Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Horrible Trip To the Car Dealership. I Almost Lost It.

This story includes threats to call the police, 3 levels of dealership management, key theft, and something very close to extortion. About 4 years ago, shortly after I moved to California (I'm back in Hawaii now), I wanted to buy a more economical car, so I went to look at some used cars at the Honda dealership near my new apartment. As I looked around, I found a used Acura Integra. Manual transmission, fairly low miles, not a bad sticker price, decent condition, and most importantly, more gas efficient than my SUV. I took the car on a test drive, and the horror story begins. I didn't have a plan before I headed into this dealership...I just wanted to "look around." I really didn't think I'd buy anything. I was pretty naive about the whole auto buying process. Never did I think I would go through what I did. After the test drive, I thought, this car is not bad. So I told them, "Yeah, I'm interested." So we go inside, sit down, and out comes the "grid." The first set of numbers are all worked out, and they said the car was $14,500 (or so). I forget what my monthly payments would be. They haven't even pulled my credit yet. Hmmm, not interested. So they asked, am I trading in? I said, "Most likely." They then asked if they could have my keys to appraise my car, and I gave it to them. Didn't think much of it, actually. This was the biggest mistake of the night. Once they invest in looking at the car, coming out with a $$$ value, they will try everything to sell you the car. Well, they came back with a revised offer, giving me something like $17,000 for my SUV, so if I went ahead with the deal, I would leave with another car and a check for $2,500. I thought, "That's not too bad...I wonder if I can get more." Well, now I looked interested. It just got worse. They asked the classic question, "What would convince you to take this car home today?" And I gave them a number, $13,000 for the car, and $17,000 for my trade in. Five minutes later, this "manager" comes out and says, "Sorry, we can't do that, but we will give you the car for $14,000." I thought, "Wow! $500 more dollars. /sarcasm" I still didn't feel comfortable. I made a few calls, and everyone told me, "Don't do it. You can easily find other cars for less." I agreed. I went back, and told them, "You know what? Sorry, but I'm not interested. I'll come back later." Now this is where it gets ugly. The salesman says, "Hold on, let me go and see if we can work out an even better deal." Again, five minutes later he comes back, this time with the dealership GM. The gm says, "It's your lucky day! We need to make this sale happen. We'll give you the used car for $13,000, and pay you $17,000 for your trade-in." Uhhh, salesman, did you not hear what I just said earlier? Some conversation goes on, and they said, "Why don't you think about it." I said, "No thanks, I'd like to go." Continuing to disregard my statements, the guy keeps blabbing away. Finally I said, "Can I just have my keys?" The guy says, "Sure." Twenty minutes later, still no keys. At this point, it's late, and I just want to go home. The gm comes back and tells me, "You sure you don't want to do this? Is there anything I can do?" And I replied, "No, I'd like to go home...where are my keys?" To that he said, "It's coming." Another twenty minutes passes, and at this point, I'm pissed. So I go up to the GM, and said, "Where's my keys?" He said, "It's coming." And that's when crap hits the ceiling. I said, "Listen, I want my keys right now, or I am going to call the police." To that he replies, "I'm getting it right now, just hold on." Already huffing and puffing, I waited a few more minutes. Finally, the salesman pulls me on the side and says, "Look, let's just go in and fake like you're filling out the paperwork, and I'll get the keys, and you just go." I couldn't believe it! Is this really happening to me in a dealership? So we go in and sit down. He grabs the paperwork for me, and I continue to fill it out while he steps away to get my keys. I wrote some things on that form that would not be appropriate for my blog. It was harsh. Five minutes later, he brings my keys to the table. I was relieved to get my own damn car back! Finally, he says, "Just hold on a few minutes until my GM walks away..." I said, "Okay." Then he tells me, "Alright, go. Sorry man." And I leave. That was by far the worst dealership experience ever. This Honda used car dealership is in San Jose. If you'd like to know which one, email me. Anyone else have a horror story to share? On second thought, the dealership was Capitol Honda Used Car on Capitol Expressway, San Jose, CA.

4 comments:

paulo said...

If only you would have recorded some of this somehow, you could have made it an internet spectacle like the Comcast tech support guy who fell asleep on a customer's couch, or the AOL employee who made the customer beg to cancel his account. If you put the name of the dealership in your blog entry, somebody may stumble upon it if they're trying to find out of it's a good place to go, and your entry would discourage them. That's what I would do.

freedumb said...

Good idea...if someone can avoid that dealership, I'd strongly urge them to do so.

freedumb said...

And I wish I did have a vid/voice recorder with me! dang...

LAMoneyGuy said...

Wow, that's pretty insane. I actually take some delight in the ridiculous process that is car dealers. Once you know their games, it is easier to play with the advantage. Have you read "confessions of a car salesman" on Edmunds.com? I highly recommend it. Obviously the internet has made the process much easier and more bearable for customers. They once had all the information. We now have just as much, and sometimes more.

You're right, the keys were totally unnecessary. What blows me away is that they thought they could make a sale by holding you hostage.