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Answer Guy Central is in the marketing business. We do a lot of things for our clients that go way beyond that, but it all rolls back to looking good and acting better, and we know a thing or two about customer service. So much so, we created the Verizon Wireless Customer Service Wall of Shame to highlight the most egregious customer service misdeeds we come across.

Visit the Wall of Shame and the first entry you’ll see is this story about Nissan of Manhattan’s customer service. I wrote it almost three years ago, and to this day if you search Google for the phrase Nissan of Manhattan Customer Service you’ll find the piece right at or near the top of Google’s search results. Take that as either a sign of how effectively we do Search Engine Optimization, or of the broader reality that people read that customer service story because customer service matters.

Last week, the Nissan I was driving when Nissan of Manhattan did their customer service disservice reached the point where I decided it was time to end our relationship, and I went to Koeppel Nissan in Jackson Heights NY seeking a replacement. Cars have always been a source of frustration for me, and I did something out of character: I purchased a used vehicle from Koeppel. A non-Nissan vehicle, for that matter.

And then something very, very bad happened.

At the tail end of the sales process, I met with Koeppel Nissan’s business manager, who told me, point-blank, that the bank through which he’d arranged financing would only make what he referred to as a ‘protected loan’. He explained this to mean that the bank was demanding I purchase an extended warranty on the car, and as I hadn’t bought a used car in over thirty years and wasn’t unhappy with the overall financial-and-product package this created, I accepted his word without doing any further research.

My bad. Let me be clear, I’m to blame for not digging deeper.

But the next day, as I was filing away the papers and looking at a couple of things I found myself on the phone with the bank, who told me that they never, ever require tie-in purchases from third parties as a precondition of making loans. I asked the question “so Koeppel’s business manager lied?“, expecting a soft-pedaled answer out of political correctness. I got no such thing; the answer was that indeed, someone at Koeppel Nissan had essentially stolen a not-at-all-small amount of money from me. And when I visited a branch of the bank and asked the branch manager the same question I got the same answer: Koeppel Nissan’s business manager had flat-out lied.

I visited to amend the previously-positive review that my Koeppel salesperson had asked me to leave. And then this story turned great in a way that I didn’t expect; under thirty minutes later Koeppel Nissan’s General Manager Joe Clem had responded, asking me to contact him.

Let me be clear that Joe Clem manages not only Koeppel Nissan, but the entire chain of Koeppel auto dealerships, and that Koeppel is also Nissan’s largest fleet dealer and that coincidentally today is the day that New York City is beginning the phase-in of a new taxi program.  Joe Clem is a busy guy. And Joe asked that I visit him, promising to make things right. Sure; car dealers ‘make things right’ all the time, don’t they? 😉

Joe Clem made things right.

I’m now driving a new Nissan. Clem took back the vehicle I had bought several days earlier and gave me a new vehicle out of Koeppel Nissan’s inventory in exchange. I paid less for it that I had paid for the used car. And oh: he dropped the interest rate, too. A lot.

We spoke more than a bit about what had happened at the hands of Koeppel’s business manager. And besides Joe Clem taking care of my personal issue with Koeppel Nissan and turning my opinion around, he continued, telling me that Koeppel is serious about the way the community sees them. OK, great; once again, this is a car salesman talking, so my willingness to believe him starts out compromised and had already been brought even lower by the Koeppel business manager. Clem was blowing smoke, right?

No, he was not.

It seems that the Koeppel family of auto dealers has believed in a ‘selling the dealership’ strategy for quite a while. And Joe Clem, seeing that I was the kind of guy who—especially under the circumstances—would question claims about how proud Koeppel is of their A+ rating with the local Better Business Bureau, went so far as to acknowledge that the BBB isn’t what many people believe it to be and that he could choose to simply hang up the phone when people complain about Koeppel. But he doesn’t. This is the same thing that causes bad on-line reviews to land on Joe Clem’s desk in minutes and for him to respond to them as he does.

Joe Clem and Koeppel Nissan get Customer Service.

Of course, it’s possible that when I return to Koeppel to have service performed on my Nissan this story will change. We’ll see. But at least we know that Koeppel Nissan, despite how things started out, doesn’t use the customer service model employed by A&E Factory Service customer service.

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