Kate has a brand new car. Barney, her purple 1997 Toyota Rav4, was retired with 155,818 miles on it. While there was nothing mechanically wrong with Barney, we didn't want to push our luck. Driving a 12-year-old car with more than 150k miles on it is asking for trouble.
So, we thought we'd take advantage of a deal Toyota was offering for leftover 2008 Rav4s. Barney's replacement, a red 2008 Rav4, is appropriately named Clifford. Here you see Kate in the car the night we picked it up from the dealership.
About the dealer... I know people say that if you can't say something good about someone, you shouldn't say anything at all. But we feel the need to tell the world about our experience. It wasn't completely bad, but it wasn't what I would call "good." In this slowed economy, I would expect a new car dealer to be proactive and responsive when they have somebody walk into their showroom.
Our salesman was nice enough, but he lacked the follow-through that would have made us raving fans of Bennett Toyota in Allentown. We initially met with him on December 19 to look at used Rav4s. We test drove a gold 2007 with 12,000 miles. We were quoted a price, which was reasonable but not great considering the financing promotion that was being offered on the leftover new 2008s. We decided to sleep on it and come back the next day. We also decided to do some more research about prices for used 2007s. While looking online, we found the exact Rav4 (yes, the VINs matched) we drove advertised on Bennett's Web site for $2000 less than we were quoted earlier that evening. Kate was livid, as was I.
On December 20 we headed back to Bennett Toyota and asked about new 2008 Rav4s since our research indicated they would be a better overall value since Toyotas hold their resale so well. In other words, the high asking price due to the small depreciation for a 18-month-old 2007-model-year Rav4 wasn't enough to make us jump at it compared to a new 2008 Rav4. Plus, Kate didn't have her heart set on a gold car. She had been eying many of the other colors including red and blue. The dealer found us a red one with the equipment we wanted in upstate New York. We haggled over the price and eventually came to a mutually acceptable figure after the general manager intervened. The price was about $2000 under "MSRP," plus they offered a substantial amount for Barney in trade. We signed the paperwork and were told to expect the car early the following week or, at the latest, December 26.
After we signed the paperwork for the new car, Kate pulled out the print-out from the Bennett Toyota web site with the pricing for the used car we almost bought. "Oh yeah," said the sales guy. "The used car manager had left for the night when you were here yesterday, and he didn't tell anybody that he lowered the price on that car. We would have given it to you at the lower price. We're on the up-and-up here." Right... Why didn't he lead off the conversation when we walked in on December 20 with something like "I have great news for you guys... the price on the 2007 was lower than we thought last night?" It was more of a parting shot than anything else, so we left it alone.
December 23 and 24 came and went without any news about the whereabouts of Clifford. Many phone calls to the dealership later (and no proactive calls from them), we learned that the car would be ready for pickup on Monday, December 29. We went over after dinner that night to sign the paperwork and pick it up. While at the dealership, I approached the general manager (who we had met 9 days earlier when he approved the transaction) and expressed my concern about the poor service and lack of follow-through we had experienced. He (hollowly) promised me that customer service is his dealership's number one priority and that he ranks 4th in customer satisfaction in the region and first in the Lehigh Valley. He can tell me anything that he wants, but the proof it in his actions.
When we signed the paperwork on December 20, I specifically asked that the Bennett Toyota logo be omitted from the rear of the car. I don't mind a license plate frame, but anything on the paint is unacceptable. Guess what was on the back door when we picked it up? It was just one of many breakdowns in communication at the dealership. They were able to remove the logo the next day with a heat gun, but why did we have to go though the hassle?
The end of the story is happy one. Kate got a new car at a reasonable price. But the hassle of dealing with Bennett Toyota wasn't worth it. We are not raving fans.
Labels: car, Kate