Nobody wants to admit when they fell for something when they should have known better, but the more I have thought about it, the more I think this is worth sharing. It all started when I got a fancy glossy flyer from a local new car dealer in the mail. It was a contest where you scratch off to reveal a number. If the number matches one of the numbers on the flyer, you win. The problem was in the way the flyer was laid out. Arrayed along the left side of the flyer was a list of prizes with the grand prize, a $5,000 gift card, at the top. Adjacent to each prize was a number. Unfortunately, I no longer have the flyer (more on that in a minute).

I scratched off the little circle and lo and behold the number in the circle matched the number next to the grand prize. I studied the flyer closely looking for the catch, but could not find one. I won’t lie, I really thought I had won the grand prize. Again, there was nothing to indicate that matching the number next to the prize did not get you the prize. It was already late in the evening, so I figured I would pay the dealership a visit the next day to claim my prize.

The next day, while at work, I decided it might be worth giving the dealership a call before I wasted my time driving over there as it was kind of out of the way. After all, surely they would like to talk to their grand prize winner. I called the dealership and when I mentioned the contest, the lady on the other end became very terse and said, “You have to come in”. Fine, I thought - maybe she’s just having a bad day.

I decided to leave work a little early as I had an obligation that evening. I drove over to the dealership and got out of my car with my flyer. I walked in and was greeted by a salesman. I showed him the flyer and he walked me over to a big poster on the wall. Low and behold, the numbers were now rearranged from what they had been on the flyer. Instead of my number being next to the grand prize, it was now next a scratch off type lottery ticket. I had won a frickin’ lottery ticket. And, it wasn’t even a real lottery. It was their own lottery for $1500. The salesman then said I had the option of not taking the lottery ticket and instead giving them my name and information where they would enter me into a drawing for any of the prizes that remained unclaimed on Saturday at 4:00 (must be present to win). Except for the grand prize, which could only be won by matching the number. So, it was a gimmick. I told the salesman that I had better things to do on Saturday and took my lottery ticket and left. In retrospect, I wish I would have kept the flyer so that I could share it with you here. Needless to say, I didn’t win the $1500 either.

This is already kind of long, so in Part Two, I will share with you another recent dealership experience which further illustrates what is wrong with the franchise dealership model and why I think their days are numbered.

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Oh, and in case you are wondering what kind of dealer it was, here is a Honda Civic for your trouble.