Dealer Come-Ons From Gengras And Northeast Waste My Time And Their Money

HARWINTON, CT – Telephone solicitations, spam emails and junk items delivered by the postal carriers are among life’s daily irritants. Come-ons to change cell carrier, sign up for insurance, or attend a seminar by a financial planner and be rewarded with a “free gift” routinely repulse more than lure me to their products.

Two especially laughable examples of worthless advertising and promotion arrived in the mail in recent months from two Ford dealers – Gengras Ford in Plainville, CT and Northeast Ford in Millerton, NY.

Gengras mailed me a “V.I.P card” that was “Exclusively for: Bud Wilkinson.” It included a “$50 gift card” for Ford certified service with “No Strings Attached,” except that I’d have to pay $49.95 for a “full synthetic oil change.” Not an unfair price.

Gengras also touted a $49.99 charge for a “summer special” that promised my car would get a once-over. The hoses, fans, belts, clamps, brakes, wipers and tires would be inspected. The AC and heating systems would be checked as well.

The card did promise “free fluid top offs” and “complimentary wash and vac for life!”

I can’t help but wonder on what mailing list my name appeared that Gengras evidently purchased. I don’t own a Ford, although I did have a 2008 Ford Ranger that got parked a year ago and later sold because the frame was so rusty and rotted as to be unsafe to drive.

My daily driver now is a 2010 Mazda Miata sports car. I have a longtime mechanic who takes care of me. I don’t need help from Gengras, but what makes me curious is what would happen if I drove to Plainville and requested a free wash and vac. Would Gengras honor the gift card if I wasn’t there to spend money? What if I did it daily? It’s tempting to test the veracity of card the way it’s worded.

The other dealer communique from William Bohan, general sales manager of Northeast Ford in Millerton, was just flat-out embarrassing.

“OUR RECORDS INDICATE YOU MAY CURRENTLY OWN A 2016-2027 FORD FOCUS AND WE WANT YOUR TRADE! THESE VEHICLES ARE IN THEIR PEAK TRADE CYCLE. WE ARE WILLING TO MAKE AGGRESSIVE OFFERS FOR THESE VEHICLES. THERE IS NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.”

Really? This was just too much news for me when it arrived back in April. For one, I didn’t own and have never owned a Focus. So much for the dealership’s “records.” The last Ford auto that I had was a 1999 Mustang convertible. You wanted my “trade” but said there’s “no purchases necessary.” Doesn’t the word “trade” suggest an exchange of one vehicle for another?

Let me just ask what I believe is a common sense question? Why, if I were considering a Ford, would I ever go 26 miles – and across a state line – to shop when there are 10 Ford dealers in Connecticut closer to home. They can be found in the cities of Torrington, Litchfield, Winsted, Watertown, Berlin, Cheshire, East Hartford, Windsor, Glastonbury, and, yes, Plainville, the aforementioned Gengras Ford.

I suppose some logical followup questions revolve around who compiles the mailing lists that car dealers use? Who verifies their accuracy? Does any real thought go into targeting potential customers or is it just done scattershot? Seems like a huge waste of money, an expense you bet is tacked on to the cost of all vehicles on dealer lots.

So, sorry Johnathan and Chip Gengras, and sorry William Bohan, for not responding to your marketing ploys. Yes, you wasted my time. But thanks for making me laugh, and for giving me a topic to write about. Such unfocused spending makes me wonder what else is amiss and needs attention at your two stores.

About Bud Wilkinson

Bud Wilkinson writes the "RIDE-CT" motorcycle column and the "My Ride" classic car feature in the "Republican-American" newspaper in Waterbury, CT. A graduate of Vermont Academy prep school, he holds a B.A. degree journalism from Ohio Wesleyan University. He is the recipient of a Scripps Howard Foundation National Journalism Award in 1992 and a 1991-92 regional Emmy Award for commentary. He currently rides a 1987 BMW R 80 RT and a 2014 Triumph Bonneville and drives a 2010 Mazda MX-5 Miata.

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