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Pinebelt Chevrolet of Freehold Informative - Pinebelt Chevrolet of Freehold practices deceptive and possibly illegal car dealing procedures

Review by jlm057 on 2009-09-07
FREEHOLD, NEW JERSEY -- On Monday, August 10th, 2009, I went to Pinebelt Chevrolet of Freehold, NJ looking to buy a pre-owned 2007 Cobalt I noticed on the Internet. I accepted the fact that with limited income I would have to pay a higher interest rate than is ideal. We did, however, come to a deal pleasing to both parties and after signing the paper work, the car was mine. We agreed to the terms: they would satisfy my trade-in of a 2003 Ford Taurus SES on which I owed $3000, I would pay $1500.00 up front, and at 12.9% interest, make payments of 266.72/mo for 72 months. The deal included a 3 year/60,000 mile warranty which I added, and according to my contract be financed through Wachovia Bank. My first payment was to be due September 9, 2009 (which has not yet passed). I gave them the down payment of $1500.00 (which was quickly cashed) and was told my registration and payment book would be in soon. Before I left the dealer, I updated my eSurance insurance policy for the new car and received my new cards immediately.

A week passed. There was no word from the dealer. Then I got a call. I assumed it was to tell me my registration had arrived. Instead, I was asked if I could have a co-borrower come onto the loan with me. They told me that my limited income was not pleasing to the bank. Considering I was holding a signed contract in my hand, I was puzzled. I asked my Mom though and she agreed to co-sign to avoid any problems.

2 more weeks passed. There was still no registration and to make matters worse, they had not paid off my trade-in causing a late payment to show up on my credit. I called the finance department and left messages for several days with no response. Meanwhile the due date for my first payment was approaching and I still hadn’t received a payment book. Finally, I was able to reach my salesman. Salesman told me that I needed to find a better co-signer or the deal would have to be altered for either a larger down payment or a higher interest rate. I was confused. At this point, I had been driving the car for nearly 4 weeks. I asked a friend and former car dealer what she thought about this. She told me that this is a new deceptive practice that dealers use to try to trick the average consumer and trap them into spending more money. She told me that the dealer lets the consumer take the car under the false pretense that they are approved for financing. Their game is to let the consumer get a taste of the new car and if the dealer needs to, call them back in exclaiming that the deal needs to be altered. “Most people are already settled in their new car and reluctantly make a new and less economical deal just to make life easier,” she explained. She went on to tell me that most likely in my case, the bank had turned me down and that the dealer had promised me financing on false pretenses. She laughed when I told her I was waiting for my registration telling me not to hold my breath. Sure enough, she was right.

This afternoon I finally was able to reach the General Manager. I told General Manager that I simply wanted my registration and payment book so I could start making payments. I also told him that I needed to have my trade-in paid off to avoid further penalties. He asked me for an additional $4500. I told him that we had a deal and that I will be contacting an attorney. At this point he became very agitated. He told me that if I don’t return the car he would report it as stolen and have me “locked up and embarrasssed.” I told him that as a paying customer, I don’t appreciate being spoken to this way. It was shortly after this that he hung up on me and sent a friend to my father’s house to attempt an illegal repossession of the vehicle. The vehicle was not there. I called General Manager back. He told me that I signed paperwork that made my deal a conditional sale. I had never heard of anything like this. I told him I’d gladly bring back the car if he agreed to fax me these papers. He told me that he could not produce these papers for me. At this point, he had let his guard down a bit and admitted to me that his dealership does sometimes “engage in unethical practices” but that “it’s not illegal.” He also threatened that if I try to hide he will find me.

This kind of practice can not be allowed to continue. I made a deal for a car. I’m looking at the contract right now as I type this. I made my down payment. They cashed my check. I handed over the keys and registration to my old car. I drove away and saved up for my first couple monthly payments. I drove around for nearly 4 weeks and when I simply wanted to know how I can start paying for my car, I was hit with startling and sickening news and was even told I will be thrown in jail. After owning and insuring a car for 4 weeks, I should not have to be threatened with higher interest rates and more down payments. A deal is a deal and if we can’t honor a deal in writing, then what can we honor? At the moment I have no idea how this will be resolved. I do not have the money to take the proper legal action that this case may require and I will most likely be reduced to handing the car back. But I pose a question to all those reading this: In these most critical of economic times, is this the way to be treating the average American consumer? We need to speak up and we need to do it now.
Comments:11 Replies - Latest reply on 2009-09-10
Posted by spiderman2 on 2009-09-07:
I know this isn't what you want to hear, but it isn't really very wise to buy a car when you haven't finished paying off the car you own. You will forever be in the hole when you do this. I also cannot imagine driving a car off the lot that I didn't have the paperworked signed on and the financing secured and in place for.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-09-07:
It's hard to really know which way to go with this. It certainly sounds sleezy. If you have a contract, you have a contract. But there are contracts based on one or both of the parties meeting certain conditions. It's like agreeing to buy someone's house but only on the condition that the inspection goes well.

I have no real thoughts on this since I have not seen your contract. It's probably just like you say the GM said: not ethical, but legal.

My only reaction, though, is your last question/statement: "In these most critical of economic times, is this the way to be treating the average American consumer? We need to speak up and we need to do it now."

Now what does that trite comment have to do with your personal situation? Yours boils down to a contract dispute, not a threat to the American dream.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-09-07:
This isnt new. This happened to me about 20 years ago. Cut your losses. Make arrangements to take the car back, get the money you paid out back. If you don't feel safe, because of the conversations with the employees at the dealership, call the police and tell them you need them to stand by and keep the peace. You may have to wait a while for them to respond because it is not an emergency.. you'll just have to deal with it.

Since the trade in has not been paid off, it should still be on the lot somewhere, but if it isn't you may need to contact an attorney to find out what your options are. Good luck.
Posted by DigitalCommando on 2009-09-07:
Your 72 payments of $266.72 = $19,203.84
The approximate Kelly Blue book retail value
for a 2007 Cobalt sedan is approx. $9,500.00
Your trade of the 2003 Taurus was only worth $3,000.00 dollars (or less,which is what you owed on it), so that was pretty much a wash here. I'd say this was a bad deal even before they started to show their azz when you consider that the finance charge for this vehicle is more than the vehicle itself.
Posted by GenuineNerd on 2009-09-07:
You should never buy a car while you still owe on the car you presently drive. Once the dealer's finance department rolls over what you owe on the old loan to the new car, you will be even deeper in negative equity. Banks and finance companies make huge profits on those kind of car purchases. By the time the Cobalt is paid off, you would have ended up paying well more on your loan than the car is worth. American Big 3 vehicles are notorious for negative equity.
Posted by Ben There on 2009-09-07:
What was wrong with your Ford Taurus?
Posted by PepperElf on 2009-09-07:
are they still harassing you for the money?
or have you gotten a lawyer
Posted by Doctor Charlie on 2009-09-07:
Get a lawyer.
Posted by Hugh_Jorgen on 2009-09-07:
Sadly, this is becoming more and more common. I suspect you will find this "agreement" on a separate piece of paper from your sales contract.

On the last vehicle I bought, they brought out the "conditional" sales agreement form at the last minute. It was a separate form that said the whole original deal was dependent on them being able to secure financing at the agreed upon rate. It also said I waived any and all rights I might have under state law regarding repossession and that I granted them access to my property to take possession of the vehicle if need be. I refused to sign it.

Although I had financing in place from my own bank, I had agreed to finance with the dealership if they matched my bank's rate. When they whipped out this agreement I told them to forget the financing, I would be back the next morning with a bank check for the full amount. Their answer was that everyone had to sign this form, even if they were paying cash.

At that point I thanked them for their time, told them they would not be selling me a truck that day and prepared to leave. They asked me to wait for a moment while they checked with the boss. Five minutes later the agreement was thrown out and I still did the financing with them.

So when they realize you are serious about taking your business elsewhere, everything becomes negotiable. Best of luck with your situation.
Posted by jlm057 on 2009-09-10:
Thank you everyone for your responses and concerns. It seems that too many of us are victims of crooked dealer practices.

Dan Ariel made a formal business reply to my post and I responded to this. Please read to stay up to date with what's becoming a nightmare situation.

In answer to your questions:

1. Nothing was wrong with the Taurus. It was just getting old and I wanted something as close to new as possible.

2. I know the dealer dosn't seem worthwhile for me considering the value of the Cobalt. I took it because of my credit situation and because of the fact that I always pay double on my car payments and knew that I'd never pay a fraction of all that interest.

3. I have not yet received my refund check. My Ford taurs has also not been returned. It's being mistreated at Pine Belt probably as we speak. Again, see my response for details.

Thank you all again for your time and concern. I hope I have good news soon.
Posted by jlm057 on 2009-09-10:
I'm sorry, that was different website on which Dan Ariel responded to my post. Here was my response to him. This will bring everyone up to date.

My response as follows:

Dan Ariel is referring to my credit issue. I told the salesperson up front that I was having difficulty aquiring financing for a car from other dealers. After we negotiated a deal, I was told I was approved by Wachovia bank. I asked several times of I was approved. And was always told yes. So therefore Mr. Ariel is admitting to everyone that they lied to me. Sounds reputable to me.

I'd like to now add to my complaint. I went down today to get my refund check and pick up my Ford Taurus. The Taurus was out front. It was left running with the air condition turned up to full max. The car was filthy, inside and out. There were damp leaves all over the interior. Markings on the window indicated to me that they were left open and most likely the car was left outside. My car was under their Care, Custody, and Control and this is how they treated it.

I went inside to speak with Dan. He wouldn't come out of his office. I was asked to wait outside for my refund check. The check never came. A saleperson called me and asked me where I work. I got a call from my job later telling me someone called looking for me. They would not identify themselves but kept asking where they could find me.

Pine Belt Chevrolet of Freehold and Dan Ariel continue to add insult to injury and continue to exhibit poor customer service skills and unethical business practices.

If they are the most reputable car dealer in the tri-state area, we may all want to consider riding a bike.

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