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What’s the rudest experience you ever had at a dealership?

I was the local Ford dealer in a small city. We were engaged in local charity and public events, like most local business, and my family was grateful for the opportunity to serve the community that provided a living for us and our dealership employees.

After one season where we had worked closely with the local hospital to raise funds for an expensive diagnostic machine, one of the doctors from the fund-raising committee came to the store to ask about a special edition Mustang that was just released by Ford.

We assigned a very competent salesman from our fleet operation to assist the doctor in his query, and I personally spoke with him several times to ensure him that I would get one of the special cars, and that I would offer the car to him at an agreed markup over my cost. He said that we should get the car coming because he was eager to take it home.

Some days later I asked the salesman if we had the car inbound for the doctor, assuming that I would have been informed if the deal had fallen through. We had the car coming, I was told, but the doctor has decided against making the purchase. It seemed that the doctor had reconsidered and wouldn’t be buying the special car. Oh well, no harm no foul- I made the decision to proceed on the doctor’s word, so I would have to to bear the carrying costs myself.

Fast forward a couple months or so and my service manager asks to speak with me about an unusual situation. It seems a body shop customer was going to be without his new car after accident repairs due to a problem getting parts for a special edition Mustang, and the solution to his problem was parked front and center on our lot. The Mustang we brought in for the doctor had the only special edition wheels available anywhere - not even the factory manager whom we had reached out to could find another special wheel so soon after the car’s introduction.

The customer in question was indeed the good doctor. He had taken our agreed price and shopped it around, finding a dealer in the big city who would better the price by $100. Without even asking us to match or discuss, our partner and beneficiary in local fundraising helped his community by taking his business out of town.

In the past, we had made the decision to borrow parts off our inventory to help a customer get back on the road. Parts availability is a challenge, and we would sometimes to pull vehicles out of inventory and eat the costs to remove the parts required, make the donor vehicle unavailable for sale (while still paying interest on the price of that car), and pay to put the parts back on when they eventually do come in. All part of looking after your customer, and a part that the manufacturer doesn’t compensate you for.

Unsurprisingly, when I had called the selling dealer to ask if they would dealer trade my car and supply a wheel to their customer, they just laughed and told me they’d never do that for a fleet price deal.

So, here is the doctor making threats to tell anyone who’ll listen that we won’t fix his car in a timely fashion, that we are withholding the parts required, and that we’re bad members of the local business community. Before I could even begin to figure a dignified answer to those allegations his threatened solution mooted when someone bought the car.

I was never so glad to see a special edition go away, and never so sad to see how nakedly greedy, demanding, entitled, and arrogant one of our community health care leaders was.

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