Tales from the Used Car Lot


Let me just preface this with… I knew better. I did it anyway. In a way, I deserved it. But it is still irritating as F%*!

A couple of days ago my boyfriend and I started out on our day off. We were going to Tandy for some leather, and on the way out of the driveway we stopped at the mailbox. I wish I hadn’t.

In the mail was a large flyer for a used car dealership saying “Come in and claim your prise!” I scratched off the box, and of course it said “$750”. Not the $5 gift certificate to Walmart that most people got.

I read the entire terms of the contest, and the only thing I could find that said it might not be $750 was a little part that said “we will check your code against the billboard in the office, and if it matches you’ve won.”

$750 was a lot of money. It’s an entire paycheck for me. It would have bought all the presents I’d been dreaming of getting my kids, and a the tablet I’ve been so desperately desiring. I could already imagine it. And all I had to do was go check some code, and maybe… unlikely, but maybe… I won it.

So we went to a used car lot.

Now, let me just say that I avoid used car dealerships like the plague most of the time. The last time I stepped on a lot it was only because my car died, and it would have been thousands to fix it, so I decided to get a newer model, one that would last a while. And I didn’t do too bad. My car was only $5000, and it’s been three years since I got it. Most of the issues wrong with it are just regular wear and tear that you’d expect when a car hits 130K miles.

So when the dealer sat us down, and gave us his pitch to buy a car I was only half listening. My car was “okay”, but I wouldn’t have minded a newer, model if they had one in my price range.

He got my info, took it to the banker, brought it back with good news… I could qualify for a loan if I found a car I liked.

Here is where things started to turn south. I was, at this point, ready to get the $5 gift certificate and leave. But, of course, they want to sell me a car if they can. So he asked what my price range was. I told him $150 a month, fully expecting he would say “that’s not possible” and send me on my way.

He comes back with a set of keys, ready for a test drive. I asked him “How much” and he said “the banker handles that, he’ll tell you when we get back.” Red flag one.

The car drove pretty nice. I really liked it, but I knew as I was driving it that I could never afford something that nice. Too bad, I’ve always wanted something that nice.

We get back to the dealership and the guy asks for my keys so they can check it for a trade in, and walks off. Red flag #2!

The manager comes out and tells me the car is $20,000, only $400 a month. Red flag #3, and I’m done. After scraping my jaw up off the floor I say “That’s WAY more then I said I was willing to pay. I think we’re wasting each others time, I’ll just take my keys and go.”

“No, no, no,” he said, running his hands through his oily hair, and smiling so big I could see every tooth, “just tell me what you think you can do, and we’ll work on getting closer.” Asks me how much I would be willing to spend per month, again, and I tell him at the very most… $200. Not a penny more.

He comes back 20 min later with another offer. With my trade in, he’ll give me the newer car for something like $18000, and only $280 a month.

Are you kidding me? Seriously?

My boyfriend shows him the Kelly Blue book of $12,000 and we both tell him he wouldn’t be able to get a dime more then that with or without the trade in.

He goes through the numbers again, with and without trade ins. With extra down payments. Etc. Etc. He tries to convince me to try one more time, and I put my foot down and tell him I don’t care about trade ins or anything, if the price of the car isn’t less then $8k then it isn’t happening. Can I please have my keys back I’d like to go.

Then the car dealership financer comes out. She explains “what a great deal this is”, and how lucky I am to get this 5% interest rate. No one ever gets this interest rate. and “YOU QUALIFY, it’s already been approved. The bank said you can afford it.”

I very politely tell her she is a fucking idiot. No, not with those words, but that was my sentiment.

I did tell her that I didn’t care what the bank said I could afford. I knew my finances. I was the one paying my rent, utilities, and for three kids, not the bank. I would be the one getting expensive full coverage insurance because I had a financed vehicle, not the bank. And I CAN’T AFFORD IT! And I didn’t know why they were showing me that car in the first place since I told them at the beginning I couldn’t afford more then $150 a month. Now, can I have the keys to my car. (For those keeping track, that’s the third time I asked for keys.)

She tried to explain that getting a loan for $150 isn’t possible. That’s not how banks work. I called her on it and said she was straight up lying. I know it’s possible, I did it before.

She finally…. FINALLY…. gave up. Almost.

They brought me my keys, but tried to show me another car that was more in my price range.

The car was ugly, beat up, the paint scuffed and oxidized. My cute little red ford focus looked beautiful compared to that car.

“No dice,” I told him. “Your sales crew is slimy, and underhanded. They flat out lied, and tried talking me into something I couldn’t afford. I wouldn’t buy a car from them if they were the last dealership on earth. I’m going to Craigslist from now on.”

Bait and switch. Any car dealership that does bait and switch isn’t worth a second thought.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s