My first impression of Brooklyn Chrysler Dodge Jeep
and RAM was a positive one. Myself and my wife were greeted on arrival to our 10am appointment and sat down with a salesperson within a minute of wal
and RAM was a positive one. Myself and my wife were greeted on arrival to our 10am appointment and sat down with a salesperson within a minute of walking in the door. The overall atmosphere of the sales room was positive and fun, and my wife and I felt comfortable and at ease. We then began to discuss with the salesperson our plan to buy out our Jeep Cherokee as our three-year lease had come to an end. Our salesperson assured us it was a quick and painless process, and we would be on our way home soon as the owners of our own car. After several hours and status post running our credit, getting the ball rolling with the DMV and taking the car into the attached mechanic shop our salesperson introduced us to the financial officer so we could discuss the numbers.
To give the reader some background at this point I should state that our Cherokee buyout was $21,691.35. This number is essentially a nonnegotiable number guaranteed at the beginning of the car lease and available to the lessee should the lessee want to buy out the car.
Anyway, back to our story, the financial officer was friendly and smooth. He assured us we would be in and out and he was here to make it all work for us. He also offered us a 100,000-mile, bumper-to-bumper warranty, for $3000. My wife and I expressed that we were open to that option and the financial officer stated that in that case it would cost us around $30,000 total for the car with everything included. That number seemed a little high to me and I asked the financial officer were the additional $5000 was coming from as I only expected to pay around $25,000 after taxes. He told me if we got the warranty, that, in addition to the taxes would add up to the number he was giving us. At that point I asked the financial officer if his total number came solely from what we discussed and that there were no other charges or fees we should be aware of. We were assured that yes, the total cost to us would be our lease buyout price + taxes + our extended warranty.
At this point I am ashamed to admit I took the financial officer at his word, shook his hand, and walked out of his office. Sitting back with our salesperson and doing some mental math the numbers made less and less sense to me. I told our salesperson we were not likely to get the extended warranty despite being initially interested because the total cost of our buyout was simply more than expected. Our salesperson told us he would see what he could do and went to talk to the general manager and financial officer. He came back several minutes later and said that because we had been waiting for close to four hours at this point the dealership would knock $1000 off the price of the bumper-to-bumper warranty, it could be ours for $2000 and our total cost for the car would then be around $29,000.
I was still confused why there was a several thousand-dollar discrepancy between what I expected to pay to buy out the lease and what I was being told it would cost. I requested to speak to the financial officer again to see exactly what the breakdown was for myself. My wife and I sat back down with the financial officer and asked to see for ourselves the numbers breakdown and where exactly the total cost came from. At this point something strange happened. The financial officer said our salesperson would help us figure out the numbers and walked out of his own office. Confused and intrigued I watched the salesperson walk in and sit behind the financial officer’s desk. He explained to us that since we had to pay the “recertification fee” of $2495 that, plus the $1999 warranty, plus taxes on the vehicle when combined with our buyout would come out to around $29,000.
For a split second my wife and I looked at each other relieved, happy the numbers added up and we could proceed. Then it dawned on me that $2500 just got added to the bill out of nowhere and I asked the most obvious question. What recertification fee? Try as he might our salesperson could not answer this question in any way that made sense to us. He tried to tell me this was a required fee that raised the equity of my vehicle, and it meant that a 180-point inspection was going to be done, and now it was a “certified” preowned vehicle, he said it was a fee required by the state, he said it was jeeps policy that all leases that get bought out and financed be inspected. However, he could not explain it in a way that made sense to me.
At this point our salesperson printed the contract, and there it was in black and white, a $2495 “Stellantis certification”. Our salesperson then spent the next half hour explaining to us that this was an absolute necessity, and the deal could not go forward without us paying this fee. Our salesperson pulled out all the stops when it comes to playing with emotions, to try and get us to sign that contract. He appealed to the fact that we had already spend six hours at the dealership and what was a “few thousand dollars anyway” but he was unable to provide an explanation as to what exactly the “Stellantis certification” was and why we needed to pay it.
My wife and I got up to leave. I went to retrieve my car key (as my car was still in the mechanic shop next door) at this point the GM of the dealership approached me. He explained that the $2500 fee was a dealership fee that was charged by this dealership specifically and in return for paying it the dealership provided service for the vehicle. He stated that all dealerships charge some sort of fee for buying out a lease and this was there’s. The general manager clarified that this was a service they provided, and he apologized that their service was not what fit mine and my wife’s needs at this time.
In summary, our experience at Brooklyn Chrysler Dodge Jeep and RAM concluded with us wasting six hours of time because the dealership tried to slip in a $2500 fee. Only as I was walking out the door was it clarified that the fee was in fact just that, a dealership fee. I also want to say that for the record I understand there is a cost to doing business. Should I have been told when I walked in the door it costs a few hundred dollars to buy out your lease today I probably would have paid it. But to waste six hours of time and try and slip in a few thousand-dollar fee is in my opinion complete theft and reinforces ever negative stereotype there is about shady car salesmen and dealerships.
My only advice to a perspective car buyer is to read your contract very carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask were every one of your hard-earned dollars is going. Don’t let yourself be intimidated or talked down to. Demand to know why you have to pay vague “fees” and stand up for yourself.