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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've owned an assortment of cars from a wide variety of brands over the years and, I've got to tell you, if I was basing my next car purchase solely on my experience working with dealers from different brands a Mercedes would be very low on my totem pole. There have always been and always will be good dealerships and bad ones; good salespeople and bad ones but I have never encountered such a large number of dealers who seem as disinterested in customer service and selling a car as the MB dealers I've reached out to over the past 5-6 months.

Note to JD Powers: "Buying Experience (to date) on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent? 2."

FWIW, here's a rough draft of my rating scale:

1 = Poor. Frustrating. I was a number (who they ignored). I have no real interest in doing business with them unless I'm forced to do so (e.g., they're the only dealer within 150 miles)
2 = Maybe they job got done but it was a hassle. The dealer clearly didn't care much about me and it showed.
3 = They got the job done but did nothing more...or less.
4 = Good. It was an enjoyable experience and I would happily do business with them again.
5 = Stellar. Great communication. The dealer went out of their way. The dealer made the experience feel special.

We are lucky enough to have a handful of great, helpful, responsive and informative salespeople on our forum (they know who they are!) but, based on my limited experience, they seem to be the exception more than the rule. You guys need to send a message to the home office about your colleagues. Seriously.

I have reached out to a number of dealers to get more information and to find out when cars might be available for forum members to see. I haven't even broached the idea of a group buy with them. I've received PMs from people as far north as MA and as far south as VA regarding participation in a group buy. So, while I've focused my efforts on the NY metro area, I have reached out to some dealers closer to, for example, the folks in Boston who might not be willing to travel 3hrs for a car. Here's a typical scenario:

Me: Hi, I'm interested in a CLA. Do you have any details you can share? When will you have one in the showroom to view?
Them: [crickets]
Me: [a few days later] Hi, I know you're busy and I'm not sure if you received my email from a few days ago but I wanted to follow up.
Them: [crickets]
Me: [after a day or so of crickets] Hi Mr/Ms Sales Mgr, I sent a couple of notes to your Internet Sales guy (see the emails below) and haven't heard from them. Is there someone else at your dealership who might be able to help?
Them: Sorry I didn't respond sooner, I was [away on vacation][busy since its the __ week of the month][insert some other excuse here]...

Seriously. A week to get a response? And, it's like pulling teeth! Wait, do you want my $60K or not? Smart dealers at least employ some sort of automated reply.

Moreover, if someone's job is "Internet Sales" then they had better respond with SOMETHING, ANYTHING, within one business day. That's the pace of today's online marketplace (if not more immediate). They don't have to provide a material response -- just acknowledge the email. For a car like the CLA (that isn't even on the market really) just say you'll get back to me in a day or two even with more information if you don't have anything. For a car that is on the market (e.g., a C-Class, E-Class, etc., if I don't hear from them in a day then they're not serious about my business. There are always extenuating circumstances. People do go away for vacation, personal reasons, etc. although, that's typically what an out of office message is for and usually others step in to cover when they're out but whatever.

I don't know if I'm the only one who has had this experience but I hope its not representative of what ownership will feel like. Sorry for the long rant.

-Eric
 

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Eric,

I had the same experience (for the most part). I'm lucky enough to have 3 dealerships within 100 miles of me (Birmingham & Huntsville locations in Alabama and Nashville in Tennessee). When I first started this process, I emailed all three and right off the bat, I noticed that the Nashville dealership was the most responsive while the other two took their time. I feel your pain at having to email them multiple times to get a response.

And then when I finally broached the subject of a % concession off MSRP, here's what I got:

- Birmingham: "Um...no"
- Huntsville: "Maybe"
- Nashville: "Let's talk". Followed by a quick and productive back and forth before we established numbers.

Keep in mind, the other 2 dealerships knew I was shopping around but COULD NOT CARE LESS. After several non-responses, I just gave up on them and continued my business with the Nashville dealership. I have to say, the guy I've been dealing with there has been excellent. He's been responsive, polite and very informative and has made it super-easy to do business. Like you said though, it seems to be the exception rather than the norm.

Aside: One dealership asked what I currently drove. I said a Nissan Altima and he condescendingly said to me "those are good cars and those dealers operate in a certain way, but keep in mind now you're dealing with Mercedes". I immediately said thanks, but no thanks.
 

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Emails are useless when it pertains to internet sales personnel. They rarely respond. It's like an exterminator who's affraid of bugs. I honestly think it's a phantom position. Additionally, I have emailed my personal MB sales rep twice within the last month regarding info on the CLA45. No response. Gotta use the phone so they can detect the distain in your voice.
 

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My experiences are similar but feel it stems from 2 glaring issues that most luxury dealerships fall into.

The first is they seem to be lagging behind the times. We live in the Information Age. We have access to a world if info at our finger tips and luxury dealers in my area area are not prepared. The experience you mention is just like Lexus and Audi here. They treat my wife and I like we are clueless about their products, flat out lied on several topics or ignore the questions altogether. Even more so via email. its like if they cant see me i don't exist. I usually have to call to get an answer. I also do very extensive research on a car before I go in to look at something. I know instantly who is full of it and who really knows their stuff.

The second issue I see is my wife and I are young (32). When we walk in I can almost see the eye roll of the salesman waiting at the door. They assume we are a wasted opportunity because we aren't looking at the most expensive models and we have a budget to stick to (40-50k). Granted this seems to be shifting as luxury mfgs are trying to attract younger buyers.

These issue seem to be part of an antiquated view of selling cars (Dealerships that cling to the old ways). The MB and BMW ones here do not feel that way at all. They have been thoroughly responsive to all forms of communications. I even conversed soles with one MB dealer from another city using only email and texts. He was very very helpful and responsive. The way I figured it, is if they want my business they will earn it. If not, I will go somewhere else. In the end its just business.

Please keep in mind this just an opinion based on my observations and experience.
 

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Eric.. I found it so frustrating! None of the dealers were prepared on the excitement that one Superbowl commercial would bring. That statement makes mad. You are airing this commercial on the most watch TV program each year and you are not prepping your sales staff?? Most times, I knew more than the sales staff and some staff would try that creepy used car salesmen on me. This forum actually saved me, I was pulling my hair out for information.. It was a shame.. Once I was armed with the information, I went with a different Mercedes, but I still love the CLA. The lack of information really scared me off. My dealer in Walnut Creek was amazing. They matched me up perfectly... My salesmen would pick and drop me off to the Bart in a S class. :).. Ultimately, I cannot blame the dealers for MB's lack of info, but I feel if I know the info about a car, the salesmen should know more because they selling it.
 

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My dealership, Smith Company Motor Cars in Charleston, WV called me within about 30 minutes of submitting from the 'Build your own' section of the MBUSA site. Since then they have responded to every email or phone call almost immediately. I have changed my exact order about 6 times and they are always helpful.

-Jeff
 

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I'd be all over the Edition 1, but I hate the wheels and just can't talk myself into buying a new set of wheels as soon as I take ownership. I have done that with my last two cars. I just want to sit in this one and forget it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Eric,

I had the same experience (for the most part). I'm lucky enough to have 3 dealerships within 100 miles of me (Birmingham & Huntsville locations in Alabama and Nashville in Tennessee). When I first started this process, I emailed all three and right off the bat, I noticed that the Nashville dealership was the most responsive while the other two took their time. I feel your pain at having to email them multiple times to get a response.

And then when I finally broached the subject of a % concession off MSRP, here's what I got:

- Birmingham: "Um...no"
- Huntsville: "Maybe"
- Nashville: "Let's talk". Followed by a quick and productive back and forth before we established numbers.

Keep in mind, the other 2 dealerships knew I was shopping around but COULD NOT CARE LESS. After several non-responses, I just gave up on them and continued my business with the Nashville dealership. I have to say, the guy I've been dealing with there has been excellent. He's been responsive, polite and very informative and has made it super-easy to do business. Like you said though, it seems to be the exception rather than the norm.

Aside: One dealership asked what I currently drove. I said a Nissan Altima and he condescendingly said to me "those are good cars and those dealers operate in a certain way, but keep in mind now you're dealing with Mercedes". I immediately said thanks, but no thanks.
You think you've got options? I've got options. According to the MBUSA website there are 21 dealers within 50 miles of me. 100 miles? 33 dealers!!

The two closest dealers are actually responsive. I reached out to them months ago right after the NY Int'l Auto Show when the CLA45 premiered in the US. At that point, NOBODY really knew anything...but they didn't blow me off. Neither were offering discounts but at least they've been communicative any time I've reached out to them.

While I am equally stumped by the "couldn't care less" attitude that you described, what stumps me most is that they don't even respond to the "hey, I want information" email. I don't even inquire about discounts in the initial email. I just want someone to respond -- someone I can speak to or email with for information! How does a salesperson, let alone someone with the title of "internet sales" ignore an email in which someone basically says, "Can you give me information so I can order a car from you?" Is life so good that dealers can afford to just ignore sales inquiries?

Emails are useless when it pertains to internet sales personnel. They rarely respond. It's like an exterminator who's affraid of bugs. I honestly think it's a phantom position. Additionally, I have emailed my personal MB sales rep twice within the last month regarding info on the CLA45. No response. Gotta use the phone so they can detect the distain in your voice.
I agree but that's still pathetic to me. In a number of cases I've actually forwarded the email chain from me (show the lack of a response from the Internet Salesperson) to the GM asking them if they have someone else I can speak with about a car.

My experiences are similar but feel it stems from 2 glaring issues that most luxury dealerships fall into.

The first is they seem to be lagging behind the times. We live in the Information Age. We have access to a world if info at our finger tips and luxury dealers in my area area are not prepared. The experience you mention is just like Lexus and Audi here. They treat my wife and I like we are clueless about their products, flat out lied on several topics or ignore the questions altogether. Even more so via email. its like if they cant see me i don't exist. I usually have to call to get an answer. I also do very extensive research on a car before I go in to look at something. I know instantly who is full of it and who really knows their stuff.

The second issue I see is my wife and I are young (32). When we walk in I can almost see the eye roll of the salesman waiting at the door. They assume we are a wasted opportunity because we aren't looking at the most expensive models and we have a budget to stick to (40-50k). Granted this seems to be shifting as luxury mfgs are trying to attract younger buyers.

These issue seem to be part of an antiquated view of selling cars (Dealerships that cling to the old ways). The MB and BMW ones here do not feel that way at all. They have been thoroughly responsive to all forms of communications. I even conversed soles with one MB dealer from another city using only email and texts. He was very very helpful and responsive. The way I figured it, is if they want my business they will earn it. If not, I will go somewhere else. In the end its just business.

Please keep in mind this just an opinion based on my observations and experience.
The in-person failures you described are even more disgraceful. I'm not suggesting that an Internet Salesperson should spend an hour or even 10 minutes on every email. Just respond! Ask for a phone number if only to validate that there's someone on the other side of the computer. I'd happily speak to someone if they wanted to and, in many instance, I have spoken to people! I agree that many dealers are operating in the stone age. You'd think they'd know better. Salespeople are people, too. They buy stuff online. They're each a part of the information society. They are just as impatient as the rest of the world when people don't reply to emails. In fact, most of the Internet Salespeople I've dealt with appear to be in their mid-30s to mid-40s from their website pictures.

As for the in-person issues, I will never understand the age thing. While 32 feels young it's not that young. You might not know it but, while I have no clue what you or your wife look like, you don't look like kids in college any more (even if you feel no different than when you were 21). :) You know longer look like a kid physically. Dealers are foolish for ignoring anyone but your age now fits more squarely within the demographic of a potential MB buyer. It sounds like you found one of the good dealers in your search, too. That's great. Those are the people I will go out of my way to give my business because they've earned it. Thankfully, I'm in a location where going out of my way doesn't require me to drive 100 miles. :) lol

-Eric
 

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At the Lexus dealership all the other buyers we noticed were in their fifties so yeah we are pretty young comparatively. Maybe it's because we don't go car shopping in high heels and a suit. Lol

So far so good with MB but we don't get much of a choice. Only 2 dealers in the state.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have to assume that the average MB buyer is in their 50s. A C-Class buyer will be on the lower side of 50 and an S-Class buyer will be marginally older (mid-50s).
Still, I don't live in or near a geriatric community. In a region large enough to support 21 dealers in a 50 mile radius you know that buyers come in all shapes and sizes.

-Eric
 

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Eric, sorry to hear about the poor experience....

mine has been pretty simple..... i was part of the NorCal groupbuy.. and just sent the salesguy an email. He called me and emailed to follow-up. We exchange numbers emails the past few days of the car specs and what he could allocate/order..... and that was it. Negotiating was already done due to groupbuy... car is expected to be here in 45 days.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
When I can I am trying to arrange something similar for the NY area but it is seriously like trying to move the Earth around here and I have a full time job. :)

Did you guys wind up with an across the board discount (one that applies to 250s and 45s alike)?

-Eric
 

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I honestly have no clue what the others ordered in our GB.....

I just emailed the sales guy who we were referred to. I sent him an email and requested that I get the same discount % off. He said no problem... and proceeded asking what car specs I wanted.

He looked around for which vehicles that were coming into his dealership that haven't been claimed yet and that also match close to what I wanted....

Or, he said I could place a custom order and would require to wait. There are about 5 of us in the GB, and he said we are all getting it at different times.

He already gave my invoice with the VIN number for my vehicle.... this might be the easiest purchase ever... PENDING if this all just bait and switch gimmick at the end. .. but so far no issues.
 

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When I can I am trying to arrange something similar for the NY area but it is seriously like trying to move the Earth around here and I have a full time job. :)

Did you guys wind up with an across the board discount (one that applies to 250s and 45s alike)?

-Eric
Eric as I have told you via pm, I admire and respect the time and effort you are putting into getting us a group buy.
 

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I went into a BMW dealer and kick tires for 90 minutes and nobody said boo to me. Then I went into Mercedes dealer and somebody said hello. May I help you. They ask if I wanted a drink or snack. Wow , what a difference. I did dress like a bum that day but still! Order a CLA 45 Polar Silver , AMG seats with black "red cut " leather, Premium package, Multimedia. The salesman was not very inform about the CLA 45 but he did try to answer all my questions .
 

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Call up Mercedes Benz USA Corporate and ask how to contact the regional sales manager. Tell him you're not getting any response from the dealerships and ask if there's anything he can do. Maybe he can put a spark under their butts.

One thing to remember is that the majority of car salesmen are not car enthusiasts. While the introduction of the CLA might be the talk of this forum, it's barely on their minds. They probably remember seeing a memo about it some months ago. But that's about the extent of their involvement. They probably figure they'll learn about it when one hits their lot.
 
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