Before I get into this story, this isn’t the followup to Joe’s experience at a Ford dealership. Joe actually reached out to me with a followup, but I wanted to allow the dealership some time to at least keep their promise to Joe. However, another EV buyer reached out to CleanTechnica and shared her story of an experience with a Ford dealership.
She also asked to keep her name anonymous since she has indeed bought her Mustang Mach-E and doesn’t want to have any further issues with her local dealership. So, we’ll call her Kara for the sake of the article.
Joe and Kara have both had horrible experiences at their Ford dealerships, and I truly hope that by writing this Ford will take action to help its customers who want to purchase an EV. Again, while I’ll share Kara’s story, keep in mind this isn’t about bashing Ford. This is constructive feedback and I think Ford should take these complaints into consideration. Also, just to reiterate, Joe still plans to purchase the Mustang Mach-E and Kara plans to keep hers, demonstrating how much they want the EV despite all of the hassles they’ve gone through. That’s a good thing when it comes to the vehicle itself and Ford’s BEV team!
To be fair, there are other accounts from Mustang Mach-E buyers who have had excellent experiences with their dealerships. I’ve seen some comments on Twitter here and there, and I think that if Ford can solve the issue that it clearly has with some of its dealerships, it can actually do well in the EV market. EV advocates want this to happen. We want more EVs.
Another unsubstantiated anti Ford article. But I’ll humor you and tag @jimfarley98 and share my purchase experience. I flew to Connecticut purchased my Mach-E a couple of weeks ago. Purchase was super smooth and no issue. But you won’t write an article about that pic.twitter.com/I6nqvb7unQ
— Will C (10 Minute Version) (@wheelsee) December 23, 2021
Kara’s story begins in the spring of this year. She and her husband were at their local Ford dealership shopping for an F-150. However, the chip shortage wasn’t so kind to Ford and the inventory was low. She noted that it was clear that they would not be finding what he was looking for in person that day.
“While we were looking I saw a Mach-E parked in the personal dealer’s parking and I asked the man who was helping us what kind of car it was. He told me and I asked if there were any on the lot I could look at. He said that they had none in their inventory and that the car was in such high demand that it would be highly unlikely I would find one in person in Northern CA.
“He did say he could assist me in custom ordering one. However, I declined, as I just learned about this car on the spot and I was not ready to order a car that I had not seen or driven. The next day I was looking online at the Mach-E and found that a Ford dealer 12 miles away had four Mach-Es in stock. So the first dealer lied.
“I called and asked to make an appointment to test drive one. I spoke to the manager of the sales team and he was apprehensive about allowing me to drive one unless I was truly interested in buying one, as they wanted to keep the mileage on their cars low for serious prospective buyers. I had to insist I was serious in order to make an appointment and he reluctantly made an appointment for me for an hour after our call. He told me to ask for him when we arrived. My husband and I decided we would go for it and left to test drive the car.”
Kara and her husband are barely in their 30s and she told me that they are often misjudged when they go to make large purchases. Salespeople don’t take them seriously due to their age and how they dress. When they arrived at the dealership, she saw an older male looking at one of the Mach-Es and she said there were a couple of salespeople answering all of this gentleman’s questions.
Kara asked someone to point her to the sales manager who made the appointment. Upon seeing them, Kara told me, the sales manager asked a woman to assist them instead of keeping his appointment. The woman told Kara and her husband that the sales manager was busy, but that she would be able to help them.
“She then admitted she had just gotten back from vacation and she knew nothing about the specs of the Mach-E, but that she would do her best to answer them.
“We went for our drive and I started rationalizing purchasing one of these cars, as I was driving a 2007 gas guzzler and I was anticipating going back to grad school which would require an hour commute to my home, both ways.
“However, since I had just found out what this car was, and although I had a great time on our drive, I decided I would rather custom order a car and wait 6-8 months to avoid the dealer markup and because I was not in immediate need of purchasing a car that day. My husband agreed and we returned to the lot and told the woman dealer that we had a great time and that I wanted to get her information to order a Mach-E once I fully thought it through.
“She started her sales pitch saying how they are very low in stock of these cars, that they are being sold within 24 hours of arriving at the lot, that there is not guarantee that if I had ordered my car that it would arrive in time and most importantly that the government rebates for the car may not apply by the time my car actually arrived.
“I was very well informed about the rebate process, as my dad owns a Tesla and before that a Nissan Leaf, and I personally was using the rebate as a way to justify purchasing such an over-the-top car.
“Basically, after going back and forth with her and after she constantly was asking the sales manager my questions (who still had not approached my husband and me), they decided to make me an offer. They said they would take $5K off of the $10K dealer markup that was on the specific Mach-E I was interested in, so this got me sitting down, looking at potential numbers for paying for the car.
“Despite the woman dealer being significantly uninformed, she came off very honest and helpful. She emphasized that purchasing a Mach-E today would make it more likely that I would receive the government rebate, but that it depended on my husband’s and my salaries, which are not extravagant by any means. She told me that it was likely I would get the full rebate as long as I didn’t own anything crazy, giving the example of a 1 million dollar house. Now, this is when things start getting tricky.
“I informed her that we did not purchase our home for $1 million, but because of the recent spike in the housing market that our house was now worth over $1 million. Her eyes got huge and she said for that reason, I might not receive the full government rebate. I continued to emphasize to her that the rebate was very important to me, especially because the car I was potentially buying still had a $5K markup on it so I might go back to my original idea to just order the car on my own, at this time she said she was going to speak with her manager and see what they could do.
“When she returned she said she had good news, that because they were estimating that my full rebate was $7K, that Ford would give me $7K off the purchase price as a ‘coupon’ for the rebate, but that once tax season came, that Ford would collect my car’s rebate on my behalf but that this way they could guarantee that I would get the full rebate possible if I bought the car that day.
“So at this point, my arguments for not buying the car that day became less and we started discussing the payment plan. This part of the story is long and not so much relevant to my complaint, but essentially they offered me a balloon payment, where there is no interest but a monthly payment for four years and then a large sum due at the end.
“I had made it clear I was not interested in having a plan with interest, as I have some money in stocks that I was willing to sell if need be in order to buy the car outright and avoid paying interest. The dealer pushed me towards the balloon deal and since there was no interest, it made sense for me so that I would not have to sell my stock prematurely. I agreed to the deal, we filled out paperwork and she said for us to hang tight while her financial department was drawing up a contract.
“At this time we sat waiting for at least two hours, I was hoping during this time someone would come to show me the specs of the car that I was in the process of buying so that once the deal was signed, I would actually be informed about the details of the car I was purchasing, but no one came. My husband and I noticed all of the dealers huddled talking and joking and I became more frustrated that no one was making an effort to teach me about the car.
“Anyway, 2.5 hours later we sat down with the financial department who apologized for our wait but he had just had a difficult time drawing up our deal. He was very kind and friendly. He explained that once the deal is signed, that it is legally binding and that I could not change my mind, as California has a no cooling-off period, as he pointed to a sign stating just that in his office. I agreed and we began signing paperwork.
“Once we were done, the woman dealer gave me the keys and said goodbye (still never showing/explaining the specs of the car). I figured I could look it up all online and I was eager to get home after spending almost 4 hours at the dealer.”
Dealership Tries To Take Back The $7,000 Rebate Coupon
“A couple of days later I was looking over my deal because I was signing myself up for car insurance and the numbers seemed higher than I thought, basically it didn’t seem like the ‘rebate coupon’ they offered was honored. Just to be safe I called Ford and asked to speak to their financial department.
“Unfortunately, the man we had signed our deal with was not there so I was transferred to a very rude woman who started barking at me about why I was asking about prices. I think she assumed I was trying to give the car back (which I wasn’t), so I explained to her that I was keeping the car but I was just hoping she could walk me through the numbers once more because they seemed higher than I thought.
“Her tone changed and she kindly walked me through, explaining that the ‘7K rebate coupon’ had been honored but that these are just expensive cars once the taxes are applied. At this point, I understood everything was correct and thanked her for her help.
“Now here is when everything really goes downhill with my experience. About a week after I purchased my car, I got a phone call from the dealership. I answered and it was the sales manager calling me. At first, he was just asking me how I liked the car, and then he started telling me how they made a mistake on my deal.
“He explained that this 7K ‘rebate coupon’ the woman dealer offered me (that the manager signed off on) was applicable to their other electric cars, but for some reason, Ford was not allowing it to be used for the Mach-E. He said that he and his team were not aware that this did not apply to the Mach-E and that he is having to call me and other buyers who were offered the same ‘rebate coupon’ to essentially rewrite their deals in order for the dealership to not lose out on the 7K.”
Kara told me that she was told that she needed to do the right thing and come back to the dealership to redraw her deal. This frustrated her and she explained to the sales manager that the whole point of her buying the Mustang Mach-E was due to the rebate coupon. It was the only reason she decided to buy it on the spot. If the coupon hadn’t been offered, she would have just ordered the car and avoided the $5,000 dealership markup.
The fact that the dealership had the audacity to call her back, tell her that they were going to take back the rebate coupon, and pressure her to come back to renegotiate the deal is rather shocking. She explained that he apologized for the confusion and admitted that it was the mistake of the staff and started insisting on having her come in.
“I asked him bluntly ‘so you want me to give you another 7K for this car?’ He said not exactly, but that if they redrafted my deal in the dealer’s favor that they would get their money back and he assured me that somehow my monthly payments would be ‘similar’. He also started saying he wanted to change my deal in order to add interest as the balloon payment plan was not something favored by the dealership.
“I told him I had no interest in paying any more money for my car and that he could have the car back if this was going to be an issue. He was taken back, saying that he wasn’t sure if that was an option since I had signed a legally binding deal. So I asked him if I can’t go back on my end of the deal, then why is he allowed to? He said it was more a matter of me doing the right thing in order to resolve a mistake that his uniformed staff made.
“I consider myself to be an understanding person and I started feeling guilty (which I am sure was his intention), so I told him because of my work, I was not available to come in for about a week from his call but I would come in the following Monday if he emailed me a proposal for what the new deal would look like and give me an answer from his GM if I was eligible to give the car back entirely.
“I explained to him that if I were allowed to give the car back, I would need the payments I had already made towards the car to be refunded in full despite the miles that had been put on the car. He agreed to send me a draft of the new deal and give me the answer about giving the car back before I was due to come back in.
“Unfortunately, the sales manager did not keep his word of providing me with the information I requested, so I thought, this might not be a big deal if he is not willing to do his end of the work. Therefore, I was not going to waste time during my weekend to be treated the way I was the first time I was at the dealership being utterly ignored. Therefore, I decided not to go in.”
More Dealership Harassment
A couple of days later, Kara told me she got a call from the dealership and as soon as she answered it, the sales manager started in on her.
“‘I thought you agreed to come in, but my staff said you never did.’ I explained to him that he did not do his end of what I asked of him, so I figured I shouldn’t waste my time either. At this point, his tone got increasingly ruder and I felt like he was trying to bully me (a young woman) into coming back to the dealership in order to fix his mistake.
“We went back and forth a couple of times about how I’d rather just give the car back if this was going to be such an issue for him and he explained how he still had not asked his GM if that was even an option. At this point, it became clear to me that this man only had an interest in helping himself by changing my deal to favor his dealership.
“I asked him if my current deal was still legally binding. He said yes. I asked him if I was interested in getting out of this deal for my own sake if his dealership would allow that (if they had not made the mistake they did). He said no and reminded me there is no cooling-off period in CA. I asked again, considering their mistake, if I could just give the car back since I was so frustrated by their customer service. He said he would need to talk to his GM.
“At this point, my husband, who was in the other room, could hear my frustration and because he was aware of the first conversation I had with the sales manager, he decided to talk to the manager himself. Instantly the manager’s tone changed and he was being very kind to my husband and told him that he felt I was being unreasonable for not coming into the dealer as I had said I would.
“My husband became enraged, as he felt the manager was attempting to put me down to my own husband. So he reminded the manager that my deal was legally binding, which goes both ways, and just because the manager made a mistake, that we should not be responsible for fixing their mistakes and his staff (including him) should be more informed about the details of selling their cars before they do so. My husband then hung up on him.
“Only a couple of minutes later I received an email from the manager with a single generic link that took me to their site in order to estimate how much I could sell my car back for. This only further proved this man had not been listening or did not care about what I asked because I had specifically told him I would only give the car back if I was given back the money I had already put in towards my payments.
“I chose to ignore this last attempt and I never heard anything more from the dealer. However, I still find myself upset over the situation because when I look at my car, despite how great of a car it is, I can only see the frustration it caused me and can’t enjoy it as anyone else could. This is a feeling I hope will change in time, but for now, I still hold the frustration towards my experience with this dealership and I feel stuck dealing with them, as they are the closest location for the maintenance of my car, which is now essential due to the recent recalls on the Mach-E.”
Kara added that her experience wouldn’t be something for potential buyers to be concerned about because she hopes that dealers have learned about what they can actually offer potential buyers. However, she will never forget how she was treated by this Ford dealer.
She and her husband plan to look at other Ford dealerships for her husband, who is now on the waitlist for the Ford F-150 Lightning. Hopefully, Ford corporate can find a way to work with its dealerships to encourage them not to treat their customers this way.
For those who have positive experiences with Ford dealerships, especially when buying an EV, perhaps you can help Ford think of ways to combat this problem constructively.
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