Customer Service is Dead at the Car Lot

We’ve been looking for a car for a few weeks. Sure, it’s not an ideal time to buy a car when the economy is tanking, but we need a car. So, we’ve been looking locally. And kind of locally. We went to Morristown and looked at Hondas. “Because of COVID” they have been “working staggered shifts.” So after my first visit there to look for a car which had 2 requirements: manual transmission and sunroof, we dealt with literally 5 different sales people and a secretary to try to get a car. NOBODY would call us back. They wanted to text… after saying they would call back. Or they had someone else call back to check in. I have no time for that. I’ve worked customer service for the majority of my adult life and I find it helpful as a sales person to do what I say I’m going to do and not shirk my responsibility off on someone else. We finally found a car at Carmax. It wasn’t a Honda like I had hoped, but it did have a sunroof and a manual transmission. It was a Mazda 3. A small sporty little car that looked like it would be really fun to drive.

We went through all the steps– financing pre-approval online, picking the car we wanted, requesting it be shipped to Knoxville and paying the shipping fee. Again, we had to talk to 3 people to get that far. The first one and the second one had no follow through. The third one, Katherine, was awesome. Checked on everything we wanted. Ran the numbers. Got us squared away with a lender. Answered all our questions. Even upsold us to the MaxCare insurance that helps if things break. All we had to do was wait for the car to arrive and they would call us.

The car arrived. No call. I don’t feel like it is our job to track down the car that we paid to have delivered. Even if the car wasn’t quite ready for pick up or test drive, I feel like a phone call to update us on the situation would be the basic standard of customer service.

I was wrong.

We had to call our local office, which bounced us to the Arizona office. The person in Arizona acted like they had no idea what was happening with the car. It was like they couldn’t tell we had been pre-approved. They couldn’t tell we had paid to ship it here. They couldn’t tell anything. And they couldn’t tell US anything. We finally had to go online and request someone from the local store call us using the “contact us” feature. When someone finally called to check in, he said, “looks like you were looking at a Mazda 3, but the one you are looking at just got here so I don’t know if it’s available or not.” To which my guy replied, “yeah, we paid to ship it here, and we want to buy it.” Which confused the guy and he said he’d check on it and call back. AND THEN HE SENT A TEXT.

What is it with people not wanting to talk on the phone? I mean, I’m not a huge fan of talking on the phone, but damn, if that was my job I think I’d quickly get over it. So the text says the car needed a part and had some dents that needed to be popped out. Online, there were not dings or dents or missing parts. When we talked to Katherine, she didn’t mention dings or dents or missing parts. But when it got to Knoxville, now it has dings and dents and missing parts. We asked for a picture of the dents. He says, “I’m with a customer now and don’t have time, I’ll send some later.” Are we not customers?

By this point, I have already decided I don’t think I want to even deal with Carmax. If buying a car is this difficult, how difficult is it going to be to get it fixed if something goes wrong even if we do have the extra insurance?

I ended up calling Carmax and asking to speak to someone (a manager) in the Knoxville store. I was put on hold for 10 minutes before I finally said fuck it and hung up. After a few minutes, I got a call from the store manager or general manager or something from the Knoxville store. I tried to keep my composure as I told him how irritated I was that it is seemingly impossible to purchase a car.

He apologized and offered to refund our shipping fee but said that the dents were pretty bad and he wasn’t sure if the “dent wizard” was going to be able to get the dent out but I could come test drive the car and see if I like before they know if they will actually be able to sell it. Why would I want to drive 25 minutes to test drive a car that I may not be able to buy? It’s just been a headache of an experience. They are supposed to call today and let us know the status of the “dent wizard” attempts at fixing the dings. So far, we haven’t heard anything.

The funny thing is, I thought buying a car would be super easy. I remember back in the day, if you walked on a car lot, they called you every single day to check and see if you found something until you either told them yes you had, bought one from them or politely asked them to go get fucked. Not now. You practically have to offer blow jobs to the whole office to even get a call back, and even then, they’d rather text you.

It’s no wonder car sales are down 40%. I don’t think we can blame all of that on COVID-19. I mean, if they treat everybody who wants to buy a car the way that I’ve been treated in the last 2 weeks while I am practically throwing a $20k sale their way that’s a lot of money to lose if one person walks a way every day and decided to either buy somewhere else or not buy at all because the customer service sucks.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m no math wizard, but if a company like Carmax loses one customer a day and I’m just talking a customer like me who was spending around $20k on a car. Not even someone who wants to spend $30-40k. If one person walks away daily, that’s an almost $7 million loss per year. Now, maybe for a company that makes $18 billion annually, they can afford to lose $7m, but if it were my company, I’d want to make every penny.

So, needless to say, we are back on a car search because I don’t think we will be giving Carmax our hard earned money after all. And while it may not be a drop in the bucket for them or their customer service folks, it will be a place that never gets any of our money from now until forever. And eventually, if they keep on with the crappy service, they won’t have a bucket.

Rant over.

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