Confessions of a car shopper

I was asked to write an article about our sales process at Mojo Motors. I’ll do that at some point, but I had an interesting email from a close friend that I’d like to share with his permission instead.

James, a freelance photographer, is in the middle of shopping for a used car.  I gave him some pointers and sent him an article, “Confessions of a Used Car Salesman,” that I consider THE seminal work on the car business—it is required reading at Mojo Motors and should be required reading before you buy a car. The following is an email he sent back to me.

Jon O,

After reading that Edmunds article on the train, I felt prepared to deal with the Volvo dealer and I kid you not, the guy I dealt with at the Volvo store acted like he was reading from a script.

I walked into the dealer and immediately noticed the tower, where the managers reign supreme. A voice came over the loud speaker from the receptionist calling for a salesman to the floor.

A salesman slowly walked toward me with this evil grin and shook my hand (with three pumps). His get-up was complete with a massive watch, a white shirt and a slick tie.

I explained what I was looking for and we walked over to his desk.

As if on command, he then proceeded to tell a few jokes when I began to sit – “Please sit down, I’m not going to tie you down just yet.”

His next move was to try and make me fill out loan forms, but I cut him off, explaining that I only wanted to test drive a car. As I walked to follow him, he told me to wait while he heated up the car. Being that it was 40 degrees outside, that was not necessary.

Not only did he lie and say the current temperature was 22 degrees, but when I persisted on going with him to drive the car, he even said, “this is not how it’s supposed to work.”

While waiting for 10 minutes in the showroom, a different salesman who I’ve talked to before called my name across the show room (I’m assuming he looked it up before walking over) and told me he was insulted that I didn’t ask for him when looking for a car.

The test drive went well because I assumed the salesman was trying to sweet talk me in order to buy the car. He told me stories about his family history of driving Volvos. I actually changed my mind and started to like this guy.

Upon telling him that I’d have to wait to buy the car, he looked pissed that he wasn’t getting the sale. He still tried to have me sit down and fill out some loan forms.

All in all very sneaky, but I wasn’t too surprised.

BUT, what happened later that night completely blew me away. Keep in mind that I never filled out any forms or signed anything. I missed a call from the salesman and this is a summery of his voicemail:

“Listen, I put in a few calls and it looks like we’re on board. If I don’t hear from you in the next thirty minutes, I’m going to ship all the paperwork, the title and all the registration directly to your address, we’ll put the car in your driveway plated and I’ll be over tomorrow morning to shake your hand. Congrats on your new car. Talk to you soon, pal.”

What a joke. This guy was threatening me to force me to buy a car if I didn’t respond.

Maybe you can share this with your team to show how low these scumbags can go. He even called me pal… jerk!

- James

As a whole, the automotive industry has progressed by leaps and bounds in the last decade in terms of customer service but there are still some salesmen who fit the stereotype. They look at each walk-in as wallet with legs—some poor sap that they’re going to pull the wool over in order to hit their numbers.

These are the types of dealers that we try to steer clear of at Mojo and with good reason. It reflects poorly on Mojo, it reflects poorly on them and on our entire industry. We’ve made a few misguided partnerships in the past, but when a problem dealer surfaces, we have taken pride in terminating our partnership and correcting the wrong.


Photo credits: Ronaldo.S’s Flickr