One Tiny Lie Has Big Consequences
“Picture a 25 year old me, on deployment to Ft. Campbell for force protection (guard and base protection duty), while the 101st Airborne was deployed to Iraq. I had been driving a ’94 Mercury Tracer for the past 7 years or so that, while not a bad car, was not the type of car I had ever actually wanted. I had admittedly not been all that gentle with it either partially as a result. Being a member of the 2nd 138th FA BN HQB based in Lexington, KY, our deployment in Ft. Campbell, KY just outside of Clarksville, TN meant that most of us could drive home (~3hrs) on occasion with command approval. Generally this was about once a month or so. Making full active duty pay with no cost of living expenses outside of food (they paid for housing and utilities – technically food too if one wanted to eat at the chow hall on post) meant many of us were able to save up decent amounts of money fairly easily over the course of the year that we were deployed there. That said, I had decided that it was time for me to ditch the 4 door sedan for something a little more ‘Me’. In this case, I had always (and still do) loved the look of the 90–93 Toyota Celica. After much searching online, I had found what seemed to be a perfect match. Light blue, sun roof, manual transmission, in good shape. It was being sold by a buy here pay here lot in Ohio that was probably 3hrs or so from my home. I checked with my dad to see if he would be available to run up there the next time I was home and he immediately signed off.
Fast forward to the dealership. After we show up and they find out I am the one that was calling about the Celica. They take us into the back lot where the garage is. Evidently they had pulled the car from the front to reserve it for our visit. Bonus points in my book. We look it over. It has some minor sun wearing on the paint on the hood, but that aside, it appears to be in excellent shape. I take it for a spin, as they were eager for me to give her a test run. She had test started like a dream, so I was eager myself. I drive out of the lot sedately and head the way they recommended down a side road (due to traffic as they said the street in front can be a nightmare to get turned back around), which lead to an empty parking lot at the end of a road. I let her run wild in that parking lot, figuring if there’s anything mechanically wrong, I’ll get an idea speeding around back there. She runs better than I could have hoped. Extremely responsive in every way, no strange noises or tendencies, and I was in love.
I drive back to the dealership after I had been driving her around for about an hour or so to park right where she started. I start messing with some of the cabin settings while the dealer walks up with a huge grin on his face. I test the sun roof and with a little fiddling it opens up, when he explains that the motor is going out, but it wouldn’t be hard to replace when I got her home. He tells me the AC is ice cold (it was around summer, but not that hot yet), and that it had passed their full inspection. At this stage I didn’t really care about anything like that. This was my car, and I would have her. One quick round of paperwork and a swipe of my debit card and it’s official. My dad and I are back on the road to drive her home, with him following me just to be safe in case something did happen to go wrong with the car on the way.
As I said, it was fairly warm, but not hot. The dealer’s mention of the AC being ‘ice cold’ stuck with me, so I rolled up the windows and kicked on the air conditioning. It was about 15 minutes later that I gave up, as the hot air continued to spit in my face from the vents. I was annoyed, but I had never cared about the AC much to begin with. It was more the fact that he had made a point to volunteer the information, and it appeared he had lied. I took it home anyway because the heat still worked and I was fine with rolling down the windows until I could possibly get the AC fixed if I found it bothered me that much (I never used the AC in my Tracer as it was). My roommate was one of our unit’s mechanics, and I figured I’d ask him to do me a favor and look it over once I got it back. Turns out he had a buddy with a Celica that he used to help him work on and was extremely familiar with everything under the hood. After a quick check he says everything looks great, but that he can tell me right now that the AC is toast. Being the car mechanic idiot that I was, I ask him why that is, and he points to a lone component on the front passenger side of the hood. He shows me how there should be a belt from the motor running to it that is not there, and shoves his full weight down on it (I’m not sure what sort of test that is) and says that it’s completely dead, so it’s probably good that it’s not hooked up. It would have to be completely replaced.
So I was pretty upset, not because the AC didn’t work, but because this guy had volunteered a lie. If he had not told me about the AC at all, I wouldn’t have cared. As I said, I never use it (even today except when the wife makes me – though not driving the Celica any longer, sadly). I never did anything about it because I never cared, except for the fact that he lied about something I never even hinted that I wanted to know about. Sure, I should’ve checked it before I left the lot I suppose just to ‘know’, but I didn’t care enough to even think about it until he mentioned it. If I had cared and his mentioning it had reminded me about it, he could’ve prompted the customer to check and lose a sale. Heck, my dad probably would’ve pushed me to just leave the car due to the lie alone.”
“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.”
Playing Him At His Own Game
“Back in the day, when I was about 22 years old, I was looking at the Chevy S-10 pickups. I wanted to buy one, but wasn’t really ready to do so. The biggest problem I have with dealerships and salesmen is that they won’t just let you shop, they want to make that sale, not really caring if it’s the right deal for you or even if you can afford it. So I go into a local dealership and start looking at what they have to offer, and a salesman approaches me. We talk for a bit and I tell him I’m just looking. He says that’s fine. But deep down, I know he doesn’t really mean that I can just look. So after a bit, he asked me if I was going to trade something in. I told him maybe and he asked to have a look at it, so I would know what I could get for a trade-in. My mistake was handing him the keys to my six-year-old car. He went off with it and someone took it for a drive and then into their service department. After a bit I said it was time to leave, and he mentioned I had been looking at one particular truck more than the others. He said how he could probably get me a great deal on that. So off he went into his manager’s office and came back with a number written on a piece of paper. It wasn’t a terrible offer for my car, nor a terrible price on the truck. But I had just started looking and told him that I wanted to shop around. He told me to hold on, he would return. He came back with a better offer and said it was a one-time deal.
I told him no, and that I needed my keys and car so I could go. He came back instead with an even better offer than before. I still told him I wanted to look around. He said he understood, and he went to get my car. Instead, he came back with an offer of free oil changes on top of the deal he was giving me. I declined, and to try and get away from the salesman, I told him how I wanted to talk this over with my father and get his opinion. The salesman looked at me very seriously and asked, ‘How old are you? Do you really need to ask for Daddy’s advice?’
I was greatly offended and decided to mess with him. I told him I would take the truck. Smiling really big, he led me into the finance officer’s office and handed him some paperwork. He said they would get this truck cleaned up while I did the paperwork. It was near closing time, and the porter went and got the truck off the lot and took it inside. The porter cleaned the truck and the finance officer filled out paperwork. I decided not to trade the car in, and they brought me my keys. I asked a lot of questions regarding payments and anything I could think of to delay everyone from leaving. The lights in the lot were shut off, and the few remaining service department and salesmen left. It was just me, the porter working on cleaning the truck, the salesman, the finance guy, and the manager left at the dealership. When the porter pulled the truck around and brought the keys in, the finance guy handed me the paperwork and told me where to sign. That was when I told him how I changed my mind. The finance guy looked so confused. I stood there with my keys in my hand and said goodbye. The salesman overheard and demanded to know why I didn’t want the truck. I told him, ‘Get lost! You insulted me with the comment about asking my daddy and held me hostage by not giving my keys to my car back!’
AS I walked towards the exit, the salesman yelled at me that all these people stayed late to take care of me. I turned, flipped him off, and then got back in my car to drive away.”
“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.”
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 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.”
Caught In A Lie
“The big one was a car dealer in Seattle. I was in the market for a Ford Ranger when it was being discontinued. Big rebates were being offered. I made the mistake of negotiating by the payment I was willing to pay. I had done my homework and thought I knew the value of the vehicle I was trying to buy. Never once did the dealer disclose the vehicle’s manufacturer’s suggested retail price to me despite repeated requests. This is when I should have backed out… But I am stupidly stubborn sometimes. The ranger in question that met my list of must-haves was at another dealer a state away.
Got time to finance, and they couldn’t find me a loan, which was odd considering I had good credit. Come to find out the loan to value ratio was too high, thus throwing a wrench in the loan approval process. They asked for more money down. I said no, they assured me they would find financing.
Went home that night with the vehicle identification number, they were trying to get me to pay $4,000 over the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. This was after factoring in Ford’s $3k incentive.
Needless to say, I was not happy.
Turns out the dealer couldn’t get the truck. It had sold while we were going through the process. I let the sales manager know my extreme dissatisfaction. He tried to sell me a different vehicle a few hundred below invoice to save face. I was done with them at this point.”
“I Don’t Trust Dealership Guys”
“I have a 2015 Nissan Altima and went to have my car serviced as it had passed 20,000 miles. The service guy recommended my brake fluids to be flushed which, I knew was not necessary, but I did anyway.
While I was patiently waiting to have my car returned after service, the service guy came in and told me that there was something that he would want me to see. He did not take me near my car, but he showed me a picture of a seemingly deep gash in one of the tires. He said that the tire may blow up any time and that he recommended that I have it replaced. He also said that he had in stock, the exact same brand tires that were on my car and can replace it if I wanted to. Also since it is not recommended replacing just one tire in the axle, he suggested me to replace both of my rear tires. He did the math and it would cost me roughly $500. I wanted to shop around to see if other retailers had tires in better rates, so I thought for a while and said that I will come back later to have it replaced.
To be honest, I was a little tense about not having my tires replaced right away and wondered if I took the right decision. I drove to the nearest Costco to inquire about their prices. Costco gave me a rate of around $350 for both sets of tires and asked me why I wanted it to be replaced. I told them what the service guy at the dealership told me. He was pretty honest and told me he wouldn’t worry if the tires were not leaking air, and will need to be only replaced if it starts leaking air.
I was still disturbed by the fact that the service guy at the dealership told me with all seriousness that my tire was really in a bad shape, and would recommend it to be replaced ASAP. So I just asked Costco guy if he could have a look at the tires. They took my car into their service area and after looking at it, told me that it was a really superficial gash that had absolutely zero impact on my tires. The service person at the dealership was just trying to sell me not one, but two freakin’ tires. I don’t trust dealership guys anymore.”
It Took Him A While To Understand
“After graduating from law school and getting my first few checks as a lawyer, I figured it was time for me to finally splurge and get a new car, after years of used cars that were in repair shops half the time.
I had my heart set on a silver Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, all-wheel drive, automatic transmission, and with whatever the biggest engine was at the time. Unfortunately, none of the Hyundai dealers near where I lived, in the DC suburbs, had the color and specs I wanted. Finally, working the Yellow Pages, I got in touch with a dealership out in the Virginia sticks, maybe an hour and a half away from where I lived. I talk to a salesman on the phone, and he tells me yep – he has a silver Santa Fe with all my specs on his lot, and to come take it for a test drive.
So I drive over, and an hour and a half later, I arrive at the dealership. I ask for the salesman I talked to – and discovered that there had been a mistake. Apparently, he had been mistaken; the car he thought he had had been sold that morning, and there was no silver Santa Fe with my specs on the lot.
I hit the roof. I was just livid at the waste of my time, so I demanded to speak with the manager, and just created an unholy row and scene in that showroom. That they made me drive an hour and a half, incompetence, how dare they, terrible customer treatment, everything. Anyhow, I made them feel terrible, so they tried really hard to make it up to me – and the dealership’s owner himself came over to let me know he would personally arrange to have an SUV with my specs brought over from another dealership. It would be there first thing tomorrow morning, and he quoted me a good price that would have made two trips worthwhile. They even comped my lunch at a nearby Sizzler for my girlfriend and me.
In the meantime, the salesman, who was really feeling bad, was so apologetic that I started feeling bad for him and how much he was going out of his way to be helpful. So when he offered to let me and my girlfriend take a new black Santa Fe to the restaurant, I quickly agreed. It wasn’t an all-wheel drive, it wasn’t even automatic, but stick drive, and it had a smaller engine than the one I’d wanted.
However, it wasn’t a bad car at all – I’d never driven a stick before, but it really came quick to me, and it was fun.
So when I dropped it off at the dealership, the salesman told me that while it was not the car I wanted, he could cut me an awesome price on this black SUV. I was like sure – I’ll hear the price. Turned out to be a wonderful price – like way beneath sticker price.
After I continued guilt-tripping him and his general manager, I got them to go down even lower. Long and short of it, I walked out of there with a great deal that day, with a car that I really liked. I had never driven a stick since as enjoyable as driving that Santa Fe stick SUV was.
So years later, I was shooting the breeze with a friend, and the conversation got to car dealerships. I proudly told her of my exploit buying my first new car. How I had browbeaten that hapless salesman and the dealership’s management and owner, taking advantage of their mistake and their resultant chagrin, and guilt-tripping them for making me drive so far, and using that to drive a hard bargain and walking out of there with a steal of a car.
She looked at me with pity in her eyes. Then burst my bubble with something like: ‘Um… the salesman lied to you to get you to drive an hour and a half to his dealership, then he sold you the car he had on his lot instead of the one you wanted.’
Only then did it hit me, years after I’d bought the car – and by then I’d traded it in for an upgrade – that I’d been played.”
“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.”