I worked with Donna in Sales, who was great. Kind, level-headed, reasonable, attentive at every stage. This review is NOT about her. It’s about the process and the dealership around her.
Went in to look at a pre-owned car. Test drives went very well. Then I said I wanted to have the car inspected by a third party, on my dime, before closing the deal. Jamie, the General Manager, intervened. He insisted they had thoroughly looked the car over and found that it didn’t need any significant repairs. They then pressured me to close the deal immediately. When I told them I wouldn’t buy it without a third-party inspection unless they lowered the price dramatically, Jamie berated me as though I were some punk kid trying to lowball him.
He eventually relented and I had the inspection done. The car turned out to have several fluid leaks, a lot of undercarriage corrosion including two important parts that had completely disintegrated, and a few other things that needed repair. Jamie dismissed all of this, didn’t budge on the price, and went right back to playing hardball (e.g. “you know what kind of car this is, right?” “I could get so much for this at auction tomorrow.” etc.). He also talked up the car’s great service history, which I knew from my own sources was more checkered than he was letting on.
Jamie completely blew off all my concerns, harping on the car’s great cosmetic condition. The paint had visible swirl marks and there was clear evidence of body work. He insisted that he knew what he had with that car, and why it was special. His comments showed that he knew little about it other than that it was a fairly clean one-owner car in a desirable color.
He eventually dropped the price just enough that I was comfortable, and Donna and I moved to close the deal. When we talked financing, all they showed me were monthly payment amounts -- no itemization of the purchase total, no interest rate, nothing but “X dollars per month for Y months”. Those amounts were almost double what they should have been. It took a good 30 minutes to get them to show me the numbers behind the payments. When they finally came back, the monthly payment numbers had magically gone down -- but the interest rate was still more than twice what I had been approved for elsewhere. When I balked, they said I had to agree because their offer had been contingent on financing through them. That of course was completely false. Fortunately they backed off just enough and we closed.
Afterward, I had the opportunity to double-check the service history they had shown me. I already knew about several service events and repairs they hadn’t told me about. Then I made another short phone call to a shop and discovered that two more major repairs – one for the body, one for the engine – had been omitted from the records I had been shown. Convenient, as those repairs would have significantly impacted (no pun intended) the vehicle’s value.
Then I found out it had taken them a few weeks to submit the registration and title transfer paperwork to the DMV -- something that takes a competent dealership no more than a few days. The dealership told me they had 90 days to submit it. The actual number is 20.
It’s one thing for a used car to have gremlins that aren’t visible at the point of sale, for salespeople to gloss over the faults that are visible, for a manager to want top dollar for a car he thinks is special, and for people to make simple mistakes. It’s another thing for someone at a dealership to consciously misrepresent himself and a car in ways that are so easily proven false, to act dismissively and condescendingly toward a customer trying to negotiate in good faith, and to be systematically incompetent. I’d fully expect that from used car lot shysters. I do not expect it from the representatives of brands like Maserati and Alfa Romeo.
Irony: They’ve since asked me multiple times for a review. I’ve told them I can’t honestly write a good one, and I’ve explained why, in private. They haven’t even gestured at acknowledging my concerns. So, here’s the review.