Friday, March 17, 2006

The world of auto sales...

This week, I have dipped my toes in to the pool of auto sales.

I'm selling a car on AutoTrader.com and it has really been challenging! I mean, the entire thing started off well. Their site says that it only takes "an average of 7 minutes" to post an ad. Then, the ad goes into their online system as well as AutoTrader Magazine. And, the entire thing only costs around $50. Sounds perfect, right?

Not so much. OF COURSE I'd have some big problem trying to post the car. Basically, this is what I did:
  • Took photos of the car
  • Gathered all of the important information like VIN #, mileage, engine type, transmission, etc.
  • Set up a temporary e-mail address to correspond to potential buyers
  • Got a temporary message taking phone number and set it up to e-mail me when people call about the car
  • Created an AutoTrader account and posted the ad

It SEEMED so simple! I received a confirmation e-mail from AutoTrader and everything was going great... until I didn't receive a single call about the car!

How could that be I wondered? So, I searched for the car online and the message I received was, "the seller has taken this car down." That was odd. I'm the seller and I did NOT take the car down. So, I tried to log back into my account... you know, the one that they sent a confirmation e-mail to and all. I couldn't. The error message I received said "this ad has been removed from the system." Ummm.............

So I e-mailed the help email listed on their web site. The response I received the next day said that I should call in, so I did. When I called in, the person I spoke with just couldn't figure out why my ad had been taken down. I mean, she could see it in the system - why wasn't it there? So, she had a manager call me.

The manager wasn't "sure" as to why the ad was removed, other than it was marked as FRAUDULENT. (Can you believe this??) When I asked her what I'd done wrong, she said again that she wasn't sure, but that she thought the e-mail address I had used had something to do with it: autotrader@angiedawn.net. (How frustrating! There had been no mention of not using an e-mail address like this on their site and their system had allowed me to use it.) She said that this was a sign that I was trying to be dishonest. When I explained that my e-mail address is actually MASKED to the users and they never even see the e-mail address... and that it's just to help me, she said that they couldn't be sure what I was going to do, given my apparent attempt at fraud. I also explained that creating email addresses with the company's name in them allows me to track who is selling my e-mail address for spam. Her response was along the lines of: "Well, I'm not that up on those technology things."

So then, I asked her if she would just change my e-mail address to something else - anything else - and repost my ad. She of course said no. I would have to create a new account, etc. She wasn't even sure if there was anything else wrong with my ad other than the e-mail address, so I'd just have to give it a shot and see if the ad stays up.

My next question OF COURSE was, "why wasn't I contacted about this?" Her answer: We don't have to contact good customers. They call us. It's the bad (fraudulent) customers who never call in when their ad disappears. This is definitely an interesting customer service model.

On a side note, she was also freaked out that my cell phone number was different than the phone number listed on my ad... that phone number I mentioned that takes messages about the ad.

So anyway, I have re-submitted the advertisement and have come to the conclusion that AutoTrader may want to consider not being an online company. Either that, or they need to get with the program and dig themselves out of the dark ages.

WHEW! With that rant said, here's the ad. Feel free to e-mail me if you notice that it goes down again. :-)

Angie

1 comment:

Pat said...

I thought I was the only one having problems with AutoTrader.com! All of a sudden, I can't see the pictures of cars anymore! All I get is little red boxes. After doing everything the site tells me to do (which tells me that there's a lot more people with this problem than me...), still no pictures. Now I'm in Google looking for a solution. But I think you're solution is best--they need to get off the Internet until they figure out how to run an Internet site. In my searching, I came across a job posting in CareerBuilder.com for a Computer Engineer position for AutoTrader.com. Hope they get it filled quick before they're run out of business. Now would probably be a good time to sell your stock if you have any... ;-)

- Pat