Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Lesson in Car Buying. Warning: Very Long Story!

Yesterday I undertook a daunting task - buying a minivan whilst trading in my car, with a 2 year old in tow. I have to admit, my daughter was amazing. Considering we were there for 3+ hours, not including the test drive, she was an absolute angel! Now, on to the negotiations....

Right off the bat they tried to screw me out of the customer loyalty incentive. Only one per customer they say, so the $1000 I had showing from the website was supposedly only worth $500 to me. Uh, no, per the corporate website, the loyalty incentive is $1000 for one person who owns one Hyundai. After about 15 minutes of going back and forth, they finally admit I am right. At least they didn't dispute the military discount. They did try to dispute the low interest rate advertised on the website. Once I showed them the printouts from the website they called up to corporate and got that approved. So, up to then they had tried to screw me out of $500, and a 2% lower interest rate.

Next, we start talking trade-in value. I happen to have done my research and know my trade-in is worth $6280, minus some minor hail and paint damage. I also know I still owe just under $1500 on it, and they know this as well. Here's the general conversation.... keep in mind that any time a dollar amount changes the guy I'm dealing with has to go back and talk to someone else, then come back to me.
Them: You have some hail damage on the vehicle, how did that happen?
Me: Um, it got hailed on?
Them: Obviously, but it's only on the front of the car, how did that happen?
Me: I don't know, I guess that the way the car was facing and the way the hail was coming down just made it hit the hood?
Them: Oh, okay. Well then, what would you say to $3900?
Me: $3900?! I'd say hell, no!
Them: Why is that?
Me: I know for a fact that my car is worth much more than that.
Them: Okay, so what do you think your trade-in is worth?
Me: $6000
Them: $6000? But ma'am, you still owe $1500 on it that we have to pay-off.
Me: Yes, I know that. Do you mean that this $3900 you are offering me is in addition to the pay-off?
Them: Yes, ma'am, we're not even talking about that right now, we are trying to determine what you will get as a trade-in value towards your new van.
Me: Oh, okay, then I guess if we're talking what I want to get towards my new minivan on top of having the old car paid off, then subtract the $1500 I owe from the $6000, and we have $4500.
Them: So you'd take $4500?
Me: Yes.
Them: How about $4250?
Me: I'll tell you what, let's split the difference and go with $4375.
Them: Okay. (meanwhile I'm thinking, wow, I just got $5875 for a trade-in I was only expecting $5000 or so for)

So, I leave this part of the negotiations with the impression that the $1500 will be paid off on my old car, and I will get $4375 towards my new van. Is that the impression you got, too? Hmmm, well apparently we are all misunderstanding something, because here's what happens later....

We have already agreed (I thought) on the trade-on, we've agreed on the loyalty incentive and the military discount. The total is still a little higher than I had hoped for. What I really wanted was to still get the other $500 rebate I was supposed to give up for my 3.9% financing. After going back and forth for a while, the manager comes in and tells me, I am not kidding you, that because I am a woman and am there without my husband and am driving such a hard bargain on everything, that he will take the $500 off the MSRP because he can't give me the rebate, it's an 'either/or' incentive with the financing, you can't get both. Okay, I'm fine with that.

So, everything gets put on paper, and I'm ready to sign. Just an FYI - the entire time I was keeping track of all the math so I knew what the final amount should be within about $50 because I estimated taxes. So when their amount is almost $1500 higher than mine, I knew something was wrong. I look at the papers and see that they have listed the trade-in value as $4375 and then at the bottom, added $1500 to my toal cost for the pay off. Here's about how that discussion went:
Them: Oh, that's just there because we have to show on the paperwork that we are paying off that amount for you, you're still getting the $4375 we agreed on.
Me: If I'm getting the $4375 we agreed on, why are you adding $1500 to my total?
Them: Because that's what you owe.
Me: I know that is what I owe, but you told me that the amount we were discussing was not including that. You sat here and told me not to worry about that, it is going to be paid off, what we are negotiating is the amount I will get towards my purchase.
Them: No ma'am, I don't know where you got that idea, we agreed the trade-in was worth $4375, but you still owe $1500 and we have to account for that. Just look at them separate, you're getting confused by the way we laid it out. See, here's where we are subtracting the $4375 from the amount of the van. And down here, this is just where we have to list the $1500 you still owe on the other car.
Me: Okay, but you're not just listing it there, you are adding it on to my total. That means you are taking that $1500 I owe out of my trade-in value twice.
Them(and they've brought another manager in now, the other one went home after shaking my hand on a good deal): Ma'am, I don't know why you thought the trade-in value we negotiated was in addition to us paying off your old car. The amount you owe has to be taken off the trade-in value. That's just the way we have to do it.
Me: I thought that because he told me that! (I then proceeded to recap the earlier conversation)
Them: But ma'am, you're car has a lot of hail damage on it, it's not worth $6000.
Me: You're right, it's not, it's worth the $5875 you agreed to give me for it.
Them: No, we agreed to give you $4375, see, it's right here on the paperwork. Ma'am, you're car has extensive hail damage, we have to recoup the costs of fixing that so we can resell it.
Me: No, there is minor hail damage on the hood. That's it.
Them: No ma'am, there's hail damage all around the sides of the car too. (hey, anyone else remember the earlier conversation about why there was only hail damage on the front?)
Me: Okay, so basically you're trying to tell me it's going to cost $1700 to repair the hail damage?
Them: Oh yes ma'am, easily.
Me: Okay, you know what, you mislead me, and $1500 is a big difference. I'm walking on the deal.
Them: Ma'am, noone tried to mislead you.
Me: I disagree. Give me any paperwork I have signed, I'm walking. (getting up out of my chair and gathering everything up)

I proceed to walk out the door with my daughter on my hip, whilst telling my husband on my cell phone that they tried to pull a scam on me and I'm not stupid, we will go to Chrysler or Honda and get one of the other vans we liked.

No sooner do I get to my car then the manager comes running out saying ma'am, wait, ma'am? I know you're tired now, but if I can get you an additional $1000 off, will you come back perhaps tomorrow? I can't get you $1500, I wasn't there so I don't know how that whole misunderstanding happened, but I will bite the $1000 and add it on to your trade-in.
I told him if he will take the $1000 off, I'll walk back in right now and make the deal. You see, I only expected to get about $5000 for my trade-in, and even now I was getting $5375. So I was happy enough with the deal that I didn't want the two hours my poor 2 year old daughter (and I, in my opinion) had been such a trooper through to have been a waste. And I really wanted this van - there's a kind of limited supply on them so who knows when or where I would've gotten this exact one.
So, in the end, I sort of got screwed out of $500, but it was $500 I was not expecting to get anyways.

Now I'd like to pose a question, because I'm trying to puzzle it out for myself. Do you think that the salesman I was working with tried to pull one over on me without the knowledge of management (ie, he was telling me the trade-in value was on top of the pay-off, knowing it wasn't, trying to make some extra money on commission), hoping I wouldn't notice in the end? Or, do you think the management knowingly advised him to do this, and possibly even does this on a regular basis, assuming people will not be paying close enough attention to the paperwork after 2 hours of negotiating? Do you think I did the right thing going back in, or should I have just completely walked away and gone to another dealership, even if it might have meant not getting the car I wanted, or at least not soon?

After all that, here's a picture of my new van. Isn't she beautiful?

1 comment:

MamaChristy said...

I think that the salesman was trying to pull one over on you and while the management might not condone this behavior, I'm certain that they don't discourage it either. Being cheating, lying bastards is their job and boy do they seem to take pride in it.

As for whether you should have walked or not, well, it doesn't matter. You got the car you wanted for a price that you felt was fair and if I would have walked or not in the same situation doesn't matter. Honestly, I'm just so impressed that you handled yourself so well. I don't want to get a new car for this very reason - all the negotiating and sneakyness.