True Stories From A Former Car Dealer #6: Cannabis

Cannabis car

Thoughout my career in the car business, owning and managing dealerships, I had a number of occasions when customers would say they left something in their car when they dropped it off for service, but it wasn’t there when they picked it up.  This in spite of the fact that there were large signs hanging in the service drive saying we were not responsible for items left in cars.  It was also in large letters on the work order the customer received.

Often times, it was change in the ashtray or console, I had one customer who said he left a gun in his car, but later retracted after he found it at home.  One lady swore she left a one-carat diamond ring in the glove box that she was getting resized, and it was missing.  We did a thorough investigation of everyone who touched the car, and even administered lie detector tests, but everyone was telling the truth.  Her homeowner’s insurance eventually paid for it.

I always had a very open door policy, both for my employees and my customers.  This was a burden at times, especially when you are in the middle of something important, but I always felt the positive results outweighed the negatives.

One weekday a customer came blowing into my office.  I had been warned by my service manager that an angry customer was headed my way.  I instructed my staff not to let me know in advance what the issue was, I wanted to hear it from the customer first, and if I needed additional information, I’d let them know.

This man was very large and was wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt.  He looked to be 35-years of age or so and had a bushy beard.  As he headed toward my desk in a very determined manner, I stood up.  He angrily said words I had heard a number of times:  “I want you to know I will never do business in this dealership again!”

I had a pat answer for this from many years earlier.  I calmly said “thank you for letting me know that, you just took away any incentive I have to help you” and I sat down and went about my business.  It never failed me, they would always start backing up and this guy was no different.  He said, “well, maybe I’ll do business here again”.  I invited him to take a seat and asked him what the problem was.

He told me something was stolen out of his car while he was getting an oil change.  I, of course, asked what was taken, but his response was “I’d rather not say”.  I was befuddled to say the least, as my mind ran through the many things it could be.

I told him I couldn’t investigate the theft unless I knew what I was looking for.  He reiterated that he’d rather not say.  I tried to reason with the guy and told him that if I had a bad employee or a thief in the service department, I needed to know it.  I added that if it was something of value, my insurance company might pay the claim if he could prove what it was.

The man thought for a long time.  Neither of us said a word for what seemed to be an eternity.  Finally, he said “OK.  I had a pound of marijuana under the front seat”.

Without changing expressions, I reached for the phone and started to dial it.  The man said “what are you doing?  Who are you calling?”

I said: “I’m calling the police.  I’ve got to have a police report to make an insurance claim”.

He stood, walked toward the door, and simply said “forget it!”

Photo Credit: Blablo101/Shutterstock

 

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15 Comments
  1. Butchmcclendon 8 months ago

    Jerry, I had the exact same thing happen just down the street. My customer told me right off some thief in my service department stole his marijuana out of the glove compartment! Funny how it was all over with when I dialed the police.

  2. Albert Strausser 8 months ago

    Your “standard response” that the customer had taken away any incentive you had to help them” is both perfect and priceless. Too often a well intentioned manager or owner will spend a lot of time, effort and sometimes money trying to fix a “problem” when the recipient does not appreciate it anyway.

    I will remember that and use it myself!

    • Amy Plemons 8 months ago

      The first time I used that, early in my career, and it worked so well, I never forgot it. Truthfully, it never once offended anyone, but made them THINK. They needed help, but that was not the way to get it. Some of my greatest customers started out that way. Thanks for being a friend of the show!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  3. Ramon Urias 8 months ago

    Bluff called and Jerry takes the game. 😄

    • Amy Plemons 8 months ago

      WOO HOO Ramon! Score one for the good guys!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  4. Bill Ricker 8 months ago

    Dear Jerry,

    These are GREAT stories and a great addition to your letter…..good material for your forthcoming book( I smell it…..and I’m right). Keep the column!

    Always, Bill Ricker

    • Amy Plemons 8 months ago

      Thank you buddy. I’ve been threatening to write one for a while, if I keep the series up, I’ll be half done! Thanks for the kind words.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  5. Jim Frame 8 months ago

    I REALLY look forward to your CarPro News. The first thing I do is look for these stories. They make you show a Human side, and yet your way of dealing with us humans as customers is truly delightful. Thanks for ALL you do.

  6. Jason Kunert 8 months ago

    Awesome! I LOVE you pat response “then you’ve taken away any incentive I have to help you”…classic! I consider myself to be somewhat witty, but there’s no good comeback to that one. You ‘da man, Jerry!!

  7. Repoman Mick 8 months ago

    Years ago, as in the middle 1970’s, I spent 6+ years working for GMAC doing collections, repos, and dealer audits. For a few years, I worked several counties in East Texas out of the Dallas office on Stemmons, then transferred and worked 10 counties in North Central Texas out of the Ft. Worth office. As you know, not everyone voluntarily returns their past due vehicles, so I made a lot of unexpected visits to secure the collateral and keep the dealers happy. That was in the days when we’d get the dealer to cut keys from the key numbers on the invoice and go roll ’em wherever we could find them, whenever we could find them. Of course, as soon as I got the vehicle, I’d call the local law enforcement and report it as a repo. Then I’d take it somewhere for storage, inventory whatever personal property was in the vehicle when I popped it, and put the stuff in a cardboard box. It was amazing the number of diamond rings and other jewelry, large sums of cash money, guns, and other valuable items that were in those vehicles! When the office would call and tell me someone was complaining because I or “somebody” had stolen their property, my answer was always the same, “If it was in the vehicle, it’s in the box at the dealer. If whatever they’re missing isn’t there, tell them to report it to the police or sheriff.” I don’t remember anything going past the accusation stage.

  8. Tom McEnnis 8 months ago

    Love your show Jerry! Some really good tips. I’m thinking about leasing a Mustang Convertible with the 6 speed manual transmission. Should I go through a dealership or use an independent leasing firm like Apple ?

  9. Sam Bennet 8 months ago

    Your “standard response” is terrific . It seems that I and my employees spend a lot of time working a complaint whose resolution isn’t going to fix anything. Thanks I really enjoy your stories.

  10. Alan 8 months ago

    Jerry,

    Thank you for the story from dealing with the public who have been “Victims”.

    After Teaching for a few (32) years one of the classic silver bullet responses from me dealt with when a Parent would say, “Well my kid says that you said, . . . “. My response was always, “Only believe half of what he says are my words and I will only believe half of what he says goes on at your house.”

    • Bart 7 months ago

      Excellent Alan. Thank you for your service as a teacher to our youth. No, I will not hold you responsible for EVERY thing they do. Only the Positive things.

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