Florida Car Dealers Piss Off Everyone

Chris K Leslie

Was this a smart move or are they going to have a lot of PR cleanup after this? 

Two enterprising auto dealers in Florida managed to piss off residents across the state this week by parking their entire inventories inside parking garages opened for free to the public to aid residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

Nearly 475 miles to the north in Tallahassee, the University of Florida took similar measures and opened up garages to residents across the city to secure their car in a protected space. But just like in Hollywood, a local Infiniti dealer took over the free space, according to the Florida Flambeau.

Tallahassee residents quickly mobilized to blast the dealer on social media, leaving scathing reviews on Google and Yelp to commemorate the unseemly deed.

Carl Maeda

I read the Tallahassee story yesterday and I could see it both ways.  If the dealer got permission from FSU, FSU's response could have clarified this and instead they chose to redirect the social backlash to the dealer, which really sucks for them.  If the dealer got anything in writing, they should post it and let people know.

Tori Zinger

I'm on board with what Carl commented. If they didn't get permission, I'm thinking it was a bad move.

At the same time, I think we all need to take into account that at that point, everyone was probably semi-panicked and just trying to figure out how to prepare for the disaster.

Mark Hoffman

...even if they did get permission..surely someone at the dealership had to think "Hey..how is this gonna look?"  Local residents can't get save their cars because a local car dealer took all the spaces? Not just a few..but they parked pretty much their entire inventory in there. It's just going to re-enforce ugly stereotypes about car dealers. 

Tori Zinger

I wonder how they are dealing with the fallout. With a little social media strategy, they could turn this into a positive. Other companies that have screwed up have turned it around by, for example creating memes about the stupid decision they made to do whatever it was they did.

Derrick Woolfson

@Tori - it is bad. They haven't released an 'official' apology other than a blurb on Facebook saying that they've supported the university, and were largely unaware that it was an issue. If I were in their shoes, I would have the owner do a press release 'live' video apologizing to the community. And donate "x" amount of dollars per car that was stored in the lot. Or, (to the extreme) donate one car. Deleting the reviews all together is not going to solve the issue nor is avoiding the issue altogether. 

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