Lithia Motors = EVIL!!!
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Posted by mikeh (+227) 3 years ago
“Studies show that a satisfied customer will tell 2-3 people about his experience with your company. A dissatisfied consumer will share their lament with 8-10 people and some will push that number to twenty.” – Susan Gladin “How Customer Service Works” http://money.howstuffwor...vice2.htm

I am not a satisfied customer. I have come to MC.com to “share my lament”. I’ll admit up front. This is no warning. This is no public service. This is public shaming pure and simple. Hey’ they wasted my day yesterday and they appeared to be trying to rip me off so they totally deserve it!

It started a week ago when I decided it was nearing time to replace my 19-year-old SUV. I had done some research using USAA’s car buying service and found a 2007 Subaru Outback for sale at Lithia Chrysler etc. in Billings. I checked the Carfax report on the vehicle and found no problems. I checked two different pricing services and found that the asking price of just under $10000 was reasonable but not too good to be true. I called the dealership and inquired about the vehicle and said I’d probably be down on Friday. Lithia Called on Thursday evening to confirm I was coming, confirm that the car was still there and even set an appointment time with me for 10 am.

When I arrived at the dealership on Friday after the 150 mile drive from Miles City (yeah, we are, in fact, getting to the good part) I met with the receptionist who, after a couple of minutes, was able to find the woman in Internet Sales with whom I made the appointment. As promised, she introduced me to a sales person. He asks what I’m here for, looks something up on his screen and begins to hem and haw “…that car’s not ready…I’m not sure we’re even selling it…” (NOTE: According to the Carfax report, the car had been listed for sale since December 12. Yesterday when I looked at it was January 17. The car had been listed for 35 days and supposedly nobody had gotten around to prepping it for sale.) Then, the other shoe drops…

[This message has been edited by mikeh (1/18/2014)]
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Posted by mikeh (+227) 3 years ago
…”it has a bit of hail damage”. Yup! It hadn’t occurred to anyone in the last 35 days that the ad should possibly have mentioned hail damage. It didn’t occur to Pam in Internet Sales that, perhaps I might need to know that it was a hail damaged POS before making a 150 mile drive to Billings to view and test drive this car
I wanted to see it anyway. I had just driven two and a half hours and 150 miles for this moment, I was not going to be denied. Bryan, the salesman, led me all around the parking lot looking for it. We couldn’t find it. Then he left me waiting inside the dealership for several more minutes while he and a person from the Service department looked some more.

Finally, about a half an hour after agreeing to show it to me, Bryan arrived with the Outback – or as I like to call it - the bait-and-switch-mobile. Now there weren’t as many hail-pock-marks as I had feared. On the other hand, the finish on the car was terribly weathered and the hood did not appear to completely close. There had been no attempt to detail it and it even had trash in the front passenger seat. It really appeared that they were not even remotely serious about selling this car for what it was actually worth. I’m guessing it was there to get folks into the dealership so they could be upsold…upsold to more car than they needed…upsold to a car whose value they had not researched…upsold to a car for which they had not pre-arranged financing (and with which the dealer could play financing games).

Yes, I should have left right then. Wait, who am I kidding? I should have left about 40 minutes earlier when I was informed that the car for which I had driven 150 miles and made an appointment to see was not ready, possibly not for sale and had undisclosed hail damage. But I had invested so much time to get here anyway. And Bryan had what sounded like an interesting idea…
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Posted by mikeh (+227) 3 years ago
“There’s a 2007 Impreza listed at Lithia Toyota – would you be interested in that?” Actually I was very interested to hear what this guy had to say about Lithia Toyota’s Impreza. This was the car I was most interested in as I did my research in the previous week. I was told before the previous weekend that it was not ready to show (a theme here?). I kept in contact with Lithia Toyota’s internet sales person who said she’d find out Monday when it would be ready. On Monday or Tuesday of last week,, then let me know it would be ready to show on Thursday. I replied that I would be in to see in on Friday.

I wanted to call on Thursday night to let her know I was still interested in that car. I had to look up the ad to find her phone number on the internet. The ad showed the car’s price had been raised from 9995 to 10795. Luckily I had my USAA price guarantee printed out somewhere. I called her cell – no answer. I called her desk – no answer. I called the receptionist and she tells me that the car has sold to a woman who had never seen it – or even a picture of it. I was irritated that the internet sales woman did not call me back as a courtesy to let me know this. I was suspicious that maybe they did not want me to make an offer on the car with a “guaranteed price” that was now lower than they wanted. I was kicking myself for not making a sight-unseen offer on this car (at least the hail damage incident at Lithia Chrysler had cured me of that). I was quite curious what Bryan would be told about the Impreza.

So I told Bryan to make the call, thinking he would simply turn to the telephone right at the desk where he was sitting and get a possibly new story on the Impreza. Oh, good God, of course not!. Bryan, instead, left his desk and retreated to an “Employees Only” room that I would later learn is known in auto dealer circles as “The Tower”.
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Posted by mikeh (+227) 3 years ago
He spent several minutes in there making what seemed to me should have been a 1 to 2 minute phone call that he could have made at his desk. I was growing impatient. I could see the impatience on my face in the mirrors next to the “Employees Only” door through which Bryan had exited. Mirrors? Wait. Those weren’t mirrors. They were one-way glass panes! I (along with the other customers in the showroom) was being watched. All of us customers in the showroom were like “perps” in the interview room on “The Closer” being spied upon by the salesmen and sales managers.

Like those criminals I was a bit uncomfortable with possibly being watched. Unlike the crooks on The Closer, I was, mercifully, not handcuffed to the table. I rose from my chair and moved toward a wall where I would be harder to see from the confines of The Tower. Bryan made an impeccably timed emergence from the room with an update. “My Manager is calling them right now.” I acted like this was utterly normal…like there was nothing wrong with sitting around waiting 10 to 15 minutes for his manager to make a call that Bryan himself could have completed in a couple of minutes at his desk. He retreated back to The Tower and I waited some more. Bryan reappeared and informed me that the Impreza had sold.
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Posted by mikeh (+227) 3 years ago
He told me about a Subaru Legacy that was also available at Lithia Toyota. He would be able to retrieve it in 10 minutes. Against my better judgment, I stayed. I had come all this way. And that “new-to-me car fever” that Bryan and the other staff were sensing on me? Well, they weren’t just imagining it.

I was left alone and returned to my car to make a call to USAA. I have been a member of USAA for nearly 35 years (my Dad served in Korea) and they had a great reputation. I figured they should know it was being tarnished by their car-buying service’s designation of Lithia as a “certified dealer”. I heard a knock at my window. It was Pam, the Internet Sales woman. I rolled down my window and she asked how it was going. I explained I was waiting to see another car and was just in the car to make a phone call. I also explained that I was very disappointed to have made this trip to see the original Outback and had not been told of its hail-damaged condition. She apologized – the sort of apology I would expect if she offered to bring me Coke Zero and brought a can of Diet Coke instead. Any sense of how badly I must have been put out to come a long distance to see this car was probably swirling in the same sewer where she and the rest of the sales force at Lithia Motors had thrown away their consciences.

A couple of minutes later, Bryan returned with the Legacy. It was priced $3000 more than the car I had come down to see. It might have even been worth the price. The thought, however, of doing a $13,000 transaction with these people made me throw up in my mouth a little. I told him “Sorry but this just isn’t the car I did the research on.” I climbed back into my 19-year-old Explorer and drove away.
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Posted by Hal Neumann (+8146) 3 years ago
Genocide is evil. Human trafficking is evil. Pedophilia is evil. I think the verdict is still out on the “music” of Justin Bieber. But I’m pretty sure that meeting a fast talking salesperson at a car lot does not count as an encounter with evil. Probably just means it’s time to take your money elsewhere.
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Posted by David Schott (+10860) 3 years ago
I think SLIMY might be a better description.
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Posted by NDJ (+143) 3 years ago
Is that the only place in town that sells cars?Were they holding you there at gunpoint?
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Posted by Steve Allison (+979) 3 years ago
I have been more then satisfied with every transaction I have had with Deluxe Motors right here in Mile City. Not say a bad word about the Chevy or Ford dealerships. Heard good about them also but I have no personal experience. Also heard good things about Franks and Jacks body shops cars. They are wreck repairs but they seam to do very good work.
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Posted by Josh Rath (+2294) 3 years ago
Personally, I have dealt with every major dealer here in town. So far, I've had the BEST service from Deluxe Motors. Zack is very awesome, and the team at Deluxe has always solved my issues with my vehicles, and always gotten me into an amazing vehicle.
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Posted by mikeh (+227) 3 years ago
Thanks to all who have responded so far. Responses attract readers and I figure the more people who read this, the better.

Hal, I’d agree with your assessment – the use of the word “EVIL” in all caps with exclamation points was an exaggeration. I agree with David that “slimy” is probably a better word choice. Further, I should probably walk back the comment about the employees of Lithia flushing their consciences in the sewer. Most, I imagine, are just trying to feed their families, pay their bills and support their other obligations. I imagine their consciences nag at them because they know deep down that lying and pressuring folks is just plain wrong – even if it is legal and even if it is a lesser “don’t call it evil” than choosing not to work and meet your obligations.

And also, I am definitely taking my business elsewhere. I had met Zack in the bowling league once and was thinking about stopping by to ask him to keep his eyes open for a Subaru. With two good words from the folks here, I’m definitely planning on it now.

And, finally for NDJ, no – there are plenty of other places both in Billings and even right here to buy cars (though if you limit yourself to “in town” while you’re in Billings, chances are any of those other places you visit will be owned by Lithia Motors). I suspect you knew that. And no, they weren’t holding a gun to my head. (I suspect you figured that out as well). So I suppose you are really wondering why I didn’t just leave. I gave my thoughts on that in the original posts. I should have left. I had driven a long way. I was curious about what shenanigans they would pull next and bitten by new-to-me car fever. But apparently there was nobody holding a gun to your head forcing you to read those parts.
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Posted by NDJ (+143) 3 years ago
Sorry if I made you think Mike.Thinking is hard.
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Posted by 2ndComing (+206) 3 years ago
Sorry to hear thinking is hard for you NDJ.
I called one of the Billings dealers about a vehicle they had that was a super deal. They said to come on over and they would hold it. I drove over that day and they had just sold it. I parked across the street and called them about that same "super deal vehicle", and was told "yes we still have it, I'm looking at it right now".
Yes there is a point to this story. Some sales people/dealers will do anything to get in the door. It's a risk you take.
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Posted by NDJ (+143) 3 years ago
Yes 2ndcoming.Thinking is hard.That is why so few do it for a living.
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+9689) 3 years ago
The entire mechanics of selling cars in the U.S. needs to be tossed out the window......just like health care.
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Posted by Jim B (+231) 3 years ago
Don't understand why anyone would purchase a car out of town.
Ask your local sales person to find one for you.
Also don't understand why you would buy a brand that you can not
get service and worked on locally.
Anyone who sells cars in Miles City can find you a car.
Shop locally.
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Posted by Amorette F. Allison (+1913) 3 years ago
If you love Subarus--and I do, we owned two and were very fond of them--is the Metric Shop in Billings still around. You might try them.
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Posted by Bridgier (+7534) 3 years ago
I love my subaru right up until it's time to get it serviced or repaired, and then the Subaru Tax gets applied...

Also, NDJ needs to work on his trolling a bit... there are so many fine examples for him to emulate that have come before - surely he/she can step up his game.
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Posted by mikeh (+227) 3 years ago
Thanks for the responses.

I was really hoping that the USAA Car Buying Service would look to see if there were any Subarus available locally. They did not. I know this because I did, just yesterday, stop by the MC Chrysler dealer to let them know what I want and found out that if I had looked there first, I would have found exactly the car I wanted. They just sold it on Saturday. I guess ya live and learn. They told me they'll keep looking.

SUBARU OWNERS - have you had trouble finding a place in town to service and repair your cars? I know there's no Subaru dealer and I know there is one pretty good mechanic that only does American cars but I see all kinds of vehicles when I take my car and RV to Macs to get them serviced. Seriously, if you own or have owned a Subaru, let me know your experience.
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Posted by boxdmc (+88) 3 years ago
JR's repair in Billings is the only place to go for repairs IMO. I had a Subaru with some problems that many mechanics looked at an couldn't figure out. I called JR's Repair and told them the issue. He said it has to be this. I said no it has nothing to do with this. He told me I was wrong, and I was! A trip to Billings and a very reasonable repair bill.
They also sell some used Subaru's.
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+9689) 3 years ago
You do know that if you buy a Subaru, you will have to cover it with hippie bumper stickers, don't you?

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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr. (+13238) 3 years ago
Don't understand why anyone would purchase a car out of town.
Ask your local sales person to find one for you.
Also don't understand why you would buy a brand that you can not
get service and worked on locally.



If only there were Toyota and Honda dealers in the statement above would make sense and be agreeable. But alas some don't understand "value"; or as Justin McBride "sings" it:

Good saddles ain't cheap
But there're worth every dime
And you'll be glad you've got one
When you're on a long ride
You know a deal and a bargain
Are often misunderstood
Good saddles ain't cheap
Cheap saddles ain't good

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Posted by Elizabeth Emilsson (+796) 3 years ago
Tucker, it sounds like Lithia has that Outback I sold you. I wonder if it is still full of Rottweiler hair.
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Posted by NDJ (+143) 3 years ago
What if Justin McBride and his son used their horses to get to work every day and had to ship their horses to the University of Colorado every time they(the horses) got hayfever?
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr. (+13238) 3 years ago
I'm guessing that NDJ spent a lot of time in grade school at the pencil sharpener trying to make a very fine point that just kept breaking off. I reality he/she was just making a lot of grinding noise and frittering away the pencil.
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Posted by NDJ (+143) 3 years ago
Sorry you missed the point Richard.It seems you just don`t have much horse sense.
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Posted by mikeh (+227) 3 years ago
I was just going to go with one Human Rights Campaign "equal sign" and hope folks thought I was a lesbian.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr. (+13238) 3 years ago
NDJ the Wondertroll said:
Sorry you missed the point Richard.It seems you just don`t have much horse sense.


You'd actually have to make a point, before there would be one to miss.
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Posted by NDJ (+143) 3 years ago
A lesbian trapped in a man`s body?
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Posted by NDJ (+143) 3 years ago
Ok Richard.Someone buys a car that no one works on locally,this is a car that they need to survive.You post about about honda and toyota dealerships not being in MC.Then you post about someone and about buying a saddle.Ok,are you still following me Richard?I am comparing that mcbride guy`s horse to a car.If his horse has trouble breathing and there is snot flying all over because the horse has hayfever,and no one can work on the horse locally,so he has to take this special horse to the University of Colorado to have someone fix it.Meanwhile instead of singing and having to endure the expense and inconvenience of having their horse shipped,doctored and boarded a far bit away,the other cowboys are rounding up and cutting out calves using their locally maintained horses.There were points made Richard,and puns made,they just went over your head.There was a point made there also.There is also a point about doing business locally whether it be a car,a horse or a saddle right here in MC.Banter on here if you wish Richard,I am abandoning this post.I leave it up to you to maintain.Tally Ho.
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Posted by mikeh (+227) 3 years ago
Would it be considered "feeding the trolls" if I asked if the "D" stands for "Douchebag"?
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Posted by Bridgier (+7534) 3 years ago
Who the fsck is Justin McBride?
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr. (+13238) 3 years ago
Justin McBride is a two-time PBR World Champion (2005 and 2007), has a record 32 career wins, and was the first professional bull rider to earn more than $5 million in the course of his career. He is also a country music singer and is also one of the color commentators of the Built Ford Tough Series telecasts on CBS Sports Network.

~~~~
MY point is that some buy cars out of because they understand value (i.e. Toyota, Honda, Subaru). You get what you pay for or "good saddles ain't cheap, cheap saddles ain't good". Pretty simple.

[This message has been edited by Richard Bonine, Jr. (1/22/2014)]
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Posted by Ken Minow (+374) 3 years ago
I understand why a lot of folks switched to Subarus and Hondas back in the 80's.Back then American cars guzzled fuel and were poorly built.Those 'lil Subarus were almost indestructible.
Things have changed drastically since then.I believe that American vehicles are everybit as reliable and well built as the foreign jobs.It's not uncommon to see Ford Taurus's or Dodge minivans with 130,000 miles on them that maybe outside of a new battery,haven't had a single problem.
Just a thought-before going out of town to buy a vehicle,why not check out the local dealers.You just might be surprised.
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Posted by C Stoltz (+11) 3 years ago
A common misperception, most of the cars at Franks and Jacks were purchased at auctions for sale locally. Full disclosure is made concerning the few that are wreck repairs - which have to be inspected by the state prior to sale.
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Posted by Forsyth Mike (+360) 3 years ago
As long as there is a local dealer I would buy a vehicle there. I had a salesman at Heberle Ford (here in Forsyth) years ago tell me that even if I wanted to get a new Toyota or Honda or whatever, they could get it for me....they would just buy it from another dealer and the two dealers would split the profit. They both would rather make a sale than lose one.

My wife (who is from Billings) has told me so many horror stories about car shopping there that I would rather have several consecutive root canals than ever go car shopping in that town. I have a buddy who worked at Prestige Toyota for a grand total of two weeks..... he quit because, he said, "I just couldn't do the things they wanted me to do to people."
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Posted by mikeh (+227) 3 years ago
I've spread this story far and wide. And, unfortunately, one comment I got more than once was that the competition in Billings was every bit as bad (as in jerked these people around for 4 and a half to 6 hours - not the mere hour and a half I spent).

For some reason, I always thought the used cars at dealers were trade-ins and I would have to wait for a local dealer to get the car I want on trade. I didn't think of having them look for it at auction.

I understand the earlier comment on American cars now vs. the 80s. My '95 Explorer has 175,000 miles on it. It has been great. I just want a much smaller rig that still has all-wheel-drive and Subaru seems to be the place to go for that. If I can't find one that meets my needs in a month or so, I may go to Macs (I've been pleased with the car service there) and buy another Ford - probably a front-wheel-drive subcompact (I rented a Festiva once - liked it a lot.)
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