These car salesmen thought they could pull a fast one on their customers!
All content has been edited for clarity.
“Years ago, my wife and I went into a dealership to purchase a new car. We had all sorts of prices scribbled back and forth on a sheet of paper. We finally reached an agreed-upon price. I asked for a photocopy of the sheet with the price underlined and both of our signatures. They did not want to give it to me, but I demanded it.
The next day, I went in to pick up the car and my check was too low. I had actually agreed to a higher price. Sure enough, their copy had a higher price. My lower price had been crossed out and a higher price number had been added to it. I asked for a copy of their sheet so they gave me a copy.
I pulled out my photocopy and innocently asked, ‘How come my copy does not show that higher price and your manager’s initials are next to the lower price?’
I got a whole bunch of excuses and finally said, ‘Okay, you don’t want to sell at this price, no big deal. I will go elsewhere. But please be prepared to explain to the Department of Motor Vehicles how come these two sheets have different figures.’
The sales manager quickly disappeared and his boss came forward.
He took one look at the two sheets and said, ‘Sell this man this car at the lower price.’
He walked away and I got the car for the agreed-upon price.
I knew they were trying to scam me. They were just surprised that I had my copy. And I knew there was no way the dealer wanted to try to explain away the two difference sheets to the DMV.
Ever since that day, whenever I buy a car, including one that is going to be picked up later, I demand a fully executed sales contract showing all fees and expenses, along with the bottom line.”
“Extended Test Drive”
“I arranged to buy a vintage Volvo from an infamously shady dealer in the Portland, Oregon area for a suspiciously low price. Upon arrival, the car was not running and had a dozen issues not described in the listing.
He offered me an alternative vehicle to ‘make things right.’ After receiving cash for the substitute, he said I could take it on an ‘extended test drive while we find the paperwork.’
Weeks later, I was still tooling around in the car and addressing a bunch of mechanical issues the dealer had supposedly fixed. After it left me on the side of the road twice due to a fuel injection electrical fault, I called the guy and told him I wanted to return the car.
He pushed back saying a return would be ‘complicated.’
I frankly said, ‘Listen, the car isn’t even in my name yet because you haven’t found the paperwork. This should be easy.’
He replied, ‘Wait, we’ll find the papers right now, stay on the phone.’
While holding, I could clearly hear a woman in the background say, ‘Oh, isn’t that Frankie’s car? He came by to pick it up and we couldn’t find it.’
Amazingly, he asked her, ‘Did Frank pay for the work we did?’
She responded, ‘No.’
He said, ‘Then tell him we totaled it out and give him something else.’
These people had sold me a customer’s car! Long story short, I got my money back when someone tipped me off as to who Frankie was and we both showed up at the dealership together. It was like something out of a movie. These grifters really do exist.”
“Are You Sure You Don’t Want To Drive That Pinto?”
“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 four grand. At the time, the base price for even a stripped Cutlass was around six grand, 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 four grand 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, a car with a stick shift, and a sticker price around seven grand. I asked him if he was going to sell me that Cutlass for the four grand price in the ad.
He almost choked, ‘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?’
I think that was the most aggravated I’ve ever been with a car salesman, and that’s saying something. They had me tied up for almost four hours with this song and dance.”
“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 drive my cars until they just die.
So 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, and 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 wasn’t mine to see. He said that because I wasted his time, I was 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.”
“What If I Just Front You The Money?”
“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. They said now I was short five hundred 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,’ and gestured towards a used-looking 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 nineteen at the time and I looked it apparently. Don told me he was sorry about the salesman’s bad estimate, but I was a thousand dollars short with my check. Somehow I went from five hundred short to a thousand. 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 nineteen, 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 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.”
“It’s Another One Of Randy’s Customers”
“I bought a new car from the Army Air Force Exchange Service in Mannheim, Germany in 1990.
This organization is known colloquially as the ‘PX’ or post exchange.
I put a two grand down payment on my car, which was being shipped from the US. I had to pick the car up from the port of Bremerhaven which was in the northern part of the country. It was a rather long train ride up there.
I had gotten a loan from the Army credit union and they sent a check for the amount financed. All was set, I just needed to pick up my car and drive back to Mannheim several hours away.
When I arrived, they wouldn’t release my car because I was allegedly eighteen hundred dollars short. I had to contact my credit union in the states and have them wire the money so I was not stranded with no car.
After I got back to base, I went over my documentation and I had overpaid eighteen hundred dollars.
So the next day, I visited the dealership and the salesperson told the manager, ‘It’s another one of Randy’s customers.’
Randy was the young man who sold me the car. Apparently, he was stealing money. I had a receipt for my two grand down-payment and he had only credited me for two hundred, thus pocketing eighteen hundred dollars.
I don’t know what happened to him, but I was not the only one he did this to. They eventually paid me back the eighteen hundred dollars, but I don’t know where that money came from.”
“I Love Cars But Can’t Stand Buying Them”
“I drove three hours to a dealership because they were the only dealer I could find that had the color of the vehicle I wanted. The internet price was good. I liked the vehicle and we agreed on the price. I did my homework on financing before I went to the dealership. I had an excellent credit rating so I knew the finance rates should be around four percent. Then the salesman tried to sell me on a monthly payment. I knew what I was going to pay and told him so.
After returning from ‘talking with his manager’ for the second time, he came back with a still ridiculous payment. I used my financial calculator and determined the rate to be eleven percent. I walked out.
I really wanted the vehicle. There just were not any around that were not black, white, or silver. I emailed the dealer saying it was nice meeting him. He responded saying the manufacturer was offering financing at three percent.
I looked it up on the manufacturer’s website and found that three percent was for thirty-six months but they offered four percent for loans longer than that. I emailed back saying I would do the deal at that rate, knowing it would be four percent. I drove the three hours to the dealership again the following Saturday. I told the salesman I wanted to do the deal.
Then he said the three percent rate was only good for one day.
I told him I knew it wasn’t and that it was only for thirty-six months of financing. So he brought out the paperwork at the four percent rate, but the cost of the vehicle was three hundred dollars higher than what we agreed to. He said it was for etching the windows for security. I told him I wasn’t not going to pay it. He took it off.
Then the dreaded trip to the finance guy where he tried to sell me pre-paid service, paint protection, extended warranty, etc.
I turned him down. I just wanted to get out of there. I love cars but can’t stand buying them.”
“We went to a used car dealership to buy a nice Mini Cooper S Convertible with a pretty good deal at relatively low mileage.
Minis and some BMW cars have the known problem of the oil gasket cracking and starting to leak at a certain mileage but there is a fifty-fifty chance it might never happen too. When I took the car to inspection before buying, the mechanic said there was a leak and it only can be fixed by replacing the gasket, and if they do it, the car would be great.
I took the car back to the dealership and they said they would fix it. The next day, they called me and said they had fixed it and I could come to get it. It felt fishy when they pushed me hard to buy on the spot instead of a second inspection. I resisted and took the car for inspection a second time.
My mechanic lifted the car. The leak has gone but he was not happy with what he saw. He took the brake cleaner spray. Then he sprayed some brake cleaner on the leaking area.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was lots of glue dripping mixed with the cleaner. Apparently, they ‘fixed it’ with lots of glue on the crack. It would dissolve and leak a few months after I bought it, or maybe on the first rainy day.
He personally took the opportunity to call back the dealer and clearly let them know that they were scammers and they should not be doing it.
I took the car back to the dealership office. No one was there. They did not have the guts to see me. I just left the keys to the custodian and left the building. No one called me afterward. Who knows who bought the car.
I lost two days and it took lots of effort from my mechanic. All because of that scammer.”
Bait and Switch
“I don’t know if it was considered strange to this particular dealership, since it was sued several times, and eventually shut down due to their business practices.
I was in the market for a new truck, so I visited this particular dealership because it advertised several low-price guarantees. I normally take my time and pick out exactly what I am looking for or find a dealership that has it in stock. After walking the expansive dealership in-stock lot, I had found my desired choice.
A salesman approached me as I was headed into the showroom. I handed him the inventory information posted on the truck’s windshield. He returned with the keys to the truck so I could ‘take it for a spin,’ as I handed over my keys so they could determine the trade-in value of my vehicle.
I returned to the sales floor and my salesman turned me over to a junior sales manager for negotiations. The salesman returned to us with a price quote sheet that I was asked to sign.
I thought, ‘This is actually going really smooth.’
Five hours after arriving at the dealership, I had negotiated what I considered a very good deal for a loaded truck and was on my way home at approximately eight o’clock that night.
The next day, on my way to work, surrounded by the new car smell, I noticed some features that were pointed out the day before were inexplicably absent. This bothered me immensely, as I gave the truck a thorough once-over when I arrived at work and made notes as I went along. The further along I progressed, the more irritated I became. Armed with my list of ‘differences,’ I telephoned the dealership and the salesman. I told him of the problems that I had discovered, and said that I was bringing the truck back for them to ‘make it right.’ I also instructed him not to leave the premises because I had numerous questions.
I returned to the dealership and found the sales manager and the salesman to explain the situation. The salesman said that this scenario was not possible. Well, the idiot had failed to return the bait vehicle to its original spot, as it was parked just outside of the showroom windows. I backed the salesman against the glass and called him every derogatory name that came to mind including thief. Thankfully, I chose not to lay hands on this crooked salesman that had tried the old bait and switch sales scam.
Shortly thereafter, I drove out with the fully loaded truck, which included some very nice aluminum wheels and an alarm. The sales price was the same as the stripped-down model I was originally tricked into driving off of the lot.
That particular dealership was shut down within six months, thankfully.”
“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 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 would 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 would 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 nerve 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 ten grand 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.”