More Examples Of Why Car Buyers Hate Dealers

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Going to a car dealer is like going to the dentist. Sure, you like the experience of driving a new car the same as you like the experience of a freshly-cleaned and minty-fresh mouth with any cavities filled, but there’s some annoyance and maybe a lot of pain before you get there. In some cases, like when your mouth or a car out of warranty needs more serious work, the pain can be considerable.

We can’t get rid of dealers in many states, because they convinced legislatures and governors that they are not just a rent-seeking middleman, but an essential part of making sure customers don’t get ripped off by manufacturers. Some states have given electric car manufacturers a break and let them sell directly to customers, but many have not. In the ones that have not, like New Mexico (where I grew up), the experience is terrible for Tesla owners needing help after the sale and the only way around this is to take advantage of the US federal system that exempts tribes from state (but not federal) law.

Dealers and the minority of Americans who support them think we’re being silly. They’re not that bad, right? So why don’t we just buy from dealers and why don’t companies like Tesla work with dealers instead of fighting against the dealer lobby? The insane dealer markups added on top of MSRP are just a temporary thing during these shortages, right?

A recent Twitter thread about a terrible experience with a dealer in New York shows us that we aren’t being babies and that dealers really are that bad.

With dealer inventory on most new car lots almost empty, and with production issues and parts shortages continuing to keep manufacturers from replenishing dealer stock, many car buyers are in the same position as Matt’s wife’s cousin. With the desired vehicle not ready to go on dealer lots, many people (including several of my relatives) had to put in orders at a local dealer to get the car they want. Sure, there are shortages and there will be many cars made like it, but the one you order is yours. So, you don’t have to worry about anything when the vehicle comes in, and you’ve already worked out the final price.

But what happens when the vehicle arrives and the salesperson gives you a call saying you’d better hurry? “Hurry for what?” you might ask. The vehicle is yours. You special ordered it, so certainly they can wait for a few days for you to get back in town for a work trip, right?

But, when you finally get a chance to get down to the dealer, you get a phone call from them while you’re literally on the way to the dealer. Turns out that your car isn’t really yours.

The vehicle isn’t really yours unless you come down and fill out the paperwork. So, some slimy salesperson and their hygiene-lacking sales manager who thinks he’s some kind of hot shot find another buyer who is willing to pay a few thousand more for the vehicle. This would put more money in their pocket and increase the dealer’s performance, which would make the general manager happy. So, they sell the car to someone else after you’ve spent weeks or months waiting and after they’ve taken your deposit on the vehicle in question.

Matt doesn’t think this is reflective on the dealer world in general, and he’s right in some ways. Yes, most dealers wouldn’t screw a customer in this exact fashion, but they’re always looking for some way to get a few extra bucks, even if it’s not by selling a reserved car out from under you.

It’s worth noting that Jeep, who has no choice legally but to keep working with dealers, did help the poor lady find another Jeep and at MSRP (which used to be a bad deal, but isn’t in 2022).

How One Car Dealer Rooked Me For $5,000

It’s always embarrassing to admit when you’ve been had. When you get fooled, you look like a fool, and nobody wants to be a fool. But, no matter how much you know about dealer games and gimmicks, there’s always a new trick they can pull.

In my case, I went to Larry H. Miller Nissan in Mesa, Arizona. I needed a vehicle, and wanted to get the second generation Nissan LEAF. I regret buying the vehicle now, as it really wasn’t a good car to drive in the Phoenix metro area. At the time, I thought Nissan had things mostly figured out and I didn’t know about #Rapidgate. The Tesla Model 3 was still in production hell, and the cheapest ones (if you could get one) were a ways out of my price range. So, I purchased one of the first LEAFs to hit the market.

Unfortunately, it was the S package with some of the accessories I wanted missing. But, they set up a deal where I could get the vehicle upgraded with some better seats and other upgrades I wanted. I had a family member helping me buy it to get a better interest rate than I could on my own, and they needed to send the forms to them by mail. But after I took delivery, they tried to pull what looked like the classic “yoyo” scam, telling me that they needed to not offer the accessories to get Nissan Finance to approve it. I had been thinking about it, and wanted to get a lower payment anyway, so I went for the reduced deal to save some money.

What I didn’t know was that they put the original loan documents through but didn’t give me the accessories and upgrades, ultimately meaning I paid an extra $5,000 for nothing. I didn’t notice this until later, as the zero percent interest rate put the payment not too far off what I thought it was going to be, so I didn’t think much of it until quite a while later when I took a deeper look at the Nissan Finance website.

Neither Nissan nor the dealer are willing to do anything to make this one right by me as of this writing.

There Are A Thousand Ways To Screw People

I’m sure if I talked to people and dug on the internet more, I could come up with enough examples of fraud, deceit, and many other forms of shysterism that have been used to part us “fools” and our money. I could probably do a 20-part series with them and still only scratch the surface. Feel free to share your stories in the comments, and remember that you aren’t the one who should be ashamed unless you went again for a second screwing.

Clearly, dealers are a problem and eliminating them from the equation is the solution. Shame on the state legislatures that keep taking their money (actually OUR money they stole from us) and giving them special legislative favors.

Featured image: Harry Wormwood from the 1996 movie Matilda (Fair use, commentary).

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1870 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba