Yours truly, just this past week:
If the General can avoid making the upcoming Buick LaCrosse into an AARPmobile — I’m old enough to be a member, but I refuse to drive like one — I’d actually look into it, provided the local Pontiac/Buick/GMC store isn’t a complete and utter craphole.
This may be too much to hope for, says Jack Baruth, who says nice things about the Pontiac G8 and then explains why they won’t sell you one:
Ay, there’s the rub: buying the thing. In the six months that followed, my brother learned firsthand about the misery of dealing with Pontiac dealers. This is the same group of people, remember, who effectively held the first batches of 2004 GTOs hostage, demanding ten-grand markups and no-questions-asked deposits before finally panicking and selling the backlog of unwanted Goats for invoice minus holdback in enormous, humiliating newspaper ads which inadvertently slaughtered the car’s residual value. The attitudes of these domestic dealer ding-dongs, seemingly formed during the brief halcyon days where the Grand Am was GM’s best-selling automobile and served as the exclusive transport option of every stripper, Wal-Mart cashier, and three-hundred-pound, trailer-park-bound, human hippopotamus in the Midwest, could best be described as “aggressively unfriendly”.
My brother’s experience started with an attempt to “pre-order” the car. He was assured time and time again that the cars would be “impossible to get” and that only a sizable deposit would guarantee a spot in line. When the G8 began to pile up in dealer lots despite the predicted shortage, he was repeatedly denied a test drive despite being a respectable-looking thirty-year-old who wore Canali suits and appeared with his wife and young son in tow. After multiple incidents where dealership personnel made it plainly obvious to him that it would be doing him a favor to let him so much as sniff a G8, he gave up and bought another Mazda. I can’t blame him.
It is no doubt true that every manufacturer has crappy dealerships here and there, but the ostensible “volume” brands seem to have so many more of them. (Yes, I know: they have more dealers, period. Work with me here.) If you take J. D. Power seriously — I try not to — you find tidbits like this:
According to the 28th annual J.D. Power and Associates Customer Service Index, car dealerships rose in customer satisfaction so far this year, due mostly to an increased satisfaction with repair work. Overall, two-thirds of the 37 brands ranked experienced gains in customer satisfaction. Dealer service overall increased to 882 on a 1,000-point scale, with Jaguar ranking highest in customer satisfaction for the second year in a row followed by Cadillac and Buick.
In Standard Letterman Order, the Top Ten:
You’d expect Lincoln/Mercury to fall together, since every dealer who handles one also handles the other. But there’s Buick at number three, and neither Pontiac nor GMC are anywhere to be seen. Despite GM’s push toward channel consolidation, there are still standalone Buick stores, though fewer than 100 remain. Maybe those dealers are setting the standard — or maybe it’s just that people who spent more money on cars tend to have a higher regard for the place where they spent it.