Boston-area Honda dealership commentary

By | September 27, 2017

TL;DR My wife and I recommend Ocean Honda of Weymouth, and we anti-recommend Boch Honda and Herb Chambers Honda.

My wife and I recently spoke with four Honda dealerships about leasing a new Honda: Cambridge Honda, Boch Honda of Norwood, Herb Chambers Honda of Boston, and Ocean Honda of Weymouth.

Cambridge Honda

Cambridge Honda’s quote wasn’t awful, but they weren’t incredibly responsive and sent replies to several of my emails which didn’t quite answer the questions I had asked. I view an inability to respond substantively to specific questions as a red flag. I don’t exactly anti-recommend them, but I didn’t get warm fuzzies.

Boch Honda

Boch Honda’s quote was the lowest, but there were some red flags. For example:

  1. I told them specifically that the earliest I was going to be able to get to them to sign the lease was five days away, and yet they didn’t mention until well through the negotiations that the quote they had given me was only good for 72 hours and they would have to issue a new quote before we closed the deal.
  2. They specifically told me that they would send me a new quote on the day the old quote expired. They failed to do so.

We might have been able to ignore these issues. The lease is actually with Honda Corp., not with the individual dealership, and we wouldn’t have needed to have any further interaction with the dealership after signing the lease. However, my wife reminded me that we might not want to be giving any money to Ernie Boch Jr., and when I did a little research and discovered his emphatic, continuing support for Donald Trump, I agreed. So we decided to go with a different dealership even if it meant spending a bit more money.

When I emailed Boch and told them we weren’t going to be using them, I gave them two reasons: their failure to send me an updated quote after promising to do so, and Ernie Boch’s politics. I was quite explicit:

Boch’s emphatic support for Donald Trump particularly, and for the current Republican party in general, is offensive, unamerican, and dangerous, and we will not abet it… We’ve made a conscious decision that we were willing to vote with our wallet and pay more money for a lease that would not help line the pockets of someone whose views are as abhorrent as Ernie Boch’s.

The Boch salesperson sent back a snarky message in which she first claimed that she had not actually promised to send me an updated quote — a lie — and further wrote:

Ernie Boch Jr. no longer owns these dealerships, you would have learned that in your extensive research.

I looked it up, and it’s true that Ernie Boch no longer owns Boch Honda. However, he is still serving as the public face and pitchman of all the Boch dealerships — even the ones that he sold — and they still have his name on them. The under-the-radar nature of the sale was intentional.

Boch isn’t continuing to pitch dealerships he doesn’t own and allowing them to benefit from his name and reputation purely out of the goodness of his heart; clearly, he’s still benefiting financially from them.

(See NECN’s report about the sale of the dealerships.)

The salesperson also wrote:

No one here appreciates you political views or activism however, thanks for sharing.

I can only conclude from this that many of the folks at Boch Honda share Ernie Boch’s political views. And even if that were not the case, then if Boch Honda didn’t want to be tarred with the brush of Ernie Boch’s political views and activism, they could change their name and disassociate themselves from him. They can’t have it both ways.

Herb Chambers Honda

The service department at Herb Chambers overcharges ridiculously (I mean, every dealership service department overcharges, but theirs seems particularly bad), and they also don’t actually seem to be particularly competent (e.g., they once told us we needed to replace the entire A/C switch panel in our Honda vehicle — a repair which they quoted at about $1,000 — when in fact all that was needed was new lightbulbs). So I went into the discussion with Herb Chambers with skepticism. However, I thought I’d give them a chance, given how convenient their location is and the fact that I’ve never actually bought a vehicle through them.

By the time we contacted Herb Chambers, we were mostly done coming to an agreement with Ocean Honda, so I told Herb Chambers up-front that they should only bother making us an offer if they could beat Ocean Honda’s deal. They didn’t send an offer in response, so I assume they couldn’t. I certainly don’t hold that against them, but what I do hold against them is this…

My initial contact with Herb Chambers was through a form on their web site. I put my email address in the form. Shortly after I did so, they sent a reply to my daughter’s email address.

I know (sort of) why this happened. A few years ago, I ran into a similar problem, an organization suddenly started sending emails intended for me to my daughter. I asked them what was going on, and they said they had used a third-party email address locator service to obtain my address, and the service had given them my daughter’s address and claimed it was mine. I assume something similar happened with Herb Chambers.

However, I cannot explain why Herb Chambers used a third-party service to look up my email address, rather than using the email address I gave them when submitted my inquiry. I know they received the address I sent them, because I separately received an email message from someone else at Herb Chambers, sent to the correct address.

I emailed Herb Chambers and asked how this happened and to please fix it. In response, they wrote, “It appears we had it [my daughter’s email address] on file from a previous inquiry. I would be happy to remove it and update the record.”

That explanation makes no sense. My daughter has never addressed any inquiries to Herb Chambers Honda, and if she had, she would have done so under her own name, not mine.

Furthermore, after telling me they would fix the problem, they didn’t; they emailed my daughter again three days later and a third time two days after that.

I conclude that the sales department at Herb Chambers is as incompetent as the service department. I recommend against using them.

Ocean Honda

Ocean Honda of Weymouth was the most responsive of any of the dealerships I dealt with. They responded to my emails pretty quickly and answered my questions. They came close enough to matching Boch Honda’s offer that I was happy to pay them the slightly higher cost to avoid giving Boch any money.

This isn’t to say that the leasing process was entirely smooth with Ocean Honda. There were some bumps in the road — most notably that I was incorrectly told they’d be able to have our minivan ready when I came in to sign the paperwork. That turned out not to be the case, and I had to return the next day to pick it up, but they gave me a loaner car to use to get around until then, so that was fine.

All the people at the dealership were friendly and helpful both times I visited — once to sign the paperwork and once to pick up the minivan.

There are a couple of outstanding issues I’m still working out with them, but none of those issues has made me feel like I’m being mistreated or taken advantage of. At least not yet. 😉

Given our experience, my wife and I feel comfortable recommending Ocean Honda for buying or leasing new Honda vehicles.

P.S. The 2018 Honda Odyssey is a pretty amazing vehicle. I recommend going with at least the EX trim-line, if not higher.

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