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Too Little, Too Late?

By Jim Bell on Aug 23, 2011


When is it too little too late for a dealership?  Honda of San Marcos recently ran an auction on eBay for a 2009 Nissan GT-R.  The winning bid was at $55,100.  There was a ‘mistake’ on the listing within the auction and the final auction price wasn’t going to be honored by the dealer and they were offering the customer the same vehicle for $59,000.  Later, the dealership said that they would honor the winning bid and it was their mistake. 

I am all about dealers being successful, especially Honda dealers since I work at one.  Unfortunately, this dealer is hurt and is going to feel the hurt for a while over this ‘mistake’ on their eBay listing.  Their online reputation is completely shot and currently has 61 reviews with a 1.5 star rating.  There is now a Facebook page with 829 ‘likes’ that is bashing the dealership.  Honda of San Marcos actually shut their Facebook page down and is inactive due to this and opened another Facebook account where you have to request friendship with them.

So when is it too little too late?  When you have a mistake within management, you must own up to it.  Unfortunately, this is not what they did.  They did admit right off the bat that they had made a mistake and put it on the listing agent who was off for the week, but they didn’t own up to it and offered the vehicle to the customer for almost $4,000 more than the winning bid.  They shouldn’t have dodged the phone calls from the customer on that Monday morning.  This may take a while for their online reputation management to get back up to par.  Yes, a lot of the reviews happened after the auction ended, and who knows how many of them are legit.  They will have to sort through all of this with Google and Dealerrater and the other online review sites that they have been bashed on. 

Honda of San Marcos will have to come up with a plan to overcome the hurt that has been placed on them.  They will have to get every one of their happy customers to try to bury all of the negative comments. 

You can read the whole story here with the customer comments and responses from Honda of San Marcos.     


There is nothing for a dealership to even think about here. When you auction cars on eBay you need to know exactly what you would do in a situation like this and do it instantly. Great post Jim. After reading this, I'm sure lots of dealers know what they would do and how fast they would do it.

Aug 23, 2011

I think the point here is that the response needs to be TIMELY and RELEVANT. Years ago there would always be the one picketer who may show up and someone would immediately go out and determine whether to address their issue, ignore it or call the Police. There is no lag time luxury in todays world. The Highway your located on is Digital and therefore worldwide. Whether this was to be honored or not, addressing it immediately and a pre-emptive Press Release may have been well advised. Now their "Dealer name" sucks page has their only social presence. Ouch! Probably not even a true reflection of the majority of their customer's experience.

Aug 23, 2011

Exactly what I was trying to get across Brian.

Aug 23, 2011

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