Saturday, December 1, 2012

Experience at Olathe Ford dealership

A few days ago we were searching the internet. We = a couple guys at the office who are mildly to very interested in electric cars and yours truly. We were looking because there were all sorts of Black November car ads.

On the website for Olathe Ford there was listed a Ford Focus Electric. Wow, really? One of the guys was really, really wanting to get the FFE instead of a Leaf.

Below is directly from their website as it stands today:

Ok, not for sale but for ordering. That makes a whole lot of sense. The FFE is not nationally available for sale but maybe they just want to get a demo out there to get a jump on sales. Very cool we were all thinking.   I wasn't planning on buying a new car right now as I've only had the Leaf for 6 months but I will need another car in a couple years when the kids are older. Plus with the experience I have with my Leaf the office guys are willing to accept my expertise in the EV field.

I was excited at the posting and with high expectations ran down there after work to see what I hoped would be an incredible car.

So let me preface the rest with a disclaimer. I hope that what I'm presenting is a simple explanation and not a judgement so the reader will come to his/her own conclusions and opinions.

Now admittedly it's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Maybe they weren't fully staffed. Maybe they thought I had already been helped. But the reality is that when I arrived and parked there was no one on the lot to greet me. When I went into the showroom and walked around the 3-4 cars in the showroom, none of the people there greeted me. When I went back out to the lot and looked for the distinctive plug location on the driver side front fender, no one greeted me as I wandered between about 100+ different cars and trucks. When I went back into the showroom, a man who would later be introduced as the New Car Sales Manager proceeded to remove advertisements from the cars in the showroom and walk right by me several times.

Right when I was about to get fed up and leave, one salesman came over to ask if I needed help. I explained that I was here to research the FFE and that I was not prepared to buy one but I had some questions and would like to test drive it based on the information they had on the web. He was quite friendly and openly admitted he didn't know anything about the car but would get me someone who did. I quickly reminded him that I wasn't buying and not to interrupt anyone's deal. He thanked me and returned shortly with another salesman. Now with two salesmen about to talk to me; the Sales Manager came over to be introduced. Before either of the salesmen could say anything other than their names he quickly informed me the car wasn't there. He didn't know where it was and it was only there about half the time as it was at car shows or at nearby towns frequently and was I looking to add FFE's to my company fleet?

I explained I was there to see the car and test drive it as it was posted on their website and he said it's not available for test drives. "You can only look at it".

Needless to say I left fairly quickly after that as a test drive was the only reason I went down there. I know what my opinion is of the experience and I know what I will be doing later.

I also know that when I stopped at Bob Allen Ford (about 6 miles away) back in October and spoke with the sales team there they expressed a keen interest in my Leaf. They wanted to know a lot about it and asked if I was happy with it. Of course I'm very happy with my Leaf and I was encouraged by their intelligent questions. They said they expected to get more training on the FFE and have it available in their lot this spring. "They" in this case happened to be 4-6 different salespeople as they filtered in and out around my Leaf and the main guy I was talking to.

Given the experience I had at Shawnee Mission Ford, where a salesman refused to talk to be about a minivan without having a lead sheet filled out (this was years ago and I walked off the lot) and the experience I had with Olathe Ford when I compare that experience to Bob Allen Ford and McCarthy Nissan (where I got my Leaf and where I stop by monthly to say hi), I know where my next car will be purchased and I know where it won't be purchased.

As car owners my wife and I have owned:

1979 Ford Pinto - (gifted from Dad in '85)
1985 Lincoln Mercury - (aka Ford Escort) for graduating high school '87
1992 Ford Ranger- traded in Merc in '94
1998 Saturn SL - traded in Ranger in '98
1995 Ford Escort (gifted from Dad in '99)
2000 Saturn LS - traded '98 Saturn in '00
2002 Saturn SL - (mine) traded Escort
2002 Saturn SL - (wife's, bought on same day) traded Saturn LS in '02
2010 Toyota Corolla - wife's Saturn transmission died Dec '10 so traded dead car
2002 Ford Escort (purchased from Dad Oct 2010), sold my Saturn in '10 to Carmax
2012 Toyota Prius - traded Corolla
2012 Nissan Leaf - traded Escort

It's worth noting that all four Saturns were purchased at the same dealer and the Prius was deliberately not purchased at the same dealer as the Corolla. I will still not go back to Shawnee Mission Ford because of shopping experience in 2000.

The point of this long winded rant? Customer service matters.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.

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