Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why I Vet ALL Reviews Before a Purchase...

For years, Tony drove a company car. It was usually a big Chrysler that he used for work only. I had my own car, and we leased another car for the businesses we owned. After we sold the business in 2004 we stopped leasing and scaled down to just one car and Tony's company car. We tend to keep our cars for at least five years, so when we buy one we want one we love, one that is going to be dependable, and one that has a few luxuries.

In 2007 Tony went through a life change and he couldn't travel anymore. So he had to retire early and the company car went back. We tried living with one car for a while...I was working at home by then...and that didn't work out. So we went car shopping a couple of years ago and found a dealer that we loved. One of the things I refuse to do when buying a car is buy something brand new unless I'm leasing. I don't like the fact that the minute I pull out the driveway I've lost thousands of dollars. Cars are not assets. They depreciate in time, they don't increase in value. And we'd turned in so many leased vehicles in excellent condition with low mileage that we decided to buy something pre-owned. The reason why we never purchased any of the vehicles we leased was because the buy-outs were ridiculous. It wasn't worth it.

We found a dealer that strictly buys and sells imports. I prefer either German or British cars. I think they last longer, are safer, and handle better. That's just my opinion so feel free to disagree with me. All I know is that when I get into an American car after driving my German car, I FEEL the difference immediately. I also wanted four wheel drive, and not an SUV.

After searching the web for the right car for weeks, and after driving all over the tri-state area test driving different cars and comparing prices, we finally wound up buying a Mercedes C class at the first dealer we went to in the beginning. It was two years old, had just come off a lease, and had very low mileage. The dealership I'm talking about is local, they have a strong web presence, and I liked the fact that they had patience with us because we are not easy to deal with when we are spending large sums of money. My experience at this dealership was probably one of the best experiences I've had at any dealership since I've been buying cars.

The other night while I was perusing the web with nothing better to do, I went to the dealer's web site and checked out their inventory to see what they had. Our other car is getting up there in age and I've always wanted a mini-cooper. And while I was searching google I came across a few reviews for this dealership that stunned me. There were two one star reviews left by people who claimed they'd had awful experiences with this dealer.

Now I'm not saying those reviews are wrong. All I'm saying is that we all approach things differently and we all have different expectations. This dealership is NOT one of those places where salespeople jump on you, kiss your ass up and down, and pitch their cars. They are very laid back and there's no pressure at all. It's a take it or leave it attitude without pressure, an attitude which I prefer and why I liked doing business with them.

In any event, those two bad reviews made me think about all the bad reviews I'd read in the past for all kinds of things. If I had read reviews like them, and I knew nothing about Internet reviews at all, I might not have bothered to go to this dealer when I was car shopping. I don't think people understand the magnitude of their words sometimes, and I don't think they truly grasp the fact that they might be keeping decent people from doing business with their bitterness. I think this one review below is bitter. You can judge for yourself.

Poor customer service, drove an A6 onto the lot to test drive a newer one. Not permitted to even sit in the car until I was "qualified" to test drive it. They have a policy that you agree on a price, talk about any potential trade and then see if you need financing. I could have purchased the car outright, so they do not discriminate according to Rodger, you can live 4 miles away or half way across the country and you get the same shady service. You can only judge a company based on the service provided. There is a reason why 3 of the 4 reviews on this page are 1 star.

What this person is complaining about with regard to being "qualified" makes no sense to me. I didn't have a problem test driving any cars there. I test drove five...after I gave them my driver's license and showed them that I was, indeed, qualified. In fact, I think most dealers do this now. They check you out before they let you test drive anything. So I have no idea WTF this person is talking about...or complaining about in this respect. What idiot car dealer would let someone test drive a car without qualifying them first?

As for the policy about pricing, they have set prices and don't like to haggle. I found that refreshing, and I found their prices to be LESS than most other dealerships in my area. Trust me, we did the research when we were shopping. As far as service goes, they are not a franchise. They are an inline import company that deals in luxury foreign cars for a specific market. You're not going to get all the nonsense there you'd get at your local Ford dealer. And I didn't expect it. I have a great mechanic I've been going to for almost twenty years and I would never take my car back to a dealer because ALL dealers are out to jack up the prices and talk you into something you don't need or want. (I went for basic inspection once to a Jag dealer and they wanted to charge me $1,200.00 dollars. That didn't happen :)

There was another negative review that didn't make sense to me either. As I said, if I didn't know as much as I do about the Internet and how people review in some cases, I might have believed these reviews. But I know from my own personal experiences this dealer isn't as bad as these reviews make them out to be. So I left my own review, with five big stars, you can read below. I left the review with my real name and you can check it out with the link I've provided above.

We bought a Mercedes C class from this dealer two years ago and had a good experience. In fact, we drove them a little crazy and spent two weeks looking for the right car. I will go back again when I am car shopping again.

I made a point of doing this to balance out the other reviews that made no sense to me. I also made a point of doing this because I was telling the truth from my own personal experiences with this dealer. And I WILL go back again when it's time to buy another car and I won't think twice about it.

The next time you're shopping for something, whether it's a car, T-shirt, or book, take the time to really vet the reviews and see if they make sense. Many do, and yet far too many don't. And if you've had a good experience with a business or product, take the time to write a review for it. Good honest reviews are just as important as negative reviews. One thing I've noticed that seems to be a pattern all over the Internet is that those who only write negative reviews seem to be in the majority. This really has to change.


anny cook said...

I agree with this absolutely. It's amazing what people will write. So many reviews (especially bad ones) are written by individuals with very unrealistic expectations.

Leaundra said...

I"m like you Ryan because different life experiences make us look at things differently. What maybe someone else doesn't like about something or someone to me it might not be that big of deal. That's also why I don't give bad book reviews no mind. I've actually seen
some bad ones before reading the book, ended up loving that book so much so if I had listened to the bad review I would have missed a great book. When getting anything you should always listen to your own instincts.

Anonymous said...

I do know--for example--the Porsche dealer here in town will not let anyone take a test drive and they are also stingy for upper level Audis. They do qualify people before test drives to prevent Walmartians from getting the keys to a 911 Carrera Turbo for example. With respect to the guy who drove an A6 onto this used car lot to look at a newer A6, one would have to assume he has the financial means to move up to the newer used one. That comment seemed odd. As for leases, it's rarely a good idea to buy a car at the end of the lease if you're the one in the lease.

As for reviews, I look for specificity of details. I dismiss ALL the "Sally Field" reviews: "I liked it, I really, really liked it." I also dismiss the polar opposite. I then look for the Gestalt in the remaining reviews. That said, many businesses--and others--cook their reviews by flooding with bogus reviews.

As always, buyer beware.

Matthew Darringer

ryan field said...

@ anny...I agree. I wish I'd put that in the post :)

@Leaundra...That what I try to do. That how I wound up reading more than half the books I've read and loved.

@Matt...It's ridiculous what they want to charge at the end of a lease. That's why we stopped leasing. It worked with the businesses at the time. But it didn't make sense after we sold them.