Mazda’s Test Drive Experience: $25.00 Complimentary SCAM?

I hate to go to a dealership where the sales people are clueless!

And it’s sad, because I was going to visit a local dealership in a really good mood. I had a promo in hand where Mazda advertised a $25 e-gift card for test driving any of their new vehicles. Great! I had just done one at a competing dealership, it was a smooth transaction, so I thought it was going to be nice and quick and hopefully give me a good baseline for my future Mazda purchase, be it a CX-7 which I’ve been wanting to get for my mom for the longest time, or maybe a CX-5 which a few of my friends recommended over the discontinued model that I actually prefer.

I was happy to see a few MX-5 Miatas lined up along Route 17 where the dealership is located. Makes sense seeing them there as it’s just about winter time and nobody would probably want a convertible in the weather we are about to get. (though it pays to shop now as I bought my Miata in December and got an awesome deal on it). There was a beautiful NC too on the lot in the used section. A Mazdaspeed3 someone must have either brought for service or that was for sale by another dealership because it had a Toyota dealer tag on it. And a beautiful white CX-7 with NJ plates that too was probably waiting for a service appointment.

I walked in and asked about the promo. The salesperson asked me a question whether or not I was actually interested in buying a Mazda then and there. I answered honestly. And it looked like the salesperson was just going to satisfy the criteria of the promo for me to get the gift card without actually test driving the car. He went off to chat with his manager who gave him some BS story how I must come back with a printout of the e-mail for them to sign. I pointed out that they had to enter the code on their end to whatever web site this promotion was offered from and that’s where we hit dead end. Nobody knew what the promotion web site was for them to punch in the PIN code for me to get the gift card. I spent a good 15-20 minutes waiting while my salesman was on hold with Mazda corporate and they didn’t hear about the offer either. Go figure!

Long story short, the salesperson took my name and number and promised to call back if he hears more about the promo. I told him that I’ll reach out to the people I know and see what they say to which he replied to inform him of what I find out because he’s curious (I kind of have to if I want to get the damn gift card, right?)

And I left it at that.

Directly across the highway there’s a sister Alfa Romeo / Fiat dealership so I figured I’d stop by and take a closer look to the single Fiat 124 Spider on the lot. That experience was even weirder!

For one, as soon as you pull in, amongst all the Fiat 500’s there’s a ginormous Dodge Challenger SRT-8 with a massive shaker hood sitting there. Walk into the store and there’s another SRT-8 Hellcat right next to a Jeep Grand Cherokee (possibly SRT-8 but I didn’t bother looking because they seemed out of place). An Alfa-Romeo 4C set prominently in the middle and a few more 500’s lined the other side of the showroom floor. One salesperson came out of the back somewhere hurriedly asking if I needed help. I asked if I could get a brochure for a 124 Spider and was declined because as the dealer put it: even though he sold 20 cars and got hundreds of brochures, they went quickly! He was in a rush to get back to his customer in the back of the showroom and said he was the only one working that evening, the other two salesmen they have were off. WTF? It all seemed super odd to me…. considering many people may come car shopping just after work hours and there this guy is alone in a store basically turning prospective buyers away! SAD….

My first job out of high school was with a local Toyota dealership. We had 10 to 20 salespeople roaming around the floor on any given day all hungry and eager to grab a customer walking in because it was our objective to sell them a car. Many people bought cars because we would insist on taking each and every person on a test drive which insured we got their contact details and a way to contact them to sell them a car even if they didn’t buy it on the first day.

Neither my Mazda or my Fiat dealership experience tonight was like that which makes me wonder, how the hell do they sell cars? Even when Mazda corporate entices random prospective buyers to drag their ass to the dealership with an offer of $25 bux via gift card, the dumbass dealership can’t even follow through because they’ve never heard of that promotion. Jesus Christ! What are they doing???

So basically the promotion I posted earlier was a SCAM. It wasn’t malicious… but it was plenty useless based on the ignorance of the parties involved. I’m sure I’ll probably have the dealership reaching out to me later trying to sell me something just based on my contact details that they grabbed from me based on this promotion that I signed up for. But the experience just reinforces my previous attitude of not wanting anything to do with these clowns in the future. I’d rather buy a used car from a private party and save myself the headache….    Of course I must say: your results may vary!

Here are some shots I took today:

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It is a bit ironic, I remember driving past this dealership all summer and there was nothing but SUV’s parked out front… now for winter time they roll out the Roadsters… not smart.

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This NC3 in the USED side of the lot looked pretty sharp!

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This CX-7 is EXACTLY what I’m looking for to buy for my mom.

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However, a few people I know have now complained about visibility issues out of that truck and that the CX-5 is a much better option. Though I didn’t drive one, I got to sit in a few CX-5’s on the showroom floor… both in front (driver and passenger) and in the back seats and I agree they feel fairly comfortable. I also sat in the newest CX-9 SUV and hated the driver’s quarters… AS much as I like the idea of everything wrapping around the driver, I also like the freedom to not feel encroached especially on longer drives. The CX-9 has the same issues that my Miata has, the stupid door cup holder on my Miata has a sharp edge that has a tendency of cutting into your leg when it rests against it for a long period of time on a trip. The window switches control area on the CX-9 has the same feeling, and the huge center console pushes from the other side, so you have to maintain a perfectly straight position when driving, which isn’t always comfortable. Not a fan…. also upon closer inspection of the front grille area on the CX-9 I really can’t stand it. I don’t see why the hood has to protrude what seems like a foot beyond the furthest point on the bumper. What is that all about?

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The sole Fiat 124 Spider… the Fiata greets you when you arrive at the Alfa/Fiat dealership across the highway from the Mazda dealer.

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First thing that popped out at me being way out of place was this massive Dodge Challenger R/T sitting among all the Fiat 500’L’s It wasn’t a customer’s vehicle it was clearly being sold by this dealer, and there’s no fucking reason a Dodge should be sold by Alfa/Fiat!

I do understand the news that many Fiat dealerships aren’t doing so well and are being closed with car inventories being shifted over into Chrysler/Dodge/Ram stores. That makes sense. I have no issue seeing Fiat at Dodge dealers. But the other way around feels wrong!

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And there were two more Mopars inside on the showroom floor. I came to see fucking Abarth there not Mopars… come on Fiat, get your shit together!

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Hard to look at an Alfa-Romeo as a halo vehicle when all of it’s performance figures are absurdly dwarfed by the Hellcat across…

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I think the best part about Fiata’s appeal if the relationship with Mazda doesn’t work out, will be their cost. Already the window sticker is priced lower than a similarly equipped MX-5 at the dealership across the highway. Notice also the scale of how much of the car was build where… 75% Japan, 20% Italy what’s the other 5%?

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I left home happy with the prospect of test driving a Mazda I potentially will buy in the near future… and score a few bux thanks to a promo. And came home fucking disappointed. That’s really not the way a dealership experience should go. Oh well!