Prefer to Spend Less? Deals that seem too good to be true probably are.


This post recounts an incident that occurred while working at a car dealership. Anyone in the market for a used vehicle should read this to learn to be wary of unbelievable bargains.

About two years ago, a customer visited the lot intending to buy a brand-new vehicle. It was a tiny sport-coupe that retailed for $42,995 plus a $1,395 transport and preparation cost, but I won’t say whose model it was. The customer had a test drive and fell in love with the car. Because it was late summer and we had an inventory close-out sale, we checked availability by color. The client was disappointed that she could not get a silver vehicle with the desired features because there were none in stock across the country. Nonetheless, we settled on an acceptable color alternative and were about ready to clinch the purchase.

A week later, she finally gives a call. She claims to have located a gently used example of the model in question. It was silver, fully equipped with everything she desired, and reasonably priced. She told me she had never bought a new automobile from a dealership before, and she was thrilled at the prospect of purchasing a vehicle that had never been driven by anybody else. She told me she wanted to buy brand new but that the price was too fantastic to pass up. I thanked her for her time and hoped to see her in the service department soon.

My client’s apparent excitement about an offer that seemed too good to be true after we ended the call intrigued me. It was not hard to track down. The car was selling for $27,000 with 6,000 kilometers on it. The seller was not a business vendor and was roughly 2 hours away from our dealership. I would have known this was the right car even if my customer hadn’t discussed it.

The price was the first thing that caught my attention. The average cost for a vehicle with comparable features, equipment, and mileage was $35,000. Why is this car so cheap, anyway? I was also confused as to why the seller was willing to let the car go for $8000 less than it was worth, given that they had only purchased it 6,000 miles earlier. This might happen at a car lot with used or demo models, but it’s unusual for someone to try to unload a brand-new automobile so soon after buying it.

I decided to call my customer and verify if this was the vehicle she had mentioned. Usually, I never do anything like this. I don’t want to waste more of their time when a client cancels a transaction. After a certain point, it is none of my business what they decide to purchase, but in this case, I felt compelled to inquire. She awkwardly reaffirmed her intent to buy the car in question. I told her that I thought the car was ridiculously underpriced and that the seller’s urgency to sell it struck me as unusual. I suggested she schedule a complete vehicle inspection before buying it to ensure everything was in order. She said she was pretty confident with the automobile because it had previously belonged to a police officer and that she would try to make the appointment. I doubt she scheduled an appointment at our dealership for the inspection, but she likely had it done at a private shop.

The trouble starts when…

About two months later, I entered the dealership for routine maintenance and noticed my former client waiting. I went up to her, said hello, and inquired about her experience with the new automobile she had recently purchased (I have a fantastic memory and could recall every detail of the transaction, despite the passage of several months). She said she brought the car in because the headlights flickered whenever she reversed the transmission. Now, everyone who has ever owned a so-called “luxury” vehicle knows that the abundance of high-tech features in these vehicles can lead to strange outcomes like the one outlined above. The problem is uncommon but easily remedied by the dealer. These cars have a reputation for reliability and practically never experienced technological malfunctions, so it was strange that our client’s car developed a problem.

I ran into the same individual at the service counter a week later. The car had stalled on the way to work this time, and she could not get it started. She towed it to the auto shop, where they diagnosed a faulty fuel pump and recommended replacement. It was the first time a gasoline pump had to be replaced on this model at our dealership since it initially appeared on the market. Less than one percent of all these cars and trucks on the road have experienced this issue. This and the electronic issue discussed before were resolved for free during the warranty period.

There was no new trouble over the next six months. The customer was leaving her driveway one morning when she discovered the transmission would not go into first gear. A tow truck is used to bring the car back to the dealership. The message is found to be utterly dead, so the dealer replaces it. I could go on and on about four times a year when the information was replaced in this car, but I won’t bore you. I don’t think this had ever happened with any manufacturer before, but it had never happened on any model of the brand our dealership sells back.

This brings us to the previous week. This is the client’s fourth time having her transmission replaced. She expressed her shock and fury at the circumstances in a letter to our upper management. She said that our dealership and the car’s manufacturer were to blame for our vehicles’ poor quality, high prices, and potential dangers.

What goes up must come down.

So, what exactly is the story’s point? First off, let me say that finding the best price and saving money are two things I strongly support. That’s what our site is dedicated to. It is critical to remember that the quality of the service you receive or the vehicle you purchase should never be compromised to save money.

Some huge dealerships are notorious for putting profit before customer satisfaction. Large-volume car lots can afford to offer you the finest deals since they sell so many cars each year. However, such a large customer base typically means that the dealership’s service department is poorly staffed and more concerned with speed than quality. However, smaller dealerships may be more service-oriented than their larger counterparts to distinguish them from the crowd.

For a moment, let’s get back to our client. Do you not believe she would be happier now if she had acquired a new car instead of buying the lemon she did, even if it were a little more expensive and a different color? She compromised on quality for cost without realizing it. While it’s true that she had a string of bad luck, she ran into trouble mainly because she fell for an offer that was too good to be true, and we all know how things turn out.


Drumheller-Jolicoeur, Charles

The Auto Advisors | Car Buying Advice & Automotive News

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