Another USAA Car Buying Service / Auto Circle positive experience from a USAA member and former employee

 I was searching for a used Toyota 4x4 for my son. I am a retired Federal criminal investigator and I also work for the TxDMV so I am skeptical of any used car dealer. I also worked for USAA as an automotive claims adjuster (non-injury) so this added to my knowledge, experience, and concerns. BTW, the reasons I resigned from USAA have nothing to do with me finding a better job and is another story. I was looking for a good, used, specific vehicle for my son. I found a great 2001 Toyota Tundra SR5 4x4 with only 90000+ miles on through USAA's auto circle but I never heard of the dealer before. Based on my experience, companies "hand selected" by USAA for this service are reputable but since I never heard of this car dealership before, I was skeptical. I will also share my dealer experience as it relates to the USAA experience. The dealer immediately called me to answer more questions. The salesman provided a brief overview of the Carfax report on the phone. First impressions at a dealership are very important to me. I was not "jumped on" by a salesperson when I arrived at the dealer.  USAA has no control over an individual's conduct so I cannot guarantee this everywhere.  I walke the lot and looked at the truck for about 15 minutes before the salesperson approached me. My first impression of any dealership is very important and this one had a very large variety of what appeared to be very high quality vehicles, from a beautifully restored 1973 Land Rover to very nice looking 2013 cars, foreign, domestic, economical to luxury. The salesperson showed me the Carfax report and I thoroughly inspected the vehicle as it had one minor accident claim in 2003.  I shared my knowledge of telltale signs of major repairs in collision with the salesperson.  The vehicle showed no signs of major repairs.  I was also very impressed with the level of detail work done by the dealership. It didn't feel like they were trying to "put lipstick on a pig" but instead felt like the dealership had true pride in the vehicles they sold.  I did not feel any high pressure from the salesperson at all.  The price point of the vehicle was exceptional and I felt no need to haggle or dicker on the prices. They did not try pressure me into using their financing resources or try to get me to buy a service contact or other goods or services.  They showed me all of the information regarding the title, which had a previous bank lein and alleviated those concerns. Since it rained very hard prior to my arrival, they offered another detail of the truck for free, even though the truck still appeared immaculate. I did not print out all of the info or prequalify for a loan before I went to the dealer.  I used the service exclusively as a search and possible referral too.  After looking over the vehicle and before I even drove it, I called USAA to get the loan.  They are always my first choice but during the last two recent experiences, the Audi and Toyota dealers have both given me better rates than USAA so USAA lost my auto loan business totally.  I wanted this to be a good learning experience for my 18 year old son, help build a good credit history and give him some pride in ownership. The USAA loan rep helped me understand this aspect and make my decision. I put my son on the loan as a co-applicant and ensured my son was a co-owner when the dealership filed for a new title.  He was also very personable.  As a former employee, I know about how my profile pops up when I call, how they review it while working with me, how USAA employees have to interact with customers and how USAA employees are "highly motivated" to "deepen the member relationship" with USAA, which, in my opinion is a veiled attempt at telemarking and deeping the relationship does not mean helping USAA customers but it makes you imbedded in USAA so they do not lose you as a customer and make more money off you. I digress. The USAA loan representative was very good on the phone and that has not always been my experience as a member or dealing with irate members or third parties as a former USAA employee when they had bad service from other employees. Other than asking if I needed anything else, the employee did not ask me if I wanted to buy extended service contracts or if I wanted to buy flowers or diamonds for my wife or life insurance on my children. Perhaps my profile has all kinds of flags and warnings on it. I have aquired previous loans from USAA as the originator and this experience was just like my previous ones - positive.  I just wish USAA would be more competitive in rates and not rely on service, which has declined over the years as they outgrow their britches. I was approved for the loan while I was still playing with the truck gadges, less than 10 minutes. I thought adding my son to the loan would be a hassle but it was not.  The USAA rep advised me on how to complete the deal by going online to USAA and finalizing stuff, although I have done this before. I cannot stress the importance of walking into a car dealership with pre-approval for financing, whether it is from USAA or another company and even if you use another financing. Definitely print out the pricing certificate from USAA before you go to that dealer and you can use that as a negotiating factor at other competing dealers no on the USAA site. It gives you SO MUCH power and control when you walk into the dealer and takes away their firepower. I gave the car salesperson the thumbs up on financing and we went inside.  While he was doing his initial paperwork (I didn't dicker on the price as it was a good price), I was sitting there on my iPhone using the USAA app to complete my paperwork.  I only had to get online on the sales rep’s computer to print out the paperwork although I could have emailed a copy to him from my phone. This process took less than five minutes.  There was absolutely no pressure from the dealer to use their financing or pressure to get me to buy other goods and services and I contribute that to going in educated and armed for war with the help of USAA. The finance department of the dealer was very particular about obtaining my son's ID and information since my son was not present, to ensure all of the title work met State requirements and was accurate.  They also worked with me to have my son come in the following morning to sign the documents since my son worked nights.  The salesperson offered to follow my son home in order to get the truck home, which I was impressed with because although I live in the same county, I lived a good distance away.  Based upon my prior experience and knowledge, due to my great experience, the quality of their inventory, and last but not least, their pride in their relationship with USAA, I would not hesitate to recommend Auto Group of San Antonio or Tom the sales rep to anyone. Even though my experience as an employee with USAA was not entirely what I hoped it would be, USAA was not competitive on my last two loans, and a recently unhappy relationship and horrible experience during a recent auto claim, I still did not hesitate to give them a shot and I feel less inclined at this point to jump off the USAA ship, although it is still in the back of my mind. I relate this to another good experience with USAA. I also want to give a good recommendation for my USAA loan processor, although I cannot recall his name now, I will ensure he gets proper feedback when the loan is closed.


Thank you for sharing your experience!