This week, Dodge took the unprecedented step of warning consumers that some Dodge dealers are harming consumers with clearly unethical and possibly illegal actions. Specifically, a “small group” of dealers are taking deposits and pre-orders on Hellcats–high-demand Charger and Challenger models–that have almost no chance of ever being fulfilled.
Hats off to Dodge for getting out front on this issue. A better damage-control model is JetBlue in 1997 (huge flight delays and cancellations resulted in the CEO “owning” the problem and issuing a public apology and a customer “bill of rights”) than Intel in 1994 when the company demanded that customers “prove” that their processors had a mathematical error. The mantra is: Be transparent, deal with the issue quickly, and learn from the problem.
However, Dodge did not go so far as to name the dealers who are abusing their customers. Maybe the legal liability was too high, or maybe they thought they were protecting their own. But that’s a big mistake for Dodge, for honest Dodge dealers, and for consumers.
It’s a bad move because now consumers have a reason to not trust any Dodge dealer, and to buy a different brand–even though a Dodge may be the best price and fit for a given buyer.
For Dodge dealers, all of whom are implicated because none were named, it’s going to be harder to find customers.
Of course for Dodge, they now have a consumer problem, a sales problem (bet you a dollar that Dodge sales are down compared to competitors this next quarter), and perhaps most importantly a dealer problem; panicked dealers will be up in arms for the foreseeable future.
What’s a buyer to do?
For Carjojo car buyers, the bottom line is this: When there is bad news for a brand and customers stay away, that’s often the best time to buy that brand–dealers have to make better deals than before all this happened to attract customers. Just remember to do your homework on the car you want, and avoid the Charger and Challenger models.