Joy and Rage: Why Car Dealerships Have the Most Polarized Online Reviews

Joy and Rage: Why Car Dealerships Have the Most Polarized Online Reviews

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Travel up Interstate 95 into the evergreen wilds of northern Maine until you nearly run out of America, then hang a left and head even further north along US Route 1, passing through flinty little farms towns with names Bridgewater and Blaine, cross the Aroostook River at Presque Isle, drive for another fifteen miles, and eventually you’ll find yourself at Griffeth Ford Lincoln in Caribou—the most eastern new car dealership in the continental U.S. It’s a humble operation with a basic box for a building and a lot full of F-150s. It’s one of the few games in a small town. And it’s either a model of friendly competence, or it’s home to the worst customer service in the state, if not the country, if not the known universe.

That’s the scoop from two strangers who visited the dealership and left online reviews on its Google Maps entry earlier this year, anyway. One beamed about the “smiling faces, politeness, and professionalism” and gave Griffeth five stars; a month later, the other decided that the difficult time he had getting a quote for a new key fob “reflects on the entire dealership” and warned people to stay away with a one star rating. Well, good people of Caribou, which is it?

Digital Air Strike’s co-founder and CEO Alexi Venneri believes that regardless of the validity of a one-star rating, dealers are best served by reaching out to the complainers to publicly demonstrate their responsiveness, rather than worrying about a representative sampling of reviews. And at the end of the day, Yelp is an independent, elective review site that presents a more black-and-white vision of the world. It doesn’t help that buying a car is a pricey, complex, slightly scary transaction for most buyers.

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