HUNTERSVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA -- My story start's on Saturday April 9th, 2004, when my roommate and I decided to go look at a vehicle at Toyota of Lake Norman. When we got to the dealership we were immediately approached by a sales rep. by the name of Scott. I should note that Scott was a very nice sales rep., as well as very helpful. Since I had seen a Corolla on-line that I liked, we decided to take a look. I test drove it and decided I would like to purchase it. We went inside to complete the paperwork and discuss my trade-is what I would put down, etc.. I went to the dealer with the intention to trade three vehicles, a 1998 Honda Accord, a 1998 Mitsubishi Montero Sport, and a 1998 Chevy Tracker. These vehicles were being financed with different finance companies. Each had negative equity, which I already knew, not an over abundance. They looked at the Montero and conducted a site unseen estimate for the Accord and the Tracker. They told me that for the Tracker and Accord that they could give me roughly $8000, but the Montero had too much negative equity therefore it would be in my best interest to NOT trade it. They then determined that with negative equity in the Accord and Tracker, the Corolla could not support the added cost and a bank would not finance that vehicle they recommended I go look at a 2004 Matrix that was on the lot. At first I was skeptical - assuming that the vehicle would probably just be a GEO type vehicle and that I wouldn't like it. Much to my surprise I DID like the vehicle and decided that I would - based on the trade-in values, and dealer suggestion, purchase this vehicle.
We again went inside to look at the numbers. I was told that this vehicle was discounted by them $4000; plus a $1000 manufactures rebate; I was told I would still need $1500 down to cover the total negative equity. They said that the bank would not finance more than 100% of the sticker price, and with $1500, my trade in's, It would bring me to that number and we could go with that. They then said to go home, clean up the other two vehicles and come back the next day, and they would make sure the cars looked good and were as I described and we would go from there.
I returned to the dealership on Sunday, April 10th with both the Accord and the Tracker. I realized that the payoff's I had given them were off by a combined amount of approximately $1500. I told them this as soon as I got there and they said OK. They looked at both car's and said based on the fact that the payoff's were higher I would need to come out of pocket $3000 instead of $1500, I advised them that I had assumed that would be the case and was prepared to do this. I did ask that they at least throw in floor mats listed on Toyota's site as an option for an additional $150. Bud the financing guy said he would and we left it at that. He then came back with a white sheet with a lot of numbers, quickly went over the numbers and asked me to initial it. I noticed that the floormats were listed on the sheet I asked him about it and he said it was a numbers thing not to pay too much attention to it. He further explained that it was all the same they just had to have it listed for financing reasons, and it wouldn't change the monthly payment amount or down payment amount I asked about the GAP insurance that was added in the numbers for $495. I was told that the financing company required me to have that, otherwise they wouldn't finance the vehicle To my now regret, I trusted him and I initialed the sheet. He said if I had any other questions the finance guy in the back could explain it further as we completed the paperwork. When I got into the back I noticed another discrepancy. The numbers appeared to show a difference, of nearly $5000 in the payoff amounts the total they were giving me for allowance and my down payment. When I asked about this the finance rep. took about 10 minutes to put some new numbers together, gave me a long explanation that I still questioned. He repeated it and I figured he knew what he was doing. Since it wasn't changing the payment or down payment amount I signed the paper, the realized that the floor mats were once again listed, with an amount of $229. When I asked about this, he said, "nothing in life is free" and continued with the paperwork. By this point I had been in his office for more than over an hour and had signed almost all the paperwork, I figured there is nothing I can do about it now. I was just not getting the floormats for free.
A day or so after I left, I was looking over the paperwork (I planned on having it refinanced through my credit union) When I realized that they had only gave me $3500 for both trade in's combined. Both of which were worth MORE than $3500 by themselves. I called Bud, the financing guy, and he tried to move some numbers around over the phone, I still didn't understand what he was saying, then he said, "well, you know, as long as your happy with the car, what does it matter? Your payments are lower than they were with both cars, and you have a new car!" I said "well I am not happy with the fact that I feel I was taken advantage of, he replied, "I am sorry you feel that way. Come by next Friday and we can sit down and go over the number's, so you don't feel that way." I agreed.
In the mean time I conducted some research and found the Kelley Blue Book value for both the Accord and Tracker. Which ironically is listed on THEIR website (Toyota of Lake Norman). Both valued the Tracker OVER $3500 and the Accord OVER $6000. I also found out from a friend that the GAP Insurance they REQUIRED I take was NOT AT ALL required and that it is actually against NC State Law that they make me take it.
On Friday, April 23rd I went back to Toyota of Lake Norman to speak with Bud. When I first arrived for the appointment I had to wait 15 minutes for him. He had apparently "forgotten" that he had asked me to come in and had stepped out. Upon his return to the showroom (carrying his lunch) he walked walked up to me and said, "I am going to make this fast and painless". He then got out a piece of paper and tried to show me how they gave me the same amount as any other dealer would have.They showed that they only gave me $3,500, instead of $8,000. Basing that number off of the discounted amount, not the $17,000 MSRP. I told him I didn't understand and he said that they could not have given me $8,000 for my trade because the car was discounted so they only gave me $3,500. He insisted it all worked out the same if you started with the original MSPR. I told him I still didn't understand, if they said they were giving me $8,000 then why didn't they? He said, again, that they did, off the MSPR, not off THEIR selling price. I told him that didn't make since to me, that the price of the car was $13,999 and asked why they would move the price up because I was trading car's in? And why not have the SAME allowance for my trade on either the Corolla or the Matrix? If I had taken the car's to CarMax or ANY OTHER dealership. I feel that they would have given me a fair price for my trades. CarMax would have given me more that $3,500 for the Tracker Alone!!! Why didn't they? He then told me I was "pissing him off" and that if the "son's of bi#@&s at CarMax would right him a check for the vehicles, they could have them." Basically telling me that they changed the amount they were going to give me on my vehicles, because the 2nd car I looked at was cheaper. I want it to be known that they did this without informing me. (I believe hoping I would leave without notice) He then told me that "The deal was done now anyway, I signed it so it didn't matter." When I asked him about the floor mat's, he wouldn't even comment and continued to get louder and louder in the showroom.Other customer's were watching, not I was not only taken advantage of, but embarrassed. I asked him about the GAP Insurance and he denied telling me I HAD to take it. He said he just strongly recommended it in my case. At this point I realized that it was a total waste of my time to have come in to talk to him. That they had, in my opinion, taken advantage of me because 1)he knew I was young, 2)he knew I would be happy to save money monthly 3)a first time "New Car" buyer. I don't argue the fact that I do save about $200 a month in payments, but I will pay for it in the long run. I now have an additional $4,500 that I feel I shouldn't have, tacked onto the vehicle. As well I ended up paying $229 in floormats and $495 in GAP Insurance.
This is my story and I hope it doesn't happen to anyone else. I have submitted a complaint with the NC State Attorney Generals Office, the Better Business Bureau! As well as called Toyota Corporate. Any attempts to talk with Toyota of Lake Norman were dismissed. For this reason I created this site. If nothing else, to warn people to watch out, make sure you pay CLOSE attention to everything, and DO NOT sign ANYTHING unless they are COMPLETELY SATISFIED with the explanation they have been given.
If you don't understand what they're telling you, keep asking questions, Walk away and let them realize they'll lose you as a customer if they can't take the time to explain it. As I was leaving Toyota that day, But told me that I had wasted my time coming down there, because I wasn't hearing what he was saying. He was wrong, I heard what he was saying and I am doing something about it, not wasting my time, Bud.
HUNTERSVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA -- Over the years I have had the opportunity of dealing with many, many new car dealerships. Since the advent of the web, most have begun to realize that consumers are educated. (I know, for instance, what the Kelley Blue Book Value is for my trade in and what the MSRP and invoice are for any car I am buying). I went to Toyota of Lake Norman ready to trade in my car and walk out with new one. The salesperson was wonderful. We waited 45 minutes for a manager who offered me $4000 below trade-in compared to KBB, Edmunds TMV, and an offer from CarMax. I didn't even try negotiating - being treated like I was born yesterday from the get-go helped me quickly decide that the last place I will buy any car is Toyota of Lake Norman. There are many other options in this region. I suggest you try anywhere else before Toyota of Lake Norman.
HUNTERSVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA -- My experience with Toyota of Lake Norman has been nothing shy of abysmal. In September of 2004 I arrived on the lot to inform the sales manager I planned on purchasing two vehicles over the next 6 months, and I wanted someone I could trust to work with. I kept my commitment by showing up as originally agreed and I was introduced to my Toyota of Lake Norman salesperson Keith on 11/8/04. After some minor haggling Keith and I agreed to an out the door sales price of $26,494.00 (taxes, options, doc fees, plates, etc.) for a 2005 base Toyota Highlander. I explained to Keith I would contact him when I would have a check in his hand because this vehicle was a surprise for my wife's birthday. I called Keith to inform him on 11/10/04 my bank had cut a check and was ready to be dispersed to him personally since I was out of town on business. When I attempted to follow-up with Keith, I was informed that "Keith no longer worked at Toyota of Lake Norman". I was transferred to a man named A.W. and explained my situation. He told me he was too busy to help me and would call me back in 30 minutes. A.W. never called. I then called Toyota of Lake Norman again, and when I asked for A.W., I was told he left for the day. I was again transferred to another Toyota of Lake Norman representative Greg Michelson(sp). I explained my concern again to Mr. Michelson and he told me he would call me back. He did call back, and the price was over $1,100.00 over what I had already negotiated with Keith my original sales representative. I tried to get Greg Michelson to honor that which was already negotiated and that a check was already cut, but all he could say is he wouldn't argue with me and the "price is what it is"; a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. I told him I would go elsewhere to purchase a vehicle since I didn't feel I was being treated honestly and customer service oriented way. These unethical sales tactics are why I am writing this so other consumers are aware of how I was treated. If you want to be bounced around, treated rudely, and be dishonored with used car salesman tactics, I recommend Toyota of Lake Norman.
HUNTERSVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA -- Let me tell you a little story about Toyota of Lake Norman and how they'll treat customers. I am willing to overlook the following issues: I set an appointment for a Monday afternoon to see a newly listed pre-owned vehicle. The appointment was delayed to the following afternoon because they were putting a new windshield in the vehicle, no problem. Showed up on Tuesday afternoon at my arranged meeting time, only to sit and wait 2 1/2 hours while they tried to find the vehicle. Come to find out, it was being driven around town by an employee. Huh?? Okay, mistakes happen, no biggie.
Finally drove the vehicle (which was full of water due to the improperly installed new windshield, was assured it would be fixed), so we went to work numbers. As with a previous review of Toyota of Lake Norman, they seem to forget that with the advent of the internet, consumers are no longer idiots when it comes to the value of our trades. What happened was I got offered roughly half of the LOWEST online trade value for my vehicle. The explanation I was given was that Toyota of Lake Norman doesn't deal in "trade allowances", only "real cash". This after I've had no quotes of lower than fair trade value on my vehicle from each of their competitors.
Beware folks, Toyota of Lake Norman may have flashy adds & a beautiful dealership, but in the end they are just sleazy dealers like the rest. Come to think of it, no wonder I was nearly the only customer on the property.
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA -- I came into Toyota of Lake Norman having received a promise from their associate that I could buy out my leased vehicle without the $595 documentation fee (which incidentally, not all dealerships charge) when I came in they would not honor their promise and were emphatic that I should buy or lease a new car without charging the documentation fee $595, inspection fee, and the fees associated with DMV (which by the way, they don't have to do, you can do that on your own, but the general manager told me I must do it through them) that's a lie. When I told them that was not what I wanted to do, the general manager told me nastily to come back if I wanted to buy a car.
Since we had confirmed that the associate had given me this supposedly misinformation, it is my estimation that a good reputable dealership, would have honored the promise. They did not. I soon began to wonder was it the fact that I was a woman and a minority that were contributing factors to their decision not to honor the deal.
What I do know is that I will never use that dealership, nor refer them to my friends, family or associates. Don't use them! Go somewhere else.