A metro Vancouver family thought they’d found just the used car they’d been looking for, at the reasonable price of $4900. By the time they took it home, though, they’d paid over $1,000 more, and the dealer wasn’t speaking to them. Worse, the car possibly may have major problems.
Looking back, they can see several warning signs:
· Though local regulations say the advertised price should include everything but taxes, the dealer added $900 for documentation and “administration”.
· The documentation fee — $600 – was excessive in an area where most car dealers charge less than $500.
· He informed them of these fees by scrawling them on the back of a business card – not on an official contract.
· Once they questioned the legality of this, the dealer grew defensive and refused to have anything more to do with them. As they really wanted the car, they arranged with relatives to buy it for them – but their relatives found the price had gone up to $6,000.
· The dealer and his staff had acted in other less than professional ways – for example, asking the customers to call before they came over.
· Although the dealership had a good rating at the Better Business Bureau, a closer look showed five complaints in the last three years.
· Staff said the car’s interior carpet had been cleaned by “soaking down to the metal” – not the way to go with a vehicle that spends most of its time closed. It apparently had not been dried completely, because an unclean smell developed inside the car after a few hours.
· The seats showed signs of having been moved, raising suspicions that the car may have been in an accident.
These are all things that make someone stop and wonder – and if you run into any of them while buying a used car, proceed with caution.