>Bait and Switch

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I got a brochure in the mail last week from a car dealership. It had a car key inside, and a claim that I “definitely won one of four prizes: a new Nissan, a new Honda ATV, $1500 cash, or an MP4 player.” Next to each prize was a picture: a car, a 4wheeler, a wad of cash, and an Apple iPod Nano. I have been thinking about getting rid of my 4-banger Grand Am, (the problems are multiplying), and this seemed like a good opportunity to assess what was out there, deal-wise.

I drove to the dealership Saturday morning. I was met by a bald, middle-aged guy in slacks and a pink polo. He had five rings on his fingers. He said, “I’m not a car salesman, I’m a car liquidator.” A million smart remarks flooded into my brain, but I held them all back with effort. He said, “Try your key to see if it opens the prize car. If the door opens, it’s yours.” I tried the key. Guess what…didn’t open. He didn’t look at all surprised. It makes me wonder if ANY of the keys they sent out actually open the thing. I mean, otherwise it’s just bait and switch, “Come in and see if you win a car. Nope. Now buy one.”

We walked inside the dealership, and he started grilling me for information: name, address, birthday, etc. I mentioned to him that I would be financing any car purchase through my own bank. Then he asked for my phone number, which I gave. Then he asked for my social security number. I said, “No. You don’t need that. Why would you need that?” He said, “So I can see if I can get you a better deal.” I said, “You aren’t looking at my credit history, and that’s final.” He then wandered over to the office portion of the dealership and got a “scratch ticket” so I could find out which of the other three prizes I won. Guess what: no ATV. No $1500. I won the “MP4 player.” So he pulled out a card covered in pictures of Apple iPod nanos. Evidently I’m supposed to go to a website, enter in a special code, and then pay $30 for a “processing fee” to get my MP4 player. Oh, and it says in the fine print that I would not be receiving an Apple iPod. Misleading at best, fraudulent at worst. Again with the bait and switch.

So I go out to look at the cars. I looked at the dealership’s website before I came to see if they had anything I liked. They did have a 2006 Chevy 1500 Silverado quad cab that I was interested in (SEE PICTURE), so I found that one. I got in, started pulling on levers, and looking under the hood. I really liked the truck, and then Mr. Pink Polo shows up again, and wants to know why I’m looking at these, since they are “out of your price range.” I had mentioned that I wanted to keep my payments around where they are (abt $250). I asked him how much the truck was, and he hedged. He simply wouldn’t give me a price. I had seen that the dealership had it listed for $16K, but have since dropped the price to just under $12K. He said something about needing to call some phone number to find out how much they want for the truck, and he wouldn’t do that until he was sure I wanted to buy it.

I took it for a test drive, and Pinkie insisted on coming with, “for insurance purposes,” which is malarkey, because I have taken many test drives without anybody else in the car. All they have to do it get a photocopy of your drivers license, and let you go. If you don’t come back, they report it stolen, and it’s insured. What a concept.

I really liked the truck, so I told him I was going to my car to call my bank (since he wouldn’t leave me alone anywhere else, and the hungry-eyed salesmen were hovering everywhere else, puffing cigarettes like chimneys). I sat in my car and called my bank, and that’s when I found out that their loan officers don’t work Saturdays. I have since asked them, “so if I call during the week and get pre-approved for a loan, how would I go about buying the car on a Saturday?” The short version was, “Wait till Monday.”

So I went inside and looked for Pinkie, but he was nowhere to be found. I left the MP4 player certificate at the dealership (I can buy a better generic player for less than $30 at Wal Mart), and went home to go to bed (I worked Friday night).

Now I guess the plan is to call the bank on Monday (when I’m on break at the courthouse, since I have jury duty…ha!) and get pre-approved for a loan. Then when I’m off work, I will go to different dealerships and find out which one is more desperate. Like this, “I see you have that truck listed for $17K. I know it’s only worth $14K, and I will give you $9K for it right now. No? Well, call me if you change your mind.” Maybe someone will bite.

Any advice?

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About Steve Picray

I have been many things, but right now I am a registered nurse attempting to pay off my debt so that, God willing, I can be a pastor again someday. I have a wife and three kids. I am a conservative Christian (of the Baptist variety). This blog is about me: the things that happen to me, the things that interest me, and the things that bother me. If you have a question, just e-mail me at spicray AT gmail DOT com. God Bless!
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