I'll start by saying that I am not someone who rants. I try to be as fair as possible when I talk about people or places or products or anything else. I did not enter Auto Plaza with any feeling of entitlement or any unreasonable expectations, only that I be treated with the honesty and respect due to any good customer. Unfortunately, this was not the treatment I received.
I came to the dealership looking to trade in my vehicle for a different one and to walk out with some cash in hand. I was greeted by a salesman to whom I explained what I was looking for and he immediately went to work to see what could be done for me. So far so good. Eventually a manager came to help as well. He said he had "the perfect vehicle" for me. We went out and I looked at it and liked it, then took it for a test drive. A good vehicle, but not one that I was certain about. I wanted to look at others. That's where things began taking a turn.
The manager began pushing the vehicle on me a bit and said he would work to get me a great deal on it that would enable me to walk out with $500 cash in hand as well. I still wasn't certain, but then he said that if I didn't like the vehicle that I had 72 hours to exchange it. This sounded great to me because it was a good vehicle that I would consider and the day was growing short, so I decided that I would take advantage.
After a couple of days with the vehicle, however, I wasn't satisfied. It didn't drive great at highway speeds and I just didn't feel it was for me. I came back and explained this and told them I wanted to look at something else. They said they'd try to fix whatever was wrong with the car and I told them that was fine but that in the meantime I'd like to look at other cars. They eventually gave in, though I could tell that they were uncomfortable with my request. I thought it was because it was an inconvenience to them but I honestly didn't care about that because I was the customer and this is a large purchase that I should feel comfortable and secure about. I now think their discomfort was for a far different reason.
Once I decided upon a different vehicle, I was treated much differently. Both the salesman and the manager kept saying things like "Really? This car?" as though I were a stupid child and then the salesman made a comment about it that suggested that such a car would be a great for birth control. I don't remember the acronym he used to describe it and I didn't know at the time what it meant, but I looked it up on my phone as they were getting paperwork and saw its meaning. I felt disgusted because they were demeaning my taste in vehicles and simply because they were trying to dissuade me from performing an exchange. I'm not stupid enough to think that they would use that phrase to another customer if they had come in looking to buy that particular car. However, I let it slide because I decided that it was the car I wanted and their demeaning attitude towards me wouldn't work the way they wanted it to. However, once the salesman came back with the offer on the car I wanted, I discovered why they were acting the way they were. If I wanted this other vehicle, then $800 would be tacked onto the price as an "exchange fee." I couldn't believe it. I was told I could feel secure about my decision because if I wanted I could exchange the vehicle. Nothing in the paperwork regarding the 72-hour Exchange Policy said anything about a fee, but there it was. And on top of that, I wouldn't receive the $500 cash despite the fact that the vehicle I now wanted was cheaper than the first one (another contributing factor to their dishonesty, I'm sure)!
I felt sickened, angry and deceived. But mostly I just felt blindsided. The cash in hand part of the deal was very important to me, so I couldn't let it go, unfortunately. I now couldn't do the exchange. I told them to fix whatever was wrong with the first car and that I'd stick with it. I then asked when I'd receive the $500 and was told it would be a week or so (something else they failed to tell me, as I expected I would get it that day).
After a week I began calling to inquire about the $500, but received no response for 2-3 days. Then I received a text from the salesman who said I could pick it up the following morning. I came by that morning and waited for 30 minutes before being told that the person who needed to sign it wasn't in and I'd have to wait until tomorrow. I came back the next day and waited an hour or so before the original manager I had dealt with told me he'd get me my check. I was running short on time because I had to leave for work, so I had 20-25 minutes left to spare. I watched him talk with fellow employees, do other things, and sit at his desk during that time. I didn't know if he was asking about my money or what but finally, I ran out of time. I said I'd just come back the next day and he could see I was visibly frustrated, so he offered to have the check mailed to me. I said that would be fine.
I live about 15 minutes from Auto Plaza, so I figured the check would take 2-3 days max to reach my home. I waited 2 days and nothing came. The third day nothing came. A fourth day then passed. Then a fifth. A sixth. A week. Nothing. Finally, I called to speak with the manager. I told him my check had not arrived and he told me he was with a customer and would get back with me in 15 minutes and get it sorted out. He never called back that day. I then called the next day and he wasn't in. I called the day after and, even though he was there, I was sent straight to voicemail. I left a message for him to call me ASAP. No response that day. The same thing happened every day for the rest of that week until that Saturday, when I didn't have to worry about being late for work, I decided to go there again. After 30 minutes of being ignored (again), someone finally went and got him and he, again, told me that the person who needed to sign for it wasn't in the building and that I'd have to wait until the following Monday to pick it up. He was "very sorry" and I'd get a year's worth of oil changes on them. This amounts to a total of one for me, since I don't drive all that much and put very few miles on my vehicle. I came in that Monday and almost ran out of time again (I was there a good hour and a half), but finally got my check and again was promised oil changes.
To make matters worse, I was also checking my previous auto loan balance to make sure it would get paid off before I would be charged for it again once the monthly billing cycle came back around. As the due date drew nearer, I informed Auto Plaza that I would be billed again if this wasn't taken care of. I was told they'd fix the problem, but they never did and I was billed $280. Later that month I had to make my first car payment on the new car, so instead of having $100 less to worry about that month in bills, I had quite a bit more.
I apologize for such a long story, but I felt it necessary to put out there. I'm sure there are many, many people who have had great buying experiences at Auto Plaza USA. I just wish I was one of them. I honestly just wish I'd been treated with care and courtesy. If I'm being perfectly honest, this was probably the worst experience I've ever had as a customer. I will not be buying from there ever again.
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