We all have heard alot of bad things about car dealers. Well I have a little story about a local dealer here in Cali. Now I will let you all be the judge, so feel free to chime in with opinions. So sit right back and I will tell you a tale...
The story starts about 18 months ago. I went to a local Ford dealer to take advantage of the employee pricing and buy a Mercury Mariner. Which is exactly what I did. Shortly after I bought the car, I was in the market to buy a house, so I decided to check my credit. When I checked my credit, I discovered that the car I had used as a trade-in to buy the Mariner was not yet paid off, at this point it was over 2 months since I bought the Mariner. I called the dealer about the tradi-in payoff. After another month of calling the dealer daily and calling my finance company daily, I finally got the trade-in paid off and taken out of my name. The dealer claims that due to the overwhelming success of the Ford employee pricing program, they just got behind in paperwork
Now fast foward a few months to June 2006. I decide to buy my college bound daughter a new Ford Ranger. I had an older Eclipse that I was going to use as a trade-in. I went to the same local FOrd dealer (mainly because my brother recommended them, for he has done business with them for years). Again, I find the new vehicle I wanted to buy and we negotiated a great price on the car I was trading in. The deal completed I thought all was good. Then by chance, I decided to check on the status of the payoff of the trade-in. Guess what I discovered...you got it, a month and a half after the deal was completed, the dealer still had not paid of the trade-in. Again, I call the dealer and inquire. Now the dealer tells me it is just an oversight. However, it took almost another month to get the dealer to actually pay off the trade in. The dealer still claims it was an oversight when they had a personnel change.
Now, here is where the story gets interesting. About 5 months ago, I decided to buy a new truck (big surprise there, heh) and trade in my '06 Fusion. So I go back to the same dealer. This time I only deal with a high ranking executive, Carl, of the dealership that my brother deals with. I was skeptical about buying a vehicle from this dealer. I expressed my concerns regarding paying off my trade to Carl. Carl assured and then reassured me that he would personally make sure no such errors happened this time. So after some debate and negotiation, I agreed to trade-in my Fusion for a '06 F-150. However, being the skeptical fool I am, and knowing the history, I personally watch what happens. Sure enough, the next payment comes due on the Fusion (trade-in), I call the dealer, they mention because I bought the nerw truck within a week of the payment being due, the payment must have crossed in the mail. Sure enough 6 days after the due date, I check the finace company and they state a minimum payment was recieved fromt he dealer. Now I am concerned, why is the dealer only sending in a minimum payment instead of the payoff amount. I call the dealer and get the run-around. Carl is conviently never in the office. Then in mid October 2006 (a month and a half after purchase) I get a letter from my finance company regarding needing proof insurance for the trade-in car and the same week, get a check form the dealer for $90. I of course inquire with the dealer. Here is what I am told: The $90 check is the amount I over paid on my trade-in and Carl is not in the office. I calculate the actual amount owed ont he trade-in and discover the refund to me should be closer to $210 as opposed to $90. I then go the dealer, talk to Carl about the problem, and he tells me "it is just money." I then discover the $90 check is my DMV refund for transferring my old plates to my new truck, not the refund for overpaying the trade-in. Carl tells me he will take care of it.
Needless to say, Carl did nto take care of it. In late November, I get a call form my fiance company regarding the trade-in that they have not received any payment since September. Now I have two days to pay the payment or it affects my credit history. I call the deal and ask what is going on? They give me the run around some more. I pay the minimum payment to protect myself. I then call the dealer and tell them they have 24 hours to make the payoff (this was on a Thursday) or I turn the case over to the State Geberal Attorney's office for possible fraud. On that following Tuesday I call the finance company to check fo rthe payoff, not there, I then go to the dealer an demand to see the owner. Owner is on vacation. I demand to see the General Manager...not there. I then firmly but polietly tell the fiance manger I will be back on Friday with court paper for various acounst fo fraud, consumer protection violations, theft and etc. Magically the trade-in is paid of by that Friday (end of November). Still no check for the overpayment.
During that time, around late October, I was talking to one of the salesmen, who distinctly remembered my trade-in becasue he was the one who resold it. Yes, you got it campers...the purchase of my truck was the first week of September, the dealer did not pay off my trade-in until the end of November, but somehow resold my trade-in sometime in early to mid October. One must ask, how can a dealer sell a used car without title, for the finance company verified that the title was not released until the end of November?
Now the story gets really interesting (yes, I know it is a long story). Yesterday I got a check int he mail from the same dealer for $209. Just about what I was expecting from my over payment. The envelope was postmarked 05 FEB 2006, but he check was dated for )ctober 04, 2006, and at the bottom of the check said "Void after 90 days." I took the check today to the dealer and demanded cash. The dealer said it could not giv me cash but would rewrite a new check, but the manager was not in. I toild them I was going to take the apparent fraudulent check to the count District Attorney, suddenly they were writing me a ne wcheck. I got a new check dated for today. I took the check the dealer's bank to cash it. Guess what...the dealer's own bank would not honor the check. AZccording tot he bank manager, "the check is non-negotiable." There is a remark on the account, but we can nto tell you what that remark it. Now the dealer wont honor the check. Is this case of fraud or is there a legitimate reason for all of this?
Oh by the way, my brother just received a check fromt he same deale rfor canceling his prepaid maintainence contract. The same thing happended witht he check. A check was sent yesterday, dated for September 6, 2006, with "not valid after 90 days" printed ont he check. He demanded a new check got one and the dealer bank refused to cash it. Things that make you go hhhmmmm......
Now this is the end of my tale....for now!