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I don’t get caught off guard very often and that is a good thing. I have seen people try all kinds of maneuvers during a car purchase. Jeff, who was a manager of a local business, reached into his pocket and brought out six 9mm bullets and proceeded to line them up on the table between us. He told me that this was to show me how serious he was about getting a good deal.
Two gangster-looking guys negotiated a deal on an expensive Denali, equipped with a set of 22” wheels. They wore long leather coats, hats over bandanas and dark glasses. When we came to an agreement, they called their associate that was waiting outside in their car. They just said, “Bring it.” A very large man dressed like the others came inside. He had a metal briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. He set it on the table and one of the negotiators did the combination. He took out about $50,000 of what looked like about a half million dollars. The big guy walked back out to the car. That one was a cash sale.
I sold a car to Jack, who was dressed like pure scooter trash. Jack was close to 70 years old, but looked like his odometer was spun. Jack told me that in his younger days, he was one of the founding members of The Shaggers motorcycle gang. When he told me about how his old lady was forcing him to buy a car. I laughed, but only for a moment. I suddenly felt something sharp in my belly, just above my beltline. I looked down to see that Jack was holding a recently sharpened knife blade. He slowly asked me, “Do you know why it was better to have a short blade with a big handle? I answered “No.” Without ever breaking eye contact he told me “that way it won’t slip out of your hand when it gets bloody.” I sold Jack cars on two separate occasions, each one memorable.
Dr Kamiar was Iranian. He came in to buy a new Cadillac. We had a demonstrator on the floor that was shiny black with all of the trim done in gold. His wife loved it. He was not a very pleasant man, but we came to an agreement. He wrote out a down payment check for $10,000 and signed all of the paperwork. Off they drove in their beautiful Cadillac. A week later Dr. and Mrs. Kamiar were back in the dealership. They had a problem. They had a copy of their contract and their down payment check from their bank. It had gone thru with out any problem, but I was caught by surprise with what followed.
Dr. Kamiar was yelling that we had ripped him off. He was actually saying that we had stolen from him. He was being very boisterous and waved his hands a lot while walking excitedly around the showroom. After asking several times what the problem was he finally showed me his down payment check. He had written in the memo area of the check “for tax and license.”
He proceeded to show me his contract. He pointed out to me that tax and license was about $6,000. He said that he wanted the difference back. I looked the couple over for a moment as if in a poker game not wanting to tip my hand. I had no idea where this was going. I explained to the good doctor that what was written in the memo had no bearing on the check. I showed him were his down payment was disclosed on the contract and the ten places his signature was on the contract.
Then he started in on how he had misunderstood and that we had misled him. I knew that this wasn’t Dr. Kamiar’s first rodeo and he was trying to take me for a ride. I told him that we had not misled him in any way. I also explained that there was not any money due him. He loudly started back about how we had deceived him. I finally just asked, “What do you want from me?” He answered with a very prepared “LoJack, System 5.”
I looked him in the eye for a moment. I realized what I was dealing with, an immoral unethical person that went by the title of doctor. Seizing the moment I put both of my hands in the air like a person under arrest. I shouted out the word “Hostage.” I continued loudly with “I will not be held hostage for a LoJack.” Dr. and Mrs. Kamiar had a completely different expression on their face sitting across from me with my arms up in the air. They looked scared. I stated firmly again, “No Hostage.” “I will not be held hostage for a LoJack.”
The doctor started repeating in a lot lower tone, “no hostage, and no hostage.” I just sat across from them with my arms raised in the air. He and his wife hurriedly stood up and headed for the door. “Never mind” is all that he said as they went hastily out the door to their new Cadillac.
I never sold that doctor another car. I am glad that I never had to deal with him again. I guess the first thing came to my mind was the Iranian hostage crisis. It was a very spur of the moment reaction. I felt lucky it had worked. I didn’t really have a plan B other than just kicking him out.
He was a prominent Doctor who had run for an elected office recently. He had been on the local hospital board. He was clearly a liar, a swindler and a very poor negotiator. I was still just an honest car salesman. Imagine that a guy like him is held in higher esteem than a guy like me simple because of our job titles.
Honesty is the standard here at Sierra Motors. We have our lowest price posted in the window of every vehicle for sale. One low price, plain & simple…always, is how we do business. Our sales peoples are only interested in achieving your complete satisfaction. That is how they get paid. They are not paid on how much that you spend, just on how satisfied you are.
I know that I can’t control the behavior of others, but I can be responsible for my own and that of our employees. That is, as long as you don’t make me put my hands in the air.