(Continued from Part 1)
Fred and I waited for someone to pick up the phone. Now that I knew the vacation spiff was worthless, there was no way I was going to pay MSRP for the Ranger. It’s simply a matter of principle.
No one was answering, so I made my way down to the salesman’s office. He wasn’t in there. I asked the receptionist to page him. There was more waiting. A few minutes later, she got a call from him saying he was with another customer and would be a while. Another 20 minutes passed.
Enough. It was getting late and I either had to get back to Sackville or make plans to have someone else pick up Leo at daycare. I took a walk around the lot but the salesguy was nowhere to be seen. I returned to the receptionist and asked her to page him again, this time conveying my increasing sense of urgency. She reluctantly called for him again, but this time there was no response.
I went upstairs to get a better surveillance vantage point so I wouldn’t miss him when he returned to his office. I texted a friend who could pick up Leo. Then, I cooled my heels for another 15 minutes before he finally appeared. When he saw me he didn’t seem to want to stop and talk so I intercepted him. (Smiling politely, of course.)
“This trip is no good,” I told him. “I’m going to generously estimate that you paid $400 for this ‘vacation’, although it was positioned as having much higher value than that when we first spoke. I’m going to try and be reasonable, so we can still make this deal happen if you waive the admin fee.”
He tried to explain that the vacation was actually as he had described, and not like the brochure said. Uh huh. Right.
“Well, it’s a new promotion and we were only just briefed on it yesterday,” he acquiesced. We went to his office and he called in the sales manager.
As we waited, I chatted with him. “You guys have a tough job. I know it’s hard to keep your customers happy and still make a buck. Sales managers put a lot of pressure on the front-line guys. I hope you understand I’m not doing this to be difficult.”
He grumbled a bit of frustration about this not being the first time he’d been briefed inappropriately on a a promotion like this. Good. I had probably pre-emptively neutralized the old good-cop-bad-cop routine that was coming, by becoming the good cop myself.
The sales manager arrived with a “What seems to be the problem here?” type of opener. I told him I had travelled from Sackville NB for two hours in good faith to buy a truck, lured in part by what had turned out to be inaccurate information about their sales promotion.
“Let me explain to you how the trip works,” he began.
“No thanks, I can read,” I responded, pointing at the fine print at the back of the brochure. “I also found out what the Internet has to say about this company and it’s not giving me warm fuzzies.”
“You have to take it, we’ve already bought it. That’s the way it works.”
“Sell it to someone else.”
He turned red and some veins bulged on his head.
“So you’re not going to listen to what I have to say?” he asked, a bit heatedly.
“You’re charging me MSRP on the truck, so it would have to be good.”
“Oh, because you can read, right?”
He grew redder.
“Look,” I said.”I’m trying to be reasonable. I’m giving you guys the benefit of the doubt on this being a genuine misunderstanding.” I looked sympathetically at the salesman, who was sitting quietly at his desk. “I’m only asking that you keep the trip and waive the admin fee. With that, I drive away in a new truck. If you can’t do that, I’ll ask for the keys to the Dodge and my driver’s license back and simply head home with some not-very-nice feelings about your dealership. Your call.”
“Give me a minute,” he steamed, and left the office.
I couldn’t really understand why he was so pissed off, but then I realized that the $20K offered for my trade was probably more than they really thought it was worth, but now it was too late for them to change it.
The sales manager returned.
“Okay: we can’t waive the admin fee, because that’s the way our finance manager gets paid…”
I suppressed a guffaw.
“…but we’re willing to knock four hundred bucks off the price of the truck to make this happen. Deal?” He extended his hand.
“Deal.” We shook.
It took another hour or so for me to get out of there because the salesman had to run through the delivery checklist, explain some stuff in the manual, tell me about the roadside assistance, etc. Then I had transfer all my tools and junk in the Dodge into my new Ranger (which, thankfully, had all the specifications I expected.)
On the long drive home, I breathed a sigh of relief for having survived another match with a big car dealership, without getting completely screwed. And that’s really all a vehicle buyer can hope for.