(Cross-posted from InsightAnalytical)
UPDATE: Still in love with this VW Sportwagen!
During these tough economic times many businesses have to kick it up a notch in terms of how they treat the customers they DO have. Then there are businesses that have been going all out all along…like my favorite car dealership SISBARRO Volkswagen here in Las Cruces, New Mexico!
The VW dealers I dealt with in NJ were pretty small outfits…like the defunct Princeton VW and the one I went to next, Hamilton VW. And although Sisbarro VW is part of a larger organization, the VW store still maintains the homey atmosphere that is something special.
Part of my loyalty to this organization, apart from the fact that I’m loyal to the VW brand, may be because it just so happens that the owner, Lou Sisbarro was born in NJ (across the river from where I grew up!) and that he gets back to the Jersey Shore (Lavallette) every year (… I have childhood memories of a week at Lavallete with my aunt and uncle and cousins one summer).
But that’s really just coincidental icing on the cake. The real story is that the folks at Sisbarro VW over the years have been great…and the last few months have been EXCEPTIONAL!!
It all started when we traded in our two Rabbits (Golfs again this year) for an end-of -the 2009 year Sportwagen. Years ago, we had looked at a Jetta wagon, but it was a bit small, so we opted at the time for a Passat. Since it was a turbo and my mother had so little mileage on it, we decided after 5 years that we might sludge things up because it wasn’t getting driven enough. We both got our Rabbits, but now that my mother stopped driving, it was time to go to one car. Luckily, VW reintroduced the Jetta wagon, this time as a totally redesigned Sportwagen…which, seems to be almost as roomy inside as the old Passat!
Of course, since they are in demand and it was the end of the year, our Sales Consultant Andy Gutierrez, had to initiate a search around the western region. Andy and us go WAY BACK…he’s been at Sisbarro for 10 years and we’ve bought cars from him before. And he may very well have been the person who helped us out on our first visit to New Mexico. At the time, we were driving a 1998 Jetta sedan and for some reason the trunk indicator light was staying on. We stopped by the dealership and the problem was resolved…we had been slamming the trunk too hard!!
I longed for a white car but one that was available was pretty much sold. There were two others, one already in sales negotiations, so we decided to settle for the Reflex Silver, just like our old Passat had. We reviewed the features and said OK! We’d buy it sight unseen!! (But, as a courtesy, Sales Manager Mike Tourtillott said we didn’t even have to sign the papers until we actually drove the car!) A customer with a Sportwagen was at the dealership by chance and graciously allowed us to try out the trunk…yes, a walker fit in it, no problem! The owner, another VW buff, raved that it was the best VW he had ever owned.
Within a few days the car arrivedfrom Utah and it was gorgeous!! We had a lot of laughs as we paid for the car…Finance Manager Ronnie Frietze has a talent for making the entire process of signing a zillion forms and handing over the check painless as he keeps the jokes coming!
When we sat down with Andy to review the car’s features, I wondered where the AUX input was. This is the input used for things like MP3 players, etc. MMMM…… In the center console there was a weird looking receptacle, which turned out to be an IPod cradle. Panic. I don’t use an IPod and don’t want one. Where was my little $30 Sylvania MP3 player going to go??
Apparently, the normally wonderful VW engineers had had a few too many beers over in VW-land, because they had decided to get fancy and strike a deal with Apple to put in an IPod dock even though the first car reviews had said the base model Sportwagen had an AUX input!
Now, I don’t go crazy listening to my MP3 all that much, but I did use it last summer when I drove the 300 miles up to Albuquerque and the radio dial seemed a bit empty out there in the wide open spaces at times. Driving alone, it was comforting to hear SOMETHING playing (free classical performance I found on the internet). Besides, I had no use for the IPod dock whatsover. I felt robbed!!
Well, I launched into a web search and lo and behold! Others had turned up the same problem, only in a 2008 VW GTI. And there were pictures to prove it!! Here’s the page I found with lots of pictures and the solution to the problem: http://www.golfmkv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=73447
But first, the folks at Sisbarro tried to find a fix through Volkswagen. The Parts Department, Dee Lerma and Jack Tellez, ordered official VW parts at Andy’s request, but they turned out to be converter kits for cars that had an AUX but not an IPod cradle. (Andy walked over to me with a bunch of cables and connectors, a sight to see!) Along the way, another salesperson, Martín Torres, also tried to lend a hand.
At that point, I showed him the info I had found at the above site. Andy called in Service Manager Theron Ledbetter. At that moment, his very young son had a case of the H1N1 swine flu! He was worried, of course, but still devoted himself to solving the problem that VW had created, not Sisbarro! I investigated a few different aftermarket “fixes” but it all boiled down to something I found at Enfig Car Stereo…based, amazingly, in Carlstadt, New Jersey only a couple of miles from where I grew up!
Theron actually got on his phone and talked to the guys at Enfig directly to make sure the item would work in my car. We had to make sure that, as an aftermarket product, it wouldn’t void my warranty. Luckily, this little gizmo didn’t involve anything more that unplugging the IPod cradle and plugging in the adapter for the MP3 so there was no warranty issue, thank goodness! Enfig sent the product promptly, but when Theron plugged it in, it didn’t work! He was back on the phone with Enfig who promptly sent out a different brand.
VOILA! The little plug in adapter worked perfectly and now all I have to do is tap the CD button on my radio, turn the MP3 on and listen.
Andy, Theron and Mike worked it so I didn’t have to worry about the cost of the unit so the issue was resolved! I actually had called VW corporate and someone said that “the problem was being fixed” in the 2010 models…obviously, they must have seen some problems with just providing an IPod cradle at the expense of a AUX input that can be used for several other devices.
So, thanks to the crew at Sisbarro VW, I now have an AUX input and play my MP3!
And, much to my delight, I received a Christmas card from Andy thanking us for our continued loyalty. Well, I have to say, I was very surprised. I think he also wanted to thank me because we had agreed to have a potential customer drive one of the Rabbits we were trading in…and which was sold along with the other immediately!
This whole incident was unusual, of course, but over the years I’ve always had great service at VW…so, I must also thank the folks in Customer Service, Tony Aquilar and Kevin Reed, who also made sure our new car was fully prepped.
And then there’s the lady who sits in a corner of the waiting room. Her title is “Office Coordinator” and she juggles everything from taking phone calls to handling bills. This always friendly face belongs to Lisa Murillo, whom I snapped through the waiting room window (pic used with her permission):
For anyone looking for great people to do business with in the Southern New Mexico area, I suggest taking a drive over to Sisbarro Volkswagen. Not only will you find great cars, but you find a group of people who will take care of you needs and provide great service after you buy your car!
In this day and age, with so many stories about how people get treated badly, it’s really a pleasure to be able to recommend a great dealership and the great bunch of people who make it happen!
1115 S. Valley Drive
Las Cruces, NM 88005