Car buyback offers are bad CX.

A few years ago, my wife and bought a new car: a Chevy Bolt EV. About a year later, the dealership began a drumbeat of emails, phone calls, letters, and postcards, each communication proposing that we sell our car back to them for a different dollar value each time. The acute shortage of both new and used cars led to inflated values, and the dealership presumably wanted to make the most of this. But these proposals mostly annoyed us, because they were offering to make our lives worse.

We hadn’t bought a car because it seemed fun or interesting, but, like most people, we did so because we needed a car. When the dealership proposed that they buy back our car, they were proposing to create a problem for us: the problem of not having a car. Given the very shortage of new and used cars, we had no interest in trading our car for money. After all, it was just a year prior that we’d traded money for our car! We need a car. Not having a car is not an attractive offer.

I actually answered the phone for one of these promotional calls, and was able to tell the dealer why their offer held no allure. I explained that we would entertain an offer to exchange our car for a newer EV. Instead of telling us that they’d pay us $X for our 2019 Bolt, we’d rather they propose that we trade our 2019 Bolt for an e.g. 2023 Bolt for a cost of $Y. This did not compute, apparently, because over a year later, we continue to receive a buyback offer every couple of months, none proposing anything beyond us no longer having a car.

I guess this works, or else they wouldn’t do it, but it seems like it would work a lot better if their proposal wasn’t to create a problem for people, but instead to at least propose a problem and a solution, all in one go.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

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