Courtesy Toyota - Brandon

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Horrible Car Buying Experience
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My name is Dennis and I am writing this letter in hopes of informing the appropriate personnel of the car buying experience I had at Courtesy Toyota of Brandon.

On 06/15/2007 I went to Courtesy Toyota of Brandon to look for a new car as this was the dealership I had bought my new 2004 Lincoln Town Car from previously. I was completely satisfied with buying the Lincoln in 2004 so I thought I would go there again to buy another car. At the dealership I was quickly greeted by Beth who ended up being my salesperson. We test drove the Toyota Prius but decided the Prius was just too small compared to what I was accustomed too. We looked at the Toyota Camry Hybrid and I quickly fell in love with this car. I really liked the idea of better gas mileage and this car would be better for the environment. I decided to buy the Toyota Camry Hybrid. I told Beth that I had to trade in my 2004 Lincoln Town Car. After quite a while Beth came back with an offer on my car. I was told my vehicle was worth $14,000. I was floored by this offer and my hopes of getting the Hybrid were sinking. I told Beth that was a ridiculous offer. She went and got a sales manager to come in and discuss the offer further. The Manager said that was a good offer on my car and thought I should take it. I quickly responded that in no way was I letting them have my car for $14,000 that I would not take anything less than $18,000. After careful consideration he agreed and we were quickly on track again. Courtesy Toyota Of Brandon only had 1 Camry Hybrid in stock at the time, and we were told they didn't know when they were going to get more in. I was made to feel like if I wanted a Camry Hybrid I better take this one that day or I might be able to get one for a long time. This vehicle was Desert Sand Mica in color and was the basic hybrid model. I liked the color of the vehicle but, I was used to having luxury items in my vehicle so I really wanted to have some of these items in my new car. I wanted a navigation system, a sun roof and leather. Courtesy Toyota of Brandon said they didn’t have any vehicles with these items in and that they didn’t know when they would. They had quite a few back ordered. Beth told us we could add the items on that we wanted. I bought the vehicle and added a sunroof, leather interior, navigation system and had the windows tinted. I assumed that the navigation system was going to be the same as in other Toyota Camry’s because when I asked about the navigation system our salesperson showed us the navigation system in other Toyota Camry’s and the vehicle had the Bluetooth connection so it already had the voice recognition in it. I then asked about the sunroof, and asked if the control button would be put in the same place as in Camry’s that had sunroofs from the factory. I was told yes that it would be just the same.

I was going out of town the following Wednesday, June 20, 2007, and wouldn’t return until June 30,2007. I told the accessories department that I could drop the car off before I went out of town and they could have the work done while I was gone. My whole trip I was looking forward to picking up my new Toyota Camry Hybrid, with all the new items added.

As soon as I returned to town I went to pick up my new car. I was given the key and told that the vehicle was out front. Nobody walked me out to the vehicle to show me what was completed or how to work any of the new items. I walked out to my vehicle and the first thing I noticed was that there were air bubbles in the window tint. I am aware that minor bubbles are normal for the first day of window application, but the dealer had the vehicle for 10 days. I then looked in the vehicle and noticed that navigation system was an after market system not the Toyota navigation system I had been shown on June 15th . The navigation screen was very small compared to the opening that the radio came out of, and although they did put in a frame around it, this item made the car look cheap. I then tried out the sunroof that was installed and when you opened or closed the sunroof to vent mode, there was a grinding noise in the mechanism. I also noticed that on the outside of the vehicle that the sunroof was not even. The sunroof was higher on the driver side than on the passenger side. Also when you closed the door on the vehicle the sunroof moved. I immediately went into the dealership and told them that I was extremely unhappy about what they had done to my beautiful car.

Someone came out and looked at the vehicle and they tried to tell me that all sunroofs moved when the vehicles doors were closed, so I went to another vehicle that had a factory sunroof and showed them that they were incorrect. The accessories manager then came out to look at the vehicle and he realized that the work was not completed correctly. I personally can not believe that they tried to deliver a vehicle in that condition, especially when they had 10 days to complete and check out the work. I was told that we could talk to Jeremy, the sales manager. The accessories manager explained the problems to him and Jeremy looked in the computer looking to see if they had any Camry Hybrids that had the factory options that I wanted. Jeremy said that it could be up to a 6 month wait for a vehicle with the options, because of the high demand. Jeremy told us that I had 3 options, 1) they could fix the original Camry Hybrid, or 2) they had a silver Camry Hybrid on the lot with factory navigation but no sunroof that we could take or 3) they could order a vehicle from the factory with the options I desired, but that it take a long time to get in. I was told that they couldn’t do any paperwork for changing out vehicles until the 10th of July, because the books were closed for the month.

I left the dealership and did some things that I had to do because of being out of town. The more I thought about it the more I didn’t like any of the options that were given so far. I went back to the dealership and looked at other vehicles that were on the lot that afternoon. I liked the Toyota Avalon and asked if changing vehicles from the Camry Hybrid to an Avalon was an option. I was told to come back the next day. I went back on Sunday 7/1/07 and was told that I could switch the deal to the Avalon, I was also told that this was still considered June on the books, and that they could change the deal. I liked the Avalon Touring addition, they said okay and they pulled it up for delivery and told me I could drive it home. I wanted to get the price settled before we left, but they told me Jeremy couldn’t do it then and I should come back on the 10th of the month. While I was waiting on that decision from Jeremy another salesperson was outside and was telling me that the Limited addition had “air conditioned” seats. I immediately was sold on that idea, and I went into the dealership and told them I didn’t want the Avalon Touring addition, but instead I wanted the Avalon Limited addition. They told me to take the Touring addition Avalon home since it was late and we could discuss the Avalon Limited addition tomorrow.

On Monday 07/02/2007 I took off of work early to hopefully find the Limited addition Avalon I would be happy with. On this day I was told by Beth that the only Limited Avalon they had was a dark red one. I definitely knew I didn’t want a red car. I knew that they had an Avalon Limited in Silver Pine Mica from my walking the lot the day before. I told Beth about this car and she was completely unaware of this car even being on the property. She went into the dealership to find out about this car and after quite a long time of waiting I was told I could buy it. I was completely sold on this car as I really liked the color and the options it had. I wanted to get the paperwork completed but they said that I would have to come in on Tuesday 7/3/07 because they had to put the vehicle in the system before they could sell it. On Tuesday 7/3/07 I left work 3 hours early so that I could go to the dealership to do the paperwork, or at least sit down and negotiate the price on the Avalon Limited. I really felt uneasy taking this car as we had not even discussed the final price.

When I arrived at the dealership I arrived with an e-mail showing a quote from Courtesy Toyota of Brandon on another Toyota Avalon Limited addition. This e-mail quote was $2500 less than MSRP. They took the email over to the sales pit, and were discussing it. Beth our salesperson came to me and asked if I was ready to do the paperwork, and then she was called over to the sales pit. She then came and told me that Jeremy had left for the day and we wouldn’t be able to do the negotiation. I told her that I took off of work to do this and that I have wasted so much time on this. Beth, our salesperson, told me that she had come in on her off day to do this, and they didn’t tell her until I got there that they wouldn’t do anything that day. I told Beth that I didn’t feel right about driving this vehicle because later Jeremy could say that well, you have all these miles on the vehicle now, and you have to pay X amount of dollars or else. Beth told me not to worry that Jeremy said this was my car period. I reluctantly said okay and was told that they would call us as soon as we could do the paperwork, hopefully before the 10th of the July.

I received a phone call on Friday 7/6/07 asking me to come up to the dealership. I assumed that I was finally going to finish the paperwork and have a vehicle. When I arrived at the Courtesy Toyota of Brandon, I was told that there had been a mistake and that my car had already been presold and that they had to have the vehicle back, and get my things out of it. I simply could not believe what I was hearing and completely dismayed. Beth already had another Avalon Limited pulled up to show me. The other vehicle was Titanium Metallic, which was not my first choice in color. I did like the interior of the silver vehicle better though. I agreed to take to Titanium Metallic Avalon Limited but still wanted to sit down and discuss price. I was told that Jeremy was not there so we could not sit down and discuss it, but to come back the next day Saturday 7/7/08. I really wanted to get this settled though. There was extremely nice and helpful person, Barbara, who sat down and discussed the matter with me. I showed her the email that was sent showing the quoted price and she said that on the original deal that they had over allowed for my trade in so normally they couldn’t give the over allowance and the price quoted on their own website. Barbara understood that with all that I had been through on this deal that I wasn’t being unreasonable. She said since she was not in sales but in finance that she didn’t have the authority to make the deal but that she would talk to Jeremy today 7/7/07 to see if he would agree to this price.

I went into the dealership again today and Jeremy came in and talked to me and said that there was no way he would give me the deal I wanted. He said that he over allowed $3000 on the trade and we wasn’t going to discount the vehicle too. I told him that he didn’t over allow for the trade, which I confirmed with NADA and Kelly Blue Book when I got home. I said that for all the problems, and all the wasted time, an average of 3-5 hours every time I went to the dealership, that he should honor the advertised price. Jeremy decided that he was too involved in the deal emotionally and wanted to step out of the negotiations and have Barbara make the deal, with his or the general manager making the final approval. I asked her since she was given the power, why we couldn’t have the deal we proposed the night before, since she thought it was fair. Barbara said that she couldn’t because Jeremy had already said no to it. I then asked if I could just get my trade in vehicle back and back out of the deal. She thought that it may be a possibility, and went to ask Jeremy. He agreed and Barbara called to have my car brought to me.

I didn’t have the tag for that vehicle so they issued me a temp tag. While they were putting on the temp tag, I noticed a scratch on driver side rear door that wasn’t there when we traded the vehicle in, it looked like a key scratch. I then started looking over the vehicle, as I know exactly the condition the vehicle was in when I traded it in. I noticed a big scrape on the passenger side front bumper that was not there before I traded in the vehicle. It was obvious that my car hit something. I stepped inside the dealership and asked if Barbara could step out and look at the damage. She was surprised and said that they would have to repair it. I asked her if I could get that in writing, just because of all we had been through. She went inside apparently to ask Jeremy to put something in writing. She couldn’t come back out but 2 guys came out and said that Jeremy had said that they were not going to repair the damage, it is what it is, the damage must have been there before. I told them that the damage was definitely not there before and that they needed to repair it.

When I traded the vehicle in there was a little scraped paint on the front drivers side wheel well and on the front drivers side bumper. This damage had been repaired, so if the damage I pointed out today was really there when I traded it in why would they repair the minor damage on the driver’s side and leave such major damage as is now on the passenger side front bumper? I told the 2 guys that the dealership in fact did cause this damage and that it needed to be repaired. It wasn’t too long before 2 other Courtesy Toyota employees came over and started becoming hostile saying that the damage was there prior to them receiving the vehicle and “It is what it is”. I looked at the vehicle while it was on the used car sales lot and the damage was not there then. I personally believe that the damage was done intentionally. It was strange the way they were acting. I told the 4 Courtesy Toyota employees that I was going to call the police to make an accident report and they said “who damaged it?” and “who was driving the vehicle?” I told them I didn’t know but it happened while it was in there Care Custody and Control. At that point they said that we were trespassing and that they were going to call the police to have us removed from the property. I said they didn’t have to I was already on the phone with the police about the damage. I informed the police dispatcher of their threat and was advised to move the vehicle to the side of the road in front of the dealership. The police officer did arrive and told me that he document it and that we should contact the owner of Courtesy Toyota. My navigation system which I have in my Lincoln Town Car is now not working, so that is another expense I have to make, taking to have that looked at. I want my vehicle repaired somewhere else. I do not trust anyone at that dealership, besides Barbara Martinez. I have never been treated like this by any business and quite honestly have been called a liar by Jeremy. I have better things to do with my time then to try to lie about damage on my car. I am simply asking to receive my car back in the same condition it was given to this dealership. This car was in excellent condition with only 24,000 miles. I am sure Gator Ford can testify to my cars condition as they always do the servicing of my vehicle.
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User Replies:
Hugh_Jorgen on 07/08/2007:
Be thankful they let you out of your deal after a month. That's a lot more than a lot of people that visit this site get. You got to drive several new cars for a month and you are not out of pocket any money for the experience and it sounds like the damage to your Lincoln is very minor. I know you had a bad experience, but this might be an opportunity to just count your blessings and move on to another dealer.
Nohandle on 07/08/2007:
Quite frankly I lost a good bit in your lengthly complaint, but I've discovered from past experience and those of friends several things. The games salespersons play, you know.."I must speak with the manager first before I can accept your offer" is a pack of foolishness. They know immediately if they are willing to accept your offer. Not having a vehicle in stock and they have to order from the factory and to expect a long, long wait is also a pack of hogwash. Every dealer I know of, in my area, has a reciprocal agreement with dealers in other areas and they swap vehicles like crazy. Damage to the vehicle you brought in for trade, that's a different matter. Thanks for the warning on this dealership and when you find another one I hope you have better results.
unhappy999 on 07/08/2007:
This is the worst car buying experience I have ever heard. Usually they want to do the paperwork immediately, not days later. If the person that had to be there was never there, how were they going to sell other cars? It sounds like this dearler is not on the up and up. I would take my car somewhere else to get it repaired, I wouldn't trust these people to repair a bicycle.
runaway on 07/08/2007:
Whenever buying a vehicle, the best thing to do is to shop around beforehand, and know exactly what you want, in a new vehicle, options, and $$ for a trade. It sounds like you weren't really prepared to purchase a vehicle; you weren't even sure what model or options you wanted. This gives the salespeople the upper hand- they can steer you to what they want to sell and play the "options" game to convince you to upgrade. next time, check out different models in your off-time, check out available options and pricing online, and you can just shop around for a dealer who will meet YOUR terms. Also, trade-ins seldom get the highest value, and if they do, they've accounted for that $$ in the price of the new vehicle; after all, they need to sell it and make some money off it, and few people will pay more than blue book.
lepearso on 07/09/2007:
I hope you've learned your lessons here. You messed up by agreeing to buy a car that would require so many modifications - especially an after-factory sunroof! You also should have walked away when they sent you home in a car that was already spoken for.
Aerocave on 07/09/2007:
Unfortunately, these types of situations is why buying a car is so often feared. It really is not that hard to buy a car! As the GSM of an automotive dealership it seems to me that this deal originally started out as the salesperson/sales manager simply trying to sell from stock instead of trying to locate and/or order another vehicle. I cannot fault them for that. We will make every attempt as well to sell from stock, as the limited profit we are now forced to "take" on new vehicles makes it much more beneficial to sell from stock then expend time, energy, and additional expense to locate a car. Contrary to what many consumers think, the dealership profit on a new vehicle is quite ridiculous when you compare it too other retail businesses. Add in the increased overhead of providing the "extras" to ensure good customer satisfaction and floorplan (inventory) expenses and the profits shrink even more. However, the salesperson and manager in this particular deal seemed a little to eager to sell a car--and worry about the fine details later. Though not impossible, installing a factory navigation system as an accessory is simply way to complicated and expensive. I realize you feel that you were told that this would be factory, however my guess is that it was probably worded something like, "It would be just like the factory system"--but very easily misunderstood in the "heat of the moment of negotiation" as "It would be the factory system." As far as the sunroof, we install aftermarket sunroofs that have proven to be as good if not better quality than the factory ones. I do agree that the sunroof should not shake when you close the doors and that it should not be uneven. Pulling you out of a car that you have already been driving because it was presold--especially under the circumstances? Wow! It sounds like the communication at this store is simply non-existent. I would also like to have the Sales Manager Jerermy's schedule, as he seems like he was never there. (My guess is he was, but did not want to deal with you anymore.) Keep in mind, you did switch vehicles several times; I realize the first time was unintentional--but the other times probably led to aggravation on the salesperson and sales manager's you drove these 3 different vehicles for an extended test drive.
As far as the damange on your 04 Lincoln, it is your word against theirs. To be blunt, if I were the Sales Manager involved in this type of mess, I would probably fix the damage on your car, shake hands and politely show you the door.

In closing, it appears to me that you gave this dealership way too many chances. The dealership tried to satisfy you too many times--only digging themselves deeper each time. They simply should have realized their mistakes from the beginning, offered a reasonable solution, and when that did not work, should have simply "tore up the paperwork," gave you your trade back and moved on. For the record, there are many good salespeople, managers, and dealerships out there--unfortunately consumers read these types of postings and right away assume that every dealership operates the way this sad store does.
runaway on 07/10/2007:
Excellent response, Aerocave! I find few problems with purchasing vehicles; I simply decide exactly what I want and a price range I'm willing to pay before showing up to buy at a dealership, and am willing to find another dealership if there are any "issues". Test driving can be a hassle, though, with everyone pushing to buy "today", even when told up front that I will not buy spur of the moment. any suggestions for this?
Aerocave on 07/10/2007:
Obviously we hear it all the time that the customer is "not buying today" and I train my salespeople to overcome this objective. I have found that many customers say this with the hopes that the salesperson will do (as I call it) the "Customer is not buying today sales approach" in which they present and demonstrate the vehicle and then say "Let me know when you are ready," not ever asking for the sale. I always felt that if you are honest, upfront, build rapport, and do a great job on presenting and demonstrating the vehicle (and the customer is excited about the vehicle of course) the sale may come naturally. You may or may not believe me, but when I was on the floor, I sold more cars to those who told me that they were not buying today than those who, in the first couple minutes told me that "We are buying a car today." Nevertheless, if you are serious about not buying that day, stick to your guns, do not let the salesperson, floor manager, or "closer" pressure you, and contrary to what they say, unless it is the last day that a program/incentive is applicable, there are rarely "good for one day only deals." If they do not respect your wishes, leave and go somewhere else. If the salesperson and/or manager is good at what they do, he or she will know when to back off.
gprimr1 on 08/04/2007:
I used the opposite approach. I was trying to buy an Elantra 07 GLS for 15000 and I told them that I was ready to sign the papers if they accepted my offer. They didn't so I left (and I made a scene by pealing my brakes so they knew I left). 20 minutes later, they called to ask me back to sign the papers at 15000.

I bought my gf's car this way to (only we offered 9990 and they accepted).
mike tompkins on 08/05/2008:
CROOKS!! I've had my truck for 5 years and just found out today that it is LEASED. I've been buying new cars and trucks every 3 to 5 years for the last 30 years and do not believe in leasing anything. I put $3,000 down and told them where I needed my payments to be and after 6 hours of back and forth bull@$%&, the (CROOK) salesman - CHRIS WEISS - came back in the cubicle and said we were good to go. He shoved a stack of papers in front of me and I signed them just like I've done for the last 30 years and got in my new truck and hit the road. I've got all my original paperwork and, yep, they duped me and my wife into LEASING a vehicle without us knowing it. So now I have to go out there and get a purchase order and carry it to my credit union and apply for another loan. Courtesy Toyota is committing consumer fraud and my next trip is to downtown Tampa to see if I can find the State Atty's office, and my next e-mail is to 8 On Your Side.
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