"Disrespectful, unpleasant, and downright awful"
- Allison Gray
My experience in dealing with Bernardi Acura of Boston was (has been) a fantastic example of the worst customer service, coupled with the worst disposition of people, and excessive dishonesty. As a first time, female, car buyer, the experience presents itself in a rather intimidating way. This is going to be lengthy and thorough.
Upon walking in the doors, I was greeted and asked to wait for the next sales representative. This is perhaps the single most positive part of my experience. I was matched with a man in sales named Rick, and I felt as though my concerns lessened a bit, and Rick remains the only person I will speak with at this dealership. After a test drive and a short negotiation, I was excited to have found a used car that fit my wants and needs and was prepared to purchase a 2011 Subaru Forester.
First roadblock: although I came prepared with my own financing, the "business manager" felt free to take an hour to look for additional financing, trying to help me get the best rate that I can. He eventually came out to where I was seated to ask me a few questions about the financing I had been approved for through my own bank. I pulled up the information on my phone, which he snatched out of my hands and felt free to scroll through looking for the information he wanted. Scrolling through my bank accounts, on my phone, without permission. He took screenshots to "save me time later" and handed me back my phone. This man had NO REASON or right to go through my personal financial information and I questioned him, asked for my phone back, and told him that his actions were unprofessional.
Once we finally decided that we would use the financing I already had available, we sat in his office as I asked questions about what I was looking at and about what was needed. Remember: first time car buyer. I'd like to learn as much as I can about the process so that I know what to expect next time. My questions were brushed off and technical terms were used to get me away from my questions as we finally called my financial institution. When I was prompted with the question of how much my total loan was to be, a paper was slid on top of the form I had signed in the lobby with our agreement. The final price on this form, did not match the one that I had signed and agreed to! I was informed that the other form was missing the tax, I had asked about this twice and was told that it had been rolled into my down payment already and that it was taken care of. I asked the man on the phone to wait as I asked more about this magical new form where $912 worth of taxes had been added after I signed and agreed to another form, and asked why this was the first time I was seeing this form, while on the phone with my bank.
After deciding that it was, in fact, a reasonable number to be found on that form (although he would not take the time to actually explain it to a first time car buyer why I was seemingly being intentionally confused), we pushed forward, eventually finishing up the paperwork and my new-to-me car would be delivered the following Tuesday (this was on a Thursday). MA state law requires that they deliver the car to the registry, I live in RI. So see you Tuesday Rick! I'm so excited to have my new car! I left the dealership practically in tears after being so stressed and felt taken advantage of by this "business manager." Yes, I am female. No, crying is not usually how I deal with stress. Yes, there were many tears shed over the course of this entire experience.
And I was in need of said new-to-me car, as my old Yukon broke down on my way home from the dealership. She had seen enough.
Tuesday comes and I am thrilled to meet Rick at the registry in RI and have the entire process finalized. I was able to make an additional payment to the dealership to make up for my loss of a trade in, and had already been able to sell it to a private buyer, I was ready to be done with this process. We sit at the registry from around 9:30am-1:30pm before Rick is informed that we could have gone through the process as a normal person, and not as a dealership, since I was present. It would have been nice to have known this in advance, and I guess Rick could have asked, but, I do not blame Rick and was happy to sit and chat with him for a few hours as we seemed to get along just fine.
Here's where it gets even better. As we went to leave the registry, plates on, me excited, hands shook between Rick and I, I've done it! Got through the whole process! I notice that my new car hesitates as it turns over and I needed to hold the key over a little longer to get it started. With a little embarrassment, I chalk it up as a new-to-me car that I'm not used to and happily drive away. That evening I notice a headlight out. Frustrating, but certainly manageable. I do most of the maintenance on my cars myself.
The next morning (Wednesday) I notice the same hesitation, but it was not until that evening that my car wouldn't start when I went to leave work. Turned and held the key for upwards of 5-8 seconds and had to try 3 times to get it started. Being a fairly car (and boat) savvy person, I assumed it was a battery with either not enough crank power for the cold, or that needed to be replaced due to age. I called Bernardi that evening and left a message for the service manager.
The next morning (Thursday) I had not heard back yet by 9:30 and the car needs to be inspected within 5 business day according to state law, and I was flying out to Florida Friday morning at 5:35am. This needed to be solved today. I called, made an appointment to come in, left work, drove to Boston, and waited to hear the prognosis. A very nice gentleman named John helped me in their service department (but there are 3 johns and no one at the dealership seems to be able to pause long enough to tell me his last name in a way that I can hear and understand). He said that they would need to hang onto the car overnight (and therefore through the weekend) and I could take a courtesy car. This was appreciated. Remember though, that I have only owned the car for TWO days at this point. So I leave and go to Florida the next day (Friday).
Friday, John calls and very clearly explains to me what is going on, I take notes so that I can look it up later, and he informs me that it will need to be addressed at the Subaru dealership near me and of course, Bernardi will cover it. Great, here's the dealership I'd like to go to, I have an appointment for 7:30am Tuesday, and Bernardi will come to collect their car on Monday.
Monday rolls around and I have not heard from the driver in my car bringing it back to RI. I call, reaching their dreadfully rude receptionist and she connects me to the wrong John, but won't listen to me long enough to determine which John I am looking for. John calls the driver and calls me back. I figure this is a good time to call the Subaru dealer and double check my appointment time and how long the service will take, as I have now lost almost 3 days of work to having to deal with this new-to-me car that I am starting to become annoyed with trying to actually possess. The Subaru dealership has no record of an appointment for me and checks my vin to determine that this service has already been performed through a recall! Now I feel lied to so I call John back.
I explain to John that this is unacceptable and he agrees saying that is not what had been agreed upon on Friday. We confirm the correct phone number for Subaru and he says he will call me back. This is all before noon. By almost 3pm I am concerned that I will not be able to reach someone at Bernardi in time before they close to understand what is supposed to be happening. I call, hoping to reach anyone I have already spoken with to get some help. The receptionist won't let me complete a sentence or tell her the name of who I am actually looking for. In fact, she got to a point where she recognized my phone number and wouldn't even answer and forward me to the voicemail of the service department, even though I was now looking for Rick in sales. I called from my office phone instead, she rudely and curtly corrected me on my pronunciation of Rick's last name and I finally reached him. Livid, I explained the situation and said that I did not want to hear from anyone else who works at that dealership and that I was ready to return my vehicle for a full refund. Rick goes to find John and says he will call me back in less than 10 minutes. John calls me back and I informed him that I did not want to speak to him any longer, I would only communicate with Rick. John continued and informed me that he had spoken with a "nice man" named Peter at the Subaru dealership and that he would take care of me at 8am Tuesday morning. I told John that I thought he was a nice guy and yet he lied to me and deceived me so I asked for Peter's direct phone number so that I could call and confirm everything myself. I also mentioned that John and all of the other "nice guys" at Bernardi ought to be ashamed of themselves and that their mothers would be ashamed of them for lying and treating another human this poorly, this might have been a bit of an overreaction, but it's too late to take it back now.
I called Peter and while I was on the phone with him Bernardi called and left a voicemail with him as well, I assume to let him know that some psychotic woman was going to be getting in touch with him. Peter then confirmed my appointment and mentioned that Bernardi was probably wrong about the service needed but that he'd get me on my way.
Which brings me all the way to today, Tuesday morning while I am sitting in the Subaru dealership, after having had a very positive interaction with the service staff here, writing this novel so that SOMEONE at Acura or maybe Bernardi recognizes the god awful service that has been handed to me after purchasing a car just shy of 2 weeks ago.
Bernardi's contact for Peter, at Subaru, has now refused to answer his phone for the last 45 minutes and Peter has sought my help in trying to contact them, for payment, so that I can leave. So I call, rude receptionist, connected to service, poor new guy who has no idea what I'm talking about, offers to connect me to someone's voicemail (this was a mistake), wound up connected to the service manager Eddie who decided that he could give me some kind of sass when I asked about why someone wouldn't pick up a call that they knew was coming in.
I OUGHT to seek restitution for my time away from work, almost 4 entire days, my mileage on my new-to-me car, gas money (since my car was returned to me with less than a quarter of a tank), and the deductible for a mental health counselor as this experience has all but bred some awesome new trust issues. I would settle instead for roasting them on the internet hoping that someone will read this and it will make some sort of difference in the way people will be treated.