The following article originally appeared in the December 2011 edition of The Myers Report newsletter published by the firm.
By Jane M. Myers, Esq.
I lease a 2009 Nissan Maxima. It’s a fun car and a terrific value.
A few weeks ago, out of the blue, I received a letter from Nissan asking, “Would you like to terminate your car lease 10 months early, trade in your 2009 Maxima for a new 2011 Maxima and pay the same monthly payment you’re paying now???” I thought about it for about one-tenth of a second – uh…yeah! A few days later, my husband Dan and I visited the Nissan dealership where I got my 2009 Maxima to take them up on the offer.
I know what you’re thinking…didn’t that sound too good to be true?? Did you fall off a turnip truck and bang your head??
Let me preface this by saying that while our car shopping experience over the past 35 years has been horrific, our 2009 experience with a local Nissan dealership was a pleasure. I had no qualms about doing business with them again. Our sales rep had been professional and courteous – a genuinely nice guy. The dealership delivered everything promised, and more. The car, knock wood, continued to be 100% trouble-free. Great service, great product and convenient location. That’s a winning combination. Doing business with them again was a no-brainer.
When we showed up at the dealership, our 2009 sales rep greeted us warmly. I test drove the new model and we made our deal in under a half-hour. We felt a little bit giddy throwing caution to the wind like that. Dan, to his credit, NEVER makes a major move without first doing his “research.” When we saw the car prior to being prepped for delivery, Dan noticed there were scratches on the bumpers – but otherwise the car looked great. The scratches would be taken care of – absolutely no problem! We scheduled pick up for a few days later.
We’re not impulse buyers, especially Dan (a/k/a “Captain Consumer”), but great service and a great product are compelling. It took Dan less than 24 hours to get over being impulsive. He did his research and found other dealerships that offered the same car for less than we were going to pay. We weighed the lower price against working with “our” sales rep at “our” dealership even though it would cost us more. Even for Captain Consumer, past experience carried a lot of weight.
When we showed up to take delivery of the car, we told our sales rep that there were other dealers offering the same deal for less. We asked if there was anything more they could do for us. He doubted whether the other dealers were, in fact, offering the same deal, but Captain Consumer had already met with the other dealers and they were, in fact, offering the same car for less. Our sales rep fake wrangled with his “manager” who reduced the price a little more, but not as low as the other dealers. Still, Dan and I decided we’d rather do business with “our” dealership. We signed the lease, shook hands and went outside to drive off in the brand new car.
The repairs to the bumpers were absolutely awful.
The manager and our sales rep solemnly agreed. They went inside to figure out what to do. When they came back, they told us if we didn’t want to take the car “as-is,” they didn’t want to do the deal. We were shocked. We refused to take a damaged car – they were shocked!
They ripped up the lease. What a dumb move.
Didn’t they figure we’d talk about this…with everyone?? We couldn’t figure out what they were thinking! Could we have sued them and made them deliver a perfect car? Sure – but why would we ever want to give our business to people like that? We found out that the dealership had changed owners since our 2009 experience and now we were dealing with the new regime. They were disgraceful representatives for Nissan. In any case, a few days later, we went to another Nissan dealership and leased the same car with no hassles for less money. Done.
There are several business lessons here, but the one that jumps out at me is this: even if your business offerings are unique and you’re in high demand, you’d better treat your clients and customers with the utmost honesty, respect and integrity. There are a lot of car dealers, restaurants, department stores, doctors, lawyers, etc. out there – but what your clients and customers are buying when they do business with you, is not just the product or service you provide, they’re buying the experience of doing business with you.
Make sure you provide the best experience possible or your clients and customers will buy that best experience someplace else – and maybe tell everyone else how you blew it!
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Please note that this article is intended only as a general discussion and that it should not be taken as creating an attorney-client relationship or as legal advice with respect to any particular person, business or situation. Circumstances and the applicable legal principles vary and you should consult with an attorney and/or other professionals regarding the facts of your particular situation.