Last week I wrote the first part of this article, in which I described how I got a crooked car dealer on tape explaining how he likes to bait and switch his customers (I was also stupid enough to erase that tape rather than send it to the local TV station as one of my readers suggested). Today, I'll share another installment in the series.
Last Monday, at 4PM in the afternoon, I get a voicemail from an agent named Ron at Steven's Creek Hyundai. Saying something like "I got great news for you. We have found the car you want." I call back, and sure enough, Ron goes on and on about how he's finally found the car I have been asking about. Only problem is that it's in LA, but he's willing to ship it over - for a shipping charge of about $400. Awesome. Finally, I'll get my new car. I ask for a quote and he says, not to worry, he's already emailed me a quote. I tell him I will check my email and call him back later that evening.
In my email I find the quote, which includes the following excerpt (actual font sizes & highlights):
OK. Something is suspicious here. How can it be that the quoted price is so much lower than the invoice price? I send Ron an email reply which includes the following language:
He doesn't respond to the email, so I call him. Over the phone he insists that it's all legit. This is the price, he says. There are no other charges, he assures me. I am still suspicious, but I decide to check it out. We agree that I would come to meet him onsite the next morning.
The next day, I print the quote, and I print the list of government taxes and fees (doubly so, after my previous dealer incident), and I take a break in the middle of my work day to drive to the dealership.
Ron greets me with a wide and friendly smile, asks me to take a seat, and says that he's going to print out the details and will be right back. He disappears for 20 minutes, which I spend doing my email and getting progressively annoyed. When he shows up, he has 3 pieces of paper in his hand. The first he shows me is a list of 5 cars he's located in California - this, he maintains, are all the cars in the state that fit my specifications. OK. Next, he shows me a poorly printed page with the vehicle specs. All seems to be in order. "Wonderful," I say, "how do we move this forward?"
"Let's talk about the price," he says and reveals the third piece of paper. The third sheet is a white piece of paper with three hand-written lines.
Ron points to the first line and says:
"Are you a member of the US military?"
I say, "Ron, you know I'm not. We spoke at length over the phone. You know I am a business executive."
Ron, with a note of triumph in his voice, says:
"well, you are not getting THAT rebate".
He crosses off the line that says: "Military Rebate - $500".
He points to the second line and says:
"Are you a college graduate?"
"Absolutely", say I with a grim smile.
"Ahh," says he, "but did you graduate in the last 24 months?"
"No", I admit.
A triumphant grin returns to Ron's face, and he crosses off the second line on the page, which says "College Graduate Rebate - $500".
Then he point to the third and final line. "Do you own a Hyundai?"
"No. I drive the crappy, old Geo Prizm that is parked on the street right there"
The third line disappears. When it was still there it said "Hyundai Loyalty Rebate - $400".
"Let me get this straight," I say, "you are expecting me to pay $1,400 more than the price you quote me in writing yesterday? Even though I asked you in email and you confirmed to me over the phone that this was the actual price you were asking for?"
Genius Ron looks at me with an innocent and injured face and fires off a volley of explanations in quick succession: "You have to understand, those rebates are not my money, I can't give them to you" and "how could I know that you are not a military man?" and so forth.
But I have no patience left. I cut him off at the pass, and I basically lose it. I say something like "Why the F*** are you wasting my time, Ron? I spoke to you over the phone at length. I asked you if there were any other charges. I asked you repeatedly if there is anything else I should know about your quote. You chose to drag me down here knowing full well that you had no intention of honoring the quote you gave me."
I then left, never to return.
I am still searching for a single, honorable car dealer, who will negotiate with me in good faith and honor his commitments. That dealer will get my money and will get a loyal customer who will gladly tell the world that honest dealers are not yet extinct. Sadly, so far, an honorable dealer appears to be an unfounded urban myth.
Don't shop at Steven's Creek Hyundai. They're just dishonest idiots who will waste your time and money.
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