Ah Santa Monica, a city built by bookies, bootleggers and auto racing, it's now home to the most cliche Southern California douchebags one can imagine. I have a rule about going to Santa Monica, avoid it at all costs, especially on the weekends when half of LA county descends upon the boulevard of pipe dreams aka. 3rd Street Promenade.
However, being the good friend that I am, I'm willing to make exceptions to the rule. A group of babes have a table at Bungalow with bottomless drinks, sure, I'm there. Urban Outfitters is giving away eggs to throw at it's customers, count me in. A buddy wants to test drive an M235i, you're damn straight I'm coming along.
Though all of the above are equally wonderful, only two of these things have happened and one of them happened earlier today. Given that I am on Jalopnik writing and completely sober, it shouldn't be too hard to figure out which scenario took place. Now I wish I could say that I'm writing this because the test drive went extremely well and my friend has placed an order for BMW's hot little two door, oh how I wish that was the case. Alas, I am writing this because I'm so disgusted with the treatment we received that I had to put it into words, words other Jalops will understand.
First off I should say that this is not my first interaction with the staff at BMW Of Santa Monica. When I first moved to LA six years ago my roommate had an X5 that he took in for service there as it was still under warranty. While he talked to the service advisor I browsed around the showroom for a minute before I was approached by a salesman. From the minute he walked over I could feel him sizing me up. He asked if there was anything he could help me with, I said no I was just waiting on a friend, his response was, "please have a seat in our waiting room, salesroom is for customers only." Now, granted it was early in the morning and I wasn't dressed to the nines but last I checked, there wasn't a dress code for peeking in windows of cars on a showroom floor. I was so shocked by what he said that I simply walked outside and stood on the sidewalk until my friend was done.
Fast forward to earlier today. I have two friends currently in the market for new vehicles, I'm helping both of them with their search. One is looking for something practical, somewhat affordable and fun, so I suggested he try out the new Outback, Forester and WRX. Subaru Of Santa Monica is right next door to BMW Of Santa Monica so while he went to crunch some numbers with our salesman(who was excellent by the way) my other friend suggested we go next door to drive the M235i. Of course I had my reservations given my past experience but I figured that in the past six years, that sleaze bag who'd been so rude to me had to have been given the boot.
Well, I was wrong, he's still there. I wish I had a picture of this guy, he's the definition of euro trash. The faux Armani suit, the comb over with pony tail, the Italian accent, I mean he just oozes self centered douche. We must have met his standards for showroom entry because he greeted us eagerly, you could practically see the dollar signs in his eyes. As he took our licenses he also took a phone call, making assurances that he'd work out all the details to get the caller the best deal in the history of deals. Some poor sap that he'd no doubt gotten into a lease that'll drain a kid's college fund, real class act this guy.
Once we were in the M235i, it was time for me to put everything else aside and try to help my friend out. Having just had a very pleasant experience next door test driving 4 different vehicles I was ready for more of the same. I mean the M235i is a sports car within reach of the young professional, my friend is the target demographic, he looks the part, he's serious about getting one, I figured he'd be treated in kind. Instead, within the first 1,000 ft of driving the salesman of the century tells my friend not to push it, not to use sport mode and not to brake hard.
Now I know a test drive on public roads is not the time or place to take a car to it's limit. My friend knows this, I know this, pretty much anybody knows this. What did my friend do to prompt this stern and unnecessary warning? He rolled on the throttle with more restraint than most people would be able to muster up when sitting in that driver's seat. He by no means mashed the pedal down like a 16 year old behind the wheel of their parent's v6 powered mini van. He certainly wasn't disrespecting the vehicle or breaking unspoken rule of test drives which is of course, don't be a tool.
My friend promptly turned the car around, the sales guy asked what he was doing, my friend told him he wanted to go down another street, to which the dick with ears replied "people who buy these don't want a-lot of miles on them". Ok, odd thing to say to a potential customer but he's not wrong, he's just an asshole. My friend took it in stride, told him he'd be looking for a manual, probably doing European delivery. This apparently was a good segway to an attempt at getting my friend to spend way more money. "Why don't you look at an M4?" said Fredo's long lost twin. My friend said it was out of his price range and that was met with an audible sigh.
Well that was it, my friend had had enough, he whipped a u-turn and zipped us back to the lot. I had managed to stay quiet in the back through out the whole experience for fear that if I said one thing, I wouldn't be able to stop. The overall lack of tact this grease bag displayed was just unreal. As I said before, we aren't scrubs and even if we had been dressed in rags, this is Los Angeles, the wealthiest guy I know looks like he's homeless. Apparently at BMW Of Santa Monica, to be taken seriously and treated with the respect that all customers should receive, one must appear to be fabulously wealthy.
Some of you will probably say "well what did you expect? Tt's a BMW dealership in a city full of egomaniacs." Well you're not wrong, you're not even assholes. The simple fact is that I believe in basic human decency, which after living in LA for six years is a feat in and of itself. I don't want to accept the fact that there are still people out there who will not take someone seriously based on how they look. That those same people have managed to stay employed for a brand that I admire and respect is extremely disappointing. My friend is still considering getting a M235i but certainly not from BMW Of Santa Monica. After he takes delivery I hope he'll go back and lay down a big smoky burnout right in front of the dealership just to let dollar boy know he missed out on a sale. A sale he probably could have used the commission from to get hair plugs or another bottle of whatever he thinks passes for cologne.