The power of the Internet is being felt by the Husker Automotive Group at their BMW of Lincoln store. Before we get into the details of this debacle, we want you to know it was debated as to whether this should be posted on Dealer Refresh or not. At the end of the debate, the spirit of teaching other dealers a lesson from this mistake won out over just pointing a finger. We don’t strive to kick people when they’re down.
Anyway, this all started on March 20th, 2008 when this eBay auction ended:
click for actual listing. There was only a single bidder and he won the auction for $60,000 on a brand new 2008 BMW M3 Sedan with a MSRP above $70,000. Obviously BMW of Lincoln was not watching the listing close enough, and they also forgot to set a reserve (mistake #1).
When the auction ended the winner was contacted, by email, with the statement “Congratulations” – according to the winning bidder. Then that email was followed by a second email and phone call stating the listing was an error (mistake #2). After some dispute over things, the winning bidder started a thread on one of the M3 forums:
click here for that thread.
Two days later, AutoBlog picked the story up:
click here for that article. Since AutoBlog put it out, the story has traveled across every automotive forum we’ve seen.
Remember lightsabre boy, the lol’d owls, and the chubby-cheeked Asian boy? Well, we can now add the General Manager of BMW of Lincoln to that list. His photo was found here: Husker BMW staff. Now he is the latest Photoshop child of the Internet. Since his Internet popularity took off, he sent an email to the winning bidder asking him to stop all the things happening around the Internet (mistake #3), as if the winning bidder can do anything about it. But the winning bidder has been posting all the email communications from BMW of Lincoln, and now the General Manager is a YouTube hit:
Upon further debate, we decided to take the video down. Even though the video is technically hosted on YouTube (not Dealer Refresh) we decided it was not compliant with Dealer Refresh site rules. We must admit we were caught up in the hysteria and were not thinking things all the way through when we linked that video to this post. We would like to apologize to the people who have been targeted in this whole mess, and let those people know we sympathize – this must be an incredibly difficult time. Just remember: “this too shall pass.” We would also like to put on the record that we have a lot of admiration for the larger dealer group encompassing Husker BMW. We started this post on the notion that it will help other dealers be cognizant of reputation management (a hot topic in the dealer world right now). We would also like to extend an invitation to any representative of Husker BMW, or the larger group, to participate in the comment thread attached to this post. We welcome any insight you can give, and hope you’ll take this opportunity to help your cause.
Jeff & Alex
“These bloggers out there, they have lots of time on their hands to do this.” …one of the salesmanagers.
“Did it ever occur to the dealership that they created a situation that compelled complete strangers to MAKE time?”….the winning bidder.
It only takes 1 person, 1 posting to really screw things up.
There is a lot to learn from BMW of Lincoln’s mistakes. Let’s recap those:
- Put a reserve on your eBay auctions or make the opening bid something you can do.
- Don’t assume your customers are dumb. Don’t tell someone putting a car on eBay was a mistake when you’ve obviously taken the time to make a decent listing.
- Don’t email an upset customer anything they can hold against you publicly.
- Know when you’ve lost and make things right. Admit your mistake and move on, no matter how much it costs because the penalties are far worse.
We’re sorry this happened to you BMW of Lincoln, but you really did it to yourselves. Hopefully you’ll do the right thing, and have learned the power of the Internet!
Co-authored by Jeff & Alex