If I’m selling used cars, the man at the auto lot might as well sell goats

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By Lorrie Kinkade

If you were looking for a quality new or used car last week, I was just the person to call.

Or at least that is what prospective buyers must have thought, as my cell phone number appeared in 23 Louisville newspaper used car classified ads for three consecutive days.

And by the end of those three days, the sales manager at a local car dealership almost went into the business of selling goats.

Monday morning, the first call came shortly after 7 a.m. A polite young woman inquired about the Ford Mustang I had advertised for sale. I assumed it was a wrong number.

Then just two hours later, another caller asked if I still had the Ford Mustang for sale. When I said she had the wrong number, she recited my cell digits and told me that number was on a Web site classified ad for the car.

Two calls about the car had me wondering if my daughter had listed her Mustang for sale with my phone number and failed to mention this to me. A quick call, however, confirmed it was not her vehicle they were calling about.

Before long, I received calls asking about a Ford Focus, Toyota Tundra pickup and a Toyota Avalon. It was the wonderful lady interested in the Avalon who was finally able to tell me the ad also appeared in the Monday newspaper classifieds.

Browsing the paper, I was able to locate the true owner of the vehicles. Working for a newspaper, I know the advertiser is the only one who can make changes to ads; therefore I quickly gave the car lot a call.

With the general manager unavailable, I was directed to speak with the sales manager who was nothing if not charming. (Note the sarcasm.) It seems my acceptance of two dozen phone calls did not motivate him to say, “I’m sorry” or “thank you.” The best he could muster was, “I’ll take a look at it.”

Even after I requested he take down the contact numbers for two of the folks I had talked to earlier in the day, he still offered no words of appreciation. In fact, he made a statement about the fact that I did not “bother” to get the prospective buyers’ names, just their numbers and the vehicles they were interested in.

Was he going to “bother” to write a commission check with my name on it if either of these folks purchased cars? Apparently not, as he did not ask for the proper spelling of my name or my mailing address. Obviously, in his eyes, I was failing in my unintentional quest to be a used car saleswoman.

When the calls continued to flood my phone Monday evening and into Tuesday, I figured it was fallout from one day of advertising. It was not until Wednesday, after alternating between giving out the dealership’s toll-free number to callers and just not answering unknown numbers, that I checked the paper only to discover I was still in the used car business.

At this point, I had a true dilemma. Did I call the dealership again to request an ad correction? Or did I contact that Louisville media mogul to advertise the sales manager had goats for sale? High quality breeding goats, at low, low prices, the ad would read.

Luckily for him, I chose not to “bother” flooding his phone with callers searching for new farm critters. After all, orange is not my color and I’m pretty sure there are legal ramifications for placing such fraudulent ads.

Luckily, the dealership’s advertising manager was substantially more customer service oriented. After apologizing for the mistake, he even offered to compensate me for the phone usage and inconvenience.

I can’t say it made me want to buy my next vehicle from this establishment, but his attitude at least stopped me from promoting the sales manager’s non-existent livestock business. That’s a good thing.

The lesson here – mistakes happen, but how you handle those errors may be the difference between a lucrative career in automobile sales and unwittingly becoming a goat farmer.