Dear Subaru, Why Don’t Your Dealers Want Me To Buy One of Your Cars?

A little background first,

Currently we have 2 Subarus, one owned and one leased. We had owned another one previously to taking on the current lease, which expires at the end of this month. We LOVE our cars. AWD is great in the Vermont winters, my WRX is pushing 275hp now, has 150,000 miles and still gets 30mpg.

As above, my wife’s Impreza is due back at the end of this month and we were looking for a replacement. We’ve looked at everything in the compact SUV / crossover market, and we’ve decided that we’d like something with 7 seats. That’s the Tribeca. When we started looking, we found that we could lease a 2010 model for about $389. (screenshot as the deal expired on 11/1/10)

We stopped by the local Subaru dealership on a Friday afternoon to review the Tribeca and possibly look at a Forester. On the sales floor there only appeared to be one salesman helping 2 or 3 other people and we were told that he would be with us in a minute. We had Isaac, our 2 year old with us, so were trying to stay near the toy section to keep him occupied while we waited. It just so happens that there is an office directly next to the waiting area with the toys and we started hear raised voices from the office. Raised voices turned in to obscenities and I looked around the corner to see what was going on. I looked in through the large office windows just in time to see that the person yelling, was an employee, manager or salesman, not sure, yelling into the phone with two other employees watching. After a final explicative directed at whoever was at the other end of the line, the yeller slammed the phone down and proceeded to throw the entire phone against the wall. Needless to say we packed up and left, down the street to the Buick dealership to look at the Enclave. That’s another story, but the salesman there didn’t really want to make a sale either. In fact he actually told us that he wouldn’t allow himself to sell us the car we came in to see.

Jump forward a couple of weeks or so where we actually drove 75 miles to look at Kias and Hyundais, and also visited another Subaru dealership where we briefly considered trading in my WRX as well and leasing both a new Tribeca and a new WRX. The dealership even got the payments combined for us, $689/mo for both, however they didn’t have any 2010 Tribecas in stock, but there were some at our hometown dealership. So back to there we go.

So we set up test drive and managed to get a test drive without any drama. We took the car to our house to check to see how it would fit into our garage. While we were at the house, I noticed that the fuel light was on, and had been on the entire drive. I checked the computerize mpg gauge and it said we had 2 miles of fuel left. This concerned me as we were about 5 miles from the dealership. I pointed this out to the salesman who came with us and his response was that we better hope that it was wrong. This should’ve been warning sign number 1. However we had built up a nice little relationship, we both host international students, I’m familiar with the school where his students go, etc. I also talked to him about our experience with Buick which really upset him, he called their tactics “bait and switch” and blamed “slimy sales methods” for why GM was failing.

We managed to get the car back to the dealership without running out of gas, and the real magic started. We saw that they had a 2008 Tribeca that just got off lease and we inquired about purchasing that. That lead to 75 minutes of him walking back and forth from his desk to “his manager’s office” to check on what we were asking about in regards to price. Except he would never actually name a final price, only what the payments would be. Finally before the 8th or 9th trip I asked him what exactly the interest rate is, if he wasn’t interested in telling us the price, which was on a paper in the back of the car anyways. He came back with a number of “5 or 6%”. It turned out to be 11.75%. Nice. Glad we’re not dealing with any slimy sales methods here.

Realizing that we weren’t going to get an honest deal on the used Tribeca, we set out to start the lease process for a new one. Except the salesman either thought we were idiots, or didn’t want to make a sale. I mean, we had our checkbook out, ready to make the down payment on the car, but he comes back with the payment number: $700/mo for the lease. I initially thought that he had pulled up the deal the other dealership had for us or something. I said that we were only interested in just 1 car. He said it was just one car, the Tribeca. I asked if he was serious. He said, “Well it’s a $30k vehicle. If you want to put more money down, for every $1,000 I can reduce the payments by $20 or so.”. I countered back with the same down payment, and payments of $389. He said “Nope, can’t do it.” I told him that we already had a quote from another dealer for that price. “They’re lying to you. No way.” And with that we left.

Are there any Subaru dealers in the north east that actually want to sell a car?

Update: Big thanks to Ivan and Franco at Copeland Toyota who found us a great 2008 Tribeca at an amazing price, and even drove it 200 miles to deliver it to our house! Also thanks to Idy and Joe at Sunnyside who also found us a great Tribeca, but we just couldn’t meet on a deal.

Update #2: The Buick dealership we went to is now closed. The quick story on that is: We were looking at the base model Enclave, which was listed on at $27k with the options we wanted. We printed out the sheet with what we wanted and the salesman told us we were lucky, there was one exactly like this in stock. We took it for a test drive and brought it to our house to make sure it would fit in our garage. We were remarking about the sat nav, leather and DVD player. “These are standard?” I asked. “Oh yes! Of course! Buicks are fantastic!” said the salesman. We got back to the dealership and were ready to buy the thing, and the salesman drew up all the paperwork and the total was… $79k. “Um, it says on that this model is $27k. You seem to be pretty far off the sticker price there.” Salesman: “Oh, that’s just the base model. You don’t want that.” Us: “Yes, we do. That’s exactly what we want.” Salesman: “Well I’d be doing you a disservice to sell you just the base model.” Us: “Ok, good day!”.