Saturday, November 13, 2010

WTF Is Up With This Billboard?

Here's what's funny about this billboard, seen at the corner of Balboa and San Fernando Mission Boulevards: no one gets what it's supposed to mean.

My kid, who's in the fifth grade, asked what it was all about, and my husband, who isn't in the fifth grade (he's in 20th, actually) couldn't give him an answer. He too was completely mystified.

My take on it is that Doug and Jerry are supposed to be two assholes that lie, prompting you to respond with incredulity: "Honestly?" Whereas Hamer Toyota, by contrast, doesn't employ any assholes -- at least, maybe they don't. The question mark after "Honesty" leaves room for doubt.

And what of the presumably fictitious "Mega Motors"? By erecting this imaginary straw man, does Hamer seek to convince us that they are a puny, modest, mom-and-pop operation? One that happens to make use of military-grade searchlights on a semi-regular basis?

Okay, so "Mega Motors" has these two characters on one side of the billboard, but the only alternative Hamer offers is a faceless logo. Who knows? Maybe the guys who work at Hamer are even worse! They could look like Mephisto, or like Courtney Love. Maybe even the prophet Mohammed works there. Sure, he's honest, but we just can't show you his face. There's nothing there to contrast, because all of the attention is on Doug and Jerry.

Of course, Doug and Jerry themselves raise a host of questions. Here's what we do know about them: they have bad taste in typefaces. Hair-helmeted Jerry seems to be rude on the phone, and he also intimidates his hapless, blubbery co-worker Doug.

To defend himself against Jerry's poor landline etiquette, Doug has been forced to run out to the one of the service area bays and grab some of the carpentry tools that Hamer's mechanics normally keep on hand.

I can see how the clawhamer hammer might offer some protection, but the reasoning behind the saw is less obvious. My first guess was that the saw could be used to sever Jerry's corded phone; the second, more grisly interpretation is that Doug will use the saw to dismember Jerry's corpse after flattening his skull with the hammer. This is clearly a move that Doug has been considering for some time, and today he has finally mustered the courage to do it. Depicted here is the moment when, sneaking up on the still-unsuspecting Jerry, Doug is only inches away from the deed. Doug only hopes that he can strike the first blow with his hammer before Jerry attacks with his 80's-era phone. Those things were heavy, and the curly cord could be used for strangulation; doughy Doug knows that if he doesn't move quickly, he could have quite a fight on his hands.

Hamer has presented this unfolding psychodrama for our consideration, presumably to convince us that their salesmen, unlike those of the competition, are not murderous and deranged sociopaths. But perhaps the truer reason behind this billboard is to distract us from Hamer Toyota's dreadful reputation. Yelp's opinion is overwhelmingly negative: of 20 reviews, only four were positive, and Hamer is given two out of five stars:

"These guys are as pushy and sleazy as they get.... And Hamer even kept calling us for two weeks to get us to come back in.... Don't give them your phone number!"

"The worst dealer ever! ...The car was still under factory warranty plus I got the extended 5 year from them. Go in to the service department and the guy tells me they will not fix it, that it's my fault for not taking cAre of it. ...I tell him about the tsb on the problem and to look it up, he tells me that he never hear of such a thing."

"WORSE SERVICE EVER IN THE HISTORY OF SERVICING CARS. "

"THIS PLACE IS A NIGHTMARE. To quote from 'Terms of Endearment'
Aurora Greenway: Would you like to come in?
Garrett Breedlove: I'd rather stick needles in my eyes."

"I'm with Steve on this place, it sucks all sorts of balls. "

"If I could, I would give this place negative stars."

"If you want to be lied to, get a car that is probably messed up on top of the already existing safety issues Toyota has, and deal with people who wont care about you as soon as you fill their customer service survey, then go to Hamer. "

"Horrible service, ridiculously high prices. Also, make sure to avoid a sales associate named Doug, he is very annoying and unprofessional."


Wait a minute... did you say "Doug?" Get this: Doug is a real person, and he doesn't work at "Mega Motors." He works at HAMER TOYOTA!

Not one, but two Yelp-ers single out a salesman named Doug, and one calls him "by far, the worst person I have ever dealt with in a customer service job.... rude, sarcastic, and abrupt."

Wow. Rude, sarcastic, and abrupt? Consider yourself lucky. At least he didn't go after you with a hammer and a saw.

10 comments:

  1. on first glance I thought "Doug" was Glenn Beck.

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  2. LJ Williamson - Submitted for your approval...

    Everyone at MegaMotors thought salesman Doug Blubbery was just one of the guys; a little quieter than most car salesmen, especially his co-worker Jerry Helmethair...but then one blustery November afternoon, that all changed.

    Baw-daw...bu-bu-bu-dum...

    Funny stuff, LJ...

    Best

    Brad

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  3. The billboard assumes viewers have seen the (even more) annoying TV commercials, which feature obnoxious car salesmen from "Mega Motors."

    Maybe it's a classic case of Freudian Projection?

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  4. That billboard's assumption is wrong in my case. I guess I need to watch more TV.

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  5. I really don't like the advertisement, but I don't think that Hamer is bad at all. My experience with websites like Yelp is that the only people who post are those who are unhappy. For everyone who posts a bad experience in frustration there are doubtless many others who have ambivalent or good experiences that don't post. I have had my car serviced at Hamer for 20 years and I have purchased three cars there so I am speaking from personal experience and believe me, I do have many other service experiences to complain about, but not from Hamer.

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  6. We have purchased two cars from Hamer. Our last purchase was from a saleslady name Leah, and we actually stuck with her for two years, until the Prius had the features on it that we wanted. She was very patient, professional, and went above and beyond for us. She tried to figure out a way to modify the car with Mobility Works because my husband is tall. The problem was not the sales people, it was the "closers" or the finance people. They, like every other dealer we have ever bought a car from (all new cars, all 8 of them), are the ones that ruin the very happy experience that car buying is supposed to be. They try to be intimidating, and they lie to you. This did happen to us at Hamer both times, but we got what we wanted and did not back down. We complained in writing, and got a call from their management, but I seriously doubt that history will NOT repeat itself. Because we always pay cash or go with our own financing, our issue is with the extended warranty. We want the Toyota backed warranty, and they are determined to sell us the aftermarket warranty because they make a bigger commission. We have always gotten what we wanted, but have had to do the walk out the door thing, and tell them that the whole deal is off. One time they tried to sell us a silver warranty and told us that that was the top of the line. They stepped out of the room, and I noticed a warranty brochure on the desk. It stated in the brochure that there was a gold warranty and then a platinum warranty, and of course both of those offered more coverage than the silver. We got the platinum and paid what we felt was fair, but we all know that they made money on that deal too. Their service staff have been very helpful and respectful. They aren't the cheapest place to have the car serviced, but that is where we go because they have a shuttle service. Plus, if something goes wrong, they can't claim that someone else screwed it up.

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  7. I attempted to purchase a car from Hamer a few years ago. All was relatively ok until it came time to close the deal and the "closers" moved in! Then it quickly turned to hell! They tried all the old tactics: You have to take an extended warranty, you definitely need paint and fabric protector, the salesmen should not have quoted you that figure, etc., etc. We walked out (they tried to stop us) and bought elsewhere that same day for less actually and with no hassles. When I got home there was a message on my answering machine from Hamer telling me that they would honor the original deal and to please come back. I called and told them that it was too late and my new Toyota was sitting in the driveway. I've never been back since!

    So, the question mark on their billboard is quite appropriate in my opinion.

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  8. I last bought from Hamer in 1996. Same experience as the previous commenters with respect to the closer. Walked out, chased down by the salesman, original deal honored.

    The strange twist for me came a few weeks later when I got a chain letter. It was the typical kind that told of the great blessings that had come to people who had honored the letter, and of the terrible doom that had visited those who broke the chain. The letter came with a meter-printed stamp (obviously from a business). A few calls to the post office revealed that the meter belonged to none other than... You guessed it - Hamer Toyota.

    I called Hamer to let them know that some employee was rifling through their files for addresses, and misusing the postal meter. Met with the General Manager and gave him the letter & envelope. Never heard another thing. I always hoped that it was the closer, though.

    We bought our next car at Keyes (that's Keyes Keyes Keyes, Keyes on Van Nuys). No hassle with the closer there. They did, of course, try to sell the various aftermarket services (rust protection, etc.), but there was no pressure after we said "No Thanks".

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  9. I have an even stranger tale from my dealings with Hamer... Helped a friend buy a Corolla there four years ago. She traded in an old Ford Escort. About 6 weeks later she gets a call from L.A. police impound telling her that her car is there and racking up impound fees.

    It turns out that Hamer never transferred the ownership and let an employee drive it. It broke down and he simply abandoned it by the roadside.

    Once she explained that she had traded in the car to Hamer the impound gal said to forget about it and she would take it up with Hamer. She also said that this had happened before with Hamer. My friend never heard another word about it.

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  10. I had a dealing with the most sleazy finance man at Hamer I have ever come across, he quoted me a ridiculously high interest rate when my credit was over a 720 score, I was so insulted that I stood up to walk out and he suddenly changed his tune and the interest rate what a shocker!!!! ( yeah right) It turned out that I did go through with the deal because I negotiated the interest rate down from 6.99 to 4.00 and my sales person she was very pleasant and had all the RIGHT answers not just answers, as I did do my research. So in the end I was happy with my car and my sales lady but I know now that I better have boxing gloves on to deal with Mr Zain the Finance Man he is one sneaky guy!

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