Car buying scams

Anyone who has bought a car knows the headache that goes with it.   It is probably one of the most annoying and unpleasant things we go through.  It feels like you got to gear up for battle and be on guard because you know that they are out to get you.

Sales Representative

Let us start with the Sales Representative.  Other than setting you up for a test drive and showing you the bells and whistles of the vehicle you are interested in, he basically has no power what so ever to make a deal. So do not even waste your time talking numbers with him.  The most that he will do is to try to up sell you with the high end model or a vehicle which is a class higher to what you are actually looking for but that’s about it. Any numbers that comes out of him is practically gossip. He would probably do the “Waltz”, that mysterious dance that they do, coming back and forth to a mysterious office or cubicle where the price of the cars are manufactured.  And that is where the scam is executed.

Finance Department

Here is where all the scams happen.  This is where they slice and dice you.  They are intentionally trained to mess you up!

Let us review a couple of their well known scams

Credit Score Scam

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They would run your credit to figure out your credit score from which will depend the interest rate they will give you. It is a guarantee that they will pick the lowest possible score there is to make you pay top dollar on interest!  

So before you even  head over to the shark tank, run your own credit score, print it out and bring it with you.  If at all possible, do not let every dealer run it again unless you think that, that is the dealer you are actually making the purchase with.  Dealers will still insist on running your credit score themselves which will somewhat lower your score in the long run if you are going to shop around, but at least they would not be able to get you on the hook for the highest interest rate.

36, 60, 72 Scam

Nope those are not vital stats!  One technique in sales is to get the customer to say “yes” and keep them saying yes.  The job of the Sales rep is to get you started in saying “yes”. It starts when he offer you water, a seat, a test drive which you would most probably say yes to all of them.  Then he would agree with you to the point of patronizing and show you the ideal price, ideal interest rate, and length period of payment. Your “yes” to that “ideal” number triggers the walk to the lake of fire, the office of the Finance Department.

The 36 / 60 months you initially agreed to with the sales rep becomes 60 / 72 (respectively) on the contract when it is printed.  Here is where they test if you are alert and if you are paying attention. If you caught the “supposedly” mistake, they would say that it is no big deal.  It was just the default setting on the computer and all they have to do is change it. By the time the second print out comes, you will find that the number of months did change but wait!  Check the interest rate!  It is almost  guarantee that they would have slyly changed the interest rate thinking that your eyes would naturally only check the difference on the months and then sign.

Always review the contract at least 3 times and bring a friend who is thorough to be your second pair of eyes.

And now their latest scam,

There was a Mistake, Please Come Back” Scam

Upon signing the contract, they will tell you that the contract is binding and unless both parties agree through arbitration,  the contract is valid, payee should pay for the product purchased but then they have one single line which you have to sign that says that they reserve the right to cancel the contract at any time! (paraphrased)  I am not a lawyer, I am just repeating how the finance guy justified it to me.  

Here is what happened.

Drove to a dealer in North Hollywood, looking to trade in our van.  We did the whole dance as I described above. The sales representative set us up for the test drive and showed us the ideal number.  We even initialed the quote that the sales rep gave us as proof on what we agreed to.

Then we were taken to the coal pit where the numbers are cooked.  The finance department immediately executed his “36, 60, 70” scam but we caught on right away and called him on it.  Then he gave us the standard line “let me check with my boss” so he “waltzed” to his boss who supposedly calls the shots.  As expected, he came back with the right number of months but changed the interest rate. We called him on it and he gave us the same line and dance.  After a couple of supposedly “mistakes” and “checking with the boss”. He finally agreed to the quote that we initialed and agreed upon with the sales rep.

Feeling like we just went through five rounds with scheming sharks, we finally left the dealer with the car and the deal that we agreed to.  Not too bad. Then the next day, the dealer executed their latest scam. They called me saying that they have to void the contract because the interest rate was wrong!  Their lending department will not approve such a loan because of the wrong interest rate. The same interest rate that was checked three times by their so called boss! How can that be a “mistake!”  

We had to bring the car back and sign another contract if we wanted to keep the car or all will be null and void and we take our trade in vehicle back. If our trade in was not as old as it was, I would have just taken it back and not let these scums have the satisfaction of making money off of me but we needed a new car and that was the only deal that we could afford.  We did our research before we came in and they had the most affordable price for that specific vehicle. 

After a stressful negotiation, the dealer conceded to lower the sales price to cover the interest that would be added from our previous agreement due to the increase on interest rate.  

So to be fair, they did make us whole and we ended up with the same deal that we previously agreed to.

Call it a “mistake”?  I highly doubt it. Just the mere fact that a supposedly “boss” checked the interest rate three times and between the sales rep, the finance department and the so called boss, there were six pairs of eyes that checked the agreement.  I say all of it was intentional.  

As I told this story to friends and family, my brother in-law did confirm that he was a victim of this latest scam and the dealer got away with it, now he is stuck with a ridiculous monthly car payment.

Please be aware and I pray that you will not be a victim of these scams.  

No matter how the dealer promises “ultimate transparency” or “pay less without the haggle” in their slogan, never ever believe a word they say!


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