Initial reports said the U.S. marketplace was to receive 16,000 Smarts for the 2008 model year; rumor has it that number has been raised to 20,000. Mr. Penske said "we have over 40,000 people who have given us a reservation" over the Internet for Smart.
This reservation total fluctuates depending on whose banter you believe. We believe the figure is more likely to be 70,000 shortly, with the procedures used for smart USA's lead generations.
The reservation process was limited to private buyers, no dealers or company sales and the $99 fee is not transferable, but is refundable.
For the ten's of thousands of you, who have sent your $99.00 reservation fee, we advise you to be patient, keep the faith, and keep in mind you sent it to Internet Brands not smart USA or the Penske Automotive Group.
Internet Brands, smart USA's marketing arm, processes all reservation fees (leads) and has been collecting the $99 fee since April. As well as ever email form, sent to smart USA, through its website, as well as all calls to the smart "1-800-SMART-USA Number", and all other enquiries.
So, regardless if you sent a $99.00 “down payment” or not you are on a list and everyone who contacted smart USA is on an Internet Brands "smart1 Program " lead log.
Internet Brands guaranteed smart USA no less than 35,000 leads a year and up to 100,000 in any given year. However, Internet Brands will reduce lead flow to a level smart USA desires.
The lead management system used by Internet Brands and smart USA was to be called "smart1 Program" and in conjunction with Cars Direct , who is part of Internet Brands, will be handling all the leads for all the Smart dealers for at least 3 years.
Smart USA pays Internet Brands $17.50 to $25.00 per lead, whether with or without a customer deposit, once delivered by Internet Brands to a Smart Car Dealer.
Internet Brands handles the customer satisfaction survey program on their behalf of smart USA. For now all pre-sale customer service issues are handled by Internet Brands, not smart USA.
Smart USA (Internet Brands) is contacting reservation holders in the sequence submitted to re-confirm their reservation. Then reservation holders can go to a special website to update their order. Once this is done all configured orders are then turned over to the assigned Smart dealer.
Internet Brands manages and performs all online marketing and promotion in connection with the smart1 Program.
They distribute periodic consumer e-mail campaigns and monthly online newsletters utilizing creative copy and related data provided by smart USA or its agency.
Those who sent their $99.00 fee may suppose this was a down payment, it was not, it was however a great marketing tool.
Another fact that many do not understand, if they haven't read the Smart USA disclaimer is no one is truly guaranteed a Smart car.
These provisions and stipulations are directly from smart USA's reservation form disclaimers.
- Although you have indicated a preferred model and color choice on this form, there is no guarantee that the Smart car offered to you will match the preferences you have indicated.
- Smart USA reserves the right to make changes at any time, without notice, in colors, materials, equipment, specifications, and models.
- You will receive an offer from an authorized smart USA dealer.
- You will be contacted by an authorized smart USA dealer to formally place an order.
- After you have been contacted by a dealer to place your order, you will have 30 days to complete a mutually agreed upon written purchase agreement with the dealer. The smart USA dealer may require you to deposit additional funds upon the execution of a purchase agreement.
- Smart USA was to assign your order to an authorized smart USA dealer nearest to you during the second half of 2007.
- Remember, the Smart dealers that are selling the cars are in complete and total control of the sales transaction.
Adding to the logistics obstacles is that 16 states will be smart-less and have no smart USA dealer network.
They include Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming, and no word on Puerto Rico. This equates to nearly 35,000,000 potential Smart enthusiasts that will be obliged to travel vast distances to take delivery of their Smart.
Presuming the folks who live in these 16 states got on the reservation list early and has been contacted for earliest delivery. They will have additional issues to contemplate, including service, and additional expenses.
This method will not make everyone happy, however with limited supplies and the tens of thousands of additional orders from around the world it is their only option for the time being.
Remember, emotions play a big part in a person's desire to purchase any car. Keeping this in check and using a handful of basic rules will ensure that your purchase doesn't become a bad experience.