He remembers the “All Sales Final” notes taped to the cash register. “That was to prevent folks from buying something like a screwdriver for a minor repair, then returning it,” says Chambers. “That’s how poor folks were. We grew up watching every penny.”
It’s a lesson about people and retailing that he’s been able to use in reverse in his 54 (and counting) dealerships.
“One thing I don’t like about the automobile business is that the people who can afford to pay the most often pay the least,” he says. “A professional litigator, for example, is going to drive out with a better deal than the average person, who might not be as articulate. I don’t know how to fix that in the new-car business, but I’ve figured out how to do it with used cars.”
His solution: A fixed price on used cars combined with a liberal return policy—one used not long ago by the late Thomas Menino, former mayor of Boston.
“The price is fixed, and if you’re not happy with your purchase for any reason, you can return it within five days for a full refund,” he says.
Further, for an additional 25 days, the buyer can return the vehicle for an equal credit toward another vehicle as long as it hasn’t been driven more than 1,500 miles and is still in the same shape as when it was bought. (Note: there are some exclusions on high-end and performance vehicles).