Last month, I put my journalistic foot in my mouth with a tongue-in-cheek column about an unpleasant car shopping experience I had.
At least a few people took exception to my comments. They felt I implied that all car dealerships are dishonest.
That certainly wasn’t my intent. I apologize if I gave that impression.
I’ve had some downright enjoyable car buying experiences. I know first-hand that there are honest car salesmen. I’ve purchased cars from them.
I was attempting to present a humorous slice of life — to entertain while sending the subtle message, “Listen very carefully and read the fine print when you go car shopping.”
Let me explain my thought process. I was trying for a “I got stuck in an elevator the other day” kind of column. When journalists write that kind of column they never expect people to say, “I’ll never get in an elevator again.” And I didn’t expect people to say, “I’ll never go car shopping again” after reading my foot-in-mouth column.
I figured readers would take my experience with a grain of salt, not consider it a blanket condemnation of the men and women who sell cars.
So I had a bad experience. It doesn’t mean you will. Maybe the salesman was a little off that day. He certainly seemed sincere. Maybe I misunderstood something he said.
We writers walk a fine line when we try to be funny while attempting to make a point. My point was that I can’t outsmart a car salesperson. Unfortunately, the takeaway — at least for some people — was that all car dealers are less than honest.
In trying to poke fun at myself, I inadvertently poked honest car dealers in the eye. I apologize for that.
The irony of it all is that I’ve made several postings on Facebook about an absolutely wonderful experience I recently had with a car dealership.
My biggest faux pas might have been mentioning that I test drove a Chevy. Naturally, some people assumed my bad experience happened at a Chevrolet dealer. It did not. For the record, every Chevrolet dealer in Lake County has outstanding consumer reviews.
By not naming the dealership I visited, I left open the door for readers to speculate that I was writing about any dealer. I didn’t mean to.
Fortunately, our local car dealerships are above reproach. They are obviously treating car buyers with respect.
In fact, Edmunds.com and Cars.com both give 5-star ratings (out of a possible 5) to five Lake County dealerships:
• Cecil Clark Chevrolet
• Danny Len Buick GMC
• Key Scales Ford, Plaza Cadillac
• Plaza Lincoln
• Vann Gannaway Chevrolet
In addition, Edmunds.com gave 5 stars to:
• Clermont Nissan
• Don Mealey Chevrolet
• Headquarter Honda
Cars.com also gave 5 stars to:
• Boone Auto Brokers
• Car Spot
• Deal Time Auto Sales
• Midlake Motors
• Napleton Clermont Chrysler Jeep Dodge RAM
• Tri County Auto Group
And Cars.com had exceptionally high marks for the following local dealers: Bill Bryan Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM (4.8), Brown’s Auto Sales (4.8), Phillips Chrysler Jeep Dodge RAM (4.6), Clermont Nissan (4.5), Phillips Buick GMC (4.5), Phillips Toyota Scion (4.5), Jenkins Volkswagen of Leesburg (4.4), J&M Affordable Auto Inc. (4.4) and Headquarter Honda (4.4).
Edmunds.com gave 4 ½ stars to Phillips Toyota Scion and Jenkins Hyundai of Leesburg. Blount Honda and Prestige Ford have 4 out of 5 stars.
Bottom line: Practically every dealer in Lake County has high customer satisfaction ratings.
So shop with confidence. Those ratings are based on actual customer reviews, not some idiot with a word processor and a deadline to meet.
My unpleasant experience was obviously the exception, not the rule.