Let me preface this article by stating that Ford is not paying me to write this. The dealer I talk about in the following words is not paying me to write this, nor is anyone else for that matter. I am writing this article to let everyone know that there are still some automotive dealerships out there that still no how to treat the consumer. In this day and age all we hear about is the BS that goes on during the car buying process and after awhile it gets tiresome. Therefore I figured I post a story about a good, no, make that a GREAT experience that I recently had when I purchased the newest member of my fleet, a 2013 Ford Mustang GT.
For most people the idea of purchasing a new car can be one of the most daunting tasks in all of motoring. We spend months and months researching, test driving and then researching some more to make certain we’re getting the exact make and model we want. We read reviews, look at things like engine and color choices, option packages, and of course the bottom-line price all in the hopes of being fully educated before we make that dreaded trip to the dealership.
Over the years I’ve owned around twenty or so automobiles. Some new, and some well, not so new. Each time I made a purchase though I made sure that my facts were correct and that I was able to beat up the seller in such a way that I’d always ended up getting the deal I wanted. Fast forward to June 29th of this year. I had finally made the decision to get rid of my dearly beloved 2006 Dodge Magnum SRT8, a machine that never once did me wrong and one that I will miss forever. However, as with most things in life there comes a time for a change and unfortunately for the Maggie, its time had come.
In my cross-hairs was a new 2013 Ford Mustang GT. I had done the research and thanks to my profession as an automotive journalist I was able to drive everything under the sun in order to make an educated comparison between the Mustang and models from other manufacturers. The next part of the process was the one I despised the most – entering the dealership.
Before I ventured down there I placed some phone calls to local dealerships inquiring about price and dealer stock. Keep in mind that I knew exactly what I wanted, what the invoice price was, and that it was going to be a special order car. So basically all I needed was an out-the-door price and a delivery date. Considering there are no less than 8 dealerships within an hour of my home, I figured this would be an easy gig, but boy oh boy was I wrong.
*Not surprising this sucker was sold…
The first dealership I called was Walnut Creek Ford of Walnut Creek, CA and was immediately transferred to a sales rep by the name of Percy Sanford. He was polite, professional and after telling him exactly what I wanted, he simply stated; “I’ll get back to you.” Shit… now it starts.
I then hung up the phone and proceeded to place calls to 7 or 8 other area dealerships in the hopes of getting a similar response. Sometimes the reps called back, sometimes they didn’t and I was, to say the least, becoming frustrated. Throughout the entire process though not one dealer had called and actually given me what I’d asked for; an out-the-door price and a delivery date.
*This is Percy Sanford – an honest, (if you can believe it) helpful and all around great automobile salesman!
Then something magical happened. I got a call back from Percy and guess what… he gave me a price. Now being a complete skeptic I immediately dismissed it thinking it was too high. I also had yet to tell him about my Magnum SRT8 that I was trading in. Percy stated the price was good (and it was) and to come down to the dealership to talk further. Now here’s the deal – Percy had done what I had asked him to do. He’d given me a price on the car I wanted (not the final price mind you) and stated that with all special orders there is generally an 8-10 week waiting period and that I wouldn’t know the delivery date until we placed the order. Wanting to talk further I hopped in the Maggie and headed to the dealership.
Upon arriving I was greeted by Percy, told him about my trade-in and what I wanted for it. He immediately grabbed the used car manager and asked him to check it out. Now my cars are kept in MINT condition because let’s just say I’m a bit fanatical about them. However for dealers this doesn’t make that much difference as their working with pretty small margins when it comes to reselling used vehicles. What this did mean though was that the price he came back with wasn’t close to what I was looking for. Percy and I chatted for a few more minutes until the point where he simply said, “Mike, I would love to sell you a car, but you’ll get more if you sell your Magnum privately.” Now of course he was right, but I just didn’t want to go through the bullshit of dealing with the general public and tire kickers. Um… wait… was I one of those people?
I returned home feeling a bit defeated and was surprised to be greeted to 3 messages from competing dealers. Each one was called back, each one had a higher price and each one wanted to play games. Fast forward 1 week. Thankfully my Magnum had sold in less than 48 hours of me listing it (yes Percy you were right) and once it was gone I headed back to Walnut Creek Ford for further negotiations. This time I had a new set of numbers that were a bit better than the original price quoted keeping in mind some profit for the dealer (they don’t give these things away you know).
As soon as we sat down I asked for one last thing. I wanted a new out-the-door price with tax, title and registration included and I needed it to be the number I came up with. Basically it was a final price – no more haggling, no BS dealer tricks (which they had done none of by the way) and or games. Percy left his desk for a few minutes, then came back with his hand extended and simply said, “Deal”.
Saying I was a bit shocked would be an understatement. I mean I was still ready to do battle, lock horns and bitch and moan until I got what I wanted. But herein lies the rub. I did get what I wanted, exactly what I wanted actually. Never once did I jump through hoops, feel pressured or like I was being swindled out of my hard earned dollar. Percy and the entire crew at Walnut Creek Ford simply did what they were supposed to do. They treated me like a well-educated customer and sold me a car at a very fair price without any games or trickery. This was not only the BEST dealer experience I’ve ever had, but I felt so good about it that I actually decided to sit down to write over 1,000 words on it simply because I think they deserve it.
Too often dealers get a bad wrap and sometimes rightfully so. However in this case I feel that a good experience needs to be shared. So, to the men and women at Walnut Creek Ford, Percy in particular, I’d like to say thank you for making this not only a great car buying experience, but for also renewing my faith that some auto dealerships still know how to treat their customers properly.
Editor-in-Chief / Ridelust.com
Host & Content Producer – BIG MUSCLE on DRIVE