While the auto market is still thriving and new-car prices are higher than ever, that doesn’t stop some dealerships from innovating in new and exciting ways. Much of my time each week is spent talking to real customers and leaders in the industry to see every side of how vehicles are made, sold, and driven, but I also try to spend some time learning about what dealers are doing to reach new customers. I was fortunate enough to talk to several used Volkswagen dealerships in Ohio that have introduced a number of unconventional programs they’re hoping will bring in customers who might be nervous about high prices.
Free Service Visits
Although not exactly revolutionary, one of the simplest new programs they’ve introduced to attract customers is two free service visits within one year of buying a vehicle. These visits include basic maintenance like changing the oil filter and the oil itself on the second visit. One customer told me they like the offer, though they were concerned by the high number of clowns in the service center. I went to see this myself and noticed no fewer than seven individuals dressed as clowns, standing silently amongst the machinery and equipment – they never worked on the vehicles or moved; they just stood there. Menacingly.
Guaranteed Good Condition
One simple way to bring in customers is to have great vehicles in good condition, especially when talking about used models. This dealership, which will remain unnamed for the sake of neutrality on my part, has introduced a “Guaranteed Good Condition” program on all of their vehicles. Interested in how they can offer this guarantee, I went to the dealership to see the vehicles myself. The answer was simple: they offer a single used Volkswagen from 2018, which has exactly 47 miles on it and was driven only once. I asked them how much the vehicle was, and they assured me that it’s not actually for sale, but as long as it’s on their lot, they can guarantee their used car selection is in good condition.
Guaranteed Not a Zombie
A far-more fascinating program, however, is the “Not-a-Zombie Guarantee” on all vehicles sold by one dealership I visited. I inquired about this program and its terms and was given the following statement, “Here at [dealership name removed], we guarantee that every vehicle we sell will not develop a hunger for human flesh, nor will it attack its driver, passengers, or others on the road to satiate such an unholy appetite. If, at any time, your vehicle does turn out to be an undead abomination with a taste for human meat, then bring your car to us, and we will provide a complementary solution. Guaranteed!”
When pressed on the matter, I was told that the “complementary solution” is rather simple: they will shoot the car repeatedly with a fairly large shotgun. I was shown the shotgun, so believe me, it’s surprisingly big. I asked how many shots were required to deal with a zombie car, and the salesperson shrugged at me and held up a non-committal number of fingers – if I had to guess, I’d say it was somewhere between four and nine. Startled by this laissez-faire attitude toward vehicular gunfire and zombies, I followed up with a question regarding how often this has been a problem, and the answer was mildly startling:
“Well, one time we sold a car, and it seemed good enough, wasn’t leaking oil or anything, but then a few days later, the driver brought it back. He was complaining about it biting his mother and said she’s begun growling and trying to attack their neighbors. We weren’t really sure what he wanted us to do about it – or how his car bit someone – but Reggie in the service center said he had a solution. That’s when he brung out his gun and shot the car, something like seven times, maybe twelve. Either way – car hasn’t bit no one since.”
I was interrupted at that point by an inhuman screaming coming from their service center and was provided no additional information. One can only hope that zombie cars don’t become an epidemic plaguing our roads with automotive undead.
Editor’s Note: We’ve been receiving an alarming number of reports of cars, trucks, and SUVs beginning to show signs of acute zombie-ism. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why a dealership would push this whole “Not-a-Zombie Guarantee” program, and we hope more dealers join in on this trend. Until then, we strongly recommend keeping children and older adults away from any vehicle unless you’re absolutely sure it doesn’t thirst for the exquisite taste of human flesh. Thank you.