I would like to tell you about my Browns Car Store experience. Let me preface my email by saying, that until this week, I had two previous pleasant car buying experiences with Brown’s Chantilly Mazda. My wife and I have now purchased three cars from Jeff James in the last three years. Jeff James has always been a very knowledgeable, friendly, and professional salesperson. However, we will most likely never be able to purchase a car from Jeff again because of our last experience in your store, Brown’s Chantilly Mazda.
On August 31st, 2013, I came into Browns Chantilly Mazda to trade in my Mazda 3 and purchase a new car. While I enjoyed driving this car, it was no longer a good fit for me or my family. It was a 2011 3i Touring with 14,500 miles on it. After discussing with Jeff, I test drove a number of pre-owned SUVs as well as a new Mazda CX-5. My two top picks were a Toyota FJ cruiser and a Mazda CX-5. While both vehicles were extremely different, they both had that fun factor I was looking for. After discussing with Jeff, I decided to take a chance on the FJ, I even paid extra to have leather seats installed.
The next day my wife and I decided to take a drive down to Richmond in our new Voodoo Blue FJ. We had a great trip down to Carytown in RVA and had no complaints whatsoever. On Monday, we headed back to Loudoun County. While driving up an on-ramp to 95, a car came too close for comfort. I immediately hit the accelerator to get passed the vehicle merging into our lane; however the FJ did not accelerate. Instead, the FJ rpms went way up, while it stayed at the same speed. The lasted for about two long seconds until the FJ finally kicked and threw us forward in our seats.
Obviously concerned, I took the FJ to a mechanic the very next morning to get a full work up on the car. I was told that the transmission, front brakes, power train, specifically the rear differential, needed to be serviced. The technician specifically referred to there being significant amounts of metal. He also clarified, that while finding some metal is typical, the amount he wiped off the plug was not normal considering the transmission had just been flushed.
Now even more concerned, I immediately drove the car back to Brown’s Chantilly Mazda. I arrived at 10:30am. After learning that Jeff would not be in until 1pm, I asked to speak with a sales manager. I explained the above events to him and he immediately informed me that the used car manager was off that day, and asked if I could wait one more day. I informed him that I didn’t feel comfortable waiting a day as the grace period to exchange this vehicle expired in one day. I waited outside his office a number of times while he discussed the situation with the used car manager over the phone. He then walked me over to the service department. The service department said they could not look at the vehicle that day, but said they would look at it tomorrow. I then asked the manager what my options were, and he again, reiterated that he was not the used car manager and it would be better for me to wait until tomorrow.
Now getting frustrated and feeling a little brushed off, I told him that I wanted to exchange the car today. I asked him what kind of car I could exchange it for, and he informed me, after briefly confirming with another salesperson in his office, that the vehicle could be exchanged for a new or used car. I thought this was great news, considering the only other vehicle I liked was the CX-5 and we had already priced it out on the 31st. Now almost 12pm, the sales manager offered to have another sales associate take me for a test drive but also said I could wait for Jeff. Being a loyal customer, I opted to wait for Jeff and pulled out my bagged lunch which I planned on eating at work that day. At 1PM Jeff arrived and I started to feel more comfortable that this situation was getting close to being resolved. We would switch to the new CX-5 and all would be well. However, another sales manager arrived. And it’s as if the previous 3 hours never happened. This manager started from the beginning again, as if there was nothing wrong with the FJ. Contrary to the previous manager and sales associate, he explained to me that Browns policy would only allow me to exchange for another used car today. And I could only exchange for a new car, if I went through a process which could take “a few days” to confirm a problem with the FJ or if the service manager could recreate the problem during a test drive. How quickly things had changed.
I was again introduced to the service manager. I described the issue again, and he agreed to go for a drive. Within the first hundred feet and first stop sign, the service manager applied the gas; the car engine revved up and then bucked us forward. He explained that this was a common occurrence known as “gear hunting.” OK, I may not be a mechanic but transmissions are designed to go into the right gear every time. He then proceeded to drive down and up route 28 revving the engine. As I explained to the sales manager before embarking on this “test” drive, the problem only occurred twice on our trip to Richmond, so I’m not sure if the car would recreate the problem again. After returning, the sales manager said that he would only exchange the car for another used car on the lot.
After already surveying the other used cars in your lot I reluctantly agreed to test drive a couple other used cars. Long story short, I didn’t want either of them. However, given the choice of action today or questionable action tomorrow, combined with the fact that it was now approaching my fourth hour at your dealership, I picked a Nissan Murano. A nice car, about a thousand dollars more expensive and something my mother would drive, but a nice car. However, this nice car had a very odd smell to it. The finance person, not the service technician was kind enough to order a new cabin filter for my car after discovering the original cabin filter had never been changed. During the next several hours I waited for the Murano to be washed and for the cabin filter to be changed. Since the finance employee was the only individual who knew how to change the cabin filter, I waited until approximately 5 PM to leave your dealership. I repeat, none of the service people knew how to change the air filter. These are the same individuals I was meant to trust diagnosing the problems with the FJ Cruiser. I watched the manager who initially greeted me in the morning, get-off work while I continued to wait.
To summarize, after 12 hours in your dealership between two different days, I’m driving away with a higher car payment for a car I really don’t want because you sold me a car with real problems. This was not a buy happy experience and I have lost complete confidence in your dealership and your brand. I will most likely trade this car in, at a significant loss, to another dealership that will hopefully do the best to keep my business, not the very minimum.
Your dealership failed to provide good and very basic service at multiple levels here, I can only hope that someone in your office will recognize this and make attempts to fix them moving forward.
Mr. Scott D Fogelgren