Luxury car salesman treated me poorly because of my basic attire

He asked me multiple questions regarding my occupation. In fact, I was also asked to show my Form-16.

BHPian wanderer007 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

This happened very recently with a friend of mine. He prefers dressing up (down?!) in a polo tee with bermudas and sneakers on weekends. He is in the market for his first luxury car purchase and has a budget in the range of 60-80L. He was leaning towards Merc just for its brand/snob value.

Over a couple of weekends in December last year, he visited showrooms of BMW, Audi and Mercedes, in that order, in Bangalore. He recounted that the folks at BMW were courteous but not too enthusiastic (he was made to wait as the sales folks were attending other customers who were there before him) and felt the overall experience was underwhelming. The folks at Audi were enthusiastic and willing to please while the Merc experience was downright disrespectful.

When he asked to show him a C-Class, he was right away asked what he does, where he works, how much does he make and on giving responses to these the sales guy even asked for his Form 16 which my friend of course didn't have handy. He was eventually not shown the car and the excuse used was that the particular variant he was looking for was not available (there was a C class in the showroom, my friend doesn't know which one though) and that looking at another variant would not be helpful.

He found this immensely disrespectful and he's sworn never to buy a Merc in his life and to ensure influence whoever he can to stay away from that brand.

I'm sure all carmakers have to deal with tens of prospective enquiries daily from those who don't have the budget and just want to look around but that is still no way to treat a walk-in customer.

Here's what BHPian dicor had to say about the matter:

I had a similar experience at Delhi airport at some luxury car stall (Don't remember if it was Volvo or Range Rover). The executive didn't stop me from viewing and sitting in the SUV but he was least interested in talking to a guy in half tees and shorts who is most likely from another city and probably have no money to afford this.

He wasn't rude but his ignorance also felt like an insult.

Here's what BHPian aniketi had to say about the matter:

This happens everywhere in the world. Many people treat you depending upon your attire. Sad but true.

Once I was at the Mahindra PCMC showroom to see the Scorpio and we were completely ignored. We had to follow up with them to get the car info and price list. They didn't bother to ask us for our number or whether we'd like to have a test drive, forget following up later.

One fine day, I was in shorts and went to the showroom to see the car. They didn't take me seriously at all. I was looking to finalize my upcoming car and their behavior really pissed me off, can't help. Later on, I started going to showrooms properly dressed so that I get proper attention, I am not kidding.

Unfortunately, in most of Mahindra and Tata showrooms, experience is not that good compared to Maruti, Hyundai, etc. Most Mahindra showrooms are not suited to handle urban crowds, sad but true. Tata showrooms are ok but they don't do any follow-ups as others do. Now Tata has a great portfolio with them, if they can give a great experience to customers visiting their showrooms, they can easily sell 15-20% more for sure.

Here's what GTO had to say about the matter:

It happens with all brands and lots of dealerships. End of the day, it's down to that one interaction you have with the salesman. There's a huge churn in the sales industry, they're really not that well paid and a majority of dealerships don't even bother with training because of the high turnover.

A handful of brands aggressively use mystery shoppers to weed out such experiences. Here's an example.

Here's what BHPian GKR9900 had to say about the matter:

Reminds me of the time my folks went to see a Jeep Compass in our Maruti Swift. The salesman wasn't impressed and made some snarky comments which led to us dropping the plan to own a Jeep. Picked up an XUV500.

At the other end of the spectrum, I once went to an Audi showroom to ogle at the R8 present there. Made my intentions clear to the executive too. But was treated with cool drinks and a comprehensive overview!

Here's what BHPian fine69 had to say about the matter:

While everyone has the right to exercise discretion, the fact is that India is an over-populous country and almost all the luxury car dealers deal with clowns on a regular basis and some take a rather firm or rude stand at times.

This is not to defend the dealer or the sales staff, but a word of caution that since we live in such an environment, a good product shouldn't be written off based on the first experience with the sales staff.

If I was in such a position then I'd rather spend 5 mins getting my Form 16 on my phone, walk up to the manager instead and tell him what kind of buffoons they've hired. I would then obviously deal with another sales guy and if I liked the car, definitely have the other guy get the commission. It'd be a pretty good burn n lesson for the rude sales guy also.

Here's what BHPian Rocketscience had to say about the matter:

The opposite happened to me. I was there with my dad to take delivery of our Civic and there comes a gentleman with rubbish clothes, had a loud and was sweaty and generally clumsy. He was talking funny and people were laughing.

The guy went ahead and perhaps paid the balance amount or something from his jute bag (not sounding condescending but his attire and bag resembled that of a bus conductor and not even a car driver) but boom, takes delivery of his brand new Accord.

My jaw dropped and perhaps many other people's too. I was around 12 at that time and learnt a very important life lesson. I myself enjoy not caring about clothes and looking shabby at times and people looking down only to surprise them at times. Honestly, we should not relate attire and personality with money. Incidents like these have grounded me a lot in life, not that I'm otherwise an Ambani or something but still.

Here's what BHPian rsjagtap had to say about the matter:

Sharing some positive experiences.

Jan-Feb 2021 Auto Expo in Mumbai

I am just a normal guy with a normal car and a normal family yet I was interested in knowing more about the Toyota HiAce at an auto expo. I sat in the vehicle, checked the dashboard, seating, etc and I am sure even though I did not look like a potential customer, the guy on the counter was proactive enough to give me all the details of the vehicle along with finance options and even suggested multiple ways I can still make use of the vehicle. It was a nice experience.

Dec 2021 R City Mall in Mumbai

I was in my pyjamas and t-shirt just returning some items to one of the stores in the mall when the top end new Jeep Compass caught my eye. They usually only had a mid-end model on display but this time it was something new. I checked the car like a 10-year-old ogles on something shiny. The attendant came up to me and without asking any details about myself just opened the driver's side door and invited me to sit in it. He then provided me details about what the car does and then inquired about what I drive. He then insisted that I take a test drive from his showroom location and the topic of finances never came into the picture. He was calm and polite and treated me like any other customer.

Jan 2019 Shreem Hyundai Mumbai

At that point, I was in desperate need of a Creta mid-model diesel as I had just sold my Ritz diesel and did not have any mode of transport. And also hefty discounts were going on and I was calling every Hyundai dealer in the radius of 250 kms to get me the cheapest Creta possible and Shreem Hyundai had exactly what I wanted. I rode up on my Suzuki Access to the showroom, the valet still asked if I wanted him to park by bike, lol.

I spoke to them as discussed on phone and booked the car. Till the time of delivery, which was 18 days later, the sales guy was very assertive, persistent in the most polite way possible to get me to opt for the top-end one. But it wasn't in my budget. The delivery was excellent and the entire experience never felt that I was being judged in any way possible. I even took test drives of Tucson and Venue whenever I went to them in those 18 days. To conclude, I ended up giving them 3 referrals and all have had the same experience.

Here is a video clip about a similar incident from one of the famous TV shows called White Collar where a normal looking guy ends up buying a Gallardo just because he was respected in the showroom and given a test drive.

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