Keyes of Van Nuys – The Nightmare Continues

If you read my blog with any regularity, you know I bought a new car in May. It is super cute and I love it. I bought it at Keyes in Van Nuys, which is surprising since they were a nightmare to deal with. From the incompetent sales person, to the blow smoke up your ass owner, it was not a pleasant experience, but I love the car and figured I would never need to go there again. The plan was to drive away and take my car for all of the service to Robertson Honda. Farther from where I live, but at the end of the day not Keyes, which would be a great thing.

It sadly wasn’t as easy as I had planned. When I received my registration in the mail, it came with new plates. Not good since I have personalized plates on my car and have for 20 years. Turns out that the guys at Keyes had no clue what they were doing and even though they assured me over and over again that my personalized plates were transferred over, they weren’t. Even though they put the personalized plates on my car and covered them with a Keyes sticker, advising me to take the sticker off when the registration came, it was a lie.

From start to finish this dealership has been incompetent. I thought they had redeemed themselves when I bought the car, but alas, no. Turns out when they sold the car I traded in, they sold it with my personalized plates on it. When the new owners of that car bought it, they went to the DMV and were told the car had plates registered to it already. They let the DMV know there were no plates on it when they left with it, so the plates were reported as stolen to the police and if I was stopped, I would be arrested first with questions later.

My personalized plates, that I have owned forever, were now wanted. It has taken me 5 months to fix their mistake. It required two visits to AAA, four visits to the DMV, and two calls to Sacramento. The people at both AAA and the DMV could not have been kinder in their efforts to help me. They also let me know they have seen this happen more times than they can count with Keyes. They do not know how to transfer a personalized plate so should you go there and they tell you they’ve got it covered, don’t believe them because they don’t, and are lying to your face.

So, five months after buying the car, I finally got the DMV to remove the block on the plates, the police deleted the stolen file, and I was going to get my plates back. Not so fast. Turns out that I actually need to buy the plates back because they were no longer registered to me. Yes. I had to buy back the plates I had for a decade because the guys at Keyes are morons. Not only do they suck at their job, but the managed to suck all they joy out of buying a new car. Needless to say, I wrote to Keyes this week to let them know about the outcome of my plates.

They could not have possibly cared any less. When I wrote to Lewis Cook, the man in charge of selling me the car, the same man who promised up and down that he would fix the problem, he told me there was nothing he could do and I needed to contact the owner. So I wrote to Howard Tenenbaum, the owner, and told him that not only did I want to be reimbursed for the cost of the plates, but I’d like to be reimbursed for my time in fixing the mistake they made. Seemed like a fair request since this was 100% their fault. I heard back from today.


I have reviewed your request, and I don’t feel it is appropriate to reimburse you in this situation.  If you have any question please feel free to call me.


Howard Tenenbaum

Vice President


5855 Van Nuys Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA  91401

That’s it. I spend five months, with time off work, and schlepping back and forth across the valley, and then have to buy the plates I owned when I walked into his dealership, and he doesn’t think it is appropriate to reimburse me? His staff is incompetent, and I have to pay for that? Ugh. Whatever. This is not a good guy or a good businessman. He is bad for the car business and bad for Jews. At the end of the day I suppose you live and learn. I never should have bought my car there when the original salesman was such an idiot. It has been a nightmare.

Important to note I appreciate how ridiculous it sounds to be complaining about this when the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and I certainly have perspective in the big scheme of things, but I’m 51 years old and this is the first car I ever bought new and on my own. It was a big deal. They are a big company and clearly one customer doesn’t matter to them, but I am a customer with a blog, and so I am using my platform to say that I think Howard Tenenbaum should be ashamed of himself and you should not shop at Keyes of Van Nuys.

Harsh? No. I have jumped through hoops to fix what they did and they don’t care. I was dismissed without a thought and without so much as an apology. They didn’t do their job. Their mistakes took up my time, caused me stress and aggravation, and put a cloud over what was supposed to be a wonderful thing. At the end of the day I got my plates back, have a cute car, and will never go to Keyes again. Not only will I not go there, but every once and a while I’ll write about why you shouldn’t go there either. Drive safe, pick your car salesman wisely, and keep the faith.





The Art of Customer Service

I have been trying to buy a car for a couple of weeks and it has been more stressful than anything else. I honestly thought it would be fun and was looking forward to it. It is my first new car in a decade and I was excited about the whole thing. I set an amount to spend in my head, researched cars that fit within my budget, and narrowed it down to three choices. Last weekend I test drove my options, made a decision, and was proud of the work I put into the process.

My joy was quickly squashed by a bad experience at a car dealership. The gentleman assigned to help me was simply not good at his job, and the result of his being inept resulted in my not having fun. Not only did I not have fun, but I changed my mind about the car. I figured if some moron whose job it is to sell me a car didn’t care if I bought it, maybe I just didn’t need a new car. The joy was gone and that is a shame because it started out being quite a big deal to me.

Keyes of Van Nuys failed me, so I started my search over. I blogged about the experience of course, because that is what I do, and was comforted by many of my readers. I was reminded that nobody is allowed to take my joy and I simply needed to shake it off and find someone who understood what the process is supposed to be like, and would be focused on my being happy with my purchase. I needed to hear it and was immediately reminded how much I value my readers. Thank you.

It took your responses to my blog to snap me out of the funk created by a massive failure in customer service. I started my search again, only this time instead of looking for the right car, I was looking for the right salesman. I called around to different dealers, as well as calling a few salesmen friends and readers had suggested. It was nice that people cared and I was motivated to find my joy and get the car I wanted from someone who was interested in selling me a car.

In the midst of my new search, I got a call from Howard Tenenbaum, who is a Vice President at Keyes in Van Nuys. He had read the blog about my experience at his dealership and reached out. He was apologetic and said he was mortified by my experience, assuring me it was not the type of customer service his dealership provides, and he wanted an opportunity to make the situation right and get me into the car I wanted. He seemed sincere and I appreciated the call.

He was actually on vacation with his family and took time out of his trip to call me. He told me he would call again when he returned from holiday. Between the time Mr. Tenenbaum called last week, and yesterday when he returned to work, he had his associate Ramin Hakakian call me two times to check in. Mr. Hakakian was lovely and these two gentlemen worked hard to change my experience with Keyes of Van Nuys. They valued me and understood buying a car was a big deal.

Mr. Tenenbaum called again yesterday, answered all my questions, and told me he’d find exactly what I wanted. By lunchtime the car had been located and was being sent to Van Nuys. I felt excited again about a new car. It is a little bit above my budget, but I have two options from two dealerships so I’ll figure it out and have a new car this weekend. At the end of the day I simply wanted someone to value my business and share in my joy. I wanted a mensch not a putz.

I want to thank both Mr. Tenenbaum and Mr. Hakakian for reaching out. It mattered. It mattered to me as a shopper, and as a writer who shares her truth, it matters that I tell you these gentlemen from Keyes of Van Nuys did the right thing. Whether or not I get the car from them, I appreciate all of their efforts to make things better. They made customer service their focus and are taking care of me. While it is a shame my experience started off as it did, I am grateful for the turnaround.

Whether buying a new car or a cup of coffee, the desire to be respected is the same. I want the person providing me with customer service to have a smile and engage with me as if my choosing their business is appreciated. I want kindness. I want there to be actual service. It’s not too much to ask and should be provided from everyone who works in customer service. If you’re not a people person, maybe rethink your path, find a new job, and start keeping the faith.






UPDATE: Keyes Honda of Van Nuys

A couple of weeks ago I decided to buy a new car. I have been driving my car for 10 years, but because I work from home most of the time and take very good care of my car, it has just over 114000 miles on it. I could probably drive it for another ten years, but I just felt like having something new and shiny. I did a lot of research on what kind of car I wanted, going back and forth between a SUV, a sports car, and another sedan. After much thought I decided on a Honda.

I researched dealerships and chose to purchase my new car from Keyes Honda of Van Nuys. This past Saturday I headed to Keyes to pick out my new baby. When I got there I walked around the lot looking at different cars and after 15 minutes of nobody coming out to ask if I needed any help, I went into the dealership. I went directly to the office of the Finance Manager, a woman names Julie Warr. I explained to Julie I was there to buy a car and needed someone specific.

I was not looking to haggle, or have smoke blown up my ass. I was buying a car and needed someone experienced and professional. She asked me to hang on and went to another office. She came back with a gentleman named Andrew Wilkinson, who was introduced as a seasoned professional and Internet Manager. I introduced myself to Drew, told him what I wanted, and we went to look at cars.  I was torn between two different models and explained I was going to think it over.

I went to look at a Toyota dealership to ensure I wanted the Honda, then called Drew on the phone. I explained to him I was going with the Honda and told him the exact car I wanted. He was lovely on the phone, told me I made a good choice, and said he was going to see about locating the exact car I wanted if it wasn’t available in Van Nuys. I spoke to him at 4:33pm and was told he would call be before the end of the day.  I did not hear back from Drew on Saturday or Sunday.

Aside from being annoying and unprofessional, I also found it funny since Keyes Honda of Van Nuys spends a lot of advertising dollars on talking about their customer service. I decided I would wait until Monday evening, and if I didn’t hear from anyone I would take my business somewhere else. Then on Monday afternoon at 4:44pm I received a call from a young woman named Tanya. She was calling to see how my shopping experience was at Keyes Honda of Van Nuys.

I let her know I decided to buy a car, had spoken to Drew, and he had not bothered to call me back. She then gave me a wonderful story about how busy they were. I let her know all Drew needed to do was call and tell me he was busy and would get back to me. In fact, he could have had Tanya call and tell me that, rather than her calling to check in on how great their customer service was. When Tanya responded with another excuse, I hung up on her. Sorry. Not sorry.

Then at 5:10 pm, I got the following text message: “Greetings, Ilana. This is Drew, the Internet Manager from Keyes Honda Van Nuys. I truly apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I do value your time, and I wish you the best.”

Um, really? I was suddenly part of a bad high school break up. Was he texting because he didn’t have the balls to call? Who texts a customer? Did I get dumped by a car salesman? I was so annoyed at this point, I called to speak with the General Sales Manager. His name is Lewis Cook and I just felt he should know that not only did his staff not follow through on a guaranteed sale, but Drew dumped me without the courtesy of a call. Still no word from Mr. Lewis.

I left a message with the receptionist on Monday evening, and again on Tuesday morning, but nothing. What is a girl to do? Write a blog I guess. Important to note when I spoke to Drew on Saturday night I told him I was a writer for the Jewish Journal and would write about buying my car there and how easy the process had been. Who would have thought this would be the blog? Who could have guessed my blog would be to tell you to not bother going to Keyes Honda?

Buying a new car is a big decision and to get to the point of actually writing a check, to then have the moment ruined, is very disappointing. I thought I’d have a new car on the 4th of July, but instead I got broken up with by a car salesman and when I called his boss to kvetch about it, he valued my business even less than his employee. Keyes Honda was an epic fail and their customer service needs a lot of work. I’ll find another dealership. Will they want my business? I am keeping the faith.


After 4 days without a call to follow up on a guaranteed sale, and after my blog posted today, I heard from Drew at Keyes Honda of Van Nuys. He sent me this email:

Ilana. I read your blog. Obviously, it was not my intent to have an “epic” fail. Before Tanya even spoke with me, I had your numbers, however, I did not want to call you after 22:00 the previous night. I spoke with Tanya, and she told me you were very upset, did not want to talk to me, and planned on taking your business elsewhere. You mentioned being dumped in the blog–that’s how I felt when Tanya relayed the message to me. However, I understood you felt insulted and I at least wanted to apologize for that, as that was not my intent. I did not think my name and company would be highlighted in a negative way. Once again, I apologize for not getting back to you sooner, and I wish you the best.
Sincerely, Andrew Wilkinson

Where do I begin? He didn’t call me for 4 days because he thought I dumped him? He didn’t call me back because a receptionist said not to? He is blaming me for not getting a call back? I told Tanya if he was not interested in my business he didn’t need to call me back. How she translated that is not important. What is important is that he never called, then sent this ridiculous email which is embarrassing not only for himself, but for Honda. It is fascinating to me this was his response.

About 10 minutes after I received the email, I got a phone call from an executive at Keyes Honda. His name was Howard (can’t remember his last name) and he started the conversation by saying he was mortified by my experience at his dealership. He apologized and said all the things one would expect, including asking me to give them another chance and not post the email from Andrew.

Here’s the thing, I have been writing here about my life with truth and fearlessness for almost a decade, so of course I am going to share the email. Especially after so many of you wrote me with your own customer service stories and recommendations for a car dealership. I am updating you because we are in this together. You are my people.

Howard assured me he wanted to give me the type of customer service they pride themselves on, and would call me next week when he was back from vacation with his family. Listen, it was nice of him to call while on vacation. He may call next week as he said, or if he is like his sales staff, he won’t. Either way, I appreciated the call. I write a blog and I told Drew as much. There was no ambush or unethical writing here. I write a blog about life and this happened. I was never not going to update you.

My advice to any car dealership is to be kind and respectful of everyone that comes in. Buying a car is a big deal and Keyes is not going to suck the joy out of the experience for me. To people looking to buy a car, we work hard for our money and if the person you are talking to about a new car does not respect you and your money, buy your car from someone else. Enjoy the process and leave with a smile on your face. The right dealership is going to make the experience fun. Don’t settle and find someone who values you and how hard you’ve worked for that car. There are a lot of dealerships and a lot of cars out there. Find the right one.

Ferris Bueller returns in Honda’s new Super Bowl commercial

Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner, and this year one of the most buzzed-about commercials stars Ferris Bueller—that is, Matthew Broderick, who stars in a Honda ad based on his 1986 film masterpiece “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

Broderick, now 49 and married to Sarah Jessica Parker, recited the legendary quote from the movie, “How can I handle work on a day like today?” with the Ferris Bueller theme song playing in the background.

Can Ferris beat last year’s popular Darth Vader kid of Volkswagen? It may be more interesting than watching Eli Manning take on Tom Brady.