The private Wine Room in the back of the Tra di Noi Restaurant in Malibu Country Mart is reminiscent of the smoke filled back rooms where deals are struck. The Malibu Rotary Club held its last meeting there at noon on Wednesday, July 25th. There was no smoking, only delicious food, but deals were struck.
The room, which is named for the bottles of wine stored in the wall on 2 sides, has a large square table in the center, seating four on each side, for a total of 16. At this particular meeting Margo Neal, who is serving as Malibu Rotary Club Host Counselor for a visiting Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar from Zurich Switzerland, introduced that scholar, Livia Giordiano, to the Malibu Rotary Club. Livia had just arrived in Malibu this week, and was anxious to get started at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, which is part of the Pepperdine University Law School. The Straus Institute has been ranked number one in Dispute Resolution for eight consecutive years, which makes it tops in the world. It is not surprising that Livia knew of it in Zurich.
Malibu Rotary Club President-Elect Donna Bohana, a realtor, had already helped Livia find an apartment, and when she arrived at the meeting, she thought she had a car lined up while she was in the country. She had contacted Courtesy Motor in Thousand Oaks, California. The company website says “** NO HAGGLE ** NO HASSLE ** NO HAGGLE PRICING **”. She had picked out a used car and had agreed on the price, $8200. But when she returned to the dealer with a check for $8200 that evening, they wanted $300.00 more. Maggie Luckerath, Malibu Rotary Club Community Advocate was sitting next to Livia, at the corner of the square table, before the Rotary club meeting began. Hearing Livia’s story Maggie agreed that her treatment by the auto dealer was not right—and since Malibu Rotary Club President Bill Wishard had been stuck in traffic, and with everyone sitting around the square table able to hear, she phoned Courtesy Motor on her cell phone and asked to speak to the manager. She was transferred to the acting manager, and Maggie told the acting manager, “This is Mrs Luckerath with the Malibu Rotary Club and Ms Giordiana, a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, had been told that the price of the car she was looking at was going to be $8200 and when she arrived a certified check she was being told that the price was $300 more. Why is there a discrepancy and how can it be rectified?”
Those of us sitting around the table felt like we were watching some type of reality TV, or Candid Camera. We could kind of hear what the person on the other end of the phone was saying. No, he could not revert back to the original price, if Ms Giordiano wanted that car, she would have to pay the higher price. The regular manager could call her back later.
By this time Malibu Rotary Club President Bill Wishard had arrived. He talked about how his father in Indiana had taught him how good it was to have an auto dealer that you could trust and go back to and he used the same dealer for years. Since he has been in California Bill had gotten cars from Galpin Ford in the Valley—in fact he had gotten 4 cars there. The owner lived in Malibu and there was a sales person there who had assisted Bill in his car purchases. Maggie and her husband Hubert had in fact met the owner of Galpin Ford on Broad Beach a few years ago.
After the meeting Maggie phoned the people Bill knew, and before the day ended I had received the following e-mail from Maggie:
Success story - Livia drove out of Galpin Ford with the car of her dreams - Ford Focus and the exact color she wanted..... Great price and she was so happy I went to handle the negotiations. They were offering a 6 month warranty and we negotiated and got a one year warranty.…and got an excellent deal on the insurance.
Livia was totally thrilled!
Livia said her dream came true!
Maggie said that at about 5:30 p.m., when she and Livia were at Galpin Ford signing the papers for licence, etc., Maggie received a call on her cell phone from the manager at Coutesy Motors. It was too little too late.
There are two morals to this story:
You only get one chance to make a good first impression (this one is meant for Courtesy Motors).
Although Livia’s classes at the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution officially start on August 20th, Maggie’s lessons in dispute resolution and the art of negotiation started on July 25th. When she gets into the classroom Livia will have the experience that few others in the classroom will have had, unless they also happen to know Maggie, aka “The Closer”.
Pictured (top of page) L to R are Liva’s new Ford Focus, Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar Livia, Maggie “The Closer,”, and Livia’s Rotary Host Counselor Margo
--John and Lee Ann Elman collaborated on this story