Author Topic: New Member and my Alfa Romeo (attempted) buying experience  (Read 2282 times)

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New Member and my Alfa Romeo (attempted) buying experience
« on: January 17, 2021, 05:33:37 PM »
This (lengthy) post has been a brewing a while and I have specfically decided not to name the dealers, but to be honest, those half switched on will be able to work it out easy enough.

I am a repeat BMW and Porsche buyer, normally alternating between the two.  When the Giulia Quadrifoglio came out in 2017 it peaked my interested as the car ticked many boxes but my ownership cycle was out of sequence as I was focused on buying a Porsche GT3 which occurred in November 2018.

In September 2019 I decided to sell the GT3 and put it on the market in January 2020, at the same time there were three (of the four) Guilia Quadrifoglio NRING editions on the market listed at two Alfa dealers.  So in November 2019 my Alfa Dealership experience started.  This is that story.

Dealer number 1 – Very large Dealership outside of my state.
It was a hot November Saturday morning and I was interstate for a business trip so I took the opportunity to go in to the dealership to try and find the NRING that was listed for sale, it was a car with ~2000kms.  I walked in to the dealership, looked all downstairs and couldn’t find the car.  Nobody from the dealership came up to me.  I walked up stairs to the top floor thinking “maybe it is up there” given it is a special car, upon getting to the top of the stairs there was an employee of the dealership sitting at a desk talking to somebody across the desk, I think another employee but I can’t be certain.

I continue walking the floor looking for the car and nobody approaches me, so disappointed that I can’t find the car I decide to go back down the stairs and leave.  I walk past the employee sitting at the desk alone now and he doesn’t even look up to acknowledge me so I walk past him and when I am half way down the stairs another employee is walking up the stairs intently looking at his mobile phone.  Whilst still looking at the phone he starts to ask me “Can I help you?” and only once he has asked that he looks up from his phone and gives me his attention.  I say to him that “I am interested in a Guilia NRING”, he responds by saying “they have all be sold, we don’t have any of those”, to which I respond, “well you have one advertised” and then he says “Ah right, that must be the car that the Service Manager is driving, he isn’t here today but quite often he is up the road at the other dealership of a Saturday, you can go up there and see if it is there. “  I say “thanks, I’ll go and look”.  He then lets me walk out without giving me his card, or asking my name.  Lead missed.

I walk about 50 metres up the road to the sister dealership which is a very exclusive marque.  I walk in and two employees are standing at the counter and ask me straight away, “Can I help you?”  I tell them that I have just been down the road at the Alfa dealership and am looking for a Giulia NRING that your Service Manager is driving and they said it might be here, I want to look at the car.  The employee says, I am not sure if he (Service Manager) is here, but I’ll try calling him.  I wait about 30 seconds and the employee comes back and says “I can’t get hold of him, can I get him to contact you?”  I respond by saying yes and hand over my business card.  The employee says, “how interested in the car are you?”  I say that “I am very interested but would like to look at the car first.”  The conversation ends on the thought that now that the employee has my business card, it would filter through to the right person and somebody would call me.  I never heard back.  Lead missed again.

And what of the other car they had listed?  Well on Carsales it had a VIN, but the photos were the same as the 2000km car.  The VIN listed was different to the ad for the 2000km car, so I suspect it existed but they may have sold it and never removed the ad.  One day some time later it just disappeared off the website.

So my experience with this dealership was one of ignorance, lack of interest and lack of follow up.  The ~2000km car sold a month or two after my visit.

Dealership Number 2
This dealer is in the same state as dealer number 1.  They had a brand new May 2019 Giulia NRING for sale and were just down the road from the Porsche Dealership I quite often went interstate to see and deal with.  So on the same Saturday in November 2019 I went to visit them for the first time to look at the car.  I walk in and was greeted by the “Sales Manager”.  He tells me that he has just been promoted to the role during the course of the discussion and I say that I am here to look at their NRING, but I need to sell my Porsche GT3 first.  He shows me the car, I ask a few questions which show that he isn’t that familiar with the brand, i.e. where is the bonnet pull, do the tyres have Alfa markings on them when they need to be replaced like many of the manufacturers now do e.g. Porsche, Mercedes, Ferrari, Audi etc.  He eventually finds the bonnet pull but can’t answer the question on the tyres.  I say that I am very interested in the car, he says have you tried to sell your GT3 to a large local independent franchise, to which I respond I want to sell it for more than wholesale.  We exchange business cards and I say if you decide you want to do a deal contact me as I am very interested in the car.  He made no offer to try and do a deal or help me shift the GT3, which I wouldn’t really expect but I may have thought they’d “try” in order to make the sale.

Not having heard from either dealership I happen to be back interstate at the end of February 2020, right before Covid hits.  I go in to the dealership and the car is still for sale and I ask to speak to the “Sales Manager” I met three months before.  He comes out and says he remembers me and that he still has my card, I say that I still haven’t sold the GT3 but am still interested in the NRING.  We chat pleasantly for 5 minutes and I finish by saying that I am still interested and that we should keep in touch right before I leave.  The lead is still strong.

Covid hits and the market slows down and I still haven’t sold the GT3.   The NRING is still for sale and I email the Sales Manager unsolicited at the start of May 2020.  I say that I still haven’t sold the GT3 and that I am still interested, I hope it will sell soon and that I will be in touch.  I didn’t get a reply to this email.  The lead is ignored but still there.

In June 2020 I sell the GT3 and am in no hurry to replace it as I dropped a lot of cash to get out of it and the dealer has put the price of the NRING up $25k with the car now 12 months old!  In July the facelifted MY20 Giulia is announced and this has some worthy upgrades.  I email the “Sales Manager” again at Dealership 2 this time armed with the exact specification I want for a MY20 car which coincidentally is closely specced to the NRING that they still have.  I asked for a price on the MY20 car.  After a few days of no response, I call and ask to speak to him.  The lady that answered the phone says that “he is with another customer at the moment, can I get him to call you back?” to which I say yes please.  To this day he has never contacted me and the NRING sold at the end of October 2020.

So my experience with this dealership was one of lack of interest in me as a customer showing interest multiple times and no attempt to make contact even though I tried multiple times to engage.  I was totally ignored.

Dealership number 3
This dealer is my local dealer, the only one in the state.  The MY20 car is announced and I make a request online for a new catalogue through the Alfa Australia website over a weekend at the end of July 2020 which comes through as a MY19 catalogue and a few days later I get an email from the local dealer asking if they can assist.  I suspected that I would get a follow up and reply with a fully detailed specification of what I want specifically calling out options of the MY20 car and stating that I want a MY20 car, not a MY19.  Now to be fair this dealership is a multi franchise dealer and had only recently taken on the brand, to the point that there wasn’t even any signage up on the address as stated on the Alfa Australia web site.  The salesperson calls me after I replied to the email saying “how serious are you?" before he even goes to quote in order to sus me out  I say that I have bought new from them before and that I have been considering the NRING at dealership number 2 but the MY20 car looks so much better.  He says that “we don’t sell many of these” and that he would need to speak to Alfa Australia to get the details and it would “take a few days.”  I said no problem, get back to me whenever and a few days later he comes back with a quote via email which excludes some of the options that I specifically requested saying “they aren’t available in Australia” with no further details on it.

Upon closer inspection of the quote, they had quoted me on a MY19 car and all the options that “weren’t available in Australia” are new for the MY20 model.  So even though I specifically asked for a MY20 quote they came back with a full retail price on a MY19 car and just didn’t twig or decided to keep from me that what I wanted couldn’t be supplied as I found out some months later Alfa Australia held back on the MY20 release here because “they had a backlog” of MY19 cars to clear (as told to me by Dealer 4).

Annoyed that the dealer had quoted my on a MY19 car when I specifically asked for a MY20 car and they didn’t tell me they could only supply a MY19 car I left the quote with no response.  A couple of weeks later I get a call which went to my voice mail asking “how did I go with the quote and if you want any more information call me back.”  I didn’t call back and to this day they have never made contact with me again to find out why I didn’t proceed with them.  Lead lost through a lack of understanding what the customer wants.

So my experience with this dealership was one of a total lack of training for their sales staff and to a “car guy” this just doesn’t fill me with confidence, I want to deal with a professional.  They also can’t have been keen to sell a car even though it would have been one of their very first, the only one like it in the state and the flagship of the range.

Dealership number 4
In October 2020 I ask on a car forum if anybody has any decent contacts at an Alfa Dealership in a different state to Dealers 1, 2 and 3 due to my poor service thus far.  I get a reply from a reputable guy I know telling me to speak to the Sales Manager that he knows, or at least knows of.  The contact that gave me this name spends a lot of money on a lot of cars and is well known in this state, he is a very good name to drop.  I make contact via email directly late one Saturday with my detailed list again of what I want for a MY20 car.  This time I specifically say that I have had very poor service with three other Alfa Dealers and that he is my “last shot”. The Sales Manager emails a reply the following day (Sunday) saying that he is very sorry to hear of my Alfa Dealership ordeal thus far, and I can get a sense he is pretty switched on with the brand, however he goes on to say that he has just started two weeks leave on the Friday before and he asks me if I can wait, I say that I can, no problem.

However to his credit the following morning early, a Monday, he replies again with a detailed price typed line by line against my email quote request but it wasn’t an official quote which is fine as I know that he is on leave and that I felt it was good of him to go to the trouble whilst on leave to look the prices up.  He does quote me on a MY20 car and says that some of the options I requested in the quote aren’t available in Australia for the MY20 cars and he sends me the Alfa Australia September 2020 “Buyers Guide” that he is working off showing that Alfa Australia don’t offer all the options available in Europe, such as the green paint, exposed carbon roof and Akrapovic exhaust.

We exchange two emails and the last line in his email states “Stay tuned though as upon my return I had already intended, as we head into 2021, to push for feedback from Alfa Romeo Australia on the colours and options we’re missing out on.”  I took this to say that when he gets back from leave he will follow up on the options not available here and get back to me with an outcome.

That was 26/10/2020 and as of this day three months later I have never heard from him again.  That is to say he never came back to me with an outcome on the options I wanted or if I was interested in buying a car based on the quote he did give me.  The lead just wasn't followed up.

So my experience with this dealership started off as having potential, I thought to myself this guy seems to know what he is talking about and finally I might get some good service.  However I was left hanging as a potential customer with no follow up whatsoever, it is as if I never made the enquiry.

Now I understand that things go wrong, things get missed and I am all but one private buyer.  I also understand that Alfa struggles to make sales in Australia and that there are still brand new MY18 cars for sale in Australia at dealers as of now January 2021.  So they don’t fly out the door and it would seem that potential buyers are a rare opportunity.  But to have experienced such poor sales service from not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 different Alfa dealers in 3 different states tell me that it isn’t a coincidence.

I have all but moved on now, my interest in the model is just a flicker, I still haven’t bought a car yet and it will most definitely be a BMW or Porsche.  My final thought of Alfa Dealerships is that I’d rather be treated like a paying customer than ignored as an inconvenience.  All I can hope is that somebody from Alfa Romeo Australia (FCA) gets to read this and they get some good to come out of it, as they certainly haven’t got my money, and that is not for lack of trying.  Maybe this forum will inspire me to change.


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Re: New Member and my Alfa Romeo (attempted) buying experience
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2021, 05:55:50 PM »
Hi and welcome to the forum....

That's really sad to hear. As we are all 'nutcase' Alfa people on this forum, we hope Alfa are here for the long term. Hearing stories like this does nothing to indicate that
they have got the 'shop front' side right. The people you spoke to are the front line and they aren't performing to expectations IMO. You read on the AlfaBB (mainly USA stuff) that
there are many problems in their dealer setup/standards/expectation/image etc. too. It doesn't auger well for the future, lets face it they/we need every sale we can get otherwise
FCA will just pull the plug and that's what we don't want to see.

Having said that, I have reason to frequent the sales rooms every 3 years (work lease car). I've sampled Ford, GMH, Mazda, Toyota and I have to say that some of those leave a lot
to be desired too. A litany of faults (as you documented) calls not returned, apathy, lack of knowledge, lack of salesmanship ethos, wrong car etc. etc. Like the saying goes, "you had one
job to do". I've had to correct the salesperson numerous times about model details, spec etc. - stuff they should know. I reckon in the last 20+ years, I've had 2 that hit the mark and would
have earned an A+ from me.

I hope FCA get their act together and carve out some more sales or in this climate of rationalization we might see them decide that they don't really need to be here.

I'm not having a go at the typical 'used/new car salesman', we all have plenty of those stories, its just the car buyers level of expectation that sometimes just falls that little short of the
mark. That's why those that do the little bit extra end up being the heroes.

Hope you get into the Giulia eventually.


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Re: New Member and my Alfa Romeo (attempted) buying experience
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2021, 06:16:55 PM »
I see you in another Porsche. Based on your expectations of service, an FCA dealer will never meet your expectations.
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Re: New Member and my Alfa Romeo (attempted) buying experience
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2021, 07:32:00 AM »
We can only hope things change or as you say, the brand will not succeed.