CarMax: Redefining the Greasy, Sleazy Used Car Salesman

CarMax was featured on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” with an impressive ranking of 64. It’s diverse and well compensated workforce are among the country’s happiest employees. But how does this fit in to CarMax’s reputation as a whole?

Many would say CarMax revolutionized the used car industry. Instead of dealing with shady used car dealers willing to sell inexperienced buyers a piece of junk for as much cash they could possibly squeeze out of them, CarMax provided an element of security and integrity as well as a much more extensive selection to choose from. A large part of its success was an in-depth inspection of all cars it sells, going way beyond state regulatory requirements. Dubbed “the Walmart of selling used cars,” CarMax quickly joined the Fortune 500 list and cemented itself as a leader in the industry.

CarMax is so concerned with helping and being honest and upfront with customers about their cars that they released the following ad for the Superbowl a few years ago:

The message is clear: CarMax wants to be trusted and maximize consumer confidence, and aim to do so through outstanding customer service. It’s especially refreshing considering the reputation of used car dealerships in the past. After all, nothing is worst than the stereotypical sleazy, greasy used car dealer right? CarMax seeks to break through that stereotype and redefine what it means to sell used cars. For the most part, they’ve been quite successful. And yet while their sales numbers and profits may be impressive, they didn’t seem to quite reach their goal in reputation. It has less than 2 stars for the top two car dealership review websites, and ABC ran a story below about how CarMax rushed to sell unsafe and even recalled cars to oblivious consumers.

All in all, CarMax used an exaggerated (if not entirely false) image to increase sales and profits while not living up to their promises to consumers. While still a better choice than a lot of dealerships, CarMax is leagues behind what they sought out to do in the used car industry.

One thought on “CarMax: Redefining the Greasy, Sleazy Used Car Salesman”

  1. The video clearly shows that not only was this salesman going against CarMax’s policies, but probably that whole dealership if those cars were out there if they were supposed to be on recall. There are probably other dozens of dealerships that would have this same problem. Is this an issue of lack of checks/procedures within the company? It would be interesting to see (and how much) incentives associates received from selling these faulty cars. I also wonder what CarMax did to the dealership/associate in response to this video


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