Typically I reserve my blog postings for consumer advice issues. I tend to shy away from mentioning my Toyota dealership directly. I do this to lend credibility to the opinions I publish. However, you may have noticed a lot of dialogue that goes on in the comments section of each posting. One recent comment was left by a customer who was very concerned with an issue that arose with his mother's lease of a new RAV4. His mother was quoted a lease payment when she ordered the vehicle. The problem arose when the salesperson called her to let her know that a mistake was made, and the payment was now $11/month higher. She was, understandably, upset. Her son had leased a vehicle from me recently and had a good experience, so he was also very concerned and angry that the change was made. I forwarded the comments to my general sales manager (who happens to be my son) and asked him to investigate. I have pasted the email correspondence below to illustrate what happens when we make a mistake. I removed last names and the email address/phone number of my customer.
From: Stu Stewart Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 7:52 PMTo: Earl Stewart; Jason StewartCc: Josh StewartSubject: RE: Response to blog
I called and left a voicemail for Mr. K.
The sales manager made a mistake and worked the lease with a bank that does not residualize aftermarket leather. Honoring the original quote means he’d dip $150 into holdback, which he should have done (he was keeping the deal at just $250 over invoice). The RAV is here and the leather is installed. This type of mistake shouldn't have been brought to the customer's attention - we should have absorbed the loss and moved on.
I’m going to apologize, honor the quote at $388, and tell him exactly what happened.
Stu Stewart EARL STEWART TOYOTA1215 US 1 Lake Park, FL 33403V: 561.635.1349 F: 561.863.7536 firstname.lastname@example.org earlstewarttoyota.com
From: Earl Stewart Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 6:19 PMTo: Jason Stewart; Stu StewartCc: Josh Stewart; David SilversteinSubject: FW: Response to blog
Please investigate this and call Mr. K with an explanation.
From: XXXXX Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 6:10 PMTo: Earl StewartSubject: Response to blog
I am sorry to respond via email, but I am still very angry about my situation. I just spoke with my mother concerning the call I received today about the increase in the lease price that your salesman quoted us. She wasn’t too pleased either.
I leased a RAV4 from you in February and my mother really likes it. She currently leases a car which the term is up soon. I approached Mr. D on June 12th with the RAV4 model and options that my mother wanted. My mother is on a fixed income, so, there is a limit to what she can pay per month on a lease. After several emails concerning price and options we were able to get the lease price to where it fit her finances. My mother reduced the mileage allowance and gave up the auto sensing mirror in order to get the numbers to work. We received a quote from Mr. D that was $388 per month. My mother agreed to this deal and a deposit of $585 has been paid for the RAV4.
Today I get a call from Mr. D that an error was made on the lease deal and that the best available option is now $399 per month. My mother can’t pay the new amount.
What is curious about the $399 amount? It was the first quote Mr. D gave us and it was with a 15,000/year mileage allowance and the mirror. What is frustrating about this is we spent the two weeks negotiating this and now I have to start over with another dealer and/or vehicle that she likes. She also made an appointment this week to return her current car that she will have to cancel.
Your company sells or leases hundreds of cars a month…so, how can this happen?
Below is a copy of the email where I received the quote or $388.
Reacting quickly to a mistake like this is crucial. My sales manager made a poor judgement call and made a decision to ask the customer to bear the brunt of his mistake. It was a small amount of money to the dealership, but it was a very big deal for our customer. This afternoon, Edwin's mother took delivery of her new 2008 RAV4 Limited. We have also implemented a process change that will help us prevent something like this from occurring again.