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Old 06-19-2004, 07:43 AM   #1
mst
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Default Saturn the Car versus Saturn the Dealership Experience

There seems to be some prevailing opinion that the best part of Saturn ownership is the dealer experience. Kind of like the cars are OK, but everything the dealer does is nirvana. I wonder if I'm in the minority because I think exactly the opposite. My dealer performance has been spotty, at best, but I've loved the two Saturns that I've owned.

Here's my story. Saturn number one was a 2001 L200, bought from a dealership a couple of hours away. I was picky on features and colors, and while out of town, found exactly what I was looking for so I bought it. The buying experience was OK, except I had to wait for a salesperson. However, I had a trade worth about $16K, and took a 0% SmartBuy, so the dealership owed me money, which they couldn't deliver on the spot. It took about 2 months, 20 calls (most of which weren't returned), and a threat of legal action to get them to send me a check. So, I ended up royally miffed at them. I loved the car, though, 3 years, 37K, absolutely no problems, and the car handled like a Eurpean sports car, particularly when I replaced the OEM tires. No real dealer experience, I did the oil changes myself, and no need for repairs. I traded this car when it was majorly under water at the end of the SmartBuy term.

Saturn number two is a 2004 Vue V6 FWD. This is one phenomonal car. The engine is so strong and so refined, the 17" wheels make a terrific look, and it rides and performs very competently. We love this car. Every touch of the dealership, though, is frustrating. When I bought the car, it took 90 minutes to pick out what I wanted, 20 minutes to write up the deal, and then 3 hours of standing around waiting to pay for it! Also, the dealership was so confused by the various incentives, that the amount paid changed about half a dozen times. Then when I got home I realized I'd paid several hundred dollars more than I should have. At delivery the car had a minor scratch which took three trips and a request to exchange the car before it got fixed. And the service department at the dealership is a piece of work. I went in last Saturday for an oil change at the 7am opening time. I was chastised for not having an appointment, then told it would be over an hour wait. I said fine, went in to get my coffee and doughnut, and then thought about sitting at the dealer for more than an hour, went back to find my service writer, and told him that I didn't want to wait, and to give me my car back. First he told me he couldn't do that since he'd entered the car into the computer. I told him that was stupid. Then he told me that my car would go right in, and I wouldn't have to wait. The process at this dealer is to line the cars in the back that are waiting for an oil change, and I watched as someone went back and drove my car into the bay, right past three other cars that were in line in front of me! So, I was glad I didn't have to wait, but I didn't think this was the honorable thing for them to do. Also, this dealer never washes or vacuums the car when they service it (which I thought was a Saturn policy).

So, in my mind, at least with the dealer that I have, Saturn the car is worthwhile owning despite the mis-actions of Saturn the dealer. I do know that I'm basically done with the service department of my dealer, except for warranty work.

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Old 06-19-2004, 10:13 AM   #2
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Their supposed to vacuum? I asked them for a detail job the last time I was at my dealer, since they owed me one, and all they did was wash the outside off. Didn't even touch the inside. They never do. I'm pretty sure their supposed to clean the whole car out when they do detail work at least. I kinda felt like I was brushed off. My friend was restless, so I didn't bother telling them a second time, and opted to try and get it done during my next oil change. Other than this incident, my dealer has been friendly and easy to deal with.

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Old 06-19-2004, 10:17 AM   #3
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I guess everyone has their own experiences based on location. Due to the fact that my kids have lived 170 miles away from me for most of the past few years, we have dealt with both the Kelly owned Saturn stores in eastern PA and two of the Sutliff owned stores in central PA. I couldn't ask for better treatment than we received at all of these retailers. I too think the cars are fine but I am well aware that I own cars (with the exception of our VUE) that retail for less than $20,000 and I don't expect them to match a car worth $40,000. That said I think the sales and service that I have personally experienced would match that given from any high-end dealership. I guess I am lucky to live where I do.

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Old 06-19-2004, 11:40 AM   #4
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Love the cars, hate the dealers. But then again, I hate almost any dealer.

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Old 06-19-2004, 12:27 PM   #5
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Being a 12 year Saturn owner, I love my Saturn and my Saturn RETAILER (not "dealer"). I'm spoiled for anything else. It's funny that I've been around longer than most of the folks working there now. There are a few of them that have been there since the beginning. Last time I was in for service, the person that puts the paper on the floor and the plastic on seats then drives the car around back asked me what model my Saturn was. Uh... it's an SC2. Has it been that long? My Saturn is washed every time. Not vacuumed.

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Old 06-19-2004, 06:43 PM   #6
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Our dealer uses a car wash up the street and gives us tickets. Generally the service is good ,but I have had bad service people wait on me. Most are gone (and they should be) but I guess some of us (myself) have had such herendious experances at other dealers(Buick)(Chrysler) that our Saturn dealer seems so much better to many of us.My dealer seems to be trying and correct the errors of some staff they hired in the past.My salesmen Tim is a gem. This is one guy who loves to sell cars and really is interested in you as a person. My dealer gives you the full treatment when you buy a car .Pictues,calanders,workshops and it takes about 15 minutes to do the whole deal. I have found a phone call to Spring Hill it will do wonders.Maybe its time you let saturn know whats going on at your retailer.If your being treated that way Im sure others are also.

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Old 06-19-2004, 06:47 PM   #7
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The dealer experience have definitely deteriorated over the years. Saturn may as well be Chevy with nicer showrooms. When we bought our L in 2000 the salesperson and manager were so confused about incentives. At that time they just started accepting the GM Card points. I got a letter in the mail about and the dealer swore up and down that they did not accept my points. I had to call the GM card personally to get them in touch with the dealer. After that the transaction toook hours to finish and the dealer could not locate the color we wanted or even order it. We went with our third choice. First and last time I ever did that. Unbelievable.

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Old 06-19-2004, 08:25 PM   #8
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With 10 years of saturn, my experience with the dealers has been better than remember getting from other dealers(foreign or domestic). owever it's the saturns not the dealerships that have caused me to own 9 of them.

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Old 06-19-2004, 08:56 PM   #9
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Dealer experience has been a mixed bag, but overall positive. If you have a choice of different ownership groups in the same area it is worth trying a different dealer if you are unsatisfied because a decent dealer/service experience makes all the difference at times.

Both the SL2 and the Ion have been safe, dependable, fun, and different cars that offered good bang for the buck so far.

If Saturn is getting rid of polymer in a few years I am most likely going to be forced to buy a last model year Red Line with polymer before they go forever.

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Old 06-19-2004, 09:38 PM   #10
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I love my dealer, they always wash my car for me. For free too, love them. Love the car too, of course...

...
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Old 06-19-2004, 10:03 PM   #11
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All dealerships definitely aren't equal. I got my original SC2 at Saturn of Kearny Mesa and went to them for all my service, which was outstanding. For some strange reason, I later bought a 2003 L300 at another dealership, and the experience there was mediocre. Seemed like half the people there were tired and unhelpful, and the other half were great and trying to undo the mess of the others. It took me weeks to take delivery of the car and the salespeople were very close to absolutably useless.

The lesson here is to stick with a known good dealership. They're not all created equal, even on Saturn.

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Old 06-19-2004, 10:12 PM   #12
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They're fine as long as I watch them closely and don't turn my back

A woman came in for service ahead of me and told the rep that her light was flashing... the service rep told her they would check it out ($$$)... I told the woman that it always turns on when she starts the car... I guess the rep was ticked off at me

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Old 06-19-2004, 11:25 PM   #13
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I haven't been all too pleased as of late with neither the car nor the dealership. Car issues aside, I get the feeling that the service personnel don't know about their cars and on top of that, I'm given the run around when I bring up an issue. HOWEVER, there is one gentlemen that I have been lucky enough to take my car into who provides excellent service. He is always pleasant, and when I bring up an issue with my car he knows what I am talking about. As a result, I finally got the recalls performed, my trunklid adjusted, and am getting new wiper assemblies and lower control arms done this Tuesday. Hopefully he stays at the dealer for a long time. And, all in all, if not for the two issues I have with the car, which I could take care of myself when I have enough income, I would be highly content with the ION.

So, conclusion is, dealer and car get about the same ratings from me - both have the ups and downs.

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[COLOR=Navy][U]Tristan[/U]___________
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Old 06-21-2004, 02:58 PM   #14
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I bought a 2002 SL2 in October of 2001 (you remember the big patriotic push to buy something to support the economy?) from Saturn of Omaha. Loved the car, the service was, how shall I say it? Spotty. If the service manager was there, everything was fine, if not....well, you take your chances. Last August I traded up to an L200 from Saturn of Bellevue. Awesome service! They clean the inside and outside of my car and they always have an opening for me to get my car serviced. I guess it depends on who is behind the counter.

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Old 06-21-2004, 04:19 PM   #15
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I love my car.

I don't think "hate" justifies my feelings toward my dealer.

The first time I went there, they lost my car for awhile, somehow put 50 miles on it, lied to me about the head gasket leaking, lied on the exit paperwork, and used up half a tank of my gas. I sat and waited for four hours for them to change my coolant.

I took it in for an oil change once, and it took them three hours even though there was no one in line in front of me.

One time I went in told them the PCM was giving me a Code 32 and my EGR vavle was bad. They apparently didn't believe me and checked it anyway and after 5 minutes of work, they charged me a $60.00 diagnostic fee. What kills me is that I had them fix the problem, and they still charged me. After I fought with them for an hour, they finally let me go with a $30.00 fee instead.

Last time I went for an oil change, they let air out of all my tires and left my car sitting in the sun with detergent on it. I washed it when I got home, but the rings never came out. They ruined my paint, and it's probably going to take a wax job to get them out.

So... yeah... I like my car a lot more than the gaping chasm to Hell I have to take it to.

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Old 06-21-2004, 04:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by mikthehickNC
I love my dealer, they always wash my car for me. For free too, love them. Love the car too, of course...
Ditto for me,here in Oklahoma.

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Old 06-22-2004, 10:59 AM   #17
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I've been trustingly buying my Saturn parts from the local dealer, but after my fuel filter doubled in price ($54.00), I started investigating the prices shown in Saturnparts. What do you know! They've been tagging another 15% onto the list price for over-the-counter parts, and at the same time the Acura dealer has given me a legitimate 20% discount for my RSX items. Not a good way for Saturn to win repeat customers.

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Old 06-23-2004, 01:20 PM   #18
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When I owned my 5 Saturns, had very good luck with saturn of Raleigh (NC). Only problem was that they discontinued no-appointment maintenance service.

I was totally shocked by Fred Anderson Toyota in Raleigh. No-appointments needed for maintenance services. Plasma TV in waiting room. Free coffee and Panera pastries. Free bottled water. Most service appointments in 2 days of call. Special order parts normally 2 business days.

Saturn is like the old A&P grocery chain and Kmart. Far ahead of the others at first. Stopped watching their back, and the competition just ran them over into the dirt.

Hope they can take it back to a "step above the competition".

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Old 06-23-2004, 01:30 PM   #19
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The only time my Saturn dealer sees my car is for warranty work, everything else is done by me. Enough said.

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Old 06-23-2004, 03:37 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by BobL
When I owned my 5 Saturns, had very good luck with saturn of Raleigh (NC). Only problem was that they discontinued no-appointment maintenance service.

I was totally shocked by Fred Anderson Toyota in Raleigh. No-appointments needed for maintenance services. Plasma TV in waiting room. Free coffee and Panera pastries. Free bottled water. Most service appointments in 2 days of call. Special order parts normally 2 business days.

Saturn is like the old A&P grocery chain and Kmart. Far ahead of the others at first. Stopped watching their back, and the competition just ran them over into the dirt.

Hope they can take it back to a "step above the competition".
I think one should have an appointment for service work. I make arrangements sometimes weeks in advance. Unless yor car won't start don't see that as a big deal about making an appointment
All this dosen't mean a good service department. They have to build these goodies into the price of repairs. The Chevy dealer near me has a tiny waiting roon with 6 seats no TV and a few magizines. They now have 1st come 1st served and they don't take appoinments. They don't kill you with kindness but they fix my car not like Saturn where they say normal or they all do it. I have to admitt that my Prizim had only 1 warranty repair and when the alternator went at 50,000 miles they split the cost of the repair. Every service department is different and the personnel can change. And you never know if the best tech is working on your car. The local shop near me ENCOURGES ME to watch them work on my car. They even get me a stool and chat and show and explain. That is service! But they do make coffee

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