As many of you know, I’ve been doing a live radio talk show, “Earl Stewart on Cars” for over three years. The show is aired on Seaview radio, 95.9 FM and 960 AM every Saturday morning between nine and ten. My wife Nancy is part of the show and we try to give advice to car buyers and car owners about buying and servicing their cars, especially how to avoid being taken advantage of by some car dealers. My weekly intro to the show goes like this:
“Good morning. My name is Earl and I’m a recovering car dealer. I sold my first car in 1968. A little more than ten years ago, I decided I was selling cars the wrong way. This show is just one of the ways I’ve changed my company and my life for the better. I’ll share with you all of the tricks of the trade I’ve learned in almost 40 years of selling cars. I’ll answer all of your questions about buying a car or having it serviced. I’d like to share with you this quote from Jim Press, the former top Toyota executive for all of North America. Jim said, ‘It’s what you do for a customer when you don’t have to. That’s the measure of true character…kind of like sticking up for someone who can’t defend himself’.”
We get a lot of callers almost every Saturday. People call to share their bad experiences, and some good, with their car purchase or service. We get a lot of questions on subjects like is leasing better than buying or should I always take my car back to the dealership for service or use an independent shop. Our Saturday morning show has exceptionally good ratings and our listener base is growing rapidly. The Seaview management is even discussing bringing the show national through syndication.
If I have any regret about my show, it’s that I don’t get any calls from other car dealers or their employees. I have received a few calls from car dealers from other parts of the country. Most of these are retired and have moved to South Florida. These calls are always complimentary. If you’ve listened to my show, you know that I’m very candid in my criticism of many South Florida car dealers. I’ll specifically name a car dealership and a specific ad if it’s illegal or deceptive. I also discuss specific unethical sales practices like quoting prices that are lower than what the dealer will sell the car for. I’m highly critical of the “dealer fee” which is added to the quoted and advertised prices of cars by almost every dealership in South Florida.
Last Saturday, I thought I had a great idea about how to encourage car dealers or their employees to call my show. I offered $100 to the first employee or ex employee [employed within the past year] to call into the show. I even offered $500 to the first such caller from any of the many Napleton dealerships. The Napleton dealerships are the largest auto advertisers in the PB Post and have many franchises and locations in PB County. Napleton advertises prices that are disclosed in the fine print to be plus his $799 dealer fee and “dealer installed accessories”. He also excludes multiple rebates from the advertised prices like college graduate, active military service, and owner loyalty when very few, if any, buyers could qualify. I consider this to be unethical and deceptive advertising.
I was amazed that I did not get one call from a single car dealer or their employee taking me up on my offer. I deliberately included ex-employees as being eligible because I thought that current employees may be intimated to call the show if still working for the dealership. I promised the callers that I would give them as long as they wanted to voice their side of the story regarding their advertising and sales practices. I assured them that they would not be cut off or muted out as many talk show hosts do when they have a caller who is vociferously disagreeing with them.
I’m going to give this another try this coming Saturday, January 16. I might even “up the ante” if I have to. Hearing the car dealers’ side of the story is not only fair, but it makes for much more interesting and exciting radio. If you’re employed by a car dealership in South Florida or were within the past year, please consider calling in. The show will run this Saturday morning between 9 and 10 and the toll free call-in number is 877 960-9960. I promise you that your opinions will be heard and I will not insult, abuse, or embarrass you or cut you off. Do you know someone that works for a South Florida car dealership or did within the last 12 months? Please let them know that they can make a fast $100 [or $500] if they are the first to call into my show.