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Old 04-05-2009, 08:18 AM   #1
eelfliw
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Default $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

I went to my local Saturn dealer yesterday to buy a new vehicle. This dealership has been giving me strange vibes lately. There's relatively low inventory (a few Aura, Astra & Vue parked out front.) Nothing in the lots behind the building. The customer parking lot is pretty empty. I figure if I give my business to anyone, I want to give it to dealers that appear to need the business the most. So off I went despite warning signs.

When I pulled up, my car was the only car in the customer parking area. Walking inside, I see 2 Sky in the showroom, a few more Aura, Astra & Vues.

Salesman comes up to me asking if I'm looking for anyone. I said I'm looking for a new vehicle. He happily introduced himself and we sat down to discuss what I'm looking for.

He first located my name in their customer information database - I bought Saturns there before. And because I already know what I'm looking for after going through GM's web site for a week, I listed exactly the type of vehicle, color & features I wanted. Then, he said he'll get back to me next week with what he finds. Curious, I asked him why isn't he able to view real-time inventory data? If not from other dealerships in the area, at least from his own inventory? He said only managers can search dealerships' inventory and the manager isn't there. So if I want to know what's available, I need to leave a $500 - $1000 refundable deposit and he'll get back to me.

I can't believe I'm hearing this at a Saturn dealership! Asking for a deposit to do inventory search is something I've only experienced YEARS ago as a pimple faced new grad looking for his first NEW car at a Chrysler dealership. And that's when the economy was strong and car dealers can afford to be snobbish to customers or take advantage of kids.

Not only times has changed, but this behavior betrays everything I've believed in about the Saturn's customer experience. Especially the part about respecting the customer.

I told him quite frankly that I don't believe in that type of business practice, nor want to do business with anyone that does and walked out.

I've no idea what is happening at this dealership. Other dealers have tools that allow them to build & price vehicles or even check inventories. I did not see the same app being used at this one. Instead, they appear to have some sort of customer wish list tracking application. Have they lost their access to GM's dealer apps?

Regardless, I'm taking my business elsewhere. $500 deposit for inventory search is a joke. I'd like to believe that this is the action of just one dealer and not the whole team. But people like this hurt Saturn's image. Especially at times when Saturn's trying to salvage some value out of their dealer/distribution network.

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Old 04-05-2009, 08:55 AM   #2
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

Maybe these guys were con artists and the real salespeople were tied-up in the back room?

Well, probably not ... rather, it's a sad statement on how even a Saturn dealer will revert into a feral old-school salesman under the pressures of the market jungle.

Did they charge you a $50 consulting fee or a $20 "or-else-you-can't-leave" fee?

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Old 04-05-2009, 09:07 AM   #3
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

Definitely take your business elsewhere. When we were looking for a Mazda 3 for my wife we had specific model, color, and options in mind. We spent about an hour at the local Russell Mazda dealer while they searched for it. They were unable to come up with what we wanted so I asked them to call me when they did. They said they could do that but they needed a 'deposit' in case they found something to 'lock it in'. We said thanks but no thanks - we're not putting any money down on a car until we've agreed to a price.

The next week we went to Ferman Mazda in Tampa and took a look around. They didn't have what we wanted either but offered to search for us. We told them we already tried that in Clearwater last week but let them try anyway. Yeah, they came back with exactly what we wanted. We walked out with a deal in an hour.

...
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Old 04-05-2009, 09:15 AM   #4
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

Complain to the manager, it's completely ridiculous

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Old 04-05-2009, 10:17 AM   #5
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

run away

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Old 04-05-2009, 10:41 AM   #6
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

Don't go back...that's total sleazy hogwash

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Old 04-05-2009, 12:00 PM   #7
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

Noone has much inventory left right now. Searching inventory is a easy thing to do for a sales person. My guess is you were dealing with a new saleperson who is not that bright for 2 reasons. One, he handled your inquiries wrong and two, he just got a job at Saturn probably not knowing the position the company is in.

These are tough times at Saturn facilities, I know of one that has had such cutbacks, that I heard next week there will be a mutiny and a walkout.

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Old 04-05-2009, 05:14 PM   #8
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

FWIW, we needed to buy a new car a few weeks ago due to losing one in an accident. Went into the dealership (not a Saturn dealership though), told them what we wanted, and the sales associate immediately got on his computer and located an exact match at the manufacturer's port facility in Newark NJ. Said it was no big deal, he'd order in the car for us, and we'd have it in 7 days. Even gave me a printout of the car's specifics (including the name of the ship it came in on).

At no time did he request for a deposit on it.

Later that week (after he had ordered it), he let me know that the port facility was closed for a week, and our car delivery would be delayed. However, the dealership offered us a free loaner until it arrived. I did come in and do some preliminary paperwork to expedite the process, and did put down a few bucks. Car came in a week later at noon, salesman asked if we wanted to pick it up today, I said yes, we'd be there at 5pm. 5pm rolls around, and the car is sitting there in front of the dealership, prepped and ready to roll. We drove away in our basic economy car about 20 minutes later.

Saturn may not survive this economic turndown, but the way it's supposed to treat customers has at least rubbed off on one non-Saturn dealer.

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Old 04-05-2009, 05:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

Saturn's own website allows you to search dealer inventory online.

So they want a $500 deposit to open a website and click a button or two?

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Old 04-06-2009, 10:08 AM   #10
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eelfliw View Post
I went to my local Saturn dealer yesterday to buy a new vehicle.

You must be pretty well off, or did you trade in the Outlook XE you bought on March 31st.

"Yes, pls keep me posted. I just bought a XE yesterday. Hope this is not happening again." (From the Outlook/General/"Coolant Smell" thread.

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Old 04-06-2009, 11:02 AM   #11
eelfliw
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by daver View Post
You must be pretty well off, or did you trade in the Outlook XE you bought on March 31st.

"Yes, pls keep me posted. I just bought a XE yesterday. Hope this is not happening again." (From the Outlook/General/"Coolant Smell" thread.
Nope, the XE deal fell through at the last minute. We signed the sales contract and I got the certified cheque, insurance etc. all set to go. Then, hours before we're supposed to pick up the Outlook, the dealer I dealt with called me up saying they've screwed up the stock number on the vehicle. The vehicle I've seen and thought was negotiating on is not the vehicle on the sales contract. The vehicle that is on the sales contract is a different vehicle in their compound and I've never seen it before.

I was speechless. The dealer told me the vehicle that I had seen and wanted to buy has more features and I have to fork out more money for the add'l features.

Needless to say, I was angry. The dealer swore that it is an honest mistake (both vehicles were the same color and the stock number was off by 1 digit). I don't know what to make of it.

I've got my deposit back minus appx $130 government admin/license fees (supposed to get that later). I've also went back and saw the "other" vehicle (the one in the sales contract).

I need to decide what to do now. My first reaction was not to deal with that dealer again (that's why I went to another Saturn dealer where I was asked $500 for inventory search). My second thought is to go for a CX-9. My third thought is that I don't REALLY need a new vehicle now. It's a "nice to" have. And of course, the fourth thought, I can still pursue the Outlook I really wanted and fork out thousands more.

Never thought retail experience can be so difficult.

Last edited by eelfliw; 04-06-2009 at 11:08 AM..

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Old 04-06-2009, 12:34 PM   #12
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

Wow! While it is true that only managers can search the online inventory, I have NEVER heard of being asked to pay for it! This guy was out of line, and you should have asked to see the manager!
As for the mix-up, it happens. It happens rarely, but it happens. Someone transposes a digit, takes the Vin number off of a document instead of off the actual vehicle...I had it happen a few months ago on a used car. We had two almost identical cars, and while I had the correct Vin, I wrote down the wrong stock number! The important thing is that they make it right.
Cheers,
Jill

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Old 04-06-2009, 01:47 PM   #13
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

eelfliw, this is the number one reason most people stay loyal to their original salesperson, if they had a good experience with them and if at all possible.

IMO, you got blown-off by a lazy person and you should have called the manager and complained when you got home. FYI - you can also go to Saturn.com, build your own vehicle and then search for it locally yourself, sometimes that is very helpful as you say that you usually take a while to shop online. BTW - if you shop online, why not go thru the local store Internet Manager next time who may be more able to help you?

Please do not judge all of Saturn by this one bad experience. Obviously you have had some good experience that brought you back. I would be mad too if this happened to me. Call the store manager, I'm sure he will make it right.

Also, looking at your second reply, just a friendly suggestion: Never sign anything until you have actually SEEN (and driven) the vehicle you are going to purchase. Mistakes do happen nonetheless, caveat emptor. You will save alot of headaches.

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Old 04-06-2009, 04:37 PM   #14
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

I somehow doubt a salesperson is charging up to $1000.00 for an inventory search without the manager knowing about it. If he is, then the manager is clueless and shouldn't be there. As for only a manager being able to check inventory, two weeks ago my salesperson was looking at stock 400 miles away right from his desk so maybe it depends on the store.

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Old 04-06-2009, 05:00 PM   #15
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

Ouch, sorry to hear that. When I bought my sky Oct 2007 the saleman sat me down with the book of options to order the exact car I wanted from teh factory since they didnt have one in stock. He went off to check something and totaled the price, and came back a few minutes later with a price in the range I was expecting. He said he'd need a $50 good-faith offer since it was an order but that it would count towards whatever down payment I wanted to pay whenever the car came in. I figured $50 deposit wasn't bad to order the exact car I wanted. That was on the Saturday before Halloween. Twqo days later on Monday, he called and said he found an already built car with more options that cost less (it was built under old prices) and asked if I'd be interested in it instead of ordering. I said ok, and he said it could be there to pick up tomorrow. It came in after hours, so i had to pick it up on wednesday, but I went from paying my deposit to picking up the car i ordered within five days. It was an experience that made me love Saturn even more. And I'm truly sorry that your experience was so unfortunate.

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Old 04-06-2009, 07:11 PM   #16
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eelfliw View Post
Nope, the XE deal fell through at the last minute. We signed the sales contract and I got the certified cheque, insurance etc. all set to go. Then, hours before we're supposed to pick up the Outlook, the dealer I dealt with called me up saying they've screwed up the stock number on the vehicle. The vehicle I've seen and thought was negotiating on is not the vehicle on the sales contract. The vehicle that is on the sales contract is a different vehicle in their compound and I've never seen it before.

I was speechless. The dealer told me the vehicle that I had seen and wanted to buy has more features and I have to fork out more money for the add'l features.

Needless to say, I was angry. The dealer swore that it is an honest mistake (both vehicles were the same color and the stock number was off by 1 digit). I don't know what to make of it.

I've got my deposit back minus appx $130 government admin/license fees (supposed to get that later). I've also went back and saw the "other" vehicle (the one in the sales contract).

I need to decide what to do now. My first reaction was not to deal with that dealer again (that's why I went to another Saturn dealer where I was asked $500 for inventory search). My second thought is to go for a CX-9. My third thought is that I don't REALLY need a new vehicle now. It's a "nice to" have. And of course, the fourth thought, I can still pursue the Outlook I really wanted and fork out thousands more.

Never thought retail experience can be so difficult.
Sounds like the classic "bait & switch" tactic ... I've heard even Saturn dealers are not immune from this.

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Old 04-06-2009, 07:43 PM   #17
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

I can do an inventory search of most new car dealers in San Diego county while sitting in my living room watching Two and a Half Men..........
Most dealers I've delt with for the last 3 or 4 years have had their inventory online.

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Old 04-06-2009, 09:59 PM   #18
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Default Re: $500 deposit for an inventory search @ Saturn dealer!?!?!?

It sounds to me that the consultant got mixed up between finding a car and actualy getting the car on a dealer trade.I bet he was fairly new.I doubt that is policy of the store,the one to blame is the manager for leaving him unsupervised,Dont feel that is the way they do business until you speak with the manager,after all,we all have had "first day on the job"

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