Monday, September 29, 2008

Lotus Dealer Reviews

I know this blog gets a lot of traffic from people researching the Lotus Elise and trying to determine the best dealer to buy or service their Lotus through. It's that thought that makes me want to relate both the bad and good experiences I've had with a few different Lotus Dealers. I'll start with the most recent and work my way back through time to when I first bought my Lotus Elise.

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Diamond Motors, Pensacola Florida

My most recent situation was in April of this year in Pensacola Florida, shortly after the Lotus wreck. The timing and location could not have been more ideal. My family owns two condos in Gulf Shores Alabama (about 40 minutes west of Pensacola Florida) and we were preparing to head down there in early April. About 4 days before we were to leave for vacation I get a call from our insurance adjuster saying that they are declaring the Elise a total loss and that I can drive up to Cincinnati to sign it over and pick up my check. I make plans to do so and immediately start checking out different Lotus Elise and Exige throughout the southeast as a vacation would be the perfect time to pick one up. I was thinking of going with another color, Laser Blue, which I had seen on an Exige during our first dealer service in Atlanta. It didn't take long to find one, and at Diamond Motors in Pensacola of all places!

The price was right, the car looked great in the photos and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. I found it late at night so my first attempt at communication was an email. I followed up the next day (and following days) by phone, always reaching an answering machine. I went ahead and packed my checkbook in with our luggage on the hope that I would eventually make contact with Diamond Motors and we'd be driving a Laser Blue Elise on the way home.

We arrive in Gulf Shores mid day on Sunday and Monday morning I wake up and immediately try to call Diamond Motors with still no luck. Going on optimism we go ahead and make the 40-45 minute drive over to Pensacola to see the car in person as it was still shown on Åutotrader, along with a silver Exige S. We arrive in Pensacola only to find a car lot with a few familiar cars from Autotrader but not a single Lotus. Again, taking the optimistic approach (after checking the Autotrader ad AGAIN on my iPhone) I think "maybe they keep the Lotus cars at a separate location" and head inside to ask about them. I go inside only to find no one working, but I do notice a model of an S1 Elise and a couple of Lotus books, now my optimism is going up a notch. I head back outside and look at a few other cars while I wait for the only person working (owner I assume) to finish up with a family. It's at this point that I start to notice that every car I look at is very noticeably dirty on the outside and the interiors are in desperate need of a vacuum and a good wiping down. Now I start to get nervous, thinking back to some auction cars I've been around as these have those same characteristics.

Finally the owner finishes up with the other family and I'm able to get his attention (although I HAD to get his attention, otherwise he was ignoring us) and am able to ask about the Lotus' for sale. He quickly says "those sold last week" and as I ask why they are still on Autotrader he smugly laughs and says he doesn't know why. I then explain my frustration that we've essentially come all the way down from Kentucky and had changed our travel plans to accommodate bringing a Lotus Elise home, mention the dozen or so unanswered calls & emails and all I got was a shrug. He finally did mention that "he might have an Elise coming in the next week or so". At that point I didn't care and judging from the other cars on the lot I asked if it was bright green with fresh paint. The real rub came a couple of weeks later when I noticed that the Elise was STILL for sale on Autotrader. I got the strong feeling that the Elise and Exige were left on to lure people onto the lot as they are very flashy and surely anyone in the area would love to see one in person.

I mentioned this same story on LotusTalk and after a few months received two comments of much worse dealings with Diamond Motors in Pensacola Florida.

b.flippo wrote:
I realize that I'm replying 4 months late, but. That's funny. When I was looking for my Elise, I actually bought an Elise from him. I signed his purchase orders, faxed him a copy of the cashiers check from my loan dispersement and booked a flight to Pensacola (also faxed him a copy of my flight itenerary). I received a fax from the owner the day before I was supposed to fly to P-cola telling me that he sold the car to someone else (for more money). He didn't even have the nuts to call me in person. "He broke up with me by fax". Crooks! The funny thing is, after I bought my Elise, I saw his Elise back on Autotrader/Ebay. His buyer had flaked, and the car was back on the market. The best part was that he was asking $2500 less than I had agreed to pay. Frankly, the only thing that made me angry were the comments he made when I called him. He told me "tough sh!% it's the car business" and to go f%(# myself. I was flabbergasted, especially since I'm in the car business! I couldn't imagine ever telling a customer anything like that (even the customers that deserve it). I'll say it again. Diamond Motors and Bill Weatherall are crooks and scumbags.

Joecooool wrote:
Diamond Motorcars - Bill Weatherall Pensacola

Be careful dealing with this guy, he is a title floater. He sells Lotus cars from time to time, he had several Elises and an Exige on his lot while I was there.

I bought my Lotus from him off eBay in January. His eBay id is flyguy66y. He told me the car was paid for, that he was just waiting for the electronic title to be released. Being a dealer and not some guy on the corner, I took him at his word. I traded him my 2007 Corvette and gave him a check for the car.

After several weeks I got a call from my bank telling me the Corvette wasn't paid off. I still didn't have the title to the Lotus yet either. I called him and he told me that he had been sick and would get everything squared away.

A few weeks later he still had not sent me the Lotus title or paid off my Corvette. I started to leave him negative feed back on ebay when I discovered that he had sold my Corvette less than a week after I had traded it in. I contacted the buyer of my old car and Bill had been lying to him as well. You can imagine his shock when I told him that my bank still owned the car sitting in his driveway.

Long story short, it took me filing a formal complaint with the state of Florida DMV, with the local police department, and threatening to go after his dealer bond before he finally relented and paid off my trade in. I finally got the title to the Lotus and my Corvette paid for about two months after the ordeal began.


Honestly, I think that speaks volumes about this dealer's business practices. I would warn anyone looking for a Lotus Elise or Lotus Exige in Florida to stay as far away as possible from Diamond Motors in Pensacola.

Communication was bad to none, cars were filthy and possibly rebuilt auction cars, deceptive to multiple Lotus owners/buyers

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Midwestern Auto Group, Dublin Ohio

Midwestern Auto Group was my Lotus service dealer. They provided some of the BEST automotive and customer service I've ever seen. I would schedule my visits about a week in advance and was always met with a warm welcome as soon as I arrived. They always asked how I was enjoying the Elise, what kind of problems or concerns I would like them to address, etc... They always insisted that I check out some of the cars around the dealer (Ferrari, Bentley, Aston Martin, etc) and always had a nice Saab waiting as a no-cost loaner. On one trip I did require a part that they did not receive in time but they gladly shipped it to me to install myself, assuring me that it wasn't a very involved procedure and shouldn't require my driving 8 - 9 hours roundtrip for them to perform. Andrew Matune, along with the other staff members, always bent over backwards to help in any way possible.

Customer service above and beyond, great loaner car, all needs met and exceeded, overall extremely good experiences

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Lotus of Atlanta / The Bimmer Store, Atlanta Georgia

This was my initial Lotus service dealer, performing my 1,500 mile service while on the way home with my Elise. I met up with some Lotus friends at the dealer who were also there for their routing servicing. After checking in the cars and explaining our various issues (mine involved adjusting the headlights and leaking windows) we took our one loaner car (older Ford Taurus that desperately needed a detailing, several stains, etc) and headed to the hotel.

The next day we are heading out to the Atlanta Aquarium when I get the call that my headlight adjustment request was a non-warranty issue and would cost $200+. I dreaded the idea of driving home with them in a still useless state so I tell them to go ahead and adjust them after some arguing. With the help of George (one of my Lotus friends) we track down the proper warranty info for the adjustment and send it over to them. After some arguing and calling of Lotus USA they (Lotus of Atlanta) finally agree to perform it under warranty. A few hours later my car is ready although the other two Lotus cars are still being serviced (with their own frustrations). Upon initial inspection the car looks good but then I notice large gaps on both of my windows, seemingly more so than before. I bring it to their attention and they begrudgingly agree to look at it again.

That night, after their normal closing hours, the cars are finally "finished" and we head off on our way. We stop at a gas station before hopping on the expressway and quickly notice that my passenger side window will no longer go up once it is in the down position. We are frustrated enough that we manage to get it up and just decide to fix it when we get home.

The feelings and issues we left with... Overall we all had a sense of being second class citizens while we were there, it almost seemed as though they thought they were doing us favors by performing the services. We left with a severely misaligned window that obviously had not been tested after adjusting. George & Jennifer left without receiving some of the services and parts they had scheduled 2+ weeks in advance. Lotus USA (their US headquarters) is literally a short drive from Lotus of Atlanta yet the dealer acted as though there was no way they could get parts for the requested services. I guess it could have been worse but we really did have an overall bad experience all the way around.

I only mention the loaner car as it seems odd that a Lamborghini/Lotus/BMW/Mercedes dealer would have such a low level car as a loaner.

Bad customer service, fought us on every issue, loaner car far below rental car standards, unresolved repairs

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Dimmitt Lotus, Clearwater Florida

I bought my 2005 Lotus Elise from Dave Hampson at Dimmitt Lotus in Clearwater Florida and could not have had a nicer or easier experience. I started working with Dave about 3 weeks before purchase and he was a pleasure to deal with, answering all of my questions and helping every step of the way. Buying a car (essentially) online can be very scary as you are committing to something you cannot see in person, Dave eliminated those fears. We flew in to Tampa at night and Dave picked us up the next morning. He showed us a few sights around the city on the way to the dealer, telling us about the car as well as the dealer. After meeting some other folks at the dealer we felt very comfortable about the whole transaction.

I would be quick to recommend Dimmitt to anyone looking to purchase a Lotus (or Ferrari / Rolls Royce / Cadillac) in Florida or the southeast in general.

Very professional, warm & welcoming atmosphere, great communication, overall awesome experience

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That sums up my experiences with some different Lotus dealers, hopefully it helps anyone looking to purchase a Lotus or find a good service dealer for their Lotus.

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