Well, it’s certainly been a busy week on Corvette enthusiast forums as one of the top Corvette dealers in the country announced on Monday that they would no longer offer courtesy deliveries to their customers.
Monday afternoon, MacMulkin Chevrolet of New Hampshire, one of the largest Corvette dealers in the country, issued the following statement:
In order to provide our customers with the best buying experience, we have decided that we will no longer be offering courtesy deliveries. This is due to various poor customer experiences at courtesy delivery dealers. Customers can pick up their cars here or pay to have their cars transported. We will still be offering Museum Deliveries as an option. All orders at status 2000 and higher will not be affected.
Upon releasing the announcement, some folks that have orders and deposits in at the dealership took to social media and voiced their opinions in no uncertain terms.
We learned about the situation a few days ago when one of our readers reached out to us to alert us to the announcement asking us to take a look at some of the discussion taking place online regarding the statement.
After spending a couple days sifting through forums and social media, we discovered that many of MacMulkin’s customers were either understanding and supportive, or drastically against their decision. Upon further investigation, it struck us that many folks don’t have a clear understanding of what exactly a “courtesy delivery” is and the potential impacts it can have on both the customer and the dealers involved.
Corvette Delivery Options
Some of the larger Corvette dealers that specialize in high-volume Corvette sales usually offer four options for you to take delivery of your brand new Corvette:
- Take delivery right at the dealership
- Either the customer or the dealer can arrange shipping of the car from the dealer to a location of the customer’s choice
- National Corvette Museum Delivery (RPO R8C)
- Courtesy Delivery
So what exactly is a courtesy delivery?
Courtesy Delivery Process
Over the years, some of the larger Chevrolet dealers that sell a fair number of Corvettes began offering a “courtesy delivery” (CD) option. The option became popular for some customers who lived far away from the selling dealer and wanted to take advantage of that dealer’s pricing and allocation without driving half-way across the country or paying up to $2,000 in shipping costs.
The option was also great for these dealers because it helped to expand their customer base outside of just their local area and boosted their overall allocation numbers.
Selling dealers that specialize in offering this service have built up a lengthy list of dealers across the country that are and are not willing to do a CD, as well as a list of dealers that have a reputation for providing a good delivery experience to the customer as well as dealers that have proven to be problematic.
The entire CD process starts with the selling dealer contacting another Chevrolet dealer close to the customer and inquiring if that dealer would like to do a CD. If that dealer agrees to do the CD, that dealer has the right to charge whatever fee they wish for doing the CD for the customer. That fee is then communicated back to the customer and the customer has the option of agreeing or disagreeing to pay for it. If they agree to pay for it, once the customer’s Corvette is built, it’s shipped directly from the Bowling Green Corvette Assembly Plant to the CD dealer.
The CD dealer conducts the pre-delivery inspection (PDI), and installs the various options (LPOs) that were ordered by the customer such as all-weather floor mats, cargo liners, aerodynamic packages, various wheel options, etc. The dealer then cleans and preps the car for delivery to the customer, and is expected to go over the car and it’s features and options with the customer. At that point, the customer pays the CD fee to that dealer and the customer drives away happy and all is good in the world. Ahhhh…but not so fast…
While theoretically, that’s how it’s supposed to work – upon conducting some investigation, we found that that’s not always the case.
What could possibly go wrong?
Historically, CD dealers would charge the customer anywhere from $250 – $750 to do the CD, however recently, more and more dealers are beginning to charge up to $1,000+ for the service. While the CD dealer is charging a fee for this service, keep in mind that the customer did not buy their new Corvette from them. The CD dealer is literally making a fraction of what they could have normally made, had they sold a Corvette to that customer.
Even though that dealer wasn’t given any allocation to order a new Corvette for the customer, some dealers don’t exactly look at the bigger picture (the customer lives locally, will probably need future service and parts, might buy another family car from the dealer, etc.) A lot of dealers just look at what they can get up front from the customer vs. what they could get in the future.
Now, keeping that in mind, the CD dealer has to set aside time and personnel to PDI the car, install the various bits and pieces that get shipped inside a new Corvette, hook it up to a battery charger, fuel-fill it and top off all the fluids. The Corvette ends up taking up a spot in the service department where the dealership could be working on a customer’s car and making a nice profit off that job.
But, what if the Corvette arrives from the factory with damage – such as a scratched wheel or brake caliper, or a ding in the front bumper due to a flying rock that got kicked up in the air by another vehicle on the highway next to the transport truck? Accidents happen that are sometimes out of everyone’s control and nobody’s fault.
The CD dealer then has to report that damage to Jack Cooper Transport and GM. If the dealer doesn’t have an in-house body-shop, the repairs have to be farmed out. Depending on the damaged part, if it needs to be replaced, the dealer has to order the part from GM which could take weeks to arrive at the dealer if the part is in short supply or on constraint.
Repair orders for the part(s) are written up, orders placed and the wait begins. That Corvette is now taking up space at the dealership either inside or out and ends up having to get shuffled around if its in the way of the dealer’s normal operations.
Limited Production Options (LPO)
LPOs are pre-ordered options that can consist of a single accessory or a collection of accessories that are either stand-alone or part of a special package. Example: all-weather floor mats, cargo liners, Stingray graphics, black-trident wheels, composite rockers, spoilers and aerodynamic packages.
They’re usually shipped from GM, to a vehicle outfitter/distributor contracted by GM, and then shipped to the receiving dealer approximately 1-2 weeks prior to that Corvette arriving at the dealer. The dealer then has to install the LPOs on the car during the PDI process.
But, this is where another headache can begin….
The 2020 Corvette suffered its fair share of LPO constraints, and the 2021 Corvette hasn’t been any different. From splash guards, to composite rockers and black trident wheels, the C8 Corvette has been cursed with multiple constraints over a two-year run. The pandemic-related supply chain issues have been the main culprit of this and has NOT been the fault of GM or its dealers.
Now, lets imagine black trident wheels are on constraint. At that point, the CD dealer has to inform the customer that they have to wait to pick up their new Corvette (which they could have potentially been waiting for in excess of a year…) because they don’t have all the LPOs to install on the customer’s car. The customer, in many cases, is less than…pleased and can potentially take their wrath out on the dealer.
Two to three weeks later, the wheels show up and all is good now. But wait…not so fast.
One of the wheels was damaged during shipping either between GM to the distributor, or from the distributor to the dealer. At this point, the dealer can either repair it if the damage is simple, or they have to order a whole new wheel, and the clock gets reset once again.
What if the customer decides they’ll take their new Corvette as-is and bring it back to the dealer when the LPOs do arrive? Ok…great. The dealer is now expected to contact the customer when the LPOs arrive and schedule a time for the customer to bring their car back for the installation.
But…not all dealers have organized operations and dealer parts departments can be an absolute nightmare.
In many situations, the LPOs show up, the parts department has no clue what customer they belong to and they get thrown into the abyss that is a dealer parts department and forgotten about. The customer never gets contacted and eventually calls the CD dealer and speaks to someone in the parts or service departments. Those people have no clue who the customer is and doesn’t know anything about their LPOs.
“Oh, it was a courtesy delivery here? You need to contact the dealer you bought the car from. Your LPOs are probably there.” The customer calls the selling dealer, the selling dealer tells the customer that the CD dealer should have the LPOs, and the customer grows increasingly angry.
The selling dealer then contacts the CD dealer, gets the run-around and the same story that they don’t know anything about “Mr. Smith’s” LPOs and they don’t have any black trident wheels for a “Mr. Smith”. At that point, the selling dealer has to reach out to their local vehicle outfitter/distributor and that distributor conducts an investigation and back-tracks through the shipping steps of the LPOs. Upon further research, the distributor informs the selling dealer that the LPOs arrived at the CD dealer two weeks ago and the dealer signed off on receiving them.
The selling dealer then has to repeat the whole process over again, by contacting the CD dealer and hopefully landing a competent employee on the phone, who’s willing to get up out of their chair, go back into the parts department, and find the missing LPOs.
By this time, the customer has been driving around in their new Corvette for a month and half with missing options that they ordered and paid for. The customer is NOT pleased.
Eventually, the customer brings their car back, gets their LPOs installed and finally has their car in totality, but overall shopping experience from start to finish was less that satisfactory.
Now, let’s assume there were no LPOs ordered with the customer’s car. They ordered a basic 2021 Corvette with none of the extra dealer-installed options. Great!
The car arrives at the CD dealer, gets PDI’d, goes through the Recon. department, and the customer shows up to the dealer to pick-up their new Corvette.
The customer walks into the dealership, and either isn’t even acknowledged, or when they are, they don’t know who the customer is or anything about their Corvette. Eventually, it gets figured out, a salesman (who didn’t sell this car to the customer) is asked to present the new Corvette to the customer and go over all the features and options of the car.
At this point, the salesman may try to introduce the Corvette to its new owner, but the salesman knows nothing about Corvettes because they only sell Silverados and Blazers.
Instead, the salesman hands the keys to the customer and rudely says, “have a nice day” and walks away. The customer who worked two jobs for five years to be able to put down a deposit on their dream car, is left standing there in shock and awe.
They get into an unfamiliar car and have to figure out how to set it up and make all the adjustments on their own before they’re comfortable enough to drive out of the dealer’s lot and head home with their pride and joy.
So…LPOs and a half-assed delivery…that’s it?
We’ve all heard the nightmare stories and seen the pictures of a brand new Corvette hanging off a dealer’s service lift in mid-air because the service department staff doesn’t normally service Corvettes and doesn’t know how to properly put one on a lift.
How about just recently – a dealer’s service department tech was caught doing 148 MPH in a customer’s Corvette during a…”road-test”, or a customer’s brand new Corvette being stolen from a courtesy delivery dealer.
Another case – the customer shows up to take delivery of their Corvette, but a couple hours earlier, the CD dealer staff arrived for work only to find that the customer’s car is up on blocks and the wheels have been jacked. The CD dealer left the car out in an unsecured lot.
Based upon the research we’ve conducted, these are just a few examples of courtesy deliveries that did, or could have gone really bad.
The Repman Survey
When ever you buy a new car from a dealer, the manufacturer will send you a survey asking you to rate and comment on your shopping experience. In GM’s case, it’s known as a Repman Survey. The customer fills out the survey, submits it, and GM and the selling dealer get a copy.
Dealers rely heavily on these surveys and a customer’s ratings whether it’s for a sales or service experience. If the dealer gets surveys with excellent results, this looks good within GM’s eyes and is favorable for the dealer. Should the dealer amass a large number of surveys with negative results, GM can in-turn, penalize the dealership.
Now, in the case of a courtesy delivery, the survey is sent to the customer asking them to rate the overall buying experience with the selling dealer. NOT the CD dealer. The results of that survey reflect back on the selling dealer; NOT the CD dealer.
In the two examples I outlined above with customers who did and didn’t order LPOs, both customers took delivery of their new Corvette with a really bad taste in their mouth.
Both customers get the surveys and instead of rating 5 out of 5 stars, one customer gives a 1-star rating and the other a 3-star rating. These ratings go against the selling dealer – NOT the CD dealer.
In many instances, the customer may comment that the sales experience with the selling dealer was absolutely perfect and they would buy another car from them again, but “in all good conscience, after dealing with my courtesy delivery dealer, I can’t give a rating higher than 3-stars.” That rating, just went against the selling dealer.
The Current Times Aren’t Helping
We’ve all heard about the pandemic-related supply chain issues, the employment and staffing issues, and the effects they’re having on just about all industries.
Last weekend, I read an article where Southwest Airlines pilots and flight attendants are planning a walk-out strike Labor Day weekend because they’re severely short-staffed, over worked, and in some instances, can’t even find a place to sleep at night because the airline is having trouble locating hotel rooms that are fully staffed, with rooms to rent out.
Automotive dealerships are not immune to these staffing issues.
Now what about inventory? Dealers are hurting for inventory because in some cases, assembly plants have been shuttered for weeks, if not months on end. As a result, a lot of dealers are struggling because they don’t have the inventory to sell.
Imagine a customer showing up at a CD dealer to take delivery of their new Corvette and the dealer informs the customer that the agreed-upon CD fee of $600, was just raised to $1,100. “If you want the car, it will cost you an additional $500.” Surprise!
The customer gets into a argument with the CD dealer, calls the selling dealer and screams over the phone at the selling dealer’s salesman. The customer forks over the additional $500, and the CD dealer’s salesman throws a bunch of attitude at the customer, hands over the keys, and just walks away from the customer.
Sound far-fetched? Sadly, it isn’t. There’s another negative review that goes against the selling dealer, even though the selling dealer had nothing to do with that.
The Delivery Experience
One of the positive attributes of doing business with MacMulkin Chevrolet is their stellar reputation within the Corvette community and the well-known fact that they provide an exceptional delivery experience to the customer.
When you pick up a new Corvette from MacMulkin, a member of their Corvette Team will spend as much time as you need to go over every facet of the car. From adjusting your mirrors, to working the infotainment system and explaining what the “Z” button does, the MacMulkin Corvette team insures that every customer that drives away in their new Corvette is completely satisfied and psyched with their purchase.
When a selling dealer initiates a CD, the delivery of that vehicle is completely out of the hands of the selling dealer. If anything goes wrong, the CD dealer is expected to make it right and provide an equally exceptional delivery experience.
While MacMulkin Chevrolet did not divulge many details in their communication to customers, based upon the research we’ve conducted into CDs, it’s pretty easy to understand how and why a dealer like MacMulkin would immediately cease and desist in offering CDs.
The amount of time and energy that a high-volume dealer has to exert over a CD gone bad, can be extremely taxing. If enough of them occur, those negative surveys could become detrimental to the selling dealer.
So what did MacMulkin Chevrolet do? In the best interest of their customers, they took back control of the delivery experience in an effort to insure that all of their customers’ expectations are exceeded when they take delivery of their new Corvette.
This reflects back positively on MacMulkin, the Corvette brand and General Motors.
While some of their customers may not agree with how MacMulkin handled the delivery of the news, or how they initially worded it, they made a painful decision to try and prevent any mishaps that could occur with deliveries that were out of their control.
MacMulkin Amends the Decision
A short time ago, MacMulkin’s C8 Corvette order guru, Shane Malone, sent out the following email to customers:
“After further discussion among our Corvette Team and careful consideration of our loyal customers, we have decided to amend the courtesy delivery decision we made earlier this week.
From this point on, we will only be utilizing a select group of Chevrolet dealers across various regions of the country, that have a proven track record of providing a similar level of care and service for both customer and Corvette, as we have here at our own dealership.
With that being said, there will be no exceptions to this policy. If a customer would like to have a courtesy delivery done, they will be given a list of dealers to select from and will only be allowed to select from that list.
While we will always recommend that our customers take delivery directly from our professionally trained Corvette Team, we understand that the logistics can be difficult for some of our customers who live in remote areas of the country.
This amendment to policy is our way of trying to meet our customers in the middle and reach an understanding and agreement that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved. At the end of the day, our only intent is to make decisions that fall within the best interest of our customers.
We value our past and future loyal customers and we look forward to continuing to provide you with a remarkable product and exceptional customer service.”
This is a fantastic compromise that should prove beneficial to both customer and dealer alike. While MacMulkin could have stuck there guns and held on to the all-or-nothing decision, instead, they took the time to listen to their customers and come up with a plan that should work well for all. Great job MacMulkin!