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Email Ping-pong with Car Salesmen

I am beginning to think that I can no longer communicate with my fellow American. Sure, you expect this kind of thing when calling 'customer service' or some kind of 'call center'. But that is because you are calling India.

Lately I have been drowning while playing email ping-pong with car salesmen. Yes...the great day of replacing my 1995 Ford Econoline van, with 292,000 miles on it, is approaching. But the ping-pong is driving me crazy.

It is understandable that we could all stand some improvement in our email style -- after all, none of us was taught in grade school how to write useful email. But car salesmen are professionals, so they should be good at writing emails.

Now, I needn't reiterate my rant against pronouns, acronyms, and abbreviations. What these guys need to learn how to do is write a self-contained message, because only then is it actionable.

For instance, they start off saying, "But that car is not..."  Which car is "that" car? The conversational thread has broken into a dozen dealerships and motor vehicles. He should refer to a stock number on the vehicle, or give a link to the advertisement in question. I simply can't act on his partial message.

The other vice in their style of communication is the use of vague adjectives or nomenclature. "Locking differential" or "differential locker" or "limited slip differential." They use different jargon for the same object. I need them to use a unique alphanumeric code, such as the "G80" differential on General Motors van and trucks. These "RPO codes" are unambiguously listed on the sticker in the glove box or the passenger side door jamb. And why not just show a photo of the RPO sticker in the advertisement, and spare the customer all that confusing verbiage?!

  1. Stop telling me that the vehicle has a CD player and intermittent windshield wipers. 
  2. Give the powertrain facts at the beginning of the writeup. Don't tell me it has a V8 engine, when the manufacturer makes three different V8 engines for that model. Don't describe it as a "gas" engine when you mean "gasoline," and then waste my time by talking about a compressed natural gas engine that nobody wants to buy. 
  3. Push all the bells & whistles to the end. 
  4. Stop hiding the $1100 dealer preparation or destination fee in the fine print.

Nevertheless, my pulse is picking up these days as I get closer and closer to making the kill. 



Ed said…
You are dealing with the 'telephone' user versus the writer. Since I don't use the telephone much, almost never, I get a LOT of practice doing what you are faced with. How many different dealers did you contact before you got one to even REPLY to an email?

My prediction is that by 2100 the vast majority of the people in the United States will not know how to read and write it will once again be an oral society.
Ed, yes indeed, in the old days, car salesman were skilled telephone talkers. But these days, the robo-callers have killed voice calls. So the car salesman better learn how to write emails!

But I wouldn't bother communicating with the salesmen at all if they would just put a photo of the RPO code sticker in the advertisement.
Anonymous said…
As you get closer to "making the kill", aren't you going to share with your faithful readers what kind of a replacement vehicle you are considering? After all, we need a little time to influence your buying decision.

Chris, After all my boasting about doing something exciting, like getting a new Jeep pickup truck, I will be taking a conservative approach, and replacing my Ford Econoline E-250 (three quarter ton) cargo van with the modern equivalent: a GMC Savana or Chevy Express cargo van with the VORTEC engine, not the ECOTEC engine that went in beginning in model year 2018.

This is pretty boring, since there isn't much that will be new, other than air conditioning and a 6 speed transmission (instead of 4).

But there is one thing I can get excited about: if I manage to find a van with the G80 locking differential in the rear. I doubt I will ever spring for the $13,000 aftermarket upgrade to four wheel drive.
2 CooPs said…
I have always been baffled at your country's use of the word gas to describe liquid fuel. Much of the rest of the English-speaking world calls it petrol, which avoids the confusion.
2 coops, who cares what the rest of the English-speaking world says, because we are the Indispensable country. Grin.
Anonymous said…
292,000 miles! Then my 2003 Ford E250 with 175,000 miles has a great future ahead.
Anonymous, yes indeed, at 175,000 miles, you are barely broken in!

Of course, your's has a Triton engine in it, doesn't it? My 1995 has the Windsor generation engine, which pre-dates the Triton. I don't much about the Triton, except for the controversies it got into the first couple years when spitting out spark plugs.