AutoNation and Mercedes Benz of Naperville & Customer Service
You would think after purchasing two cars from AutoNation that you would get superb customer service when trying to purchase a third. Here's the letter I sent to AutoNation, Mercedes Benz of Naperville and Mercedes Benz USA regarding customer service and their policies.[:(]
"Thank you for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon. As a follow-up to our conversation, I thought I would outline the issues regarding the customer service my husband, his family and I have received during three separate interactions with AutoNation/Mercedes-Benz. It is the most recent issue regarding an ML55 we wanted to purchase that is prompting this letter.
My husband, his family and I are wondering what defines a "preferred" Mercedes-Benz customer. Most people would assume that a multi-car purchaser, especially within a 12-month timeframe spending over $120,000, would be considered one. We have always given good marks for customer service because we were always told it was reflective on our salesperson. Curt Bassinger, Mike Vanerka, Larry Casto (GM) and Jason Riforgiato (Service Manager) have always been wonderful to work with.
Our relationship with Mercedes-Benz of Naperville began in August 2004. My husband purchased a CLK430 as a gift to me as a belated 30th birthday gift. We had several issues with the purchase. We had been looking for this car since February and our salesperson (Todd Slotterback) had been very diligent with touching base and called us when it arrived at the Naperville dealership. We drove down right away and decided we wanted the car. During the negotiation process we had asked about the flexibility with the price, he did not make us aware that the car was listed $2,000 less online. He was quite unhappy when we showed him the print outs from the MB website. He and the Used Car Manager had to discuss whether or not they would honor the online listed price. The second issue was that we wanted to pay cash for the car, but needed to transfer funds from different accounts. We were told that according to AutoNation policy, they could not and would not hold the car and could not take a $10,000 cash deposit. They wanted us to finance the car. Mr. Punzio's attitude was less than accommodating, apparently we did not appear as if we could afford the car. Mr. Punzio made our salesperson check our bank account to see if there was enough funds to clear our check. It was horrible. In the end, we agreed to the finance only because Mr. Punzio said he would hold the contract for processing for one week in order to give us time to transfer funds and cut a check. We were in the dealership for over three hours.
The only reason we returned to the Naperville Dealership was due to my Service Manager, Jason Riforgiato. He is an absolute delight to work with when I have to bring our car in for service. It was Jason that referred us to Curt Bassinger as a good salesperson to work with for purchasing a 2005 S430 for Kevin's parents. We had convinced Kevin's parents to buy a Mercedes. They had always purchased Cadillac.
In October 2005, Kevin and his parents custom ordered their S430. Curt is probably the best salesperson we have ever had. We were disappointed to hear that he was no longer with the company. Curt understood given the fact that Kevin's parents lived in Oak Lawn, most of the details would be handled over the phone. It was a very smooth transaction with only a mere interruption from Mr. Punzio regarding the financing required based on the Mercedes coupon we received from the Loves Test Drive. Apparently the amount and length of time for financing had changed after we ordered the car. Mr. Punzio knew that we wanted to finance the minimum amount for the minimum amount of time. He actually questioned why a mere $700 was an issue if we were still receiving $1,000 off. I also thought it was a little odd that Mr. Punzio did not bother to check with the bank to see if our check for $50,000 would clear, especially since he was concerned about our check of $10,000 previously.
To make matters worse, delivery of the vehicle did not go smoothly either. As I am sure Larry Casto will agree with me, anything that could have gone wrong did. The issues spanned from rude customer service from the New Car Sales Manager (Paul Stewart), touch-up paint on the hood, poor hood alignment to scuffs on the bumper. Larry went through great lengths to rectify these issues and did so with great finesse. In the end, everything was fine, Kevin and his parents were happy.
We told Larry we would be back in a few months to purchase an ML for our third car especially since we have a new puppy. True to our word, we called Naperville. With everyone we had worked with no longer with the company, we were happy to hear that Mohammad Naim had been promoted. Over the past months, he had worked with us on little things when we brought our cars in for service. We knew we wanted to buy a car from him.
We called Mohammad on Tuesday (7/5) regarding a ML55 in black opal. It was located at the Westmont MB dealership. We told him to get the car and we would purchase it. We had already test drove one, we even went to the dealership on a Sunday to look it over. Our one stipulation was that we wanted to purchase it from our salesperson. Mohammad told us to go look the car over and make sure we wanted it. He explained there had been issues in the past where people had not followed through with a sale. We thought that was quite understandable. Mohammad said that he would speak to his Used Car Manager (Brad Leon) for approval to have the car brought to Naperville. He said that he could have it at Naperville on Wednesday.
Mr. Leon did not give his approval for having the car relocated to Naperville. Mr. Leon instead asked Mohammad why it mattered to his customer about buying the car from Westmont. Mr. Leon said "its the same company, it doesn't matter." Setting aside the fact that it would be a sales commission for Naperville MB as well as for Mohammad, isn't it one of AutoNation's statements "if there is a car at another dealership, we can get it."
I called Mohammad on Thursday (7/7) inquiring when we could come down to see the car. He had informed me of his conversation with Mr. Leon and told me he would discuss it with Larry Casto. Larry was unfortunately out of the office all day at a meeting. Mohammad spoke with Larry and Larry called the Used Car Manager at Westmont (spoke with either Mike Tegg or John Kyriakopoulos). Larry was told that they had an interested buyer for the car and if the car was not purchased, they were going to send it out to be sold wholesale anyways.
Kevin and I are confused as to why AutoNation's policy was not being followed. According to AutoNation's policy the ML55 was available for relocation and/or purchase from July 5th until July 9th at 11:00 a.m. when the car was actually sold. MB of Westmont was clearly "holding" the car for a buyer which we were specifically told during our transaction for the CLK was not explicitly not allowed. We do not understand MB of Naperville's lack of desire for our business which has been clearly conveyed by Mr. Leon's actions.
We are extremely disappointed. We feel we missed an opportunity for the car that we really wanted. We are quite aware that the ML55s are a hard vehicle to find, especially in black opal. As of July 5, 2005, there were only three ML55's in the price range at three MB dealerships. We chose the ML55 at Westmont because it was the same color (black opal) as our CLK, the mileage and because it was in the state.
We are aware there are several ML55s in the market. It has always been stressed to us the importance of purchasing a Mercedes from a Mercedes dealership, that the customer service is unparalleled to any other manufacturer. We chose MB of Naperville because we like Larry, Curt, Jason and Mohammad.
We came across an article in a magazine regarding Mercedes-Benz: "their downfall is not their cars, its their customer service." Unfortunately, there seems to be a bit of truth to that statement.
Thank you for your time and consideration of these issues. We look forward to hearing your comments."[:(]