Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Blogs can kill brands

Blogs can kill brands
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At the last moment, my wife and I decided to drive north and visit with family for the holidays. Flights were sold-out or seemed rather overpriced, and our little Tercel seemed hardly up to the journey, given the potential driving conditions. We ultimately agreed that the time had come to give in to that dreaded suburban icon: the minivan.

Given the practicality of this type of vehicle and our expanding family’s plans for future road-trips, it seemed to make perfect sense. So, I slogged through endless car reviews, comparisons, fuel-economy and safety ratings, and focused our search on a low-mileage Honda Odyssey.

A great performance, but a horrible experience

In my mind, there’s little enjoyment in a vehicle purchase, and given our urgency we were motivated to have it done with. Applying as systematic of an approach to the purchase as possible, I developed matrices for comparison, and narrowed our search to one car at Deer Lake Chrysler (now Metrotown Mitsubishi Clearance Centre) in Burnaby. I made a quick call and was then led through what seemed like a highly choreographed production.

We started with the routine that most would expect of a car dealership: haggling, bargaining, stories about how they were selling to me below cost, and those rather staged, “I’ll check with my manager” absences. To be fair though, the sales person seemed like a pretty nice fellow. I chalked the whole thing up to the nature of his profession. I agreed to a price and signed the purchase agreement.

I then was led to Deer Lake Chrysler’s Business Manager, who could well have been the model for a character in the play Glengarry Glen Ross. He brought out elaborate charts and launched into persuasive dialogue on how I really needed to spend $4,000 on a warranty package. The charade hit what I felt was a high note when he explained to me, “Don’t believe what those sales guys tell you; you can’t trust any of them.” I couldn’t believe this guy; why would any business-person state that their coworkers were dishonest?

Now I know what you’re thinking. Why wouldn’t I just back out then? The truth is that I was stuck, and so worn-out that I had little energy left to fight. Now, I could tell you about how he continued by trying to slip in an extra $500 in charges and then threatened me when I asked what they were doing on the bill; or, I could talk about the bait and switch involved in how the car was advertised; heck, I could even go on about the Oscar-worthy performance that he launched into for “taking the sales person’s commission.”

Instead, I want to talk about brands.

Brands are not identities (repeat, repeat, repeat…)

I’m always amazed by the magical reverence that people place upon identity systems. There’s a notion that many subscribe to, that these systems and strategies can transcend reality. Surely, brand assets can do amazing things, but a fresh coat of paint on a crumbling building doesn’t transform it into a sound structure.

Identities are positioning systems–quite often they can be looked upon as icons and patterns that assist in the taxonomy and understanding of products and services. (For example, clean photographs with ample white space help us identify an advertisement as being one of Apple’s.) Brands are less easy to define. They are a collection of both tangible and ethereal elements that typically become greater than the sum of their parts.

Brands are everything to a business, and many groups destroy their brands by confusing a well-designed identity system as a substitute for a positive brand experience. Your graphic standards are just one small aspect of your brand. Equally important is the sincerity of your smile, the cleanliness of your workspace, how you return or don’t return phone calls, and a litany of other experience-based markers.

Brands require long-term attention to detail, and regardless of whether your business talks about branding or not, you have a brand.

The cost of a negative brand experience

For all of the pitches and tricks that seemed to be part of Deer Lake Chrysler’s (Metrotown Mitsubishi) modus operandi, I still spent no more on the minivan than I had originally intended to. The song and dance simply did not work. I didn’t purchase the seemingly exorbitantly-priced warranty package; I demanded they remove the unauthorized charges; and I was unwilling to be “guilted” into overpaying, regardless of how that might affect the salesperson’s commission.

In the weeks since buying our van from Deer Lake Chrysler (Metrotown Mitsubishi), I have spoken with no fewer than a dozen people about how disappointing the experience was. I will never entertain the notion of visiting the dealership again. Perhaps more importantly, the experience sat with me for so long, that it made its way into this blog.

So, let’s add this up. I’ll never buy a car there. My friends are now unlikely to shop there. The 60,000 people who read this blog monthly will, at very least, think twice about looking at cars there. The total purchase my wife and I made added up to less than $25,000. My question is: How many advertisements have to be run to gain one new customer, versus the many lost to a negative brand experience?

Good brands are about common sense

On the flip-side, the people at Deer Lake Chrysler (Metrotown Mitsubishi) could have treated the transaction as our “first engagement”. It could have set the stage for numerous future purchases (I intend to drive something other than a minivan in the future), and continued positive word of mouth. I needed no special bonus, no gift package, and no “cash-back” allowance. I just expected to be treated respectfully. Total cost of doing so: zero. Isn’t that great for business-owners? The most lasting and memorable things you can do for your customer cost little to nothing.

I have amazing brand experiences all the time and I share these stories with peers. This is what Chuck Brymer from DDB alludes to when he talks about swarms. You create swarms around brands by doing something remarkable: acknowledging and correcting mistakes, being forthcoming, and treating your customers as humans, not “targets”. Any number of things can make a customer feel like they matter. This is often all it takes to establish a brand that will enjoy loyal customer relationships and naturally generate repeat sales.

I think the key to all of this is in tasting your own medicine. Walk in to your business as though you are the customer, and see how you feel by your own business practices. Do you feel attended to? Cared for? Respected? I would hazard a guess that few of the people at Deer Lake Chrysler (Metrotown Mitsubishi) would feel good about their company had they experienced their service as I did.

In the meanwhile, big ad agencies and brand strategists are talking about integrated marketing strategies, cross-channel alignment, and communities. Don’t get me wrong, these are all are relevant issues, but few seem to resonate with me as much as good, old fashioned customer service. When Paul (the owner of McInnis Lighting, and a client of ours) offers to carry my purchase to the car for me, I can’t imagine shopping anywhere else.

It is simple folks; and a lot of us are missing the mark by thinking that it has to be complicated.

Blogs build (and kill) brands

A few years ago, Robert Ouimet invited me to take part in a panel discussion in which we discussed whether blogs would supersede brands. I found the topic difficult to wrap my head around, as it seemed the two were hardly in battle with one another. All organizations have brands, be they good or bad; whereas, blogs are a delivery channel (albeit a very powerful one).

The reality is that blogs are becoming inexorably influential in maintaining brands. Blogs can both build brands up (think: Robert Scoble) and break them down (think: Kryptonite locks) with awe-inspiring force. Acknowledging this interconnection is in large part why I write this post. The situation I cite with Deer Lake Chrysler (Metrotown Mitsubishi) represents just how unaware many organizations are regarding the sea-change in marketing that is currently underway. In a pre-web world, marketing was synonymous with advertising; today, the customer is active and has true recourse.

Old-world communications were sheltered by “one-way” functions. Through technology, however, consumers have tremendous power. The new paradigm allows us to respond, and to broadcast (widely) our own messages. While in the past a passionate consumer might talk to a few, today’s tools amplify that voice exponentially; moreover, this voice is extended, as our posts are Google-indexed and etched into the fabric of the web. In this situation, I’d have hoped they would have learned something from the rather grave story that ran about the dealership a few years ago, and still ranks highly when searching their name.

What I speak of is hardly news to most of us. For the old-guard of businesses though, this will prove a colossal barrier. If the people at Deer Lake Chrysler (Metrotown Mitsubishi), and those like them, wish to survive in this changing world, they’ll need to change who they are to the very core.

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Comments & Trackbacks

  1. Chris says:

    Eric,

    Thanks for another great post. You're right that this is hardly news to most of us, yet it is still sinking in on the corporate level. From a marketing and/or PR perspective for most types of companies, blogging can be a powerful tool for refining your online reputation, which will ultimately be what consumers either advocate for or tear down online through forums or their own blogs. Unfortunately, if companies don't act, the consumer opinion can take authority over that reputation pretty quickly.

    I wrote a blog post last month on that very subject (you can read it here: http://www.newfangled.com/egg_on_your_screen).

    - Chris

  2. JamieO says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. You touch on the "treat your friends like you want to be treated" concept that most parents tell their children. It is strange how hard it is to find good customer service when executing it should be as simple as applying that statement to your business practices.

  3. Jed Bartlett says:

    As a 25 year auto industry worker (sales mgr.,sales rep.) I would tell you that the practices of the business manager i.e. f&I (finance and administration) would not be acceptable had he /she worked for myself, but I hope that the Dealer principle (owner) was informed of your experience as he is truly the only one within that store to envoke strong change. Although I sympathize with you on that experience my fear is that blogs like these tend to paint all with the same brush and as Im sure you are aware, all businesses are plaqued with the challenge of finding good people. Many of which do work in dealerships, i.e. the many 20 plus year people who only sell to referrals and repeat customers. Does Deer Lake Chrysler have any of those people? I don't think there is any business where i have not had both good and bad experiences and I only hope you are as passionate when criticizing you local (hardware,furniture store etc.) Regards Jed.

  4. Hi Jed,

    That's a good point, and likely one I should respond to in order to clarify. I've made special note of my experience with the Business Manager; however, the tactics that seemed to be employed didn't appear to be limited to him. That being said, my blog posts tend to be a bit long, so I chose to focus on his actions and comments, as they were the most overwhelming.

    I understand how powerful a blog is, and thought carefully before posting this. It could be that others have had excellent experiences with the dealership. I can only comment on my experience, and do hope that it was an isolated incident. As noted in this article from CTV though, it appears that it's a bit of a pattern for this group: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20020426/ctvnews861140?s_name=&no_ads=

    Thanks for your thoughts and feedback! :-)

    Eric

  5. robert says:

    If ever there was a model screaming out for the need for disintermediation, it's the car sales business.

  6. My recent introduction to your writing has been such a pleasurable one. After reading about this particular experience, I'm reminded yet again that business as a whole still misses the point that the actual interaction with the customer counts as much if not more than any advertising or marketing paid for beforehand.

    I had a similar experience in a dealership seven years ago. I also tell anyone who happens to mention the dealership what happened. It was SEVEN years ago, and yet the experience has stuck. I doubt the finance person I had the issue with is still employed there, but I'll never go back. I've since purchased three cars from another dealership with stellar customer service who I'm quick to recommend. How does a business owner quantify that loss or that benefit?

    Then, beyond our personal memories, there's the stories that other people are sharing and that searchers can find via Google. People are talking, and the conversations are going beyond neighborhoods and stretching around the world. I wonder what catalyst resistant companies, both local and global, will require to recognize this change.

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. I was kinda lucky in buying my new car from a Prince George dealership in that I didn't face too much of the hidden fee, service plan, extended warranty nonsense. I think the price was probably fair.

    There was one somewhat sleazy thing though. The dealership of course tried to sell the $200 or $300 anti-rust undercoating. I'd done my homework and found out that the anti-rust coating is usually worthless, so I turned it down. Thankfully I did... I read in the warranty guide that the car has an anti-rust treatment from the factory and any additional anti-rust agents were not required.

  8. I so appreciate this blog, and your thinking. And your sharing.

    I've recently ranted about a series of similar experiences at Sears, which span a few years. They are another example, atleast in my experience, of a company that has lost a grip on the importance of, well, me. And you, should you too have a poor experience. And I suppose that's in fact the point. Each touchpoint represents an opportunity to build on the brand experience or not. One thing the collaborative media offers, if a company is transparent, is grace. If a company can admit the wrong and correct it, they can turn a situation like you experienced into a win. Because you would have likely blogged on that turn of events as well.

    Thanks for this great blog.

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  13. Aaron M. says:

    While I certainly appreciate Jed Bartlett's contrition and demeanor, I believe the auto sales industry stands apart from almost all others, inasmuch as it's entire business model is obsolete and useless. There is no need for car dealerships, or any of their generally sleazy denizens, period.

    They were originally established because car purchases were a very big deal and people needed protection from lemons. In today's Web world, there are almost countless alternate solutions to protect consumers against lemons, and dealerships are surely the very worst one.

  14. Graham says:

    The car industry is its own uniquely fouled-up industry. Can anyone honestly say why we don't buy cars direct from the manufacturer? Surely Toyota could create distribution 'hubs' in major cities to stock cars, then sell directly to the consumer and have some sort of service to drive the vehicle to the client or have them come in and pick it up themselves. They are already storing cars for distribution to dealership networks and you know those clowns are charging steep markups to sell the cars to consumers. The entire dealership model needs to be broken down entirely.

  15. Too many business think once they have paid a firm to design their brand that it somehow maintains itself. You are only as good as your last project or sale.

  16. Shane says:

    I can't ever remembering having a POSITIVE car buying experience.

  17. roger says:

    Great!

  18. Skye says:
  19. TMac says:

    Eric,

    Thanks for sharing. I will never visit this sleazlership and make sure to warn all my friends and family as well. My brother used to be an Acura salesman, so I have a little insight into the car buying process. It's such a duplicitous business. Can I suggest you post a brief version on Sutori.com to spread the word?

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  21. Gregory says:

    I hate to sound like my dad, but you have to go in to a dealership with guns a'blazing. You have to do research on what you're buying, know the price range and let them know you mean business, and you're not getting screwed. You also can't be afraid to walk away. The last time I made an offer on a car they said, "we can't go any lower," I walked out. They also called me 4 times in the next week. I guess they could go lower, but they lost the sale because I don't have time to play games. You got to be tough to earn their respect, and sadly the onus is placed on the consumer. Is the CarMax model going to change this? Who knows, but at least they're trying a different way to work with consumers. Kudos for a great blog and thought generator.

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  25. abethe says:

    Cool post. You have to admit though that the very nature of the purchase you just made is negative. I mean, everyone knows that a car dealership will try to bully you into spending more money. And I agree, that's a big mistake and the reason is that all they try to do (at least in the car industry) is sales-oriented marketing.
    Also, I attended a seminar the other day on virtual communities and how they influence today's marketing activities. I am quite young (26), but thank God I have already realised that today consumers hold the power. In the old days, brands would just transmit messages but it's consumers now that shape their own messages about brands. With internet acting as the amplifier, user-generated content I believe will set the trend for brands. All brands can do is try and catch up (look at facebook for example... brands trying to get on board and use it as a medium... although to be honest I don't think it's working).
    Oh and don't worry, driving a Chrysler is always better than buying one :) Cool brand really :)

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  28. Daniel says:

    Very interesting post!

    If I may I have 2 cent I would like to contribute as well.

    I work for a Car Dealership and things like that happen once in a while, I'm not saying it's not, but there are two sides to every coin... First you have to deal with every problem you have with the dealership before you make them sound "typical".
    Moreover, As far as I know, the business managers job is to finalize paperwork, offer you financing and other products to protect your investment... If you did not catch that, the word was "OFFER". There is no reason why you can't say "No thank you" which you probably did.
    You mentioned that you still bought the vehicle... Why, if you has such a bad experience? You probably bought it because it was the best priced vehicle you could find! Your salesman was amazing and helped you get even a better price... You probably are still driving it... Everyone treated you with respect but you still felt you could've got more. Well here it is - sometimes there is so much a dealer can do until he has to say that's it, no more.
    It is always easy to blame people and make it sound that every car dealer is bad instead of taking a minute and think, maybe it's me...
    Besides, not every Car Dealership is the same. My place has a mentality that if you won’t be comfortable owning the vehicle yourself it should not be for sale here. That’s the only way car should be sold.
    I think you are smart to speak up but you did not do it right. You should’ve talked to someone in charge in the place where you bought the van and tell them how you feel before you went and made it sound like you got ripped off... We both know that this was not the case...

    Think about it...

  29. No Daniel, you're sugar-coating it.

    The people at Deer Lake Chrysler acted poorly--frankly, their behavior was unethical at best.

    Groups like theirs (in my mind) have a lot to do with why no one wants to buy American cars any longer.

    I'd never walk into the place again.

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  31. Dan says:

    Its funny how different people reach different conclusions. I agree that the industry is in need of massive reforms, after selling cars myself with Toyota and seeing the garbage that goes on... I wouldn't let my quiet, pleasant Grandmother go on her own.

    That being said, I just bought a vehicle to replace the one I lost in an accident about 3 weeks ago from this same dealership and I found the experience quite pleasant. Perhaps a different day, perhaps a different attitude, who knows really. But after stepping foot in a dozen dealerships (6 shadier than an eclipse and six ok) Deer Lake was quite good to me.

    I shopped the hell out of the car I wanted and could not find a better price for what I got anywhere! The finance officer got me a better rate than the previous Chrysler dealership could (he did his homework) and they bent over backwards to make sure I got there after being stuck on the bus in the big city. I went over the car with a fine tooth comb too looking for the tell tale signs of unreported accidents and rough usage. All in all I'd give it a thumbs up... now we'll wait and see if theres any long term problems. I'll still get it serviced through my local dealership that I normally love to deal with, but they couldn't find what I wanted since I'm picky lol.

    So in summation, I think its 20% attitude, 40% research and preparation and 30% willingness to walk away, nobody is forcing you to buy anything after all. And just in case you're wondering what the other 10% is... well its chaos, the stuff that makes life fun... and sometimes bitter.

    Happy motoring.

  32. Julianna says:

    Hi Eric!

    So glad to have found your blog! It was quite therapeutic for me as we had similar "evil" experience at the dealership of Metrotown Mitsubishi. In our estimation you are 100% correct in your evaluation of this dealership.

    What amazes me is that they are still given an A+ BBB rating - even though they have 5 complaints in the last three years. Plus even after the investigation revealed by your link in regards to the APA and W-5 news.

    I would love to write my story out - right now I am still in exhaustion and recovery mode from our experience.

    Also wondering if there is any point in writing the BBB and APA or anyone else?????

    Thanks,
    Julianna

  33. Hi Julianna,

    Sorry to hear that you too had a bad experience with this dealership. They certainly don't seem to be concerned with acting ethically at all--I don't know how they maintain even a passable status with the BBB.

    I think it's a good idea to say what you think. If you can write to the BBB to make note of your experience, you may save others from going through the same.

    Cheers!

    Eric

  34. David says:

    Hey,

    Hello everyone. Julianna what happened when you went to the dealership? My wife and I are still car searching and we would like to know before we entertain the idea of going there or any dealer for that matter. Did you end up buying a vehicle?

    Thanks,
    David

  35. Julianna says:

    Hi David,

    So here's my best summary of our horrible experience. Went to the said dealership in response to Buy and Sell ad for a used vehicle. Got interested in another one after salesman told us he just dropped the price on the internet this morning. The car was older than we were looking for, but the mileage was good for the year and we thought the price was acceptable - it was the highest for that type of vehicle in that year category, but it was in very good condition. We gave our deposit by charge card and were to come back next day with arranged financing. NO PAPERWORK WAS GIVEN TO US - only the business manager's card. The amount we were to bring was written on the back. My husband noticed the next morning that the numbers didn't add up. They basically added in $600 plus $300 to the advertised price and then taxes on that. In otherwords $900 fee for paperwork.

    When he saw the paperwork from the Motor Vehicle Sales Authority of B.C. in our hand, he nervously responded "what's that". After we pointed out that any extra fees should be included in the advertised price, he said that was a "gray area".

    When asked if the BBB was aware of the extra fees they added he immediately pulled back the paperwork and said "I'm going to refund your deposit". To make a long story short, he refused to sell us the vehicle even at the deal we agreed on. He made sure we had no paperwork showing their unethical fee structure.

    When the dealer called us next day asking where to send our deposit to, we were given the story that the real price was supposed to be $2,000 more than we were told - they said that it was a mistake in their advertising. That put their advertised vehicle at about $2500 higher than any other vehicle advertised in its category for that year. The first price we were quoted (without extra fees) was the only fair price for that vehicle and it was already at the top limit for its category. We wouldn't have even considered looking at it if we were quoted a price $2,000 higher at the start.

    In summary, what did we learn? Get paperwork right away. Don't let them distract you with all the "small talk". Don't let the BBB A+ rating fool you into thinking that "these guys MUST be honest".

    All the best David - hope things work out better for you.

    Julianna

  36. David says:

    Hey Julianna,

    My wife is a bit of a smart ass and wanted to see outlanders at their location. I told her about this blog and even after that she wanted to go their and take a look. We were extremely cautious because of this blog. We like the guy who owns this blog actually bought our outlander there. We didn't get charged any odd fees other than the expected documentation fee that many dealers charge. We got the 0% for 36 months that we wanted without any hassle. Our sales guy was really nice, the sales manager on shift and business manager who did our paperwork were also kind to us. Funny enough we were expecting the crap to start and it never did. I only bought life insurance because I always buy that no matter what I purchase. We were happy with our purchase and so I guess after giving into my wife like many of us married men do. We were surprised with our pleasant experience, we actually only went their to get prices so we could shop those numbers against other stores. So, I guess I don't know in any business their are good and bad experiences in each store/business. Eric bought but wasn't happy, you were about to buy and then they wouldn't let you, and me and my wife did and left happy. So, all I can say is be careful what you buy in anything in life because at the end it's your money after all. I was waiting for the funny things to start but they never did. So, Julianna I hope you found a car for yourself.

  37. Hmmm... I think I smell a rat.

    David, you're on the payroll at Metrotown Mitsubishi, aren't you? Perhaps you're pals with "Daniel" and "Dan" up above. (Honestly guys.)

  38. David says:

    Hello,

    What are you talking about Mr. Karhaluoto I have seen othe videos of yourself on youtube.com from my kids and I can't believe how you act. I am not on the payroll at the dealership there was a David there but that was not our salesperson. Honestly I thought this was a good blog where people could talk about good and bad experiences that we all have with different type of dealerships. I now understand how odd you are based on your videos. The funny thing is also that I asked the Business Manager there about yourself and smashlab and he said that you owned it and was a great customer that bought a vehicle from the dealership. He also went on to say that you two had talked about that the company and it does webdesigns, etc. and said that if I knew anyone that was looking for that type of expert I should contact that company. He didn't seem to know much about the company and when asked why did he mention your company? His response was nice guys need a chance and if he can help a customer grow his business then it's a win win for everyone. I find your comment odd based on the fact he said your company would be one to look into?


    David

  39. Well David, it is nice to hear that your “kids” are watching my YouTube videos. (I know how the young folks love to get together with their friends and watch videos about marketing!)

    I’ve approved your comment again. Although the motives behind it are clear to any readers, I find it entertaining to see how much time the gang at Metrotown Mitsubishi is willing to put into this.

    In the meanwhile, I’ll render a suggestion. I can’t imagine that you and your colleagues will take it to heart, but I’ll put it out there anyway.

    What if, instead of playing these silly games, you simply concentrated on servicing your customers?

    You could run ads with accurate details about the cars you’re selling. You could invest more time into helping them find an appropriate vehicle.
    You could work harder to address concerns or frustrations that might arise with customers. You could apologize for mistakes or misunderstandings. You could think of each sale as an opportunity to build a relationship with a customer (that could result in many future sales), instead of a single opportunity to fleece an unsuspecting “sucker.”

    The interesting part of doing such a thing: you could charge more for your cars.

    I say this from personal experience: the first dealership I dealt with did exactly these sorts of things, and the positive word-of-mouth they received was echoed by many.

    I was in my early twenties when I visited the Hub City Motors Volkswagen dealership in Prince George. They were respectful of me and straightforward in their dealings. I negotiated rather hard on the price, but the fellow on the lot explained that the margins on that particular car were quite lean, and that they simply didn’t have room to work on the price. At first I didn’t buy a car from them, but within a couple of months I was back, paying full sticker price for a car that in turn served me well.

    The paperwork they presented was clear, and there were no surprises. Perhaps that’s why I was so naïve when I dealt with Metrotown Mitsubishi—I just thought all car dealerships ran like ethical businesses. When you guys started sneaking in “extra” prices, I was rather dumbfounded.

    To the point, however, whenever I returned to Hub City, they remembered my name and were considerate of my needs. On a couple of occasions there were mechanical issues with the car that weren’t easy to identify. In these situations they were forthright about the issue and clearly explained how they planned to solve the problem.

    Now, I know you probably won’t do any of this. I’m of the opinion that after you’ve been dishonest for long enough, that sort of behavior just starts to feel normal. For someone like you (or your colleagues), the idea of being direct and honest would probably feel almost alien. Nevertheless, I’d ask you guys to head to the pub tonight and have a conversation about this. Have the times changed? Are your ways of conducting business simply outmoded?

    Like I said, I can’t really see this happening, but who knows? Perhaps you guys are tired of proving the “used car salesman” stereotype true. Maybe it’s a bold new day for all of you, and you’ll embrace this opportunity to be better people, and even better businesspeople.

    The fact is, I’ve spoken with folks an equal amount about my experience with Hub City Motors and about the one I had with Metrotown Mitsubishi. For Hub City, I’ve told numerous friends of the great experience I had, and how I’d recommend them to anyone. Meanwhile, I’ve told as many to avoid Metrotown Mitsubishi like the plague.

    In the next few days, I expect you, or another rep from your dealership will come here and masquerade as an anonymous car buyer, or, perhaps as a representative wishing to deny such activities. Nevertheless, you’re just wasting even more of your time, which seems like a poor business decision. The folks at Hub City never had to bother with such things. They simply sold me a product in a forthright fashion and built trust.

    Perhaps you might try doing the same?

  40. David says:

    Wow you need to get a life and enjoy it more.

  41. Tell me about it!

    ...and if I could only get the folks from Metrotown Mitsubishi to stop posting phony comments here, I might actually be able to. ;-)

  42. Julianna says:

    Good discernment there Eric,

    Before posting my response to David's request, I was suspicious - It's all too clear now, like the pieces of a puzzle coming together. I'm sure those comments generate from the dealership.

    All I can say to folks is support those who are honest and forthright in their dealings - People don't take the time to write about these experiences for nothing - we all have better things to do with our time. In fact, this is the first time I have which means the treatment I received at this dealership (Metrotown Mitsubishi) was downright sickening!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May all the business go to those who appreciate their customers and treat them with respect and honesty.

    Julianna

  43. Christa says:

    Hello from Metrotown Mitsubishi!

    Let me introduce myself and give you a little background for your followers.

    My name is Christa and this is my family business. We are not part of a 'group' of companies. I am here, part time, co-managing the business with my father. I have two grade school children who may want to persue their future ambitions here in the business.

    We have been here for over 25 years, all of which have been with an excellent rating with the BBB. We started out as an American Motors franchise, moving to Renault, Jeep, Eagle, Plymouth, Chrysler and currently a Mitsubishi franchise.

    Throughout the years, we have developed and maintained an excellent relationship with thousands of customers. We have also had several customers who did not enjoy their experiences here for numerous reasons.

    We are not perfect, but I can assure you we do try very hard to be. We don't always get it right. We have an excellent rating with the BBB and maintain our A++ rating due to the fact we always are willing to try to find a solution. Many times it is our error. Other times, no matter what, we can not meet the customers expectations. There are several variables that come into play. Clerical errors, misunderstandings, language barriers, personality conflicts are just a few that come to mind.

    There is the old saying that you can't please everyone.... but we are committed to trying! I think that 25 years and hundreds of repeat customers would agree that we are not as terrible as this blog makes us sound.

    To Eric and Julinanna and any others that I may have missed, please except my humblest apologies for your unfortunate experiences here at Metrotown Mitsubishi. I thank you for bringing these issues to our attention so that we can be better at getting it right the first time.

    Sincerely,

    Christa

  44. Hi Christa,

    First of all, thank you for your response. It's the first time I've encountered feedback from Metrotown Mitsubishi that resembled a sensible approach to customer service.

    I think you're right: few of us are perfect, and most all of us have clients who aren't happy with us. That's just the way it goes.

    Posting this article (two years ago now) was something I felt strange about doing. There are likely many fine people working at your company, and I certainly didn't wish to disparage them. There were, however, things happening at Metrotown Mitsubishi that seemed too dodgy to not make note of. (As I think the W5 report is indicative of.)

    You note that there are, "clerical errors, misunderstandings, language barriers, personality conflicts" that result in challenges. In my personal experience, though, it didn't come down to such things. These weren't little "slips." Instead, it seemed like the modus operandi was to mislead and then badger the customer.

    Frankly, I should have just torn up the deal and walked out of your Business Manager's office. (I could be wrong, but it sure did seem like he was outright threatening me.) My feeling, though, was that he pulled stuff like that all the time, and probably didn't think twice about it after I left the office.

    The thing is--and I've likely said this above already--you've probably seen for yourself just how much everything has changed lately. In the past, this sort of issue would have simply "gone away," but the fact that you're here, years later, responding, means that social media is changing how businesses operate.

    At the risk of sounding like a brazen self promoter, I'd encourage you to pick up a copy of my book, Speak Human. Take some time and read what's in it, and even pass it around the dealership. My feeling is that it could be really helpful to many of the people you work with. Heck, if you don't want to pay for it, you can even read it here for free: http://www.speakhuman.com

    As you're experiencing first-hand, business is changing. Perhaps this book will help you navigate these changes, and craft a strategy for turning Metrotown Mitsubishi into the kind of dealership you speak of.

    I've carried on, as I sometimes do. What I really wanted to stress, was that I appreciate you taking the time to reach out honestly and take some responsibility for things that didn't go as they should have. In my mind that's a big step in the right direction.

    Cheers!

    Eric

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