By on February 4, 2020

We’re not talking about my Golf Sportwagen purchase today; they were slow to negotiate, but not sleazy. The topic at hand is what happened this past weekend when I helped my grandmother purchase a used car.

It turns out that at some dealers, even though the calendar says 2020, sales practices are more in line with 1980.

My grandmother wanted to replace her well-worn 2007 Buick Terraza, and desired either a van or a crossover for her next ride. The project was handed to me, as the family “car person” (who’d also most recently purchased a lightly used car). No problem.

We narrowed down that she didn’t need the seven-passenger capacity of a minivan, nor something as large as a three-row CUV. Two-row crossover — easy! I showed her several used examples in the well-stocked marketplace, keeping the miles low and the price under $30,000. All-wheel drive wasn’t a necessity, but a decent backup camera was, with bonus points to parking sensors, heated seats, and a driver’s seat that could be adjusted toward the sky. She liked the Equinox, so the next Saturday with decent February weather, we were off to a family-owned Chevrolet dealer near the decrepit Tri-County Mall.

The dealer had two Equinoxes that looked about right — 2018 models, listed CPO. Only one of those was on the lot, as we were informed by the salesman the other was still undergoing the CPO process. It wouldn’t be available until Monday or Tuesday the following week. Grandma checked out the remaining low-mileage white example, went for a test drive, and was ready to buy. The salesman wasn’t applying pressure, and let us take the test drive on our own. Inside the office we went, ready to do some dealing.

It was a simple setup: We aimed to fix a price first before we talked about the trade-in (though they didn’t ask about it), we were ready to buy right then, and we had cash. The showroom was stuck in the late Eighties with its cheap, old furniture, somewhat dim lighting, and two cars on display in close quarters. The conditions were a good indicator of how the place did business. We started out an offer that was $1,900 less than the sticker, which would’ve been a good buy. The salesman pulled out a piece of paper: “Write your offer down and sign it so we know you’re serious, and I’ll go ask my sales manager what we can do.” It felt weird that the customer was required to physically write the offer. And even more so that I had to sign it, which meant literally nothing on a blank piece of printer paper.

Ten minutes later, the salesman returned with a counter: They could come down $500. But there was another facet to the offer — the dealership was willing to “uncertify” the car, making it a regular used car. The 12-month additional CPO warranty would disappear, along with another $500 from the asking price. I’d never heard of an “uncertification” in that way, after the car had already been through the rigorous 170-point certification process. Declining that, I suggested the price should come down $400 more, and the CPO should stay. Off the salesman went to the back office where customers don’t venture.

Another 10 minutes, and we had a return offer. They came down the additional $400 and left the certification on, with a smiley face drawn on the piece of paper from the mysterious manager. The salesman brought back a printed quote this time. The figure was still about $500 past a fair price for the Equinox, but assuming there were no other issues I was leaning toward “fine.” But on the quote there appeared a line that was a bit suspect: EPAP $499.

It wasn’t disclosed on the listing, or anywhere on their website. After inquiring what it was, I was presented with a shiny brochure on the benefits of the Environmental Paint and Protection package, which is some exterior coating and fabric protectant. “And it’s on all our cars, it’s great,” he reassured. A few more sentences about the benefits of this off-brand Scotch Guard package followed, and I waited patiently. Upon confirming this protectant “system” was applied to all their cars before they made it to the lot, I started to feel a bit gross about the whole thing.

“This really feels like 1980s used car games,” I said. The salesman sort of shrugged.

“The owner requires it!”

“Yes, but I won’t be paying for it,” came my reply. Assuring me he’d see what he could do, he ran back to the sales manager to see if he could help me out any on the price. Returning, the protectant that was definitely worth $499 was now priced at $299. I repeated that I’d not be paying for any protectant, and the salesman said he’d bring over the manager to see if I could “win him over.”

Maybe I should’ve worn my tight jeans.

The manager, Slick McSpikes, came over after 20 minutes and extolled the virtues of EPAP. He explained it was more a protection for the dealership, in case damage were to happen on the lot before the car was sold. Resisting the urge to shoot back with, “Then you pay for it,” I reiterated that I wouldn’t hand over the $299. “I have to charge you at least $299 for this, the owner requires it.” I said, well, go ahead and take $299 right off the car’s price then. His face changed a bit after that, with a flat “I’ve discounted this car enough.”

“Well, then we’ll be buying a car somewhere else.”

As we were getting our coats and walking out the door, Slick called after me “You sure you wanna throw away all this time you just spent putting this deal together?” Yeah, I was very sure. We headed up the road to Joe Morgan Honda in Monroe, Ohio, who didn’t see fit to apply such arcane protection profit centers to their cars. Much more respectful of our time, they were quicker to deal and more friendly. The metallic beige Equinox was parked up front and ready for viewing when we got there. Their price was already reasonable, and they knocked off $230 of the $300 I asked for. In and out in just under two hours, and grandma’s very pleased with her front-drive 2018 Equinox 1LT.

One previous owner, 13,000 miles, $18,095 before tax.

As surprising as it was to find a multi-brand and well-known dealership chain playing profit games with protectant in 2020, they do it because they get by with it. I’m sure most customers just eat the $499 and roll it into their payments, because what’s a couple more bucks? It smacks of hardcore dishonesty to me when such a “feature” is not listed anywhere on a dealer’s site, and effectively means the (already high) prices are actually misrepresented by $499 on every single car. These types of dealers are out there today. Don’t give them your business.

[Images: welcomia/shutterstock, General Motors, seller]

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72 Comments on “Where Your Author Encounters a Sleazy 1980s Car Dealership in 2020...”

  • avatar

    I’d have assumed the first one was a Hyundai/Kia dealer if you hadn’t said otherwise. I know- at least in my area- they’re notorious for putting useless farkle on cars and insisting you pay for it. CHMSL flashers seem to be on almost every Kia I see. Probably charge $600 for it.

    and- a few years ago- I was tagging along with someone looking for a vehicle. At two places the sales weasel embodied every “used car salesman” stereotype. Literally. 1) odd-colored, ill-fitting suit, 2) greasy/pomaded hair, slicked back, 2) shirt with the top three buttons undone, and 4) gold chains.

    is this supposed to appeal to someone? or is it just that that kind of sleazeball is more likely to be a salesman?

    • 0 avatar

      I like H/K products but I’ve been very unimpressed with the local dealers. My Stinger had $1100 of “farkle” on it, my sister’s Kona had about $600, a Forte I just looked at with someone had $1450(!). And that’s before the $700 dealer fee and hard sells on blinking brake lights and the mega platinum protection package.

      Granted, I did get them to give up the inflated extras on my car but it took a decent amount of grinding and overall doesn’t create a good experience. If every dealer within 250 miles does it you don’t have much option beyond fight or pick another car.

      Hopefully they are a lot better when selling a Genesis.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams


        I helped my grandmother when she was buying a brand-new 2014 Kia Soul Plus w/Nav and Sound Package. It was shortly after the second-generation Soul debuted, and she was paying cash. The salesman we worked with was actually really nice and patient. He was from her generation, and was willing to bring the car to her house. He even talked her down from spending $5K more on an Exclaim trim, because she didn’t want the leather, keyless access or sunroof; she just wanted the navigation and the better sound system. And he gave us a very good price.

        However, when we got to the F&I office, stuff got ridiculous. The F&I manager tried all sorts of nonsense to get her to buy paint and protection warranties (dude, I could buy a can of ScotchGard myself). When she asked me if she needed it and I said no, the salesman eventually opened his mouth to say, “I don’t know why your grandson is talking—is *he* going to pay for the scratches?”

        I advised her to write the check for $22,000 even (the purchase price of the car), so we could leave.

        And anyway, I spilled root beer on the seat of that car and it came off like it was nothing. I’m pretty sure it already had ScotchGard.

    • 0 avatar

      Hyundai and Kia dealers are notorious for the EPAP packages. The Hyundai dealer near me isnt bashful about adding an EPAP package to a new Palisade at a cost of $1995.00 (they include locking lugs and door film too – woooowwww), and they dont negotiate on it. At least not on the Palisade. I have seen this at Chevy and Toyota dealers as well, but not as ridiculous as they were at Hyundai.

      EPAP is the biggest scam going nowadays. More power to you, Corey, for refusing to pay. I have done the same, and the dealer was not pleased.

      The CHMSL flashers are epidemic around here as well, and they are seen mostly on… Hyundais and Kias. One dealer had a $499.00 cost add for CHMSL blinkers, which are likely not legal, annoying, and make you a target for getting pulled over. The blinker module is like 30.00, and the dealer just splices it inline with the CHMSL light in 10 minutes. Total ripoff.

    • 0 avatar

      Only a GM dealer could certify an Equinox

  • avatar

    Corey, I think you should explicitly name the offending dealership, just the way you named the preferred one. No reason to protect the offender’s Google footprint.

    • 0 avatar

      Google “Chevrolet dealer by the Tri-County Mall” and you’ll find it. As the commercials on the radio say, “J*** S*****! What a guy!”.

      • 0 avatar

        Over the years, it seems like any dealer who uses the “That ____________, what a great great guuuuuyyyyy!”, or similar jingle, is a place to stay away from. There was Merollis in the Detroit area, and another one south of Toledo that used it too, and here it is..The lyrics changed over the years, along with the voices, but that awful jingle lived on and on..

        The way I remember it was..
        That Merollis, what a great great guy,
        He’ll save you money, on that Chevy buy.
        Something about the location..
        That Merollis what a GREAT GREAT GUYYYYYY!

        I went to Merolis Chevy back in about 1983 or so with a friend who was buying a K5 Blazer they had. We ended up walking out and he bought a different colored one locally. The other place was in Fostoria, I think, and the same friend and I went there in about 2000? to buy a Camaro they had, and the games and aggravation began immediately. We sat there and ground it out and finally made the deal, then had to sit through the F&I nonsense. That F&I guy almost killed the deal as he kept up the pressure nonstop. Weird thing, we heard that awful ad and jingle several times playing over the showroom sound system while doing the deal.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The problem is one of litigation. The dealership might decide to sue TTAC or AutoGuide over the account, which is an expensive legal battle even if everything Corey said was factual (although I do recall one of the Baruth brothers mentioning a sleazy Kia dealership by name).

      But Corey’s description is specific enough. I’m pretty sure it’s Jake Sweeney Chevrolet, in Cincinnati.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised that a Honduh dealer was gimmick free. Around here they are still stuck in the 1980’s with their market adjustments and addons.

  • avatar

    They were willing to un-certify it because (we can assume) it went thru minimal to no inspection. I’ve always wanted to take one of these “inspected” cars to another dealer and have them give me an estimate on what the car needs. I bet they find multiple things wrong with it of course. Bring that estimate back to the original dealer and have them explain it why their perfect car needs a dozen items addressed.

    Anyway to prove the EPAP was done? and what chemicals were actually used? That reeks of total BS, I bet they ran the car thru automatic car wash and then sprayed Armor All on the dash. My GM owner’s manual actually says to not use anything more then a damp cloth to clean the interior surfaces. Chemical cleaners can damage the finish (or so they claim). Showing that page to Mr Slick would have been good for a chuckle.

    • 0 avatar
      A Scientist

      I’ve always taken “Certified Pre-Owned” to mean they brought the car into the dealership, looked at it from 10 feet away and went “yep, it’s definitely pre-owned” and then put it out for sale.

      • 0 avatar

        When I turned in my 2016 Buick Encore lease with only 28K miles on a 39K mile lease, it sold within 1 week, I don’t think they even had to detail it as I keep my vehicles extremely clean and no penalties incurred! “Certified Pre- Own”, they got a nice trouble free suv.

      • 0 avatar

        Concerning CPO cars from franchised dealers like Honda, Acura, and BMW, the dealer is given guidelines to follow, like replacing tires with what was OEM when the car was new. Also, if the car comes back to service dept because something the CPO checklist failed, it’s financially up to the dealer to foot the repair bill. I find CPO cars to be generally a good deal because they carry the remainder of the factory warranty. The only downside is that you’re not getting the very latest features of the current model year, because the cars are generally 2-4 model years older.

    • 0 avatar

      The trustworthy independent foreign car shop we have used since the 1970s tells me that CPO is just a used car with an extended warranty. If something breaks before the end of the warranty, the dealer will fix it. If it lasts beyond the warranty, you’re on your own even if it’s something that should have been found and fixed in the so called CPO inspection.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Basically. And you would be surprised what sorts of cars are eligible for CPO status. It also pays to check the CPO warranty, because it isn’t always the same as the original bumper-to-bumper warranty, and may have some notable exclusions. The one I had on my 2011 X5 wouldn’t cover a key that kept deprogramming itself.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Exactly. They pay the manufacturer a fee just to use the certification, and they (are supposed to) pay whatever costs were necessary to bring the car to spec. Those become fixed costs with the car, and they can’t just “wipe them away” and then lower the price of the car.

      Unless they didn’t do what they were supposed to.

  • avatar

    Don’t be too hard on the salesman, his wife just got kidnapped.

  • avatar

    Tru-Kote for $500, there is a movie about it.

  • avatar

    Best for consumers to do as you did Corey and walk out of dealerships who engage in such practices. The question goes both ways — are THEY sure they want to waste all the time trying to put deals together with these antiquated (read: decades old) sales processes that no longer wash in 2020?

    Would be great to ask folks like this… “hey… do you ever shop on Amazon?”

    Now, very few people would buy a car (new or used) they way you’d buy a pair of socks on Amazon… however there are lessons to be learned. When you go to Amazon, you expect 1) to quickly find what you want/need, 2) have complete price and transaction transparency, and 3) quickly/easily make the purchase once you’ve decided.

    For the most part the above more and more becomes the norm of consumerism in the 21st Century. The car retailers that survive (and I’m talking franchised, Carmax, Carvana, etc.) take the new model to heart… AND execute on it.

  • avatar

    I honestly believe it’s NADA who is responsible for propagating the phony idea that new-car dealers don’t really make money selling new cars, and that the profits are in trade-ins, used cars, and service.

    Okay, maybe they don’t make much profit on the car itself, but they make plenty on the *sale*. The biggest getter of my goat is DOC fees, which state dealer lobbies have enshrined into law. Some $15/hr clerk spends 20 minutes filling out paperwork, and the dealership charges $400 (in Nevada; other states can be higher). Tell me that’s not pure profit.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      There’s also all kinds of back-end and incentive money that they get from the manufacturer.

      • 0 avatar

        I heard Pete Buttigieg (SP?) is considering getting into the car biz if the whole President thing doesn’t work out. He likes the notion of back-end money.

    • 0 avatar

      Absolutely. You can tell how much money they “lose” in the front, by looking at how they prioritize the front of the house to the back. General managers are almost always former sales managers.

      Dealer owners also have have ways of exaggerating their costs. They have other companies that handle certain parts of their business so that they can claim less profits at the dealership. For example, you won’t find a dealership whose corporation owns their property. They all are owned by another corporation that the owner owns, and the dealership pays Douchebag property LLC. absurd lease prices. Then the owner goes, look I only made $100000 in profit last year. Times are tough.

  • avatar

    Anyone here have a Tesla? Did they make you jump any hurdles?

  • avatar

    Cash customers are trash customers at most dealerships. If your are one of the U2old demographic or foolishly mention up front that you won’t need financing, expect to get the bum’s rush.

    • 0 avatar

      True. Given the kickbacks for selling the bank note cash customers are not welcome these day. Better to finance and then just pay off early as most loans (check to be sure) have no pre-pay penalty. I pretty much pay off all my vehicles early and tend to put enough down to ensure I’m never even close to being underwater.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Correct. It’s important to check whatever financing-dependent incentives you got, too. If Toyota gave you $900 cash back to finance a Camry with TMC, there might be a stipulation that if you try to pay off the loan/refinance before 3-6 months, that incentive gets revoked, essentially by tacking that amount onto the principal.

        It’s kind of like those cellphone deals where you can get an extra free line for a couple of years, but if you cancel your service with the carrier before 24 months or so, they’ll charge you a hefty fee to cover the cost of the free line. They wanted a guaranteed 24 months’ worth of revenue out of you.

        Three months is also often how long you have to keep a loan for the dealership to get whatever their incentive was for sourcing it. The lenders are wise to customers who take dealership-sourced financing to get a better deal, and then pay it off or refinance. So they don’t pay the dealers right away.

        • 0 avatar

          Many states have banned pre-payment penalties on loans. All of them should. As always, READ the contract!

          I’ve gone with the dealer financing on the last two new cars I bought – then refinanced with my credit union before the ink was dry on the dealer’s contract. So sad, they lost their spiff most likely.

    • 0 avatar

      Yea. This is why I start them on what financing they have. Let them blah-blah. Then I say, “ok, now lets talk about car price.” so they already dreaming of all the % they can make. Then, my wife just says, “honey, why don’t we just pay it off”. they usually make square faces like nothing happened. But I feel it.

  • avatar

    I’m amazed they didn’t drag out the foursquare.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I spent/wasted 2 hours at a Nissan dealer when my son was looking for his first car (his money).

    The Versa Note we saw online wasn’t there, but they would be happy to upgrade us into a $4000 higher trim level that they had on the lot. Then they did a fake search for the model/trim we wanted and found “nothing”. Then we played the 4-square game with signed offers for about 4 rounds, until I called it, and we left. The manager finally appeared, and I expressed my condolences that they didn’t have the vehicle I actually wanted.

    Sounds all too familiar.

    We ended up getting a CPO Sonata at a Hyundai dealer – no problems.

  • avatar

    Companies have cultures that persist for a long time sometimes multiple generations. The management has no incentive to change the culture because they grew up and prospered under it as is. New hires willing to make changes never get promoted, get pushed out or quit in disgust. There’s one such dealer in Omaha, Nebraska. They treated customers poorly in the 1970s and haven’t changed.

  • avatar

    “Only one of those was on the lot, as we were informed by the salesman the other was still undergoing the CPO process.”

    Right there is where my bullcrap detector starts pinging. Classic bait and switch. I’d turn a 180 and leave that dealer without another word upon hearing that line, especially if I’m shopping for a McCrossover that can be found easily elsewhere.

    I blacklisted one regional used car chain that dealt in a lot of Canadian imports because it seemed like 50% of the cars I tried to see there were still “in transit”, and another dealer I walked out of because they’d advertised one 12-pass van but had about 5 former fleet vehicles on the lot that they were interchangeably showing based on the one listing.

    • 0 avatar

      Just remembered the dealer chain name: CARite. Anyone here ever dealt with them? I was searching for a very specific vehicle (Kia Rondo LX or Mazda 5) and they had a few listed, none of which were on the lot. They then proceeded to try to “upsell” me into a 3-row Dodge Journey, which had far lower MPG than what I was looking for, at a higher price than I had told them was in my budget. I let them know that I didn’t appreciate their borderline illegal bait & switch method of generating dealer traffic and walked.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Sing it, brother! All the Toyota dealers in this area add the various additional dealer profit stuff “at the port”. Even the Tundra that was made 200 miles to the west of us. BTW “the port” is East of us.

    Once again I had a seamless purchase 2 weeks ago with the 2018 Rogue SL Platinum with 5k miles on it. $21k OTD based on 3 emails, one phone call for the deposit, and 45 minutes at the dealership for the signing ceremonies.

    Thank goodness there are people like us (you, me, and probably the majority of TTAC readers) who are able to help others not be victimized for lack of a better word.

  • avatar

    I’m very surprised that with GM’s struggles, a Chevrolet dealer is still pulling this nonsense. Perhaps the Equinox is popular enough this Chevy Dealer can get away with it?

    I remember this argument in 1991 about “Paint sealant” on a Calais; my argument was, why does it need this? Is the paint going to fail without it? So then the paint isn’t any good?

    I do see some of this nonsense in nitrogen filled tyres and such (air is ?8%? nitrogen as it is and it is not going to make a bit of difference) and paint sealants and wheel locks and such. Apparently a lot of people either don’t care, don’t want to deal with it, or don’t notice the charges. You’d be surprised how many people will sign anything put in front of them and won’t pay attention to each number. EVEN IF YOU POINT IT OUT TO THEM.

    Every so often, some individual dealer or manufacturer tries to get away from this awful business model. Saturn had the best run of it; Scion tried it, but they all seem to revert to this in the end. Then try taking the car back in for servicing. Chrysler keeps trying to sell me a brake flush (NO) a throttle body cleaning (NO) and “battery service.” Well, YOU installed the battery, so if it were supposed to have felt pads, you should have done that.

    • 0 avatar

      You always get this silly disconnect between the sales and F&I department. They act as if you are buying two different cars…
      Sales: these vehicles never breakdown, I got my wife one as soon as I started working here because I know it will always start!
      F&I: you gotta get the extended warranty, just look at all those broken cars in our service drive today alone!

      Paint sealant? Who are they kidding, do people really think the OEM doesn’t put clear coat over the base layer. Somehow the dealer has access to magical fluids that are better then OEM applied in the factory? Your money would be better spent at a professional detailer on a ceramic coating or clear bra film.

      • 0 avatar

        John Pinette did a bit about extended warranties.

        John: “Why do I need an extended warranty?”

        Sales: “In case the TV breaks.”

        J: “If the TV’s gonna break I’m not buying it!”

        S: “The TV’s not going to break.”

        J: “Then why do I need an extended warranty?”

        S: “In case the TV breaks!”

        J: “If it’s gonna break I’m not buying it!”

        S: “The TV’s not going to break!”

        (15 minutes and a fistfight later)

        J: “Then why do I need an extended warranty?”

        s: “We make an extra $200…”

        J: “Then I’ll take it!”

  • avatar

    Couple things- your first written offer should have made clear “out the door” so all “fees” and add-ons would be accounted for.
    Their first counter would need to have listed any other BS.
    As for writing down the offer “to show you’re serious”, no biggie, I’ve seen that many times.
    The big takeaway is, the manager LET YOU LEAVE with no further discounts, which actually tells you he truly was at rock bottom dollar. Fine if you didn’t want to pay it, but there was not another 50 bucks to give on that deal or he woulda tried.

  • avatar

    Oh, I have so much to say about this one… because I’ve seen all of it.

    “It felt weird that the customer was required to physically write the offer. And even more so that I had to sign it, which meant literally nothing on a blank piece of printer paper.”

    I did fill the dealer paper with my offer at Lexus. At reputable Honda dealer, once I had conversation for $1K off on Civic. The salesman came back from the manager once more. And I asked him, so? He said, “I don’t know. Manager doesn’t … Listen, do you have money on you?” – “yea”. “Ok, show”. I showed. “Ok, let me bring the manager.” Manager came, saw the money and said, “well, what am I going to do?” And gave me his hand to shake.

    But I don’t understand. We all know that dealers have 4-5K on these cars. I would always take the dealer into 2K under easy. Last time I gave dealer an offer on the new Accord, manager told me, “we don’t do business like this”. And I gave him my generous offer on a manual car. I walked. Next day they called me when I already signed on Mazda6. While buying this Mazda, I was told that I should purchase that special paint protection. When I refused, salesman told me, “look, hang with me”. Just watch the show and refuse, but owner requires to show this to every customer.

    I also encountered such sleaze as Toyota finance manager telling me that his family will have nothing to eat since the price I’ve got was so low. Oh, make me cry.

  • avatar

    But I think, my worst experience happened last year at Maserati dealer. I was curious about previous gen RDX. So, we came to see a low mileage, normally priced RDX. And what I saw, was a disaster. An under 3yo car that was scratched and dented all over the place. Like it was sitting in the dumpster. Interior smelled like sewage and was in bad shape. I asked sales person, “are you sure, you are selling luxury cars here or used toilets?” This is all I could say.

  • avatar

    Someone else already picked up on “Tru-coat”, so I’ll relate a recent experience at a local dealer.

    Autotrader listing from that dealer showed a new, 2020, model at about $6000, some 28%, off sticker. I mosied into the store and asked about it. Without even asking for the details of the ad, the salesman completely disavowed the ad.

    Some time later, I noticed some reviews of that dealer on line, especially this review from December, 2019:

    “This company pulls bait and switches and posts wrong prices purposefully online. They are extremely unethical. They will completely waste your time and insult your intelligence, claiming you just didn’t understand. ”

    That review gave the name of the salesman in question. I picked up the card from the guy I had talked to, same guy.

    Ah, let’s see the “Tru-Coat” scene again.

    • 0 avatar

      I got taken in by a BS price on my 2018 Fiata on Autotrader. It was WAAAAY lower than what I knew the Fiat dealers were asking for leftover 2018s, but it was listed as a used car with 24 miles on it. So I called, was told that yes, it is being sold as used because they weren’t a Fiat dealer, but had bought a bunch of Fiats and Alfas from FCA that were auto show and dead dealer cars. So I make an appointment and go have a look (6hr roundtrip). Yup, has 24 miles on it, 47 months warranty left, perfect, in the middle of the showroom, the color combo and trim level I wanted. Start talking price. Magically, like $4K in BS fees, not including the expected outrageous FL dealer fee. $2,000 “reconditioning fee” for a car with 24 miles on it, $900 for the “optional second key”, and they wanted to charge the Destination Charge on a USED CAR! What a crock of … I got all but $500 of it off. I had to walk out. It was just a thoroughly unpleasant experience and the sad part is that if they had just been honest, and listed the car at say $500 less than the new-new Fiatas at FIAT dealerships I would have paid their price and been happy about it. I ended up about $2500 LESS than that, but it left a very sour taste in my mouth. Oddly enough, F&I was completely painless – in and out in 20 minutes, didn’t try to sell me a thing, got a rate equal to my credit union. I re-fi’d it anyway just to spite the wankers out of their kickback. Surprised they didn’t try the Tru-cote gambit.

      I actually just finally got my second key (paid for myself) this week. I really should have held out on that one… I have no doubt they had the key.

      But ultimately, even with having to buy a $425 key (lordy), it was still about a $9500 discount and I LOVE the car.

      I’ll name names – Airport Chrysler in Orlando.

  • avatar

    I think some of the shenanigans has to do with who owns them, like a dealership group. But, there are exceptions.

    In April of last year, my wife and I went with her mom to a local Toyota dealer to buy a 2017 Camry XLE, to replace the 2016 XLE she’d just totaled. We settled on a car that was identical to her 2016 (Super White, with tan leather), and the sales guy of course added on paint and interior protection, saying that *every car sold* by their dealership group came with those add-ons. Said dealership group is owned by that famous billionaire from Nebraska, who owns a lot of other things, like a chain of giant furniture stores that was founded in his home state.

    Fast forward to October, and I’m buying (paying with cash) a 2014 Kia Forte LX Sedan with Popular Package (alloy wheels and other add-ons) for Daughter No. 2, to replace the 2013 Chevy Cruze LS purchased at the end of the legendary Used Car Search From Hell, which included a car that got rear-ended and totaled on the way home from purchase, and another car that was bought from a BHPH lot and returned the next day (Code P0420, bad catalytic converter).

    This Kia was from another local Toyota dealer, also part of the same dealership group where we bought the Camry. This time, no mention of any required paint or interior protection packages. Go figure.

  • avatar

    “It felt weird that the customer was required to physically write the offer. And even more so that I had to sign it, which meant literally nothing on a blank piece of printer paper.”

    This is where it went wrong. You aren’t required to write anything. If you demonstrate that you’re willing to play their games – sign this games, four square games, wait for the manager games, any of it – then their games you’ll get.

    Scumbags will be as bad to you as you let them.

  • avatar

    I love these stories .

    Some day I may have to buy a new car and I’ll wish I remembered all the great details you alls share here .


  • avatar

    You sure this was 1980 that you were getting the best deal from a Honda dealer? Do you remember what it was like buying from GM in 1980? LOL!

  • avatar

    Down South, the new ceramic coatings are the cat’s meow.

  • avatar


    – Purchase of new 2013 Forester XT from Carter Subaru in Shoreline, WA. Test drove at their store because it was closest. Gave them a chance to match another quote, and they came within $100; I gave them my business because they had been friendly and open. In and out in two hours, most of which was preparing documentation. Didn’t have to call out a thing. Highly recommended.

    – Purchase of used 2016 Highlander Hybrid from Lexus of Tacoma in Fife, WA. They didn’t give much on the price, except for a $1000 allowance to replace curbed Chromtec wheels. But the advertised price was pretty fair, not taking the curbed wheels into account. They gave an entirely fair value on my immaculate 2011 LX 570 trade. They weren’t bothered that I was a cash customer. Again, smooth sales process, although they wouldn’t accept a personal check and we had to drive to my bank.

    – Purchase of new 2004 Acura TSX from Acura of Bellevue in Bellevue, WA. Ended up there because local Honda dealers were rude and dismissive. Paid MSRP, but that was expected; they were new and in high demand. No ADM etc. Financed at fair terms, they worked with me well to find my desired gray manual car, no surprises.


    – Purchase of above mentioned LX 570 from Lexus of Bellevue, WA. Walked out twice because their price was ridiculous. Had to go through the walkout/they text/they text again/I come back routine. So tiresome. Still overpaid a bit even after all that rigamarole, because the car was the correct car. Had to talk them out of every add-on under the sun. They hated that I was a cash customer and kept bringing it up. Doc fee was added after the negotiation, too. Spent a total of nearly eight hours at dealer.

    – Lease of 2016 C-Max Energi from Bill Pierre Ford of Seattle, WA. Once I got them to agree to the right price, the transaction went pretty smoothly. But they initially tried to quote me a deal nearly $100/month too high, and the amount of BS I had to listen to before they got to a competitive price was insane. (I stuck with them because they had the right color/options combo.)

    – Lease of 2006 Civic EX from Herb Chambers Honda in Boston, MA. This experience was almost exactly like Corey’s experience above. I gave into the pressure and overpaid by probably $50/month, resented the car at every lease payment for the next three years, and that was a big life lesson.

  • avatar

    We had a funny experience buying a VW Golf TDi in 2011 in Pennsylvania after returning from overseas. We negotiated everything by a newly created email address and Google voice number (to keep dealers at arms reach) and as they had the right car and a good rating on an enthusiast site for TDis paid a fair price. We were cash buyers but when the finance guy said if we had that much cash on us (we did) he would have to “call the police”….I said fine…we will write a check for 1/2 of the purchase amount and they could verify funds with the bank. I turned to my wife and said….”you do have a check on you don’t you?” and after digging thru her purse found a well traveled check that had probably gotten wet at one time and was folded up…looked rough. Anyhow they reluctantly accepted this and off we went across the USA. It did require a couple phone calls to finally get the title FedExed to us. Great car but sadly sold it before the buyback so we could take a 1.5 year motorcycle trip to S America.

  • avatar

    This kind of thing is why I negotiate the out the door price, tax, title, everything. If they want to show that the sold what ever add on that’s fine with me, I’m only concerned with the total price, not which dept gets to show how much.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Exactly. That’s why I was overly impressed with my gently-used Rogue deal a couple of weeks ago. Not only did it land exactly where I was quoted, but the dealership was having an anniversary incentive that weekend and they notified me of another $700+ off that hadn’t been part of the agreed deal.

      Regarding the certified label, a few months ago my brother was looking for a car for his kid; this little neighborhood gas station had 5-6 cars for sale. One had a “certified” sign on the windshield…he asked who certified it and the guy replied “we did”. LOL.

  • avatar

    I’d like to see a video of a salesperson running back and forth, showing papers to the customer, and fiddling with a computer/turning it to show the screen, bringing in the ‘manager’. All to the tune of Yackety Sax, known to most as the Benny Hill theme.

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