4.5 Stars. This is my 1st business with Santa Monica Audi. 5th Audi overall & previously leased with Audi San Diego, Audi Pacific, Audi Beverly Hills.
I did research for base MF, RV, current mkt incentives.
Had solid deal on 2019 Q5 with Fletcher Jones Audi dealerships in BH, Costa Mesa (& negotiated with Fremont). But previously @ BH, had a luke warm experience last year when leasing 2018 Q5 involving 19N4 recall Customer Incentive (that's another story). However, they made another solid offer, but they did not have the color combination I was looking for.
I discovered the inventory site on AudiUsa and reached out to 3 LA local dealers via their internet portal ~ 11pm Mon night.
Sister store Audi Fletcher Jones in Costa Mesa and also Santa Monica Audi had the exact optioned and color combination Q5 P+.
Early next morning, email from Audi FJ would match BH deal. I was planning to make my way down to CM for Black Friday. (shout out to Jon M as he was willing to do everything exclusively via email. No phone calls. No in-person visit for test drive before numbers discussion). AFJ did try to sway me with the FJ Preferred Customer benefits- lifetime car washes, vehicle/loan drop off/pick up, Audi loaners, free SNA/ONT parking. They sound nice, but I have not used any of those perks to-date on my other Audi's.
However ~same time, SMA Internet Sales & Fleet Manager, Helen S, also reached out to me & she came prepared to make a deal. Said that she could beat AFJ deal. Helen also offered SMA VIP Customer benefits lifetime car washes and same vehicle pick up/drop off. [maybe SMA should offer a VIP sticker for the lower front driver windshield as FJ does. Build dealer brand loyalty and free advertisement placement)
Helen was a joy to work with- we did almost everything exclusively via email/text and one short 2 minute call to re-confirm the exact vehicle specs after we had a working deal in hand. I received PDF of the Moroney sticker and all the financial details in written form.
She presented the offer to higher ups, & got back to me ~ 90 minutes & came back with an even better deal. (I had an aggressive deal at FJA/BH which I already knew, so we are not talking about thousands of $). I made 1 small counter and we made a deal. Pretty simple. Formal offer agreed upon was all documented via email/text. (important for later).
Here's where I had to knock off 1 star. (I'd take half off if that was option). SMA was doing a lot of business that day so Finance got backed up. Totally understandable. Had to wait ~ 50 minutes for slot to open up.
When it was my turn, I met Tegan who was very personable. We shared our distaste for SMPD Traffic Enforcement overly aggressive tactics. Fast forward, I mentioned I was going to decline all add-on packages- but she stated she has to present the options. AudiCare adds 1% to residual value and priced at $999. [online $100 off coupon]. That would leave ~ $300 to purchase and I did make a inquiry to see if I might have been able to negotiate that in. (didn't end up doing it since I didn't get a vibe that it could happen).
I was told that she would have to collect the first month payment, which I understood since it is always included in the Due At Signing (DAS). I gave her my credit card to swipe. I signed it.
This is where I have to take partial responsibility since I didn't closely scrutinize the small print on the slip. I had a negotiated deal with round, even numbers.
However, had been a long day & was ready to take delivery & get to the Rose Bowl.
When I got onto the 405, took a quick glance at my iPhone Wallet to see the charges- was shocked that I had been charged agreed upon DAS + separate 1st month on top! I called Helen right away & she said that since near closing time, she would get this cleared up the next day even though it was her day off.
Helen never abandoned me. K told her that she had stated she disclosed that she was going to charge the first month- however, it was never disclosed that it would be on top of DAS. #TrustButVerify. This is a tactic that BH has a reputation for trying.
Helen kept me in the loop & always answered me when I made an inquiry. She said to trust the process.
To be honest- was skeptical since trying to get a refund from any dealership is like winning the lottery. I could very easily seen the other short-sighted side where they said- you signed it. Bye.
Helen notified me when the refund was approved (within ~ 1 week) & again, when the check had been mailed snail mail.
Happy to report that I did receive a check for full amount of 1st payment. Shout out to GM Niko as well for being an upstanding person and honoring the written deal that we had made- though personal DM would be reassuring up front while being worked on.
Summary: Helen is awesome & so easy to deal with! Carefully check all numbers @signing w/finance to save yourself this potential issue. But despite what others have said about this dealership, I would not hesistate to do my next deal again with Helen.
I have referred my friends who are in the market for a new Audi.
Addendum Previous 2017 A4 lease return: I already made my 2nd to last payment on my previously leased Audi. There was no benefit for me to turn it in early. So I kept it another 2 weeks. Audi would take care of the last payment in their lease pull ahead program. Helen recommended that I just return the vehicle to the closest Audi dealership. However, Pacific would not provide a complimentary shuttle back home. Circle Audi website states that they would pick up lease return within 100 miles, but when I made an inquiry- they declined and only wanted to sell me a vehicle- despite me telling them I already got my new Q5.
When I mentioned this to Helen, she made me another offer- on the AM of drop off, provide the VIN number and she would prepare the return paperwork, return the car to SMA and she would get me a ride back home. 2 thumbs up!