I extensively researched the specifications for an SUV recently purchased from Key West Ford. The heavy-duty features I required were not commonly ordered for the SUV, most of which are bought as luxury vehicles in rental fleets. So when a pre-owned SUV showed up at Key West Ford with most of the heavy-duty features, I contacted the dealership.
Jag got back to me. Jag is a personable and helpful person. Jag was responsive to my requests for information and test drives of the “new to me” SUV. Jag has a low pressure approach, and I’m sure that sharing an interest in cars, we could have shot the breeze all day.
May-be customers don’t often ask, but Jag had to consult with his shop manager when I sent Jag a list of all the safety recalls for the SUV. Considering these are safety recalls, it really should be standard procedure for the dealership to check that all of the applicable recalls have been completed before even advertising a vehicle is for sale!
The SUV would be my second purchase from Key West Ford. I learned some expensive lessons when I made my first purchase of a pre-owned car from Key West Ford. Although I should have caught more of the defects on the car, and Key West Ford tried to bring the car back to reasonable standard, there was just too many things the previous owner neglected on the car or tried to hide when trading in the car. The owner of the shop that has since serviced the car said that in thirty years of working on cars, he had never seen a cabin filter as plugged as the one he removed from the car I bought from Key West Ford. The mechanic that does the customization on the car said that the folks at Key West Ford were idiots for not changing out the water pump while the front of the engine was apart to replace the timing chain. The mismatched tires mounted on cheap after-market rims were barely safe to drive on, and replaced at my expense very quickly after buying the car from Key West Ford.
The Internet also provided lots of information for me to formulate a fair offer for the SUV and a trade-in vehicle. The SUV had 20,000 km more than its comparable units, so it is likely that the SUV was traded-in to avoid some big regular maintenance items looming on the horizon, for which I discounted my offer. On the other hand, I knew the trade-in was a unique SUV, impeccably maintained, immaculate inside and out, "like new", and worth every penny of a high trade-in value.
But the real negotiation occurred not with Jag, but with Ian, the Sales Manager. Ian is a nice guy, but shrewd at the same time. The negotiation started off from Ian with, “We are here to take care of you. We truly are.” After which Ian proceeded to diligently protect every dollar he felt that the dealership could extract from the negotiation. Don’t be fooled by dealerships calling themselves “volume dealers” to imply that there are good deals to be had.
I made the mistake of “putting too many of my cards on the table” to early in the negotiation. Be mindful that as consumers we probably negotiate for as many cars in ten years, as the sales personnel at the dealership complete each week.
I started the negotiation high for the trade-in, to which Ian said, “That’s not going to work. This is a business. You have to leave in few dollars for the dealership.” Ian shared advertisements from some comparable vehicles on the market, but all of the vehicles were from Ontario and Quebec, to which I responded, “Are you kidding? There is a lot salt used on the roads during the winter in Ontario and Quebec, so the prices of the comparables are not applicable to our negotiation.”
So we negotiated based on what the margin that trade-in might fetch for the dealership. Mistakenly, I put a number on the table, from which Ian agreed to negotiate. Even at my number, potentially, the dealership would have profited $5,000, a 30% margin, (less overhead) but instead the dealership has advertised the trade-in to potentially pocket almost $9,000 in profit, a 60% margin (less overhead). Leaving that much money on the table really bugs me!
For the SUV I made a fair offer, to which Ian asked, “Could you write a cheque for a $1,000 more?” Ian knew my offer was good, but he still asked for more money. May-be it’s all an act, but I couldn’t bear to see a grown man cry, so I caved.
And when I got the SUV home, I found that the cabin filter, once again, had not been changed, and bulb over the licence plate was burned out. I know these are little things, but every used vehicle at Key West Ford is supposed to undergo a thorough inspection prior to the sale. The dealership has offered to reimburse for the cost of the cabin filter.
And then, personnel and the system at the dealership made a mistake on the final sales invoice, under-charging me by $2,000. Michelle, in Finance at the dealership, caught the mistake. I asked Ian to look into what happened and may-be sweeten the pot a bit, recognizing the dealership made the mistake, not me. “No, there’s not much I can do.” replied Ian. Meanwhile, Michelle threatened to hand over their problem to a collection agency like I’m some kind of petty thief. Being threatened like that, when I did nothing wrong, really bugs me!
Would you blame me if I never went back to Key West Ford?