I was surprised. He said he'd check and find out what was going on; he was confused, too.

Then a surly, foul-mouthed fellow named Jim Greenhaw entered the picture. He's the sales manager, apparently. His first words to me were "You're gonna have to pay more for that car." I told him that I had come back only because he had told Jack that the deal I had offered was approved, and I began walking to the door.

"Wait a minute," he said, raising his hands in a halting motion. "Let's talk." We headed back to Jack's office, where Jim tried the old trick of putting me in a corner in the office with Jim and his chair between me and the door. He then began to tell me how I was trying to take advantage of them, and I was cheating them. I told him again that this was what I was willing to pay, and that apparently there was no further need to talk. At that point, Jim decided that he'd abandon whatever veneer of politeness he had feigned thus far, and became particularly vulgar and abusive in his conversation. Jack was stunned; I was surprised, but not willing to play the game. I stood. Jim tried to keep his chair in between me and the door. I told him that I intended to leave, and he needed to move the chair. He did, but not without a few more crass, rude, vulgar remarks.

I called Toyota to let them know that they had lost a potentially reliable customer. They were concerned, but Marietta Toyota is privately owned and they have limited control over the dealership. They indicated that I might wish to talk to Tom Ravita, the customer relations manager, or to David Strother, Jr., the owner. I left messages for both.

Three days later, Tom called me back, seemed very concerned, and promised to get back to me. The owner, however, couldn't be bothered to return any phone calls at all; apparently he considers this normal business procedure for Marietta Toyota.

Tom's promise turned out to be rather empty; he didn't call. A week later, to see what was going on, I called him. He seemed totally ignorant of our prior conversation until I refreshed his memory. "Oh, didn't Jack call you?" No, he didn't--but Tom assured me he'd call within an hour.

The day passed, and no further phone calls.

Apparently, Marietta Toyota is in business simply to offend people. Remember, if you have any interest in buying a car, that a dealer is going to put on his best face when he's trying to sell you the car; it only goes downhill from there. So if the initial response was this abhorrent, just imagine how their service department, etc., must be.

I'm now looking at an Infiniti M35, a BMW 530i, and a Lexus ES350. I'll let you know if any of them catches my fancy...


Tom said...

In my experience, very poor salesmen tend to panic when confronted with a person of unflappable calm who is conversant with logic and reason...and they feel absolutely cornered if they realize that you're also twice as smart as them. Knowing how self-confidently you probably behaved, I'm half surprised they didn't howl, hurl bones into the air and try to pelt you with their own excrement on your way out the door.

Heather said...

It's all about money and when they realize they're not getting yours, they flip out. I'm sorry you had to be treated that way and I'm certainly sorry no one else in charge seemed to care! Good luck with one of the other dealerships.

Doug said...

Car buying is such a miserable experience. The commission-based sales leave very little in the hands of the customer, unless you're buying a leftover year model while the new versions are already being shipped in. That's the only way I was able to get the deal I did on my 2004 Chevy Colorado, which is the first and last American vehicle I'll buy.

robcasting said...

Back in July 2000 when I was looking for a Jeep I went by Marietta Jeep. Across from there, in front of Marietta Toyota, was a man walking up and down the road holding a sign saying something to the effect of "Don't Buy Here," or "Marietta Toyata rips off their customers." So, when you you were looking there my mind went "uh-oh." Looks like six years later they havent gotten any better.