Car salesmen have the worst reputation for being too aggressive, too pushy, and too deceiving. Welp! These stories are here to prove that all those assumptions are true.
People on Reddit share the times a dealership tried to scam them in the most absurd ways. Content has been edited for clarity.
He Was This Close To Snapping
“This was a few years ago when my wife and I were looking for a second car, figuring to buy something used, but nice. I got up one Saturday and spotted an ad in the local paper for a new Oldsmobile Cutlass for 4,000 bucks. At the time, the base price for even a stripped Cutlass was around 6,000 bucks, and a Cutlass was a pretty nice car. At that price, it made no sense to buy a used car; I would get the Cutlass.
I called the dealership to confirm that they still had the car in the ad. They said they did. When I got to the dealership and was handed over to a salesman, I showed him the ad from the newspaper and told him I wanted that car. He took me out to the lot and started showing me a Ford Pinto! This was right after the news stories about Pinto’s exploding when hit from behind.
He was really pushing me to take the Pinto for a ride, stressing that he could sell it to me for less than the 4,000 bucks in the ad (for the Cutlass).
When I started to show my irritation, he said that he assumed I wouldn’t really want the Cutlass in the ad, because it was a stick shift. I told him that I had no problem with a stick, so he took me over to look at a Cutlass 4–4–2, a car with a stick shift, and a sticker price of around 7,000 bucks. I asked him if he was going to sell me that Cutlass for the 4,000 buck price in the ad. He almost choked.
He said, ‘NO, this one is much more than that!’
When I got to the point where I was about to get physically violent with the guy, he said that the car in the ad had been sold ‘yesterday,’ and they didn’t have anything else like it.
As I walked away, he called out to me – not joking – ‘Are you sure you don’t want to drive that Pinto?'”
She Wasn’t Caving In
“I was in the market for a new car. It was the only time I was about to make a trade with a relatively decent car for trade-in. I usually drove my cars until they just died.
I was letting them check over my car for the trade-in value while I was deciding between two cars. The trade-in value would determine which new vehicle I could afford to purchase. They kept telling me that they could not give me the trade-in value until I decided on my new car. I got frustrated and told them just to give me back my old car. The guy told me I had already sold them my old car and I would now have to repurchase it from them at retail value. What???
I asked where my check was for the sale.
He said, ‘Well that will be determined when you buy your new car.’
I told him that the ‘sale’ of the old car was not complete until I received my ‘something of value’ which would be payment for the car. He wouldn’t let it go. I told him to show me the contract where I supposedly ‘sold’ them my car. He said that it wasn’t mine to see. He said that because I wasted his time, I was now obligated to buy another car from him.
The only one wasting time was him, playing the shell game that every dealer plays. He kept getting more and more agitated that I was not buckling. I told him I wasn’t buying anything until I knew what the bottom line would be, and I could see he had no intention of telling me.
He finally, without thinking it through, said, ‘I bet you are the kind of girl that if a man takes you out for a nice dinner and buys you flowers, and spends his time with you, that you don’t put out.’
I was dumbfounded. He threw my keys at me, told me I was not worth his time, and to leave. Needless to say, I left as quickly as I could. After that statement, there was no telling what he would do next.
And yes, there were witnesses to his tirade. The guy was fired and the dealership is no longer in business.”
Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire
“I negotiated a good price on a new Toyota. They said they would put on some extra trim and give me different rims, and one other thing that I can’t remember. They said to come by the next day in the afternoon. So my friend went with me so he could drive my other car back to the house. Of course, I was very excited about a new car.
When I got there the salesman said, ‘Here it is. All ready for you. We washed it and detailed it.’
My friend and I looked at the car, it was really beautiful. But there were the wrong rims on it and no rocker panels.
My friend said, ‘This was not what you paid for.’
The salesman was sure everything was fine.
I said, ‘No it’s not. You promised this and this.’
He started to argue with me and since I had the keys in my hand I said no again and threw them in a way he could catch them. I turned around and walked off the lot. Of course, the salesman was saying something but I walked anyway.
Later that evening the dealership called telling me the car would be ready in the morning.
I said, ‘Ya know I can’t take off work to come for the car that I was trying to pick up earlier today. So you can deliver it to me at my work or you can take the car back I don’t care.’
The next day the car was delivered to my work and it had all the right things on it and was indeed what I ordered and what was promised. I went by the dealership two days later and found the manager.
I told him, ‘I did not appreciate pushing me to take a car that did not have all the things I had been promised. Not only that, but the salesman was also lying to my face.'”
“I went in with my AMC sedan (yes, years ago) and was looking at a Chevy.
I asked the ‘scamman’ (oops, salesman), ‘What will you give me for my car?’
I said ‘OK, and how much will you take off the sticker?’
He replied, ‘2,000 bucks.’
I said, ‘OK, so that’s 4,000 bucks off the price?’
He said, ‘No, just 2,000 bucks.’
So I looked at him and said,’So, basically you want my car for free?’
After a positive reply from him, I left.
The next one, also a Chevy dealer, I came to an agreement to buy a Cavalier. We came to a sweet deal. Then I saw an upgraded Cavalier with a sticker price of about 2,000 bucks more.
So, I said to the ‘scamman’, ‘Hey, how about I pay 2,000 bucks more, and get the other car?’
He said, ‘Sure.’
The paperwork was done and I left two cars and a deposit. After an hour or so, something didn’t feel right! I reran the numbers again and the ‘scamman’ charged me 4,000 bucks more. Needless to say, I came back, dropped off the car, and picked up my other old used cars.
Another time, a Honda dealer wore me out with their unceasing attempts to sell me everything from undercoating to Lojack, to extended warranty, and so on.
In the end, the guy said, ‘Well, there is destination charge.’
In my weakness, I accepted it! It was a 900 bucks lesson learned.
Then there was a time when I saw a really lovely minivan on sale, for a really decent price. I walked into the dealership and looked at the van, it looked good. I walked around and then I saw it had a dent on the side of the car. I asked the ‘scamman’, ‘What’s up with the dent?’
He replied, ‘Oh, it’s nothing! it is just the reflection of the sun..’
The reflection my rear, I walked away.”
He Thought He Could Take Advantage Of An Elderly Man
“My elderly father had just called me in Florida to say he found a ‘cherry’ colored, one-year-old, low mileage minivan at a great price sitting on his trusted local dealership’s lot. He was helping to rebuild an old theater organ and needed something bigger to haul his tools and all the other stuff. I used my Power of Attorney to have a check cut from his home equity credit line. His ‘new’ van was paid in full and good to go. Or so I thought.
A few days later he offhandedly remarked there had been a glitch in the van’s title work, or something when he went to pick it up. He said the apologetic and very nice Finance and Insurance guy explained the changes and assured him fixing the problem was no big deal. It should have been a red flag, but dad was happy. And while I was busy with the new job and the new house, I let it slide.
His heart gave out about two months later. When I returned home to Pennsylvania for his funeral and to begin settling his estate, I spotted a thick manila folder on the kitchen counter where dad likely figured his only child would find it when the time inevitably came.
The folder contained a bunch of stuff, including the minivan paperwork. I flipped through the pages and discovered there were two sales contracts. For two different minivans. The first was for the low mileage, year-old van that matched the vehicle he’d described over the phone. It indicated paid in full.
The second contract, stashed in the back of the folder, was for a much older, much higher mileage model that was seemingly identical in appearance – and identical in price – to the year-old van, he described over the phone. It came with a 48-month, high-interest finance agreement. I pulled the vehicle identification number (VIN) from the van parked outside in the garage. It matched the number found on the paperwork for the older, high mileage, dealer-financed budget lot car. What, I wondered, had dad done this time?
The lady at the bank was also confused. She confirmed the home equity check had, in fact, cleared. The dealership had been paid. The bank also confirmed dad’s credit report showed he’d taken out a mysteriously used car loan around the same time and in the same amount as the bank transfer.
Dad’s vision had remained fairly sharp over the years. He was a retired airline/corporate pilot and, like most pilots, good eyesight was something he prided. But he sometimes needed help with the small print.
It was also likely he never really looked at the ‘revised’ paperwork the dealership’s Finance and Insurance guy handed him that day. And it was equally likely that was what the Finance and Insurance guy was counting on. They took his full price check, got him to sign a redundant loan at terms that would make a street shark blush, and then sent him off in a different and much cheaper car than the one he thought he was buying.
Dad, clearly, had been scammed. A bait-and-switch with a twist. As a widower, he lived alone. He had no local family. And he had money, credit, and a tendency to trust people. He looked like the perfect ‘mark.’
The dealership, figuring the old man would never notice, had apparently grabbed a nearly identical van from the ‘buy here, pay here’ lot and switched it with the creampuff one that dad thought he was buying. They also conned him into signing loan papers on a car he’d already paid for. I figured dad had put those papers on the counter because he likely suspected, but didn’t want to admit, he might have been had. And now, I reckoned, he was counting on me to find out. And make it right.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, financial abuse is the third most frequent crime against the commonwealth’s elderly. Like my dad. But very few of these victims likely had a kid with years of experience investigating and reporting on consumer fraud. One with a direct line, on speed dial, to the attorney general’s office. And, of course, the local media.
The Finance and Insurance guy kept me waiting nearly 45 minutes. He was busy, he grunted. What did I need? He kept calling me ‘pal.’ I tossed the folder on his desk. It was like I’d just plopped a turd on his stack of extended warranties. He gave it a quick glance and pushed it aside.
‘Can’t help ya,’ he smirked.
But I could tell. He knew. The eye twitch gave him away.
He said, ‘I’m gonna have to ask you to leave, pal.’
The civil complaint drafted by my dad’s lawyer on behalf of his estate crossed the court clerk’s desk two days later. The guy was a carnivore and a long-time friend. He’d come to know, and like, my dad. And he was outraged. The filing was brutal. It was also a piece of art. Theft, fraud, conversion, elder abuse. Plus some stuff I think he made up. The dealership was left with nowhere to hide.
‘Somebody’ must have tipped the reporters at my old newspaper. The piece ran page one, above the fold. The TV talking heads also got the story.
The ‘can’t help ya, pal’ Finance and Insurance guy was suddenly nowhere to be found. And the corporate suits were now clamoring to settle. Money-back? You got it. Tear up the loan papers? Done. And you can keep the van. Consider it a gift.”
The Incident Made The Papers
“When my uncle retired, he decided to treat himself to a brand-new Corvette. He shopped for weeks, finally choosing a loaded model in a bright racing yellow.
He was so excited on the delivery day. I drove him to the dealership and when we arrived, his new car was out front, facing the street but parked very close to the wall of the showroom. He didn’t care because he’d be driving his new car and I would be driving my car. The salesman rushed him through the paperwork, gave him the keys and said he had another appointment to get to. This annoyed my uncle considering the amount of money he had just spent. But he was still excited, so he hopped in and fired up the 427 engine. I told him I’d follow him to the gas station; this happened in the days when a dealership provided just enough fuel to get you to your first fill-up.
He pulled out and turned right down the boulevard. A few blocks later, he pulled into a station, then swung the Corvette around so the tank fill would be on the right side for the pump. My mouth fell open in horror as I watched him swing around. The entire passenger side of the car, the side that was against the wall at the dealership, was totally smashed. Dents, paint ripped down to the fiberglass, trim completely missing. The car was destroyed on the passenger side. I pulled over and tried to warn my uncle before he saw it but I was too late. He had gotten out with a big smile on his face, ready for his first fill-up with his brand new Corvette, only to see this total mess. We both stood there dumbfounded for a moment, but soon anger took over.
We immediately returned to the dealership and found the salesman, who was on the phone. I had to restrain my uncle from hitting this guy, he was screaming at him at calling him every name in the book. We went outside and showed the salesman the car, and he had the balls to accuse my uncle of being the one who damaged the car! By this time a small crowd had gathered around the scene, and finally, the owner of the dealership came out.
The salesman admitted that he had smashed the car when he was bringing it out of the storage lot, and didn’t want to lose the sale, so he hid the damage by parking it so it wasn’t visible. The owner immediately fired the salesman, apologized to my uncle, gave him a loaner car for free while they ordered a new Corvette, then when he came to pick up the replacement car, the owner gave my uncle a check for 10,000 bucks back from what he had paid for the car. Because of all of this, my uncle didn’t sue the dealership, but the story made the newspapers and dealership folded less than a year later. That salesman’s actions were the scummiest I’ve ever come across.”
“I picked out the car I wanted at the dealership and they told me the price. I returned the next day with a check from my bank for the amount they told me.
Then they said now I was short 500 bucks. When I explained this was the price we agreed to the day before, they said their salesman should have never given me that price.
They said, ‘For that price, you can buy this car over here (used rental type car).’
Of course, I declined.
Then they said, ‘We’ll let you speak to Don. He’s the guy that can play with the price a little.’
I went to speak to Don who was a very intimidating man. I was 19 at the time and I looked it apparently. Don told me he was sorry about the salesman’s bad estimate, but I was 1,000 bucks short with my check. Somehow I went from 500 bucks short to 1,000 bucks short. When I told them it was all I could afford, they asked me if I could borrow any money from family members.
When I said no, they told me they couldn’t sell me the car.
As I was walking away through the lot, Don drove up in his car and told me to get in. Like a dummy I did, and Don drove me around while we talked. He asked again if there was anyone I could borrow money from and again I said no.
Then, out of the kindness of his heart, Don said, ‘What if I just front you the money, and you pay me back when you can?’
I may have been 19, but when he said the word ‘front,’ bells started ringing in my head and I suddenly wanted to get out of that car as fast as possible.
I didn’t buy that car and had later heard that the dealership was known to do that to younger buyers. Some young men had been arrested for burglary and other crimes saying they had done it to pay back a car loan from that dealership under fear of violence. Some had actually been put in the hospital for not paying back the loan with the ‘appropriate’ interest. I’m glad I didn’t do any business with them.”
They Couldn’t Believe Who Was Driving Their Dream Car
“My parents were engaged to be married in 1951, but they decided to move the wedding up to the weekend before my dad was to report for re-activation at Scott AFB in Belleville, Illinois.
Because they decided to marry sooner rather than later, they would need a car quickly. So they headed to a Kansas City Chevrolet dealership. They ordered a new well-equipped black four-door that could be quickly made at the local assembly plant and put down a 200 buck deposit (equivalent to 2,000 bucks today). The week of their wedding, the dealership called to tell them their new car was in and ready for them to pick up.
They went to the dealership and a porter drove around a pea-green striped business coupe without a back seat, radio, heater, whitewall tires, outside rear-view mirrors, turn signals,or carpet. My parents were stunned. The dealership explained that was what was available and was offering it to them. My parents were not pleased and declined the car, asking for their deposit back.
‘Nope,’ the sales manager replied, ‘Take this car or nothing and no refund of the deposit.’
Due to heavy demand for cars, the dealership had a tiny print clause in the sales contract they’d signed that said, ‘or a reasonable substitute.’ Of course, my parents argued to no avail that a striped car with no back seat was not a reasonable substitute for the expensive model they’d ordered. The sales manager just laughed and walked away.
‘Pay for the rest of it and take it, or don’t pay the rest and leave it,’ he said. They left it.
Hurriedly, my parents went to a used car dealer who treated them nicely and fixed them up with a used 1947 Ford four-door sedan, even taking 200 bucks off his asking price when he heard about the lost deposit.
My father reported for induction, but it was delayed and eventually canceled. So my folks returned to Kansas City and got on with their lives. On their way back, they were in their ’47 Ford at a stoplight when, just as it turned green, a new black ’50 four-door Chevrolet — identical to the one they’d ordered — rolled past them. It was driven by the sales manager at that Chevrolet dealership.
To this day, nobody in my extended family has ever since purchased a new car made by General Motors and likely never will.”
“They Killed The Deal”
“In 1990 I took my checkbook to the GMC dealer and pointed out a new black and gold Suburban that had caught my eye. I was replacing a 1987 Trooper that I loved but kept breaking down.
So after driving the new Suburban, I toddled into the office to talk turkey with the Salesman. We negotiated a price of 20,000 bucks out the door, which was what I was willing to spend, and also gave them a fair profit on the truck.
So off I went to the Fiance and Insurance office, expecting to write off a 20,000 buck check and to drive home in my new truck.
‘Oh no, that won’t work,’ said the Finance Manager.
As he put an application for financing in front of me, he said that I had to finance the Truck at 9.9 percent for five years and deposit the 20,000 bucks into a GMAC note where I’d earn a variable rate somewhere between 4.9 percent and 11.9 percent.
Then he said, ‘Trust me (said like Joe Isuzu). You’ll make a lot of money on the deal…’
I picked up my checkbook and started walking out. The manager followed me, stopping me at the salesman’s desk. I told him the management just tried to scam me and killed the deal. He asked me to please give him a minute to find out what was going on, so I agreed because it was the first time a car salesman ever said ‘please’ to me.
He came back out five minutes later with the owner of the dealership. They had a clean bill of sale and other necessary paperwork, exactly as I had wanted it.
I wrote the check, so they gave me the keys and I went home with a new Suburban.”
Everything Was Perfect Until He Drove Home
“I walked into a dealership after seeing a nice Audi A4 parked in their lot. My intention was to just check out the car and see how much it was going for.
After a couple of hours or more of test driving and checking it out from the inside and out for any obvious issues, I found myself sitting down with the salesman going through the typical psychological routine to get me to buy the car. Eventually that day I did buy it (yeah I got suckered in!).
After signing a bunch of papers and having closed the deal, I drove outside their lot and was on my way in my newly purchased car. To my surprise, only a few miles on the road, I was looking at the lights on the dashboard above the steering wheel and I noticed that there was a dim light from one of the indicators. I swept my hand across where the light was coming and guess what I found?
There was a small piece of black electricity tape stuck right above the dim light. Once I peeled it off, it just happened to be the ‘check engine’ indicator light.
Now it was Friday nighttime already, and by the time I got back to the dealership they were closed. I thought that was a good thing because I was pretty furious. I passed by again on Monday as they were closed Saturday and Sunday, and I went straight to the salesperson and told him about the discovery I had found. Of course, after calling his manager, they both denied it and at some point were accusing me of placing it there!
Eventually, I just figured it wasn’t going to go too far as I did sign a bunch of ‘As-Is’ papers. I just started a new job out of college so I didn’t want to start a legal battle with people of that sort.”