Problem Examination: Blame the Customer

by Jay Deragon on 02/26/2014

Is-the-Blame-Game-Undermining-Your-Customer-ExperienceRecently I have reflected on my own bad experiences with stinking thinking and wrong attitudes from suppliers.

I discovered that many others have had the same experience. Subsequently I thought it might be a good idea to start doing a weekly post that examines common problems and share possible root causes and solutions that may help suppliers that may be listening.

This Weeks Common Problem: Blame the Customer

For over ten years we’ve bought our vehicles from a local luxury used car dealer  we’ve known since he first got into business. The business had grown rapidly from selling 10 cars a month out of one place to over 75 cars a month out of two locations.  Between my wife and I we have bought five cars over the last ten years.

My wife wanted to trade her BMW for a Cadillac SRX so I called our friend, who owned the luxury used car dealership,  and asked if he had any Cadillac SRX’s on his lots. He responded by telling me he actually had two newer models. The owner told me to go down to the lot and see the manager and tell him I’d like to bring the car home and show it to my wife.  He then promised to give me the same deal on trading my wife’s BMW for the SRX as he always had which was his cost-plus a small margin.

So I went down to the lot and met with the manager indicating what my friend, the owner, had said. The manager then proceeded to tell me that I didn’t need to talk to the owner because he doesn’t handle sales, he does. He then told me about two SRX’s he had and if I was interested in any of them he needed a deposit to hold them.  I responded by saying why would I have to put a deposit down when I don’t even know what you’ll give me for my car or if the SRX you have is the one my wife wants. The manager responded “Well I have others interested in these vehicles and if you don’t put a deposit down I will sell them to the first buyer who does”.  I then said “I’d prefer to talk (Name of owner) since I had bought five cars from him over the past ten years” and walked away irritated.

Driving home from the lot I called the owner and left a voice mail about this experience.  When I got home I received a text from the owner. In summary the text said “You went down to the lot and upset all my people by saying you’d prefer dealing with me. I then got calls from the manager complaining about you and your attitude.  I am busy and I trust my people to give you a good deal and treat you fairly. Now they think you’ll buy from me and possibly lose their commission”.

As the buyer all I wanted was to please my wife and get her what she wanted. In return I get told who is in charge, what I have to do to make a purchase and what I did wrong in the process of wanting to buy a car.  Really?

As a result of this experience I will not be buying from “my friend” again.  This may sound like an unusual situation but it is not.

In the same week I had trouble with my internet service from Comcast. When making an inquiry about the problem I was told the problem is on my end not theirs.  In other words the problem is my fault.  Come to find out the problem was theirs and it took me three hours to prove it!

Never blame the customer for problems you create. If you do you are likely to lose the customer and they are likely to share their experience with many others.

{ 1 comment }

Dick Davies February 26, 2014 at 7:56 pm

I’ve had auto dealers as happy customers of mine and had exactly the same response from A**hole subordinates. They are temporary, and I buy through Costco. Coming to a Costco dealer through the Costco buying program I get, “We have a cash back or zero financing. Take both. And we’ll include that mysterious paint cover free.”

I don’t have time to negotiate with a blob who has nothing else to do.

Last time I did the Costco at the dealer who sold me my two previous cars, I was out after 45 minutes, driving my new ‘chine, at a price the buying guides couldn’t match.

The crushing leverage of social media.

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