Buying a car sucks. It’s unpleasant from start to finish, and then it’s done and you drive away with a car. Some places have tried to make it suck less by getting rid of the haggling, but that has introduced other kinds of price associated suck. I’m spending tens of thousands of dollars, the least I should be able to ask for is a halfway pleasant experience, right??
Wife finally broke and asked for a minivan, and I spent most of the spring researching. We settled on a Chrysler Pacifica, with the only requirements being the sunroof, hybrid motor, and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, YOU BETTER NOT BRING HOME A BLUE CAR AGAIN OR IT’LL BE THE ONLY THING YOU GET IN THE DIVORCE!! Of course, 2 weeks later, wife goes “I saw a Pacifica in blue and kinda liked it.” ?
I watched the market and realized things were a bit screwy due to the chip shortage, so I ratcheted up the inquiries in mid-June rather than the expected Labor Day purchase date.
After getting jerked around by a bunch of traditional dealers, I finally settled on the online seller Vroom. Reviews were mixed on Vroom, but the common thread was to be proactive to keep the transaction moving.
I clicked the buy button on the 17th of June, and the process started fairly well. Paid a $500 holding deposit and waited. On the afternoon of the 19th, I decided to be proactive and call in to make sure everything was okay, only to find out that they had been trying to contact me, but Abine Blur was dropping the phone calls directed to my masked phone number. Oops, my bad.
I started the paperwork process on the 20th, docusigning the standard documents for a car purchase and trade in. However, by the 23rd, things had stalled out again, so I made another phone call.”Oh, we can’t find your wire payment in our contract system, one system shows that you paid, but the other hasn’t updated yet. This happens sometimes, just give it another day.” Okay, weird but I’ll give it another day.
On the 24th, I received a couple overnighted documents that needed wet ink signatures that i sent back the same day, and I didn’t bother calling them because it was my birthday. On the 25th, I called again to figure out why things were still stalled out. The person on the phone reviewed everything and said it was all in order, the wire payment had been received, but there was on problem. The wire payment was 30 bucks short. (Thanks Capital One!) Thankfully, I was able to pay using the credit card on file and get it all fixed up. Within an hour, I had an email stating that the paperwork was done and the car is in queue for shipping. Shortly after that, I got a message from the local hub here in Dallas saying to expect the car sometime around July 9th.
On the 7th, having heard nothing since June 25th, I called them again, to be proactive. They weren’t able to give me any information other than it had been shipped and is still expected on the 9th. However, they also gave me the number for the Dallas hub, who I promptly called. The guy who responded from the Dallas hub told me that their records showed expected delivery on the 9th, and a 12 to, at most, 48 hour turnaround as they get the van inspected, registered, and cleaned before delivery.
Then came the mess. I had heard that you could track the progress of the shipment online, so i looked later on the 7th, and it showed that the van had been delivered to Dallas about an hour after I got off the phone with the guy. Great! That means getting the van on the 8th, maybe the 9th at worst, right? I texted that guy on the morning of the 8th, and he said that he had the van, but their inspection computer was down, so things were delayed. No big deal, so it’s the 9th rather than the 8th.
I texted him again on the morning of the 9th asking if he had an updated ETA, and he said he had a delivery window open from noon to 3pm, and the driver would call me when he was on the way. Great! I was around and I had the day off, so that would work just fine. I sat and waited. Noon passed, 1pm passed, 2pm passed, and eventually 3pm passed. Okay, that’s fine, these delivery services often run a bit late, I’ll give them a little bit more time. 3:30. 4:00. Alright, time to sound the alarm bells. First, I texted the guy I had been working with. “Any update on delivery time? It’s after 3 and I haven’t heard anything”
I called into the Dallas hub’s phone line.
I called into the national phone line. They didn’t even know the Dallas hub had the van yet. “we can put you in touch with the Dallas hub”. No, just tried calling there 3 times. Where’s my damn car? “Let me transfer you to tier 2 support.” Yes, do that.
Alright, at least I’ve heard good things about the tier 2 folks, maybe this’ll light a fire under their asses. Maybe they have contact info for somebody in the Dallas office that will actually answer their phone.
15 minutes pass.
I order dinner on grubhub
Dinner gets delivered
I finish eating dinner
Two hours and 15 minutes later, I give up and hang up. Dumbass customer support ape transferred me to tier 2 right before closing time and didn’t bother to tell me that they go home at 7pm.
Fuming mad, I went to bed ruing this shit show of a company, vowing my revenge, knowing full well that they were closed on Sundays and I’d have another 24 hours for this to stew before I got my pound of flesh.
The reality was that I knew it wasn’t a scam company and I knew it was probably just a case of miscommunication, but shit customer service is shit customer service, and I wasn’t going to let them get away with jerking me around like that.
Monday morning came, and I was off with a bang at 9am. Dallas hub voicemailed me, so I called into the national line. “Here is my situation, and here is what I want you to do. I want to be on the phone with a tier 2 agent in 30 seconds.” Well umm uhh, the customer disservice ape wavered. “No, I don’t want you to review my file. I want to speak to a tier 2 agent”. Erm, uhh, can I try… “I want to speak to a tier 2 agent. You fucks had me on hold for 2 and a half hours on Friday, and you aren’t going to jerk me around today.” Finally, 15 minutes later, I got the supposed tier 2 agent on the line.
“sorry, I can’t tell you anything you don’t already know. I’m going to transfer you to the Dallas hub.” No! Wait! *click* Welcome to the Dallas hub of Vroom, nobody is here to answer your call…
“Okay,” I told myself, rubbing my temples, “one more try.”
At this point, the hold music was a series of ice picks resonating their dastardly tune on the bones of my skull. Thankfully, the agony was brief. “Hello, thanks for calling Vroom, how can I help you?” I’m going to try to keep from yelling at you because I know that you haven’t personally done all of this to me, but you need to understand that over the past 48 hours, your company has stood me up on a delivery appointment, your local hub stopped returning my calls and texts, one of your colleagues put me on hold with tier 2 less than five minutes before closing time and left me on hold for two and a half hours, I still can’t get in contact with the local hub, and I just called in 20 minutes ago and got forcibly transferred back to the Dallas hub against my will. I want to talk to tier 2 service, and I want to talk to them right now. “I just need to get a couple pieces of info from you in order to queue up your account for the tier 2 agent.” *sigh* Fine.
Two minutes later, I was finally talking to a tier 2 agent. “I need you to figure out where the hell my van is and tell me how quickly you can get it to me because a lot of shit has happened to me in the last 48 hours and I’m about to start making angry phone calls to people whose job titles start with C if I don’t get an answer. Hell, at this point, I’ll take a phone number that isn’t the main line to the Dallas hub. Have anything like that? By the way, I want a fucking refund on the delivery fee. ” Well, now that you mention it, the actually helpful tier 2 agent said, here’s the number for the company we contract the deliveries out to.
Long story short, the call to the contractor was rather uneventful, and resulted in the driver calling me 15 minutes later to tell me he was on the way.
Longer story short, the van is in the garage, the check is in the mail for a partial refund of the delivery fee. Not enough, but I’m sick of their damn hold music. I lost count of the number of times I called in at 10, and that was before I had the van. Now I can only hope that the title and registration process isn’t as painful. Supposedly it’s the worst part.
I’m still intrigued by the business model. A volume dealer setting up a primarily e-commerce solution with national reach. It’s CarMax and Carvana without the gimmicky showrooms. Delivery to your front door. Paperwork done online and via overnite shipping. There’s something to that. Some nugget of a good idea. Unfortunately, Vroom is too much like a used car dealership and not enough like an e-commerce site.
The fixes aren’t hard. Give me one person to work with for the whole process. Update me on what the next step is and when to expect to hear back. Actually get back to me within that timeline. Don’t promise shit that doesn’t end up happening. Call me when shit you promised didn’t end up happening. Make sure that updates from different departments and sites actually get logged into the main database.
Vroom isn’t a scam, but it’s the next worse thing. It’s a 20th century business model thinly masked by a 21st century facade. It’s that shitty 90s outsourced call center added on top of that skeevy 80s promise you the moon and the stars used car dealer added on top of good old fashioned “not my job” bureaucracy. If you have a ton of free time on your hands that you don’t mind spending on hold and you don’t really care when you get your car, the Vroom model can get you a relatively cheap car. For everybody who values their time and a reasonable blood pressure, I’d recommend paying the premium and avoiding these fools.