I have had the fortunate experience of having purchased and leased many vehicles from BMW, Porsche, Mercedes, and Audi over the years. This particular situation we had already decided to purchase the Golf R. Our first visit to Trend was met with a surprise. Upon entering the showroom a sales person approached us almost immediately and asked how we could be helped. I replied by stating we are interested in buying a Golf R and I would love to drive one, I had never driven a Golf. I could not have been handled more abruptly. I was told, “absolutely not, we don’t allow that.” Never having encountered such a quick and negative response during car buying, I explained how I wanted to buy one and would need to drive it, because never would I make a purchase without test driving. I was told it was corporate policy, sorry, and we left without even an attempt to convince us to spend money. Keep in mind, I know what I want and have the money.
My second mistake was to give the dealership a second chance by using the USAA online car buying service. USAA put us in touch with Stephen, who although inexperienced was a fantastic guy to deal with. He is not to blame for this review. We were given a test drive, loved the car, and in days decided to buy. A deposit was given and throughout the process, I communicated several times to more than one employee how USAA would be my preferred financing. USAA has benefits for military families worth more than dealer financing. We made the appointment to pay for the vehicle, which is where the third strike occurred.
Unfortunately, at Trend, old school, “let me talk to the manager” style tactics are in full play. The pressure comes in as I imagine one would see at a Chrysler, Honda, or Dodge dealership. Pushing that aside, I am fully prepared to purchase a vehicle despite having to endure the old time sales circus act. Having been in sales for many years in the past, I believe a well trained professional staff would have listened to the customer throughout the communication process and taken note of what I wanted. This is where I made my final mistake. Having delt with higher end dealerships for so long, I perhaps fell victim to a bit of complacency and expected to be able to write a check for greater than a $2,500 down payment. Keep in mind no one told me about the dealership requirements before I prepped my vehicle for trade in. One by one we had to meet the staff, finance manager and a cadre of others before learning this was not possible. A few takeaways here became almost immediately clear during these interactions. Here was the experience:
1. Not financing through VW was called “being thrown for a loop last minute” by one employee.
That was not the case, nor should it ever have been communicated in such a way. It was clear to
that since I couldn’t be convinced to apply for in house financing, I became less attractive.
2. The car was $800 under MSRP. Hardly any favors were given to warrant me feeling compelled to
abandon an option to finance on my own.
3. My trade in was undervalued by $1800 in comparison to Porsche, Audi and BMW. And all three
other vehicles had thousands in incentives. The salespersons knew this, and yet I still wanted the car
and was willing to forgo the expense for it. I made the effort.
4. When we pulled in the lot, we noticed the car was not detailed prior to our arrival. Pressure to
purchase a polymer coating for additional cost was clearly the reason. This could have been
brought to our attention days ago to expedite the delivery process.
5. Financing. Once learned there were low limits placed on the usage of credit cards and personal
checks, I realized we would have to wait at least one week to 10 days to get a cashiers check to take
delivery. Since we bank entirely online with a credit union and moved large funds prior to the
delivery date for this purchase, I would now need to move funds a second time again to a bank
where I could obtain a cashiers check. This would cause the significant delay. Ok, again I recognize
this was a unique situation born from previous experiences where placing a large amount of cash
on a personal check and/or credit card was never a subject of discussion. This could of been
avoided if we during our communication someone told us about the accepted methods of down
6. This deal had already taken several hours, the options presented to me were not great; to just
finance the whole car, wait for financing to contact the dealership owner to get permission to
extend these limitations, or just keep the car on deposit and come back in a week and a half. With
excellent credit and money in hand, this is when I then heard the remark about having been
“thrown for a loop with using USAA, and how they are difficult to deal with on the phone.“ Very
uncomfortable, and reminded me of the first day we walked into Trend. I knew that was enough. It
should not be this difficult, it was then clear to me that we made a mistake and the dealership was
not for us. No one was going the extra mile, it felt as if we were unreasonable or annoying.
7. We made sure to tell management not to blame Stephen, but we had made an error (in going to
Trend), stopped the purchase and they processed our deposit for return.
After hearing my story about VW, 30 minutes after leaving Trend, Audi volunteered (offered without suggestion) to solve my problem by taking a credit card for a large down payment (to get points they suggested to use Amex or any card for whatever amount I wanted) and I then drove away in an heavily discounted (-$6500) brand new loaded Audi S3 for less than a Golf R. They provided lunch, no pressure sales, and we bought some extras with actual value to us. It took less time to start and finish that deal and drive away in a new car, then it did for us to dodge the pressure to purchase a polymer treatment gimmick and meet a the pressure driven Trend finance manager (Mike?). Did I mention my payment was lower and I accepted same day delivery on a fully loaded S3 and I received $1800 more for my trade in?
Summary: I’ll share some blame here with unknowingly thinking Trend VW was capable of accommodating a customer outside the box, my thinking that an obvious loyal customer to other German brands would make me an attractive buyer, I also learned a lesson on how some or most dealerships take down payments. There was no effort to swoon us at any time, or convince us VW would love to have us as repeat customers. The VW Golf R seemed afterward to be almost forcibly promoted by the dealer as rare or coveted, warranting unenthusiastic treatment of potential buyers. One salesperson mentioned only 500 come over to the US. With over 4,000 American market deliveries, it’s not. It may be a very nice VW, unique to some degree in the segment, worthy of praise for its engineering, but it was not worthy of being sold at VW dealerships like Trend. I wish the car should be considered rebranded, updated, and sold at Audi. The dealership style here is undesirable at best, and if you come expecting “typisch” German brand treatment, you will be disappointed. In the end it was a proven step back from the other brands, I learned a lot about VW, as if deiselgate wasn’t enough. A bit of a ‘told you so’ moment for friends who warned me to stay clear.