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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I had a long phone conversation with Checkered Flag Motors, Virginia Beach, VA this morning. There really wasn’t much to be found out except:
(1) Though their new smart facility is under construction and due to be open in January, they are still not officially named as a dealer. Apparently there is training to be completed before that will happen.
(2) They do expect to have some cars in January, even though a public estimate was for the third week of March.
(3) So far they have gotten little information from smartUSA Distributor LLC. Perhaps that will come with the training.
(4) They have not been forwarded any customer contact info from sDLLC. They don't know in what form it will come. They don’t know if the customer information will be fed to them individually, or a prioritized block of names.
(5) They are ferreting out info just like we are - from internet interest sites.
(6) They think that when they get their allotment of cars that reservation holders will have first priority over walk-ins for what is in inventory. It could be that a reservation holder who walks in before his number and car comes up and wants to buy whatever is available off the floor will just forfeit his “ordered” car. The $99 - ??? (I doubt if many people will care at that point!)
(7) CFM, as the road show refreshment host, was invited to the "private" demonstration same as us and had to wait in the same lines as us to drive. Exept for the bottled water, cookies, and smoothies, they were out of the loop.

So it goes….
 

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Well march makes sense for a complete introduction, because my local dealers sign say that they are opening spring 2008, which I thought was odd because of a January intro, but it seems people wont get their cars until later.
 

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My dealer was able to "find" me yesterday 9/26 (when I phoned them for an update) on their computer system so it looks like they can access "their" customer base.

This is how they invited me to their road show stop.

The manager claimed they can't sign a contract with me until they sign their contract with Smart - which hasn't happened yet allegedly 3 months before the introduction of the car- and I do my confirmation when I get my secret decoder ring via email- which hasn't happened yet.

They find this process is even more frustrating for them then it is for us.

I guess we all can draw conclusions for ourselves on how well the thing is going from these datapoints.
 

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Kinda silly is an understatement.

I would go with Kafkaesque.
And I'd call it it real passive-aggressive behavior by Penske to be playing these kind of games with the dealers. That type of arogant behavior will just affect how the dealer subsequently treats the customer. If I were a dealer investing millions in new facilities and Penske was withholding information and dealership amnnouncement, I'd tell them to go p*ss up a rope. This is real bad faith. I feel for the dealers.


Ooops! Forgot my medication!
 

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I think Penske is making a big mistake by taking this enthusiastic start by the media outlets and early adapters and way, way overplaying their hand.

Long term success in business depends on relationships and this nonsense is killing off the initial goodwill of both the dealers and the customers.

You know it's not that much of a fall off for me to just go out a buy (did you know it's still possible to go to a dealer and buy a car?) a Yaris and get 85% of what I want without this baloney.

Instead because I really would rather have the Smart after driving it a number of times as a rental in Europe, I have to sit here like an idoit waiting for a secret code (only via email of cause- miss it in your spam filter and you go the end of the line- and probably to bed without dinner) to place a not quite order which then allows me to eventually go and order the car from a dealer not knowing when it will actually be delivered (we've heard January, March or who knows?) who may or may not charge me over the MSSRP because three other early adapters are flashing $ at him.

The 99 dollar reservation made sense to me. If we got numbers that ordered the delivery and went from there into the traditional form of buying all would be fine with me. This process is pure bull**** for both the buyers and the dealers.

Starting to get old I think (as the steam pours out of my ears!).
 

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I think MBUSA made a big mistake putting the fortunes of its Smart assets into the hands of PAG. PAG's interests are not going to align with the best interests of the marque.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Dunno if was a mistake or not, but I have wondered why MCG would go with a third party distributor (PAG) and not their own M-B dealers.
 

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From the reports I read in the press the USA Mercedes dealers did not want the Smartcar- they felt it would devalue the luxury brand. So MB had to choose between something like Penske or investing in a new distribution company of their own and given the fact Smart has never made money I doubt the MB board in Germany was thrilled with losing some more money on the Smart in the USA. So Penske was the cheap and dirty solution and I think we are all paying the price of having this shyster operation handling the Smart. Reminds me of all the Bricklin startup brands in how they operate.
 

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this is all so funny to me - you guys seem really bent out of shape over nothing.... smartUSA has said the cars come in the first quarter of 08 (still true and confirmed in numerous posts). the reservation said we will be contacted in the 2nd half of 2007...well, the second half of 2007 goes all the way thru december right? its not like March 08 and we haven't heard anything so everyone should relax chill out!
 

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From the reports I read in the press the USA Mercedes dealers did not want the Smartcar- they felt it would devalue the luxury brand. So MB had to choose between something like Penske or investing in a new distribution company of their own and given the fact Smart has never made money I doubt the MB board in Germany was thrilled with losing some more money on the Smart in the USA. So Penske was the cheap and dirty solution and I think we are all paying the price of having this shyster operation handling the Smart. Reminds me of all the Bricklin startup brands in how they operate.
From what I come to believe is that the future of the brand itself lies in the US market, if it flops here, there may be no smart in the future. It is true that Daimler is as the end of their rope with patience in the car. I am no economist, but I have a hard time grasping that with 3/4 of a million cars built and sold and they have yet to make a profit. Maybe I am thinking too black and white with the issue, but it still doesnt make sense to me.
Aside from that issue is the issue of brand panache that MB has to Americans in general. The same reason that the B class and A class didnt come to America is the reason why many MB dealers wont be Smart ones ( my MB dealer it seems ignored that and signed on anyway) By muddying the waters of the image, MB could do harm, look at the C class Coupe, never did well. I think its a good idea that somebody like Penske stepped up to the plate and did this venture, otherwise frankly I dont think it would ever have happened.
 
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I believe that if Daimler would have stayed with the twofor and not spent a lot of money developing the roadster and the forfour they would be in the black. I think that is the reason they dropped the other models. They have also reworked their manufacturing processes to reduce a lot of costs. Time will tell.
 

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ok smartie

I think some folks react worse than others to being screwed with. The time linelines are fine, the reservation for 99 dollars is fine and the date of reservation = delivery date is fine. What I hate is the bull**** that they have subjected us to regarding the stupid confirmation secret code nonsense and then going through another whole process with the dealer. My dealer tells me they are not allowed to do anything with us until Smart ok's us via their silly confirmation process. As I've said before all Smart should be doing is giving us a number based on the date of reservation and leave the rest to our dealers. This three part system is insane IMO.
 

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Lewis

I am with you brother...If this was not just a whim for me, and I seriously needed/wanted a economical small sized car right now I would already and passed on this frustration.

I don't need the danged thing and have the patience to wait them out.....

I am hedging a bet that I will be the only Smart in the Ft Hood area for several months and should be able to have a lot of fun with it then accept some ridiculously high offer... I have never made money on a car before and I think this may be the first.....grin
 

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Hi Lewis-
i see your point but i don't think any of it is as big of a deal as everyone seems to be making it. Personally i think its pretty cool that smart usa is allowing us to order our cars the way we want them...not how they choose to option them or even the dealers. What if there was no reservation system and come January 1st it was just a free for all at the local dealership? Someone who just heard about the cars in December camps out at the dealer, offers who know how much to the dealer to get a car fast and leave each of us(who have loyal followers of the brand for years) without a car and still waiting.

As for the reservation number... who cares the sequence - personally i have never scrutinized my confirmation number from amazon.com or southwest airlines to figure out what it means or how it will get my purchase to my house faster or even get me in the "A" boarding group at the airport on sw airlines... that too me is nonsense....yet if we want to fly on the cheaper airline - we all do it, right?

If we knew all the anwsers this waiting game wouldnt be nearly as exciting and personally...I'm still very excited.
 

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Hi Ok Smartie:

I guess that there are 2 problems as I see it-

1. This silly process is upsetting me and others- including my dealer- although I concede there are those who can accept it without feeling screwed around with.

2. On a more practical note it is 3 months from the alleged launch and (while we hear rumors) we still have no OFFICIAL word on 1. warrantee, 2. delivery dates, 3. dealers, 4. cost of destination and prep, 5. whether dealers will actually sell to us at list, and last but not least 6. Official NHSTA crash test and EPA mileage ratings.

So it is beginning to feel like vaporware as the leafs fall and the holidays get closer.

I would say the same thing George Bush said to "Brownie" after Katrina- "Heck of a job Penske!".
 
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