What’s Your Best-Ever Car Dealer Experience?

August 29th, 2012

Suzuki dealer

If I asked you to rank car dealers on a list of trustworthy and respectable businesses, where would you place them?

The truth is, dealerships deserve a higher ranking than many of us would grant them. In this era of online dealer reviews, fierce competition and online research by customers, car dealers know they have to provide superior customer service, because with today’s customer they get only one chance.

Like anyone else, I’ve had excellent and disgusting experiences with car dealers. I’ll share an excellent one here, mention a disturbing Google trend and, of course, ask for your story of the best dealer experiences you’ve ever had.

Automotive News reported that Google has removed hundreds of reviews of dealerships from dealer pages on Google+. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason behind this, which understandably ticks off dealers.

The article gives an example of a Suzuki dealer who saw 400 reviews disappear into the vast emptiness of the Google vortex. He said,

Google believes it can do whatever it wants and has no accountability.

Of course, with the positive reviews gone, his dealership watched its positive ranking disappear. Google did respond, but said it simply tried to make sure that reviews are “authentic, relevant, and useful” to its users. While we can’t be sure all those 400 reviews were genuine and not planted by the dealer, it doesn’t seem right that Google can simply delete what it deems irrelevant. Aside from a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, there’s not much in the way of recourse the dealership owner can pursue except to build up a new library of positive reviews one customer at a time.

2004 Lexus RX 330For dealer reviews you can be sure are genuine, check out the CarGurus used listings. Actual customers rate and review their dealer experiences, with the vast majority being positive. They can be really helpful—check them out.

When I was in the market for a used SUV for my wife, we found ourselves at a Lexus dealer looking at a used RX 350. While that particular car was over our budget, the salesman knew of a possible trade-in coming from a retired couple. That car was an RX 330 purchased 5 years earlier. We let him know our interest and parted ways. He kept in touch via email and let us know the status of the car until one day, about three weeks later, he said it was finally available.

This was in 2009 and the car, a 2004 model, had just 24,000 miles on it. The back seats had never even been sat in. The car was an absolute diamond, but still priced just outside our range. Not willing to overextend ourselves, we offered a price we were comfortable with and the dealership accepted. There was never pressure, just a respectful business deal where our interests were listened to and our needs met. Plus, the dealership offers perks for buyers, such as free rides to the airport and complementary car washes, which we still take advantage of over three years and 40,000 miles later.

That’s the kind of experience that will keep customers coming back.

Which car brand have you had the best car dealer experience buying?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Lexus RX 350
Used Lexus RX 330

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  1. April 2nd, 2015 at 22:11 | #1

    My wife and I have a leased vehicle which we have to turn in in 34 days. We started looking for a 2014 or 2015 Ford Focus in the area we live in WI. there are several Ford Dealers around here, after 1 month we had no luck with getting any good deals. So I started to search thru CarGurus and we found that if we went to the south of our hometown we could find better pricing on the exact car we were Looking for. We wanted a Ford Escape after talking with a lot of escape owners, we started to see good pricing in the Random Lake and Plymouth area so we went there and we saw a few good ones but we knew we wanted the 2.0 eco-boost engine after driving all the different ones in our hometown. We wanted the SE Escape, Well we ended up in my old town of Sheboygan, WI. at Dick Brantmeier Ford and we found what ended up being the vehicle we bought. Chad R. was the salesman we worked with and he was new to the dealership but others need to experience his work, he listens to you and does not give you that pressured feeling that sale people give you. we told him what we wanted and he told us about 2 Escapes they had that had more then we were looking for in options, and he said why don’t you just take one for a ride and see what you think of it. Well we did and fell in love with the vehicle after a 20 minute ride to see how it drove in different conditions we went back to the dealer and sat down to talk, he said he had the best price on that SUV and we asked what it was and after all the others we drove he was right nobody else was even close to his price of course I had to try to talk him down but I knew it was a fantastic price before that, he got the sale manager there to talk with us and we got all the information we needed and told them we would talk and let them know what we would do. And he said what they train them to say no guarantee the car will be here much longer and he was right it might not but we took a chance anyway after all it was late Saturday. Well we went back home and made up our mind and went back on Monday and purchased the vehicle and even though they do not give customers a full tank of gas Chad did for us, our entire shopping experience there was fantastic and am happy that we stopped and talk to someone at Brantmeier Ford of Sheboygan if you need a new or used Ford go check these guys out!

  2. Randy
    August 29th, 2012 at 19:45 | #2

    The Toyota dealer where I got my Prius was quite good, but I haven’t had a chance to use the service department yet, so that opinion might change. We had an equally great experience with the local Honda dealer, only to end up with a service department where every trip was seeing a line of angry customers yelling at the service manager. Our Saturn dealer actually tried to trick my wife into replacing a perfectly operating A/C compressor instead of fixing a loose wire. A local Pontiac dealer charged new body repair parts but glued together some old ones. The mechanic strangely “found” the new part in his toolbox, but somehow forgot to install them. (but not to glue the old parts back togethe.)
    I’m glad you’ve had some good experiences, but auto dealers and repair shops remain by far the number one source for screwed, angry customers, consumer complaints, fraud, misrepresentation, and shifty, unethical business practices. I can honestly say that virtually every dirty, underhanded, crooked thing that’s ever been tried on my was by an auto dealership.

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