BMW Denies Test Drive Because You Are Not A "Serious Customer"

BMW of Columbia refused to let reader Barry test drive a 135i because he was not a serious customer. The dealership didn’t tell Barry what would make him a serious customer, but they seemed offended when Barry explained that he wasn’t going to buy a car that day.

Barry writes:

Well, I went to test drive a 135i demo at BMW of Columbia in Columbia, SC. The car in question was being pulled in from a test drive as we drove onto the lot. A salesman (note that I refuse to call these particular clowns Client Advisors…no offense to BMW CA’s in general) followed us around as we looked at the car, sat in it, played with controls, etc. He knew virtually nothing about the 135i but that didn’t worry me a lot.

I asked if I could test drive the car and was told yes we could take it out after they took my license info. We went inside the dealership and after waiting a few minutes the salesman came back and said the manager wanted to keep the miles down on the demo, therefore I wouldn’t be able to drive the car unless I demonstrated I was “a serious customer”. I’m not sure what could have indicated that we weren’t serious, and the salesman wasn’t clear on what we needed to do to demonstrate “seriousness”. I politely informed the salesman that I wasn’t going to be buying today but in no case would I buy a car without driving it first. His response was “well, we just need to know that you’re serious…”, again without indicating what would be required to demonstrate this. At that point I simply said “congrats, you just lost a potential customer”. I then found the sales manager and told him the same thing before leaving in a huff. Sorry, I’m a sensitive guy.

Some answers to potential questions about this incident:

  • I was with my wife and 23 year old son, who drove his own BMW onto the lot. Needless to say, we looked like customers that could afford a 1-series…
  • The demo had just returned from a test drive with “serious customers” who subsequently left without buying a car.
  • Neither the salesman or sales manager indicated what their metric for customer “seriousness” was, and I was in no mood to attempt mind-reading. If they’d simply ran our credit score they would have been showing us most anything on the lot…
  • I’ve contacted the dealership and BMWNA about the incident. I don’t expect anything to come of it but if anyone knows how to get their attention please let me know.
  • I do have other satisfactory options for where to buy to the car, but I will not excuse the sleazy behavior of this particular outfit.

Note that I’d already been warned by an enthusiast acquaintance of mine that BMW of Columbia is a low-class leasing mill. My experience seems to bear that out, as we probably didn’t look like we were going lease anything (being “buyers”).

Um, we’re loathe to put it this way, but BMW of Columbia should really take their customers more seriously.

(Photo: Getty)