Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

October 6, 2009

How GMC Lost My Million Dollar Business

What happened to the art of caring about the success of your customers?

What happened to caring in general — about your own success, about what wakes you up in the morning, about a higher calling than your 9-to-5?  Is it costing you millions of dollars and you don’t even know about it yet?

“Sir, that’s the fee we added recently to anyone returning their vehicle at the end of their lease.  It’s helps to offset our recent losses.”

That was the response I got from a customer support rep in India answering my frustration over a $800 bill from GMC after returning my vehicle at the end of a 36 month lease.  Do I even need to tell you my response?  I was livid (and so are many of you just reading this).

Not only did I pay several thousands dollars up-front to buy my way into the lease, but Bank of America did a super job of auto-paying the bill each month — from my piggy bank to the coffers of GMC’s “bean counters”.  And now that my lease is done, some one decides to change the rules and charge me because they horribly mismanaged their own affairs.  (That puts me in a bad mood.)

There’s more to this story actually.  It gets better…

About 10 hours ago, I got a call from a Senior Customer Service Rep named Debra in Midland, Texas who “humored” me with a call back to help me with my concerns.  When I asked why I was getting charged $800 for a “Disposition Fee”, I was told”

“That’s a fee all of our customers pay…  It’s only if you decide not to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease.  It’s kind of an incentive thing… “

I kindly asked her where this was mentioned in my original agreement.

“I don’t know if that’s in your agreement, sir.  I don’t know if it’s mentioned there…”

So then I just got personal and I asked her the logic of demanding I pay a fee that was added three years after I signed paperwork.  I just asked why none of this made any sense.  What if this was happening to her?  Would she think this was the right way to be treated?

“Sir, I am sorry; we can not waive that fee, regardless…”

And then I got the real answer.  The fee right now was more important than I was.

  • She didn’t want it to make sense.
  • She didn’t need it to make sense.

At the end of our discussion — at the end of getting no answers, no clarity, no reasons for these fees — Debra summed it up by simply noting that regardless of the fairness of the situation or her inability to explain the logic of the bill, she simply did not CARE….

That’s what it came down to.  She represented a company that did not care about me.

Two things I know:

  1. I will not ever pay this $800 fee until someone can clearly show me my rightful obligation (which at this point seems a long way off)…..   AND
  2. I will never (in my lifetime) ever buy another GMC…. (ever, ever….)

What does that mean?

It means that GMC loses horribly over a lack of caring.

Think about this with me.

If I buy a new vehicle every 5 years for the next 40 years (until I am 70) and pay roughly $45,000 per vehicle  (like I did with this Envoy), GMC lost out on $360,000.  And with a 2-car family, that’s about $750,000.  Now what if I buy the boys a car or two (like a generally insane parent)?  Are we close to a million dollars?

Are we beyond a million dollars?  Probably.

So what happened?

GMC forgot that CARING is the ultimate CAPITAL…..

You can spend millions on marketing and billions on branding, but if you don’t care, you can’t replace your customers fast enough to stay in business.  In face, it’s worse than bad.  You just don’t upset your community; you create an army of vigilantes who go out-of-their-way to make sure you fail.  They actually invest in your demise….

Now before you get too indignant over GMC, think about your customers and the amount of money you lose because you don’t take the time to care.  Think about how much money you could lose by not caring to invest in your relationship with them.

And the amazing thing about caring is that when you really do care — you really empathize — you can screw up pretty bad and your customer will forgive you.

Because caring is really what matters most in a relationship.


Caring is the different between the struggle for survival or the the passionate pursuit of excellence.  With one, you succeed at living and with the other you live to succeed… (DEWism)”

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.