Most people are probably familiar with CarMax as the place to buy a used car, but what they may not realize is that CarMax also provides free used car appraisals. In the quest to unload my ride, I actually had not thought of CarMax as the solution to my problem. A salesman at an area dealership actually tipped me off to the good deals that he has gotten by taking his personal vehicles there.
The one-and-only Jose Canseco recently tweeted some car-buying advice for his 400,000 plus followers. Unfortunately, that advice probably wasn’t appreciated by CarMax, who was the subject of the former baseball pro’s disdain. In a series of four mean tweets, Canseco warned his followers that they should avoid CarMax because it is a “scam.”
Within minutes of his initial criticism, that garnered 83 retweets, CarMax had a response to their famously unhappy customer. In a countering tweet, the company publicly apologized to the former sports star, offering to speak with him directly about his experience.As a large business that services car buyers and sellers, the company must receive a lot of complaints about the “dealership” experience in general. But I think that has more to do with folks who simply despise the car-buying and trade-in process as a whole. I’m not certain I’d classify it as a sweeping representation of CarMax. I have never purchased or sold a car at CarMax; therfore, I have no tangible experience upon which to base my opinion. I have heard both positive and painful stories from friends, but that doesn’t make CarMax any different from a regular dealership.
I contacted CarMax via Twitter to learn more about the situation, and a public relations representative promptly responded with a comment on the scenario:
We were sorry that Mr. Canseco was unhappy. We responded to him on Twitter to see if we could connect with him like we do every day with any customer. Every customer is important to us, and we respond to offer help any time we have a customer with a question or concern. We ask them to call or email us so we can have a more personal connection.
-Britt Drewes Farrar, Public Relations Manager for CarMax, Inc.
This is a classic example of why companies need to not only pay attention to social media but also participate in it. As part of my day job at Beekeeper Group – a public affairs startup in D.C. – I’m always telling clients that people are talking about their brand regardless if they’re listening.
I would consider CarMax’s handling of the situation a success. It didn’t take multiple levels of approvals and a week to process the company’s response. They politely, publicly, and quickly responded to a customer’s complaint. What better way to implement a crisis communications plan immediately?It is unfortunate that Canseco never responded. Perhaps he was just having a bad day, or maybe his twitter tantrum was a side effect of his raging hormones.