Just bought a Malibu - my dealership experience
I purchased a new Malibu last week. I thought some of the members here might be interested in my dealership experience.
In order to understand my experience, you should know about my previous experiences. Two cars ago, I called a dealer (import brand) about 90 minutes away. I told the salesman what I wanted. He said he had one in stock and gave me the price. A few days later, I drove down to the dealership, signed some papers and drove away. The entire affair took less than 30 minutes.
For the last car I purchased, I went to the brand’s web site, decided on the color and trim level I wanted and started calling dealers until I found one in stock. That afternoon I drove to the dealer, signed the papers and traded in my old car. I was there no more than 1 hour.
This time I went to the Chevrolet dealership. I told the salesman what I wanted, and I encountered my first problem. Unlike foreign (or at least Asian) brands, GM offers countless trim/option/color packages. There is no way any dealer can stock all of them. Therefore, it is inevitable that customers must either (1) spend money on options they do not want, (2) buy a car lacking options they do want, (3) ask for a dealer trade (problem with this discussed below) or (4) wait six weeks and order. None of these options promotes customer satisfaction.
I told my dealer I would accept any of the following: 1LT, black, power convenience package; or 2LT, red or black, no options. Nothing in stock (of course). I asked my dealer to see if he could find what I wanted and do a dealer trade. I sat in the dealership for 2 hours waiting for a response. I was told it was the end of the month and the other dealers did not want to agree to a trade if they could sell the cars themselves.
Finally another dealer agrees. I then learn that my dealership did not process any of my paperwork until it had a VIN. Therefore, I was in the dealership ANOTHER 3 hours waiting for my salesman to do his thing, then waiting for the sales manager to do whatever he does (???), then waiting for the finance manager to do his thing.
About my meeting with the finance manager, who was all of 22 years old. I sit down at his desk expecting to sign a loan agreement. Instead, he shows me a sheet of “finance options” (his words). Only because I am sophisticated and experienced enough do I realized that he is trying to sell my all sorts of unnecessary insurance (mechanical breakdown insurance that duplicates GM’s warranty, gap insurance, car payment insurance if I lose my job even though I told him I already have disability insurance). The price of this insurance was added to the auto loan payment so I was never told what it would cost, but I could calculate that it would be as much as $200/month.
After being at the dealership from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., (from what I could see, I was the only customer in site) I was told my car would be in the next day.
The next day comes. Around 3:00 p.m., I get a call and am told that my car has arrived (my “new” car now has 235 miles on it), it needs to be cleaned up and Auto Armour applied, and then I can pick it up. 6:30 p.m. comes and goes with no call. I have other plans that night so I drive to the dealer. I have the title to my trade-in with me. I expect to sign the title, get the keys to my new car and leave. Nooooooo.
At this point, I learn that the dealer trade arrived “trashed” (salesman’s word) and with damage that could not be washed out. My car was not ready because after the Auto Armour was applied, someone decided the car looked like crap and the undefined damage needed to be buffed out. Therefore the Auto Armour needed to be reapplied. This was taking time.
QUESTION: Didn’t I pay $325 for the jewel tint coat that was just buffed off my car?
The following is not a joke: during all of this, I had to endure my salesman telling me how great his Kia Optima was and how he also sells Hyundais, and the Genesis makes the 5 Series and E class look like junk. (He spent $950 on two pairs of eye glasses. Do you care?)
At the end of it all, I am sent to the dealership’s manager to take an “exit survey” (salesman hovering in the background). I am informed that GM is going to send me a survey, and if I answer less than “completely satisfied” for any of the questions, my salesman and the dealership will lose some bonus.
It is now 9:00 p.m. (again). I had already told the salesman that I needed to leave at 7:00 p.m. That does not stop him from giving me the full monty introduction to my car. (Believe it or not, I did already know that the snowflake button means “air conditioning”.)
Here is my perspective. The car is great. The salesman plays by the rules that GM and his dealership set, so I can’t get to mad at him (just annoyed). My problems are these:
(1) GM needs to offer products that can be stocked at the dealerships. I lost a $250 Visa gift card because I did not purchase from stock. The way GM builds cars forces customers to compromise and feel much less than satisfied. They need no more than 3 trim levels, with only dealer installed options. Forcing dealer trades costs everyone money. It simply is inefficient. By comparison, Go to hyundai.com and build a Sonata. 1 engine. 3 trim levels. 1 factory option (navigation). Everything else is dealer installed. Sonata outsells the Malibu. This is what I am talking about.
(2) Dealerships need to get real. I was told I needed to buy “today” (September 30) or I would lose the dealership’s preferred pricing offer. This is just a slimy sales tactic.
(3) The fact that one Chevrolet dealer sent a damaged car and another one accepted it pisses me off to no end.
(4) I feel sorry for the “finance manager” kid who is forced to sell ethically challenged insurance policies on commission. Once again, this is the dealership’s fault. I am sure the dealership owner makes money, but the sales tactics makes customers feel like they are getting screwed at every turn (they are if they but this stuff).
I will never buy from this dealership again (heck, I am not even going to get my "free" oil change there), and I will think twice about buying a GM product again.
(Other than that, the car itself is fantastic.)