Superior Customer Service

Hold onto your hats, folks. What follows is an unmitigated compliment, and for those of you who know me, you know I don’t hand these out easily or often. But exceptional service demands acknowledgement.

I recently purchased a new car. My beloved Mercedes ML500 gave its life to save mine in a devastating crash on February 1st, as I made my way to present at the Washington County Bench Bar Conference. I can’t imagine that I would have hobbled away from the crash had I been driving another vehicle.

I wasn’t able to return to the same level of splendor after the insurance company shekels arrived. After checking out every single SUV, I ultimately selected the Cadillac SRX, which is a very nice car. And thus far it has not disappointed. There were lots of cars I liked and could afford, but the ability to get a free loaner for the life of the vehicle is a deal breaker for me. Likewise, the vicinity of the dealership — within 30 minutes — is a must unless they provide pick-up and delivery for all service and routine maintenance.

I don’t know about you, but I hate shopping for a new car. I don’t do it often, thank goodness, as I tend to hold onto my cars for anywhere from 8 – 10 years or more. So I am not as cavalier as some of you are who lease for a few years, and then move onto something new. I buy my cars for cash, and only buy one when I can afford it. When I prepare to buy, I do my research, both on the internet and by sneaker network. It’s a major investment of time in preparation before I make a decision on what to buy, and then the negotiations begin.

It’s both interesting and sad that in surveys of relative trusted occupations, one of the few which ranks lower than attorneys is that of car salespersons. I hate such generalizations, but I have to admit that when the salesperson goes off to speak to the manager, you just know they’re talking about the latest sports event, and that all the arm waving is not really on your behalf — you’re just supposed to think the salesperson is fighting for every penny on your behalf. Does anyone believe that? I even had one old condescending codger at a dealership try to tell me I had to pay for “tissue” on top of the invoice price — tissue referred to additional money for their advertising and “overhead”. Excuse me, do I look like I just fell off the turnip truck?

Ok, well I had a pleasant surprise. A salesperson at one particular dealership was different. No really. He was young, cheerful without being overly and disingenuinely friendly, knowledgeable, but not afraid of saying “I don’t know” and going to find the answer. He was amazingly accommodating. And he really did get me a best price right off the bat; he actually believed me when I told him he would get one shot at the pricing and that would be it.

Unlike another dealer who could not be bothered to search for a car on their network until I made a deposit, this salesperson understood that unless he could tell me he had a car with the exact configuration I wanted, and when it could be delivered, there would be no signing and no check. He spent a few hours contacting every Cadillac dealer around until he found what I was looking for at a dealership in Connecticut. By the time he called me he had negotiated all the arrangements and only needed my go-ahead to put it into motion.

When the car arrived it was later than anticipated, and since I had returned the rental car earlier in the day, the logistics could have been difficult, especially because I had a doctor’s appointment to get to and no vehicle. But the salesperson, Matt Kuhnle, made it all seamless with a temporary loaner, picking me up, and providing the ability to pick up the new car especially late after my early evening doctor’s appointment.

Ok, so here I am about 500 miles later. Matt has probably spent his commission long ago. I’m just a distant memory. Or am I? Yesterday as I was driving to a parking space in a shopping center I was momentarily distracted, and managed to brush the tire on the curb. I must have hit at just the wrong angle, because it ripped a gash in the tire and I heard a pop, and the air rushing out. The tire was pancake flat within a couple minutes.

I was spoiled with the Mercedes. All I ever had to do was push a button and they came to my rescue. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with the new car. And I didn’t even have my owners manual on me — it was still sitting on the dining room table waiting for me to have time to read it.

Then I remembered I had Matt’s cell phone number in my cell phone. And I remembered that he told me and emailed me several times and explained that I could call that number day or night.

In a moment of panic I called. I knew it was at or after their closing time. But I called anyway. I explained my dilemma. First he explained that I could use the OnStar button for help. But he heard the uncertainty in my voice, and what he did next totally amazed me. He cheerfully volunteered to personally come to the shopping center and change the tire for me.

I proceeded into the salon for my scheduled pedicure. Not long thereafter Matt arrived sporting his good-natured smile. He came into the salon, bravely past all the staring women customers to where I was located in the back of the salon, in order to get my key. Almost an hour later when I emerged from the salon I found him outside, lying on the cold parking lot halfway under my car, still struggling to get the spare tire disconnected from the umbilical cord. Eventually he got it, and changed the flat in record time. All the time smiling and pleasant.

When it was done, his formerly clean crisp white shirt and pressed slacks were dirty and in disarray. His hands were blackened. It had gotten very cold, and he had to be somewhat frozen.

I tried to offer Matt a cash tip for his troubles. He politely refused, and said it was a pleasure helping me out. And what is amazing is that I could tell he really meant it. So I promised this young man that I would return his kindness with my words. And that is the point of this post. Because someone that bright, cheerful, helpful and honest deserves the recognition.

So if you are in need of a car, and are located in or near Montgomery County, consider giving Matt Kuhnle at J.L. Freed in Lansdale a call at 800-665-6894. It’s not the first car I’ve purchased from this Lansdale car dealer over the years, but Matt is definitely the nicest salesperson I’ve ever dealt with from any dealership.

Be sure to tell him Ellen sent you!

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