Here is a story of a Tragety:
In 2002 I was working for the Toronto Star when a friend of mine called me and asked what I thought of a sales idea. It was internet based, and they were calling people in the Auto Trader and asking them to list on a website.
The Auto Trader at the time was charging $60 every 2 weeks for a listing, and this company he wanted to work for offered a larger ad, for $60, but it would run until the vehicle sold, and they would give them a 90 day money back Guarantee.
Well I had never heard of such a thing, but my reaction was YES! I mean with the "Do not Call Registry going on, this was a way around it. These people were ASKING you to call about their car! So you are. Sorry... that slips through all the loopholes!
Also, it was not a bad concept. $60? How many people are gonna ask for their money back, when they do not have to pay again and again with the Auto Trader? So I advised him to take the job.
Well, I was on my way back to Calgary anyway, as even though I was making $1,500 per week + in Ontario, working for the Toronto Star, selling Newspaper Subscriptions, and only working maybe 20 hours per week... it was expensive to live there. AND I could not hire a team, as this was commission, and since it was so expensive to live in Ontario, people needed a "guaranteed income"... and so I was on my own there. I wanted to go back out West.
I had an idea of selling Video Certificates (door to door) and running a sales team to do that. Glad I fell flat on my face, as you know, the Video Market has taken a eternal "Nose Dive".
So I hooked up with this guy, and I entered their office. They were kinda lost, as they had a few hundred vehicles listed in Alberta, and Ontario, but the only guy who actually sold anything there "in mass" was the Manager, Chris. At first he basically gave away the ads, just to populate the site. They needed me.
Well, there was no "Sales Pitch" and so I had to invent one, but a good intoroduction was... "If I could get you a buyer, at your selling price... I mean a Guaranteed Buyer... would that be worth $60 to you?".
Well it worked, and soon we had 15 people working in the Office. Cars, Trucks, Farm Machinery, Motorcycles, Snowmobiles... heck we even got a couple of Planes!
Site expanded from Alberta & Ontario, first BC... then the rest of the West, finally Quebec & the Maritimes... the Company finally paid the programmer to open the USA. One other guy would compete with me for top, but I found out later that his girlfriend (the secretary) was feeding him all the "call ins"... as with 15 people, some would decide later to list and just call the Company directly. We got an 800 number. Soon we had local numbers for each major City.
A Sales Manager came in who was just "Right on Top of it" and he did what I would do. Offer CASH for the next 2 sales! Bonus time! Daily and weekly & it motivated the Office. 20,000 vehicles then & somebody came up with another great idea.
Let's offer Financing! Well yes! Now experienced, I could see that if a vehicle was worth over $10,000, there was NO WAY they were gonna have that money in their back pocket! Also I saw that many people had "test drivers" that wanted to buy... but when they went to get financing... they all of a sudden dissapeared. I understood then how much the finance companies were in "cohoots" with the Dealerships, and after talking to a few Dealers, I understood why.
Finance Companies don't want to finance a Private Vehicle. Anything could happen to it, and they would be left holding the bag. Yet not if they dealt with Dealerships. Also, the dealerships were giving them kick backs. So in reality, anyone who qualified for a loan over $10,000, would be talked out of the Private Sale, as that was THEIR job!
The Owner had some Dealer friends, and they all agreed to finance people who wanted to buy vehicles on our site. WOW! Great Selling Feature! Except I quickly learned that if people went to them for financing, they were more interested in selling what was on THEIR lots, as they would rather make money out of BOTH ends.
Well it was around this time that my Favorite Manager quit, as he had too many other things he was involved with and something had to go. He reccomended me as his replacement, but in the VAST intelligence of the Owner, he chose a guy begging for the job, wo was a rip off. This guy would tell customers that he already had a specific buyer for their vehicle, and just to list it, as it would be sold.
At this point, I walked out of the Office and went home to work. Asked "hey who told you that you could work from home?", I replied "Do you want my sales or not?"! Yea they did as I was their best.
Now we are at 40,000 vehicles, and we are getting piles of people that want their money back, as their vehicle did not sell. Yet they had to follow the rules. We needed a Notarized Copy of their Title or Ownership within 10 days of the 90 days to give the refund. Notaries cost $45. Who is gonna pay that to get back $60? Yet they complained anyway.
They complained to the BBB, and at first the Owner would weekly show the BBB why they were not qualified for a refund, and the BBB agreed. However after a few months, the Owner got tired of going down to the BBB to explain the exact same thing.
Part of the problem was the Money Back Guarantee was hidden. You had to click on it to see it. However it still was in black and white, and totally reasonable. Why should we give you your money back if you no longer own the car? Show me proof that you own the car! The only way you can do that legally is with a Notary.
Still, it was then, that I went to the Owner and pleaded... "Give them their frigging money back! It's bad Karma Man! Look... how many really want it back? 2%? " Oh you have no idea, he exclaimed. Well I said..."even if it is 10% (which I doubt) it is better to shut them up, as over $60 they will cause you no end of trouble!".
He just ignored me, and we raised our price to $100 as we went into the USA. Well you know what happens when the BBB gets too many complaints without a response? They PUBLISH "This Company is no longer responding to complaints"!
Well you know what customers do when they see that? They paid with Visa or Mastercard, so they call Visa and Mastercard! Visa & Mastercard do not fool around... they just take away your Merchant Account. They did.
When Great Cars and Trucks folded up we had over 65,000 vehicles in North America, and we were getting compliments as how fast their vehicle sold! Yet under it went.
My money back guarantee is totally visible, on the front page. There is NO question about how to get your money back. I still need a Notary. However anyone who ever goes to the BBB will get their money back, guilty or innocent! And my financing? NO DEALERS! Just ONE "Good Credit Bad Credit" organization which I give an EXCLUSIVE right to ALL ads in their region, under the conditions that they finance 97% of the people who apply! They are NOT allowed to turn those Customers into Dealer deals, and if I find out they do... they lose their "exclusive rights"!
Yet GC&T got shut down and it was a great idea. A Million Dollar Enterprize. Even though it was a situation where the complainers had nothing really to complain about. $100 and their ad stays listed "with financing" until it sells, and the Auto Trader was charging the same amount at that time for 2 weeks, with NO financing, and NO Money Back Guarantee, these morons complained anyway (as I expected they would) and not only did it destroy this great venture, but the Owner is now facing charges... from stupid people: http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2010/0...es.html?ref=rss
I am NOT going down that road!
Hope you enjoyed the story. My website with Molly Garvey's help is just gonna get a lot more Professional NOW. www.kijiji.com