Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jeff Haas Mazda - General(ly Specific) Complaint(s)

I've really been thinking about how I don't post here anymore, which I follow by saying I've been considering turning this blog into a complaint log. It almost seems like I'm always complaining about something. I don't do it for any personal gain though; I do it to warn you. I search for an appropriate outlet to lodge my complaint without having to sign up for some site that will sell my information to some advertising company (yet another thing I'd have to complain about!) and usually wind up empty handed and anger-ful (you like how I did that?). So I wind up here again, and that is the extremely long-winded intro to my rant about the Jeff Haas Mazda dealership in Houston, TX.

I know dealerships are scummy, with all the (usually unethical) tactics they employ, but I at least expect them to carry their operations out in a friendly demeanor. I'm 99.99% certain I'd never been yelled at by an employee at a dealership, until this visit. The smug, angry financial manager was only part of the complaint though. The way the deal was handled overall, led something to be desired. I'll admit, I've been listening to some best negotiation practices MP3's by several authors (some of my favorites are by Roger Dawson) so I guess I was expecting a more congenial showdown (or no showdown at all!). Fisher, Ury, and Patton talk about the angry negotiator, and I have since learned better how to deal with someone like that, but it was a surprise at the time to have someone in that state of mind at a place where you kind of expect to get your butt kissed a little. Anyway, on to the story!

We found a car we wanted through Yahoo Autos and emailed the internet salesman with our interest and terms. We told him we need to be between a certain price range and we don't have (or want to put down) a down payment. We do have a trade-in but it is slightly "upside down" financially. Carl Scott, the salesman responded kindly saying he definitely felt he could get us in our range pending credit approval. "Great," we thought and quickly headed there on our first day off together (Saturday). We set up an appointment but of course we had to wait on Carl when we got there. He was very friendly at least, and didn't pressure us on anything. He brought us back a list of figures that were still out of our price range, but he said that the finance manager could work with us on the numbers and that the figures on the paper were just estimates. We can handle that, and we just assume that this dealership works a little different than others where you do most of your bargaining with the salesman before you get to finance.

So we wait. They have a small room with 1 TV on CNN or some other news station where all they play are commercials and disturbing international news. I'll refer to it as "The Holding Cell."

Thirty minutes later: we are greeted by the finance manager Kortney Malito.

As an aside, I've done some searching on him to see if others have complained, and he is apparently some kind of Master Level Business Manager according to "The Automotive Training Academy." I guess he just had to pass the "5 day training course" to be classified in this "distinguished" manner, because it surely has nothing to do with his cordial and ethical business practices (non-existent).

Mr. Mal(d)ito immediately became irate that we weren't taking the deal he had weaved, which was clearly (although only by a small margin) outside of our agreed upon price range. "That's just semantics," he raved. Really? According to Merriam-Webster semantics doesn't mean "untrue," it means the study of words and how they change through history. Does this mean the Automotive Training Academy doesn't teach definitions of useful terms? Maybe "Master Level" means: "you sell cars real good - even if you have to bully a couple people (or everyone) to meet your forecasts."

But I digress.

I don't know if there really was some misinformation provided by Mr. Scott, or if Mr. Malito was just using psychological warfare, but he actually had to call Scott into the room to clarify what the original agreement had been. Malito had an angry tone most of the time, especially when I brought up any kind of bargaining stance. He basically yelled at me when I mentioned the dealership's "documentation fee" as a point of discontent. I stated that it was not required by the state of Texas, as I had previously learned, but he wasn't hearing any of that! He quickly shot his chair around to grab previous documents, stating that Jeff Haas has never (EVER) waived the fee, and that I would "kill the deal" if I made that an issue. I'm actually curious if bringing that number up, but being told that it would not be negotiated is illegal since the state does not require it and declares that it should be a number agreed upon by both parties (if you know, please shoot me a comment to inform me). Then he exclaimed that there was another couple waiting to buy the car and that there were other people waiting to get financing, so if I would just hurry up and sign the deal we could get moving.

And I'm running out of steam...

He broke me down with his tone and his (overkill) argumentative nature until I was just unwilling to keep trying for a fair deal. We were eventually actually inside of our price range, so I let it be and we bought the car.

"Sign here here here here here here here here here and here..." and the deal was done.

"Hand this (paper plate) to Mr. Scott and he will put it on the car for you."

I honestly don't even recall if he thanked us for buying the car because I was so sick to my stomach at that point. It didn't get any better when we got back to Scott and he handed us the key. Wait... the key?

"There's only one key?" We asked.

"Yep," was his only response.

This isn't just any key, this is a $156 "switchblade" programmable linking key. Great, another kick in the pants on the way out!

After all the dust settled and we were driving to show our friends and family the new purchase, it dawned on us that we had been totally distracted by all the numbers and attitude, that we completely forgot to ask for a Carfax report! DOH!! Of course to make it worse, the universe saw fit to show us literally 50 Carfax commercials that night while watching TV.

Maybe it just wasn't our day! The car is nice though.

Black 2010 Acura TSX

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