For me, buying a car is about as enjoyable as a root canal. And a story like this one just reinforces the low opinion I have of dealerships in general.
In a nut shell, a guy bid on eBay auction for a brand new BMW. The auction had no reserve and a minimum bid for $60k. The guy bid at that price, and the auction closed with a single winning bid: his at $60k. Later, the dealer called him and reneged on the deal, saying that the auction was "a mistake". The guy countered that they had entered into a legal contract through eBay, that the dealership had adjusted their Buy It Now price twice (meaning they were watching the auction), that this wasn't their first auction (they're not novices), and that they've reneged before (a different car in a prior auction).
The guy, obviously, felt cheated. He posted on in a car forum, and his thread got picked up by autoblog (with 300+ diggs, but no front page yet ... hmmm ...) and reddit (and I suppose, now on Neatorama).
While I'm not big on Net vendettas, I can't help but wonder at the new megaphone consumers now have. Big blogs like The Consumerist are filled with irate consumers with damning stories. Even the little guys can have their say (see the story of nissan.com and starbucked.com)
Obviously, there are two sides to the story and we haven't (and probably won't) hear from the dealership. So I'll let you guys decide on who's at fault and so on.
But what I'd like to ask you is this: what's the thinking of big corporations on PR disasters like this one? Do they even care about Net protests? Or do they think Net protests will blow over in a matter of days and then it's back to business as usual? If you work in a large company, I'd love to hear what you think.
Links: the original thread at M3Post (long)Update 3/25/08: Apparently complaining on the Net worked this time around. Here's the update of the dealership agreeing to sell the car at the bid price: Link