The Old Bait and Switch

Last month we were in the market for a vehicle.  So, I powered up the laptop and went hunting for a quality used vehicle at some of the local car lots.

I found one local Toyota dealership with a pretty good inventory of late-model, used cars for under $10,000.  We looked at their online offerings, and then emailed them for a quote on a 2003 Toyota Camry.

After being contacted by the Internet Sales Manager, and directed to their online credit app, we waited. My credit is not the best in the world right now, so I didn’t expect them to fall all over themselves working on this.

Finally, a couple of days later, I received an email response that stated that they could work a deal with me, but that the total price had to be under $10,000.  Well, that was what I wanted in the first place, so that was acceptable.

My wife and I went down after work, and walked into Ye Olde Bait & Switch Shoppe.

Of course, the Internet Sales Manager that I had worked with, and was supposed to see, had to leave early because of a family issue, but he had supposedly briefed another salescritter with my particulars.  She was so spectacularly underwhelming that I immediately forgot her name.  Let’s call her Barbie.  Barbie asked the same “getting to know you” questions about 4 times. I don’t know if she was looking for changes in our story, or was just that much of a ditz.  When I told her that I had been instructed to pick something out under $10k, she immediately trooped off to the on-duty sales manager.

20 minutes later she was back, and said that we had to pick out a vehicle that was newer than 2008, with less than 80,000 miles.  When I again told her that the other manager had said that he had financing worked out for me already, she gave me her best vapid stare and went through the “this is the best we can do” spiel again.

Ok, I guess.  We spent the next hour bouncing around on a golf cart as we looked through the inventory of 3 different dealerships, trying to find the perfect used vehicle.  We found at least 5 vehicles that I would have been very happy with, but that didn’t meet the new criteria.

Finally, about 2 hours into the fiasco, we found a vehicle in the “hide from public eyes” part of the lot. It had a little body damage, and no price tag.  During the golf cart ride back to the sales office, the damage miraculously vanished, and they trotted out the KBB price of $14,000. When I asked why they were quoting me the “pristine” price for a damaged vehicle, I again got the vapid look and a quick change of subject.

At this point, we were pretty much done with this experiment. Unfortunately they still had our van keys (when they “evaluated” it for trade-in value).  We had a hard limit on how much money we would put for a down payment, and they came back and wanted twice as much.

After Barbie came back and asked us if we could borrow the extra money from family, we walked.

So, after being told to come in and pick out a car under $10,000, the total they wanted, including tags, title and recappable tires, was right around $16,000. For a used car with body damage? Does that come with its own bridge?

I may be dumb, but I don’t think I’m stupid.  after this little adventure, my wife probably won’t agree with me, though.

So, we wasted the afternoon and left with no vehicle. But, I gained a significant amount of “Don’t do this” marketing. The only thing that was missing was the high pressure visit from the sales manager.


One thought on “The Old Bait and Switch

  1. Dealers love to try to use KBB to their advantage. I had a Phoenix dealer once show me the Blue Book trade-in price for my car. He even put the condition in accurately. The problem: He put in a New York zip code (and even tried to cover that up with his finger on the printout.)
    That being said… if you’re still looking I know the name of a great Toyota salesman that gave me amazing service out in the East Valley… I just hope it’s not the same one that gave you such a rotten experience.

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