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A Tale of Two Cities

January 15, 2020 By The Disrupter Leave a comment

A Tale of Two Cities: well, it’s actually one city, Chicago, and the tale of two trips there in attempt to buy a vehicle with very different results.  The lease on my wife’s Subaru Outback is about to expire.  So, we did some talking and some shopping and narrowed in on a target vehicle, a 2015 Audi Q7 TDI.  I like this vehicle a lot, it’s a luxury tank with loads of power.  A key factor is VW/Audi’s diesel emissions modifications and the extended warranty these used vehicles are covered by.  The entire powertrain, emissions, and exhaust systems are covered to 10years/120k or 4years/48k post modifications.  Cool, huh? 

A couple local test drives later and we are locked in searching for the right options, mileage, and price point.  We find an ideal vehicle at a used car dealer in Chicago, 90 miles from our home.  On the Thursday before Christmas, with financing prearranged, our two young children staying with my mom, and big red ribbon bow (like in those Lexus commercials!) my very excited wife and I head down for our scheduled 3pm meeting to buy our new dream car from Joe the salesperson we’ve been communicating with for a week. 

The dealership is impressive.  It’s expansive, has luxury autos all over the place, and a fountain in the lobby.  Alas, crossing the footbridge over the lobby koi pond was the least interesting event of this adventure.  First sign of trouble, our salesperson Joe is not present.  Next, his colleague’s face contorting while he’s looking for our desired vehicle in his inventory system and apparently not finding it.  Trying to be helpful I provide him the vehicle info including the dealer’s lot number. 

Nothing.  Where’s Joe?  Nothing.  “You mean the vehicle is not even here?!”  What gives?  We drove two hours to come buy this, this was supposed to be simple… The managers strange explanations are less than comforting.  “We can deliver it to you!”  Really?  When?!  Where is it?  Do you even have this vehicle?  Did you ever?  “We have others, perhaps you’ll be interested in a different one.”  Perhaps I’m interested in leaving immediately and spending my entire ride home leaving bad reviews everywhere I can!

After that shockingly disappointing initial attempt we put the search on hold until after the holidays.  We find another one, an even better fit for our preferences, at another dealership in Chicago.  Oh man, I’m not sure I can handle a repeat and I’m feeling snake bit.  After thorough online review of the dealership, I call and speak to Adrian.  He’s the owner of a small and much less fancy outfit.  Throughout our conversation Adrian is patient, respectful, and goes out of his way to make me feel comfortable.  Over the next couple days, he and I exchange text messages, inspection reports, a video walk through of the vehicle and ultimately a deposit and appointment for pickup. 

Upon arrival, everything is exactly as stated, the vehicle is beautiful, it’s ready to go, and Adrian has coordinated all the necessary paperwork ahead of time.  A small paper sign in his tiny two desk shabby office reads: “Tell a lie once and all your truths become questionable.”  I spent this drive home leaving different reviews and feeling like everything was right in the world again.

There are always lessons when making (or not being able to make) large purchases. From my two visits to Chicago there are many take-aways:

  • Great service does not require anything expensive, just honesty and value.
  • Dishonest practices will always be discovered, and short-term wins will be eroded.
  • Do your homework, always read reviews, and trust your gut.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Thanks, Adrian, we love our new vehicle!


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