"Worst car buying experience at any dealership in my 25..."
- Jon McCaskey
Worst car buying experience at any dealership in my 25 years of being able to purchase a used or new vehicle from an automotive manufacturing company. This "new" 2020 Nissan Murano SL AWD Sunset Drift ChromaFlair was going to be my 4th new Murano in 6 years! I had VPP pricing for my 2015 Platinum AWD level Gun Metallic/Graphite, 2016 Platinum AWD level Gun Metallic/Mocha, but wasn't working for a company that qualified for the discount for my 2019 SL AWD Gun Metallic/Graphite. My wife and kids finally talked me into getting a non-dark gray vehicle and the "chameleon" Sunset Drift ChromaFlair Pearl color caught my eye.
On 9/8, the last day of the Nissan incentives, I was able to locate 3 SL AWD's within 330 miles of my home - Beaver County Nissan in Beaver Falls, PA; Hawkinson Nissan in Matteson, IL; and Elhart Nissan in Holland, MI. I also located 2 Platinum Sunset Muranos at Warner Nissan in Findlay, OH and Fox Ann Arbor Nissan in Ann Arbor, MI. I preferred the SL because it has the original spin wheels/rims which are easier to clean than the darker platinum wheels with narrow inserts. To me, it wasn't worth the extra money only to have the quilted seats with the cooling option and the wood trim so for a few thousand less the SL in my opinion was the best value. I chose this dealership after learning that they are the 2020 Dealer of the Year State Winner in Michigan and had over 1,225 positive reviews on Dealerrater. However, my experience was near the complete opposite end of the spectrum!
Tuesday morning 9/8, I called the Elhart dealership to confirm that they still had the vehicle and asked if it had 14 miles on the odometer like the pictures displayed on their website, my salesperson - Evan Wright - said he'd check and get back with me. Evan called me back a few minutes later and said, "It has a few more miles on it", I said, "Less than 20?, Maybe due to moving it around the lot?" and Evan replied, "Yes". At this point, I expressed my intent to purchase the vehicle and provided my credit card, and driver's license via text message to hold the vehicle and told him I'd be there in 5 hours which was 2 hours before the dealership was going to close that day 5:30pm. I live in Cleveland, Ohio and Waze / Mapquest said it would take 4:48. I arrived at the dealership as promised on time and I provided several eta's during my drive to Evan which he replied "Copy".
The dealership (Jeff DeNeff-New Sales Manager) was only willing to offer me $28,000 for my trade (2019 Nissan Murano SL AWD with 19,302 miles and over $1,500 worth of additional amenities on it with 3M tint at 50%, 10 year transferable warranty to the next owner of the vehicle (9 years as I had the car almost a year to date), extra ceramic coating had been applied to the entire front of the vehicle including but not limited to the grill, headlights, badging, and the entire hood to protect against bugs, tar, and any other chemicals/elements that are exposed to the vehicle over the course of a year. The vehicle also had PremiumShield (which is a paint protection film that provides maximum protection for paint while maintaining optical invisibility) on the first 6" of the hood, both mirrors, and the 4 door cups/guards - that came with a lifetime warranty for the next owner because I again provided the original paperwork. Elhart (aka Jeff DeNeff/Robert Gibson) kept low-balling my trade. The $28,000 trade offer was laughable given that they had the same model in Black on their CPO lot with 16,424 miles without the extra $1,500 of protection and were asking $33,000, the selling price has now been reduced to $32,000 as of 9/18. My CPO Murano trade is now on the Elhart website as Stock: KN150160 asking $31,000. I had already visited 2 local dealerships the weekend before making this car purchase and negotiated out-the-door pricing at 4 additional dealerships and knew that Nissan's threshold for the vehicle is/was $31,000 - That didn't matter if it had 10 miles on it or 30,000 miles with every imaginable option (trailer package, alloy wheels, roof rails, ski rack, custom paint - all accessories are viewed as worthless in terms of Trade-In value allowed). The other dealerships all offered me at least $29,800; one was at $30,300 and the highest (Warner Nissan in Findlay, OH was $30,500). The $30,000 level was a fair number I could live with as I'd save money on the taxes given the trade and I didn't want to bother selling it Private Party. Long story short, Elhart made me wait a few hours before agreeing to come up even after I showed them several signed deals. Actually, I had a deal with Warner Nissan in Findlay, OH for the Platinum trim that was LOWER than the original out-the-door price Evan Wright slid across the desk to me!!!! After waiting over 6 hours inside the Elhart dealership (my drive there was just under 5 hours....), Jeff DeNeff & Robert Gibson decided to accept my offer and increased my trade value to $30,000. This identifical win-win scenario had been presented/offered by me before 3:00pm as I wanted to make efficient use of everyone's time and it was now after 8:30pm and I hadn't even made it to the Finance Department - They'd make money on my trade, it would turn quickly given the condition of the vehicle and transferable warranties and they'd make money from me because I always purchase extended service plans and wheel & tire coverage and I'd also get the Nissan survey which if I was able to provide all 10's they'd get a kickback/chunk of change from Nissan. My credit score was in the 800's and I could have paid cash for the vehicle but I only get a few opportunities to use credit and they assured me there isn't a pre-paid penalty so I preferred to keep my money invested.
During the signing phase in Finance 8:45pm, Mark Shoe explained all the coverages but only showed how my final monthly payments would be adjusted at the bottom of his prepared selling sheet. On paper it's easy to see which choice makes the most sense in regards to his limited data options listed - "The Bundle", which is sold as an "Over & Above Nissan's standard basic warranties" - Mark said, "Our extended plans cover the keys, dings & dents, repairs at any garage and not just at Nissan-only dealerships. He referenced North Dakota and said there's no Nissan's there but Joe's garage can do the repair and have you on the road in no time. **A quick Google search on my iPhone revealed 4 Nissan dealerships in North Dakota**. Elhart charged me $2,887 for the extended service plan, $1,195 for the wheel & tire Service Contract #2, and $895 for Gap insurance. The out-the-door deals I had previously negotiated at 4 other Nissan dealerships and so openly shared with Evan Wright, Jeff DeNeff, and Robert Gibson during my first offer at 3:00pm was that I was only willing to pay $1,600 for the extended service plan, $600 for the wheel & tire service contract 2 plan, and $499 for the Gap coverage. Given my 8% tax rate Elhart charged me $5,048.60 for the same coverages I could have gotten locally for $2,914.92 a DIFFERENCE of $2,133.68. Hopefully, people read this review and don't purchase these products from Elhart - If you did, you can cancel your insurances, receive a refund and purchase the same coverages for less at another Nissan dealership-believe me, they want your business. Save yourself your hard earned money. Please note - you can only get Gap insurance at the dealership you purchased the vehicle from, in any event, hopefully a future customer reads this review of this dealership and will negotiate their Gap coverage price to $499 instead of paying $895 which is a savings of $396 dollars!
Now we're just starting to get to the good (I'm being Sarcastic) stuff. During the odometer statement disclosure portion of my document signing, I noticed it said 211 miles. I asked if this was a misprint and questioned if it should be 21 miles because I called in advance and was told after Evan Wright looked at the vehicle that it had a few more miles than 14 but when I asked if it was less than 20 he said "Yes". This is important because when the vehicle was delivered to me outside in a poorly lit part of their parking lot, I noticed damage to the clearcoat on the hood and a ding/dent on the driver's door on the body line 10" left of the door handle. Elhart closed the dealership and I was ready to start my 5 hour journey back to Cleveland. After pulling out of the lot, I immediately noticed the car pulling to the left. This was odd given it was sold as a "new" car but it did have 211 miles on it. I've driven many rental cars with better handling than this over the years and this was my 4th new Murano in 6 years so I should know the vehicle as I've driven over 300,000 miles in Muranos. During my ride home, the radio cut in and out, it didn't matter if it was FM, AM, Sirius, or AppleCar Play with my phone plugged in or not. The volume button would turn up but the actual sound would not increase, then there were times when it would be a 6 second delay and then the volume would spike and the volume wouldn't go below 5. The screen also went blank/black during periods of time during my journey home. The next day the views rapidly switched from front camera to main radio display without pushing any of the buttons while I was in a McDonald's drive thru. The car was to be properly cleaned and prepared for a complete ceramic coat to showcase the intense unique pearl color Sunset Drift ChromaFlair but when my team was cleaning the vehicle they found 6 additional areas that need a paint correction before even considering to apply ceramic coat to the vehicle. When the vehicle was lifted to remove the wheels to be prepared for ceramic coating the faces of the rims, a significant amount of sand and dirt was discovered in the underbody, the front emblem/main Nissan badge had 2 areas with deep scratches thru the chrome, there was a gash in the dash on the front passenger's interior. Everything was documented and I immediately sent this dealership an email with pictures and expressed my concerns because the list was extensive when you add everything up there wasn't too much of the vehicle that was in good/acceptable condition. The radio unit alone is $5,000 - $6,000. Elhart (Jeff DeNeff) suggested driving the vehicle back to them the next day and they would make the necessary repairs to correct the mistake. The "Be Nice" level of service from them would have been to properly disclose to me when I called in the morning that the actual miles on the vehicle were 211, the car in it's current condition has several areas of the clear coat that need a paint correction and we'd like to make sure the radio is working properly before we deliver the vehicle to you or anyone else who expresses interest in purchasing it. I wasn't about to do another marathon trip as I had prior commitments but their next suggestion was for me to pay to have it transported to them approximately $250 and then I could pick up the car when it was done... So, I'd have to rent a car and make another trip to & back to get my "new" vehicle. Then, Jeff DeNeff suggested bringing a loaner to Cleveland and taking my car - Why would I let anyone from the Elhart dealership drive my car especially when they clearly already abused the vehicle and tried to pass it off as "new" I could only imagine how much worse it might have gotten if I went with that option. I didn't want any additional miles on the vehicle than there already were and offered to take the vehicle to any paint specialist they suggested to get quotes on how much a repair would cost. The most efficient and cost effective plan to resolve the issue(s) ASAP. After providing a quote for $1,080 - ($1,000 for a level-3 paint correction because so much of the car needs addressed to have it look as it should have when it rolled off the assembly line and after passing Nissan's Quality Control for best results the entire car needs prepared and coated and the ding/dent was estimated at $80 given the location on the main body line of the door). I ended up dropping the vehicle off at a local Nissan dealership and had them communicate directly with Elhart rather than billing me full price labor and parts AND then being reimbursed by Elhart - which is the route they wanted to go! The local dealership called them multiple times a day for 3 days in a row and left messages both via the main line and on the New Car Sales Manager's mobile number - Jeff DeNeff. I guess the "Be Nice" doesn't include the common courtesy of respect for another individual and it doesn't continue after a customer leaves their lot. I know Jeff didn't want to deal with me but this was another dealership trying to work with Elhart to resolve a Nissan customer's issue in a quick timely manner. After my local service manager informed me of the extent they had gone to communicate with Elhart, I called Jeff DeNeff and confirmed his mailbox was full and unable to receive messages!!!! I then called Robert Gibson the General Manager, I wanted to know if Jeff DeNeff was still an employee or not and why he couldn't return my local dealers multiple calls, messages over a 3 day period, then I called Jeff Elhart the owner and left him a message of the types of employees he had working for him. You can "Be Nice" and do what you say and what you put out to the world in forms of social media, website, extensive advertising and the little jingles on your employees voicemail messages but if that's not how you truly act in reality then it's probably wise to remove all that cause you're just full of it. I took the time to write this because I don't want anyone else to experience what I did at this dealership. I'm not sure how Evan Wright or Jeff DeNeff can look at themselves in the mirror and feel good about the person looking back at them. I can only control my action(s)/reaction to any given situation and from a consumer's standpoint - No more Mr. Nice Guy. Here we are going on 10 days after purchasing this vehicle and the paint still hasn't been corrected. It turns out, the alignment checked out with Nissan's tolerances, the power steering fluid was changed and the vehicle stays fairly straight (a huge improvement from when I left the Elhart lot and drove over 300 miles...), the badging was replaced for $45, and the radio needed 3 software updates-haven't had any radio issues since the software updates. Jeff said Elhart is fine with the ding/dent repair for $80 when they can probably do it for $60 - really??? Maybe they are just upset that I cancelled all my over inflated coverages they tried to sell me. Maybe they are upset because I'm going to tell all my clients, co-workers, family & friends about my experience with this particular dealership in Michigan. Maybe they are upset because I refused to file a warranty claim with Nissan for the paint correction because ethically, Nissan's Quality Control department would have NEVER signed off on this vehicle's clearcoat damage nor the hard left pulling alignment issue nor the numerous radio issues. I exhausted all the time, energy, and resources with this dealership and their lackluster effort to resolve the issues. Nissan is handling the matter and dealing directly with this dealership because I informed them that my experience was so awful and given the history with the brand that I always get compliments on how sharp my vehicles look (the tint (for heat reduction for clients and my kids, privacy, and cool look) ceramic coating showing the depth of the metallic paint, and premiumshield another protection against bugs, tar, road chemicals. I'm ready to make the switch to one of the following vehicles: Honda Passport, VW Atlas, Toyota Venza, Hyundai Santa Fe, Subaru Outback, Ford Edge, Toyota 4-Runner, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevrolet Blazer.
*** I would like to recognize the world-class superior service that Evan Wright extended to me when he not only purchased but picked up a Strawberries & Goat Cheese salad ($14) and Pepperoni Pinwheel ($13) appetizers from New Holland Brewing (even after I offered to pay) that we shared with his colleague Ben Comai - both were Excellent and Much Appreciated since I hadn't had the opportunity to eat something since 7:00am that day which was more than a 12-hour stretch between meals. Thank you Evan! ****