Car Dealership Scam: Extortion?

car dealership bait and switch

This story is about a car dealership scam we ran into. I’ll be sharing more of them on my youtube channel too. This one here is such a scandalous unjust tactic that it’s hard to believe. In this story I told, we were accused of extortion. What?!

We know that not all car dealerships are untrustworthy, of course; we work with plenty of good, transparent dealerships and sales professionals but busy as I am in the market, it is not unlikely to come across a few bad eggs now and then. A few years back a car dealership threatened to report us to their State Attorney General. 

From the very beginning, my aim has been to inform average car buyers how to land good car deals without ever stepping foot inside a dealership. And for those that don’t want to put in the time or lack the confidence to do it, we provide a concierge service for hire. 

How this car dealership scam started

We had a client that was looking for a particular vehicle, and due to our comprehensive efforts, we got responses from multiple different dealerships and were able to present them with a varied range of prices, deals and proposals on a particular vehicle. 

TIP! When you reach out to multiple dealerships you will get a range in pricing. This is how you do your due diligence. Contact multiple dealers.

However, there was one dealership that stood out. This vehicle came tied with a special interest rate of 1.9% for 72 months. In order to get that interest rate, you have to give up something. Vehicles with such low interest rates do not come with rebates so you are left with choosing between a low interest rate and a discount. 

Therefore, we knew that we would be giving up some rebates in order to finalize this deal. As we were starting to accept their deal, we asked the dealership to send us written proof of the interest rate they were offering. The dealership was quick to send us an email containing all the given information of the deal including a bottom line number. But they left out the rate.

Upon reading the email, we quickly realized that the email was unclear about the exact interest rate pricing. This invoked us to call the dealership and ask them specifically whether the 1.9% interest rate was indeed a part of the deal they were offering. The salesperson got back to us and reassured the interest rate and we thought that we were landing the best deal for our client. 

Here's where we went wrong with this dealership

Despite heading towards the end of the negotiation, the dealership was persistently refusing to send any written documentation that detailed everything about the deal, including the interest rate. It was starting to wreak of a car dealership scam and it’s our practice to never settle on a deal unless we get it in writing first. But since the customer was eager to get this rate and this vehicle, I allowed an employee to move forward with the deal, regardless. (Hind sight is 20/20.)

This was the biggest mistake. After accepting the deal, the dealership called back letting us know that the deal did not include the 1.9% interest rate. This made their deal not as good as some of the other deals we came across, and we had to pass on their proposal. 

What Happened?

After we refused the deal and briefed the customer on what happened, the customer felt as though the dealership was pulling a bait-and-switch move. This led to the customer leaving a bad review of the dealership online. After the bad review, the dealership then quickly called us offering to include the 1.9% interest rate if the customer would take down the review. 

The dealership then wanted us to send them an email promising to remove the review in order to make the deal according to the numbers they agreed to. With hopes the client would get the exact vehicle they wanted, reluctantly we sent him an email doing exactly what he wanted us to do. 

About 20 minutes after we sent the email, the owner of the dealership called threatening to press charges on us for extortion.  W H A T ?!

The customer had removed the review and we were baffled at this point. We simply moved on from the ludicrous scenario never to ever to do business again there. 

The Lesson Learned: a Common dealer scam

Afterward, a little research showed (which we should have done before hand) that this dealership had previous reviews where the same so-called “errors” were made before. Bait-and-switch type deals with car dealerships can be  tricky to deal with. For this reason, negotiating over the phone and refusing to document the deal can be indicative of a scam.  

Moreover, if you have given a bad review to a dealership, do not agree to take it down if the dealership makes you a promise to agree to your terms for a deal. In my opinion, we were the one being extorted to remove a customer’s review. What a scam

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