By Nok-Noi Ricker,
Posted June 25, 2011, at 2:28 p.m.
BANGOR, Maine — The Maine Attorney General’s Office is dealing with a number of complaints filed against Bangor Car Care — the used car dealer known for its “Come join the party” advertising — even as the business expands to new locations in Bangor and Lewiston.
Brenda Kielty, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, said a number of customers have filed complaints against Bangor Car Care in the past year, and a portion of those are in the midst of mediation in the agency’s consumer division.
“There have been 18 complaints accepted for mediation in the last 12 months,” she said. “Eight are unresolved, three have been resolved and there are seven in current mediation right now.”
Glen Geiser, general manager of Bangor Car Care, said a majority of his customers — but not all — drive away happy.
“Our major business at Bangor Car Care is special credit — helping people who have been knocked down in their life,” he said. “When you are dealing with these people you are bound to get a percentage of negative feedback.”
He added, “We’re dealing with everyone and sometimes the people we deal with aren’t very nice and the minute something breaks they swear, throw things and scream.”
Kielty said she did not know the total number of complaints received against Bangor Car Care and added she could release only the number accepted into the consumer division’s mediation program.
For a comparison, the Bangor Daily News asked Kielty to check two other large used car dealers in Maine to see how many complaints have been filed with the AG’s office in the last year. She said one of them had just one complaint that needed to be resolved, while the other had none.
Paula Fleming, the Better Business Bureau’s vice president of communications and marketing, said last week that customers can leave both positive and negative comments with the agency. “
In this case there are no compliments,” she said of Bangor Car Care. “There are 48 complaints and they have an ‘F’ rating.”
The number of customers who complain about their service at Bangor Car Care is “a fraction of less than one percent,” said Geiser. “The statistic itself and how little problems we have, especially dealing in a difficult [economic] market, stands for itself.”
The business sells about 200 cars a month and since opening nine years ago has sold more than 13,000 cars, he said.
The percentage may be low, but some customers are very vocal and have posted their comments on websites dedicated to complaints, including complaintsboard.com, scaminformer.com, and ripoffreport.com, and someone even created a Facebook page, “Bangor Car Care sucks!” that features some colorful comments.
The Bangor Daily News contacted 21 of the people who posted comments on the Facebook page and none returned emails requesting interviews.
Geiser said he has heard it all before, and that he and his 35 employees are not going to be bullied by aggressive customers who threaten them.
“I don’t like extortion or manipulation,” he said. “The real issues we have, we deal with.” Geiser added: “We’re not going to be manipulated and taken advantage of. … Sometimes people will say something or demand something and I’m not willing to write a check to stop it.”
In the two years before Bangor Car Care moved to Brewer in November 2008 from Oak Street in Bangor, police in the Queen City responded to the used car business about 81 times. Brewer police have been dispatched to the Wilson Street location 112 times, police officials have said. The incident reports from both communities list civil issues, requests for the removal of people, bad checks, assaults, citizen disputes, accidents and other complaints.
Geiser said if customers have a problem, he is the one to call.
“My extension is extension 15,” he said. “And It’s not a secret.”
The car dealership, which is owned by Geiser’s mother, Marilyn Geiser, has grown by about 23 percent in the last year and recently expanded back to Washington Street in Bangor, Geiser said.
“Basically, what happened is we outgrew the property in Brewer,” he said. “We had 13 mechanics and we needed about 20.
” The service portion of the business, which eventually will be called Bumper 2 Bumper, moved to the Queen City in January and cars were moved over in mid-May, said Geiser, who owns Bumper 2 Bumper.
“We are still operating an all truck and SUV lot in Brewer because the lot over here wasn’t big enough,” he said.
A new Bumper 2 Bumper in Lewiston opened last week on Lisbon Street, Geiser said. The former Lewiston Car Care closed after what Geiser described as “staffing issues.” The new business has opened at the former Rowe Mitsubishi location and will be run by general manager and partner Dan Pulkkinen, Geiser said.
“It’s kind of good to be expanding and doing more,” he said.