Just two weeks ago when I drove by Buerge Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in West Los Angeles on Santa Monica Blvd., the lot was full of cars. Fast forward to today, it’s a ghost town and fork lifts are hauling out service equipment.
What happened, I don’t know for sure, but I can speculate: Terrible customer service finally put the nail in the coffin.
I’ve shopped at Buerge before and I’ve never had a good experience at this dealer. And I know it wasn’t just me. Many of the Yelp reviews were brutal.
I remember my last visit to the showroom. There were no sales associates anywhere to be seen – not even a receptionist. And there were three other customers wandering around looking at the cars on the showroom floor, wondering if anyone was going to bother to talk to them. When one sales guy showed up, we had to let him know who was waiting the longest, like we were at the prepared foods counter at Gelson’s. Naturally, I knew more about the car than the salesman – not surprising – but this guy seemed particularly clueless. It must have been a horrible, depressing place to work.
After I purchased my 2012 Dodge Charger from another more responsive dealer, I took my car to Buerge for service as it is the closest dealer to me in West Hollywood and I can ride the MTA 4 or 704 to a stop one block form the dealership.
The service people never found the electronic gremlins that plagued my outside temperature gauge (constantly wrong) or why the climate control system didn’t properly sense the cabin temperature, but I was horrified by the customer “lounge” which hadn’t been updated since the building was built, probably back in the 1970s. The ceiling tiles were stained from ancient water leaks. The coffee “station” could have come out of an episode of The Office. The windowless room was truly soul-sucking.
The dealership website is still online, but when you call the toll-free number, after the initial recorded voice, you’re connected to a fast busy signal. As the unceremonious notice on the door says, they are “Closed for Business as of 2/17/2014.”
This is bad news for Chrysler as this leaves the company with no store in Metro Los Angeles — the same problem plagues Chevrolet. My choices are now Van Nuys, Glendale, Downtown LA, Inglewood or San Fernando. None of them are on a transit route and none are convenient.
There’s a huge market for Chrysler-group vehicles and factory service in Metro LA. Perhaps another dealer group will take up the franchise in Santa Monica or even Mid-Wilshire. Jeep is a hot brand, as is Ram. Just because Buerge finally tanked doesn’t mean a well-run group can’t fill the vacuum that now exists. Any takers?
Update: April 22, 2014
I received a flyer in the mail from the “All-New” Hooman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Los Angeles – NOT conveniently located Inglewood. This is apparently the replacement for Buerge, but I wonder why I got a flyer for my minivan but not my Charger. Odd. However, I won’t be taking either my 2012 Dodge Charger or my 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan there for service. It looks like I’ll stick with Crystal Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Fiat in Cathedral City.