I thought I'd use this opportunity to blog about my experience buying a car from Smart Center Buffalo.
I got my e-mail from the General Manager in April, saying I'd be contacted by a sales rep in the next day or two. A week and a half later, no phone call received, I drove from Rochester to Buffalo for a test drive. I met my sales rep, Joe. My car was due in May, I was told, and after reserving it in May of 2007 (and longing for a smart since 1998), I was eager.
So I set up financing with my credit union. They told me that they had to mail me the loan paperwork, since I was out of state, after they received the buyer's order. Knowing Joe already had my VIN number and the price sheet, I asked him to start this process early so I'd have plenty of time to get the smart when it came in, and I gave him the loan officer's contact info. He said sure. I told him that the credit union said buyer's often take possession with a pre-approval letter, and he said OK.
A few weeks pass, and Joe calls me to ask for my financing information. I had already given it to him, but I offer it again. I tell him again that the mailing process will take a while, so he should start right away, and often folks take possession with a pre-approval letter. He said OK.
On Saturday, Joe calls to tell me the car's in. I'm excited, but he said he hadn't moved on the financing at all. He asked for the information yet again, and I relayed my concern again, suggesting the pre-approval letter. He said OK and told me they'd fax the buyer's order on Monday. I had an appointment to pick the car up on Tuesday, but Joe was out of town, so another rep would cover for him.
On Monday, I'm getting fax calls to my cell phone. Despite having the information three times, he gave the other sales rep the wrong information. I talked to the finance person and told her about the pre-approval letter. She said OK. I talked to the credit union to make sure they'd send it over right away. I wanted to be sure I could get the car on Tuesday.
At 5 pm Monday, I called the dealer again and asked, straight out, if a pre-approval letter would suffice. I was taking a half day, as was my friend who would give me a ride to Buffalo. It would be awfully inconvenient to get there and find out I couldn't get the car. The finance rep went to ask and said no, I couldn't take it with a pre-approval letter. This was the first I heard this. I suggested financing through them, and she got me a great rate. At least I could get the car.
Tuesday, I show up and talk to a different sales rep. He shows me all the paperwork to sign, and I didn't see my $99 deposit. He said it was probably taken out of the total already, but I sent him back to check. Turns out, it wasn't taken out. And, they had my deposit on the sheet but didn't take it out of the total. Two more mistakes the day of possession, and if I didn't read especially closely, I'd be screwed significantly.
On Wednesday, the general manager called to apologize. Later, the finance rep called to say they made another mistake, and I'd have to sign the paperwork again and send it back to them. By this point, I wasn't surprised.
I did everything in my power to take care of everything for this car, but I was repeatedly stymied. Mistake after mistake. The guys who showed me the car were nice, and the finance rep apologized profusely. But that wasn't enough. An offer to have my car detailed for free wasn't really enough remediation. I'm warning all people going through Buffalo to stay away from Joe, who clearly wasn't well trained. And I highly recommend going over everything with a fine-tuned comb. Don't trust the folks.
All that being said, I love my car, and it's so much fun to drive. There is a positive to all this, then. I finally have my smart! :)