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Car Shopping Observations

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I got some bonus coupons in the mail this week, so I thought that I would take some time and investigate what the General had to offer as a suitable replacement for my '00 Astro LT AWD vehicle, since they have stopped making Astro's. Mind you, there is nothing wrong with mine now except 92,000 miles, but it is lacking in some state-of-the-art features that we would like to have. I spent time in depth at 3 dealerships. Looked at the HHR, Uplander, Equinox, Trailblazer, an Envoy XUV, and a PT Cruiser. My first, general overall impression ---- the General has forgotten that vehicles are primarily supposed to be people-movers and cargo-haulers, not rolling juke-box entertainment centers! My second impression --- W-I-T- H--l are these dealers calling sales people? They don't know product, and I mean not just cars in general, but the merchadise they are trying to convince you to buy! The first place, salesman had been on the job 2 weeks, and didn't even know the names of all the vehicles in his product line! Today met a salesman, who was a little more knowledgeable---- he had been on the job 2 months, but he had trouble with the English language! How can dealerships cry when they foist these untrained people on the public? Now onto the products. What a joke! The HHR seemed to be the one that suited most of our needs as a replacement due to its' design features, size, layout and functionality ------- but try to find one! First dealer had "only" 3 left---- all 2LT models loaded with everything but the kitchen sink! But I told him I wanted a 1LT in a certain standard color, with certain specific features, ----- and he did not know if he could get it for me, while the promo was on, since he had to take whatever "they" sent him! A standard model, with certain standard options------ and the dealer doesn't know if he can get it? C'mon, since when does the cart lead the horse? Then I looked at what was first pitched to me as the replacement for the Astro and the Venture, --- the Uplander. What a joke! Second seats cannot be folded up and left in the vehicle, out of the way for cargo? They weigh a ton --- and have to be removed manually & physically to make room! How anciently quaint! But it comes with more sound equipment than Radio City music hall as standard! How nice if you want to park in your driveway and listen. The Equinox is an SUV wanna-be, that has slightly more useable space than an ice-cube tray! And lastly the Trailblazer & Envoy. Nice RWD HEAVY vehicles that love $3.00/gal. gas! ------ and the price? I'd have to rob 14 banks just to make the down-payment! The last straw----- when I looked at the last XUV in my county. It had a MSRP over $39,000 the way it was loaded------ but they couldn't get the movable top and rear window to work until they took it off the showroom floor, and back to the service dept, to trigger some reset button to make everything functional again! The dash reminded me of the cockpit of a 747, it had almost the same number of switches, and the owners manual was thicker than some telephone books that I have seen!----- and that was how the sales dept. found out they had to send the vehicle to the service dept to get it "reset"!!!! Try doing that one in Lower Slobovia, Tim-Buck-Too, and see where you get! I think on that one you needed to present some kind of MIT degree in order to be qualified to operate it. Yeah, I think some of the folks at GM HQ have forgotten what their primary business is, making vehicles that people can use comfortably and reliably, and transport themselves, and cargo with ease. The soapbox is availabile for somebody else. :(

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As an experienced salesperson, I never try to presume to know what the General is doing. I have had many loyal Astro customers complain that GM is stupid for dumping their favorite vehicle, yet I am sure (dwindling market) GM has its reasons. After all, the Astro lasted 9 model years longer than the Aerostar. I agree that most salespeople I have met don't know their ass from a hole in the ground. What is worse, they don't even like vehicles. Many don't even believe in the product they are selling. Sadly, I have come to realize that a good salesman doesn't need to know their product or even care about it. Yes, the internet geeks and clipboard customers with nothing else to do will try to trip up the salesman with their "superior knowledge" (but it is my job to know hundreds of important facts about 30 or 40 models, not just the trick question the customer found on the internet!), but these aren't the majority of customers. None of the top salespeople I have met know anything about their product lines or give a damn. They could just as easily pack up and start selling Toyotas tomorrow and still sell 10-15 cars a month easily. Some of us, however, do study and take our jobs seriously. It is getting more and more difficult every year, especially when GM decontents and changes models every year and does stupid things (like dropping the spare tire lock on the Silverado one year then bringing it back!) There are still a lot of (young) salespeople out there that think this is easy and they can make a quick buck. It isn't and it takes years to build up a clientelle. There are also a lot of dealers out there living in the '60s still and grind out new salespeople. The practice of hiring 3 new guys (because it costs almost nothing to do so) and then seeing who sinks or swims, is still commonplace. I got ground of my first dealership that way. Personally, I think the entire car sales business is done wrong. We should be more like advisors, especially with the convuleted discounts/financing plans from GMAC, etc. As far as not having the right product, what would you rather have: a salesman who lies to you and says "no problem, we can get it," or tells you the truth that the vehicle is hard to get and you may not get it?

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.......  As far as not having the right product, what would you rather have:  a salesman who lies to you and says "no problem, we can get it," or tells you the truth that the vehicle is hard to get and you may not get it?


I have also sold products in my checkered past, and disagree with your sales philosophy. If you don't believe in your product, how can you look yourself in the face and shave each morning without slitting your own throat for being an unscrupulous bastard?

My observational comments were not meant to demean the salesperson in some
"cute" way, but to reflect that their bosses required them to do a job without adequate training about the product they were trying to sell.
Yes, I knew more about the products than they did, but that's because I am a
car buff, or I wouldn't even be here!------- but for the general public, it would be a case of the blind leading the blind, or two blind people at opposite ends of an elephant trying to describe it to each other!

The other factor was that here is a new model with which the General is trying to
recoup market share......... and the sales manager lamenting that he can't get
It pertains to management foresite, and keeping the product hoppers filled when
you are trying to sell a product!
Yes lead times are long, and the General is trying to push his new SUV models.
Then hold off on other things, like they are doing with the Soltice, until you CAN
fill the pipeline.
I hear all this talk about excess manufacturing capacity, and then out of the other side of their mouth comes..... have to add a 3rd shift to meet demand, but I'm
stil closing the XXX plant!
Does the right hand ever know what the left is doing? It seems not. <_<

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