Skip to main content
Responsible Marketing

Return of the salesperson from hell

By May 3, 2012August 7th, 202016 Comments

I’m the proud owner of a new Chevy Volt, and I’m thinking of ordering a license plate that says Shocked.

You see, I thought I’d buy a Nissan Leaf.

After multiple visits to the Leaf website, reading reviews and watching videos of the owner experience, their marketing connected with me. I decided the quirky all electric vehicle might be just the car to finally free me from the shackles of the gas pump.

So, I went to a local Nissan dealer and took one for a spin. It drove well, and decided I’d find out if they’d honor Nissan’s lease deal. That’s when the fun began.

In the classic ‘good cop’ ‘bad cop’ game, the first salesperson went to his manager, and then returned with a quote that was $190/month higher than the advertised price–per month. When I pushed back, he brought out his Sales Manager, but really, let’s call him “Salesperson 2” since that’s what he’s there to do.

After I got past his fake smile and insincere attempt to become my son’s best friend, I asked why they wouldn’t honor the deal advertised on the Nissan website.

He claimed the car Nissan was promoting was a 2011.
Nope. It was a 2012.

Then he said it was a lower end model.
Nope. I was sure it was he top model.

Then he said he didn’t know what our credit rating was.
I responded it’s perfect and even if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t increase the payment $190/month.

We went back and forth for awhile, and finally he said, “Listen, we aren’t Nissan – we’re a franchise.”
I asked does that mean they won’t honor Nissan’s deal – yes or no? He said, “it’s supply and demand – we deserve a profit.”

Of course, they deserve a profit. But when I asked the Sales Manager from another Nissan dealer if they’d honor the lease deal, he said, “Of course. Won’t everybody?”

This was the slimiest experience I’ve ever had buying a car, and it opened the door for the Chevy Volt — a fantastic vehicle, but more expensive than the Leaf.

We drove it. Loved it. And bought it the next day.

The sales process was seamless. The sales people were fair and after 30 years of owning pretty much nothing but Hondas, Toyotas, BMWs, Mercedes and a Lexus — we bought a new Chevy.

So, I’m shocked.

I’m just a little shocked (and a lot happy) that I bought a new Volt.

But I’m even more shocked that Nissan will tolerate this type of type of sales nonsense. They invested millions to get buyers like me interested in their product, then stumbled mightily at the finish line. Since they won’t enforce the pricing on their website, would you consider this deceptive marketing? Bait and switch?

I’m not sure, but one thing is clear: Nissan needs to consider the customer experience and all their contact points from A-Z. Not A-Y.

What do you think?

Related: The door to door salesperson from hell


Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • Most dealers are independent franchise owners, and they have final say on all pricing. Now, if a dealer is known to be abusive, then a car company can either limit car shipments to them, or terminate their franchise agreement, but either action could lead to lawsuits. So punitive actions against independent franchise owners rarely ever happen. The consumer’s option is to do as you did: shop elsewhere.

  • Patrick Byers says:

    Great background, Atomic Tango. Seems the system is broken and anti-consumer then, doesn’t it? 

  • Chris Ballard says:

    As a frequent car lessor, I’ve run into all kinds of different ways to attack the car buying problem.  I’ve seen where the advertised price in the local newspaper was only good for a Military discount, college graduate and repeat customer.  By my count, a pretty slim segment of the population.

    I’ve also run into the lease specials on websites would be honored, if only they had that model.  Honda couldn’t honor any of their pricing in November because there wasn’t that make and model within 1000 miles of a King county dealership. 

    Negotiate the price first, not the payment.  Then work on the lease terms.  Then negotiate “add ons.” (Floormats, wheel locks)  Negotiate from Sticker price, not msrp.  Call a sales manager, tell them you are ready to buy today and you will give them 400 over dealer invoice of XXX. (find it on  Works very well, although not every dealership will work that way.  Just keep hunting until you find one that will.  It’s a game, and very few consumers take the time to learn the rules.

  • Definitely broken. That’s why there are a number of car buying services – from American Express to Costco to various dotcoms – jumping into the game.

  • Great stuff. It’s a shame that we’ve come to expect the runaround. That’s whey I love the way an Apple product costs pretty much the same on the website as it does at the Apple store, and at all the retailers. Simple and consistent pricing across all channels makes for a better buying experience – even if you have to pay more. 

  • Lisa says:

    Ah, buying a car and buying a timeshare…what fun ways to spend a day.  Seriously though, car buying is a step up from timeshare buying where they won’t even let you think about it…it’s now or never.  Great read.  I’m just sad that the people who really need to read it (the sales force, the dealers, etc.) won’t.  They will however pay attention when we, consumers, start voting with closed wallets.

  • Yep. Yep. Voting with closed wallets and going directly to the competition. 

  • Phil Q says:

    It amazes me in information age that there are still dealers that operate like this.  I talked to sales rep on the phone the other day about a late model used Volve (not at a Volvo dealer) I was interested in.  He tells me on the phone – one owner, very clean, traded it in on a new vehicle.  I pull the car’s history- it was a rental, sold at auction to the 2nd owner who had traded it.  Had been in a wreck as a rental.  What does the sales guy think/hope- that I won’t check my facts?  Please.  You pay a little more at places like CarMax and no-haggle dealers, but the consumer experience is definnitely better.

  • Amber King says:

    I agree. Even if they are a franchise, the car dealer should remember that they are using the company’s name. What they do will reflect on their partner. For Nissan, they should make sure that their franchise will not tarnish their name. They should set standards.

  • Becca says:

    Every dealer represents the company and they are the one that build brand for the companys product. Good reputation should need to keep.

  • Shelleychaudoir says:

    I love many things about my Volt; however, shame on Chevy for false advertising regarding the “OnStar Mobile App.”  Remote diagnostics, remote start, etc through my phone were a big draw for me. Alas! Despite many calls to the 300 stooges (Volt Advisors and OnStar tech support) the app will not connect to my car. Was finally told that this was a “known problem” and would be (mysteriously) corrected “soon.”  No one tested this??? Perhaps GM will pay my car note while I wait?

  • Phil – Agreed. Thank goodness we live in the age where vehicle history reports are available to anyone with a VIN#. But what about the grandma or others that aren’t aware? They’re outta luck. 

  • That’s a shame, Shelley. When the app connects correctly, it works as advertised. We use it all the time. I hope that get that resolved for you and others ASAP!

  • Good read! I am very glad I read this page.

Leave a Reply