Saturday, June 28, 2008

When We Make a Mistake

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

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

Mr. Stewart,

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.

Edwin K

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.


  1. Mr. Stewart, sir Please help me with this.......I am a part-time Florida resident. If I am quoted $20,300 (plus tax, tag and title with no hidden charges) for a camry at your store and am quoted $19,200 plus a DEALER FEE of $595 (plus tax, tag and title with no hidden charges) for an identical camry at a different store, which is the better deal? Anxiously awaiting your response

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    I have answered all of your lies and distortions and will not repeat myself. All readers of this blog can easily read my answers.

    I can only assume that you get some sort of "cheap thrill" by the fact that "Earl Stewart" is paying attention to you.

    Your last posting contained an obscenity, as have some of your past postings. Most readers of my blog are offended by such pathetic attempts at adolescent toilet humor. Furthermore, you are clogging my blog with with your repetiton and inane reambling.

    I will ask our Blog Master to delete your obscenities and if you continue to post repetitions nonsense, I will be forced to have him delete your entire posting.

    If you have further charges or comments, you can call me on my live radio show on Seaview AM 960 any Saturday morning between 9 and 10. If you fear the public forum, feel free to phone me anytime...or visit me at my dealership.

    By the way, did you know that all of your postings can be traced to the PC from which they were sent? All PC's have a unique identifying number called an "IP Address". For example, the one from the PC I'm using to type this message is"". You really aren't as anonymous as you thought you were. Please don't worry about me exposing your identity. Even though I can, I really don't have a good enough reason or the time to waste.

  3. Dear "Camry buyer and part time Florida resident",

    Net-net cost on the cheapest new 2009 Camry is $18,800. You are paying only $19,795. Our price on the Internet is $19,800...$5 higher than the price you have when you add back in this dealer's "dealer fee".

    I'm not sure where you got our price of $20,300 unless it is a Camry with more than just basic equipment. If this is the case, that makes your price from this dealer even better.

    If everything is "above board" with the price you got from this dealer, I would buy the car from him. My dealership will meet his price, because this is our policy especially on easily obtainable cars like Camrys.

    There are two things I suggest to you before you "sign on the dotted line". If you have a trade-in be sure to get 3 competitive bids on it. Don't accept the trade-in allowance from the dealer without comparisons. Secondly, if you are financing your new Camry, be sure to get 3 competitive bids on the interest rate you are paying. Don't automatically accept the financing you get from the dealer.

    Allowing you less than market on your trade and charging above the market on your interest are two ways dealers can offer unrealistically low prices.

    By the way, I know of no dealers in South Florida that have a dealer fee as low as $595 [Except me of course who charges no dealer fee]. The highest I know of is $1,000 and the average is about $750. Some dealers have TWO fees. For example, Palm Beach Toyota and Royal Palm Toyota charge a $699.50 dealer prep fee plus a $199.50 doc. fee for a total of $899. Be careful that this dealer doesn't charge you a second fee that is really just profit with a different name.

    Net on a 2009 Camry LE is about $19,800 (taking out everything including DAP) and there is a $1000 rebate, so figure about $18,800.
    All the local Toyota dealers charge more than $595, but there are fees that low when you go north.

    Would you mind telling me the name of the dealer who quoted you this price and has the $595?


  4. Mr. Stewart...


    Our price on the Internet is higher than the price you have when you add back in this dealer's "dealer fee.

    If you want me to "admit" that I try to make my business as profitable as possible, I confess.

    My dealership sells a lot more cars and makes a much bigger profit than yours because…

    I never claimed to have the lowest priced oil change in PB County.

    The fact is that I may well average more profit per car than most other dealerships.

    I sincerely apologize for the bad experience you had with my salesman.




    We posted the wrong price for your 4 cyl Camry and this mistake…

    The sales manager made a mistake and worked the lease…

    The problem arose when the salesperson called her to let her know that a mistake was made…

    Great Job Earl

  5. oh dear, somebody's obsessed.

    Mr. earl you are a patient man. Stay blessed.

  6. Mr. Stewart, if you were giving a lecture about car buying advice and there was a vocal critic in the audience, I would expect you to listen to his opinions and respond accordingly. If he then went on and on to the point he made himself the center of attention to the exclusion of everyone else, I would expect you to politely request that he withold his comments for a private discussion at a later time. If he continued to grandstand, I would think it would be within your rights to ask him to leave the venue. I see no diffrence between that scenario and the critic who is relentlessly dominating the comments area of your listings. Obviously you are tolerating this because you are offereing an open forum for your readers. At some point you need to ask him to leave. Can't you block the submissions? As an occasional visitor and a radio show listener, I am getting irritated by the endless commentary by one person. That last few comments take the cake. If he has that much to say, it may be time for him to get his own blog.

  7. Dear "Anonymously Fed UP!",

    I apologize to you and, many others who have been deterred from reading my blog due to one obstructionist whose only agenda is to falsely discredit my company and me.

    I've been wrong to respond to his allegations and rants.With 20-20 hindsight this has just encouraged him to further obstruct my blog with his rambling, repetitous, accusations.

    First, I think I may have frightened him off when I revealed that I could, if necessary, discover his identity by tracing his IP address. Whether he is a dealer, employed by a competitor, and/or an ex-employee, he is very afraid of being named.

    Second, if he continues his diatribes, I will have the Blog Master remove his postings and finally, if he still persists, I will trace his IP address and reveal his identity to all.

  8. Thank you Mr. Stewart. I think you scared him off. You ought to expose him anyway.


Earl Stewart On Cars welcomes comments from everyone - supporters and critics alike. We'd like to keep the language and content "PG Rated" so please refrain from vulgarity and inappropriate language. We will delete any comment that violates these guidelines. Oh yeah - one more thing: no commercials! Other than that, comment-away!