Lafontaine Nissan Complaint - Unethical and Illegal Business Practices
HIGHLAND, MICHIGAN -- • My original vehicle was stolen and I was driving a rental that was to have expired and needed to be returned the day of the purchase of the used vehicle from the dealership.
• Originally, I was submitting a down payment of $5,000, which is what I was told is a sufficient amount for any vehicle purchase of $20,000 or less, which would be considered 25% of what the vehicle would cost. So I obtained a cashier’s check for this amount.
• Due to Chapter 13 bankruptcy, I had to obtain a purchase order receipt to present to the Bankruptcy Trustee and Judge in order to get approval for a new loan. I obtained this purchase order from Jane doe at LaFontaine Nissan, after being highly recommended by a personal friend who is a well known radio personality for the city of Detroit. By the way, this dealership is an hour drive one way.
• Around 11:30am on December 23, 2010, Ms. jane doe then began to work diligently to see who would finance me for a vehicle based on the purchase order. After making some calls, we then went to actually look at some vehicles that were available.
• We rode together and I had a friend, Devante Derrico, follow me in the rental car to another car lot located down the street. The very first vehicle in the lot that we saw was the silver 2008 GMC Sierra and we stopped immediately. I noticed first how nice the vehicle was and then I almost simultaneously noticed the red sticker in the window with the price on it of $17,999. I pointed it out to my friend that was behind us and I was excited due to the fact that it was well under the price I was expecting.
• Ms. Jane Doe then took the sticker, copied the numbers off of the actual vehicle, and then went into the office. She then began to look up the information for the vehicle in order to submit it to finance companies to see if I could be approved for a loan for that vehicle.
• During this time, she conveyed that she had issues reading the computer and the information that was being pulled up was not matching and that she could get better results if we were back at her personal office. At this time, it was becoming increasingly closer to the time that the rental car had to be turned in as it was 3:30pm and the rental car company closes at 5:30pm.
• She assured me and reassured me that she would do everything in her power to get me into that vehicle. We, then waited in the waiting area for approximately an hour as I began to be more and more nervous as I reminded her that I needed to turn in the rental car. I was concerned that I would not be able to get the deal done. My son, who was riding with my friend in the rental car, began to complain about being hungry. It was a stressful situation at this point.
• She then began to explain that she would not be able to get the deal done for the vehicle that I was interested in, but offered another vehicle. I refused the vehicle that she offered as it would not be the right type of vehicle for the business that I am in. As I began to become frustrated, I asked would it take more money to get the deal done on the original vehicle that I was interested in. Ms. Jane Doe then responded, “Let’s see”. I then offered an additional $1,500.00 dollars and by this time it was getting close to 5:00pm.
• Approximately 15 minutes later she then told me the deal worked out and she told me to go ahead and return the rental car to the rental car company. I was ecstatic not only that the deal was going through, but she also stated she was able to get me financed at 16.99%, instead of the 24% that I was expecting. She also told me at this point that my monthly payments would be $498 per month, which is what I expected due to the purchase order.
• She explained that the finance company that was able to finance me were “cutthroat and if I was late on any payments, they may not call, that they may just send a repo company to get the vehicle”.
• After returning the rental car, the rental car company brought me back to the dealership, and I waited an additional hour due to her taking care of another customer. I was willing to wait due to the fact that I believed I would finally be able to go home and not only that, but in the vehicle that I originally wanted.
• The truck was then delivered to the dealership we were at and she handed me the keys to go look at the vehicle while we were at the finance company. The moment I got in the vehicle and started it up, the change oil indicator came on and I noticed right away that the mileage on the vehicle was approximately 5,000 miles more than was posted on the certified warranty vehicle sticker.
• The change oil indicator and mileage were both brought to Barb’s attention and she immediately brushed it off as though it were nothing and this would happen due to the vehicle being driven by employees. She also offered to give me an oil change but could not do it that day because it was too late in the day and the mechanics were gone for the day.
• I was still extremely excited about the deal, so excited that we even hugged. She then told me that there was a snag in the deal and I would need to have my accountant fax over my Schedule C from my most recent Tax Return. I had to sit and wait even longer and by this time it is about 7:00pm and I am starting to get irritated and frustrated.
• Once the finance company approved the Schedule C, she sent me to her assistant, Nina, in order to sign some papers. The documents that were presented to me to be signed were at least six sheets all piled on top on one another. It was never explained what I was signing and treated nothing more than another “snag” holding up the deal. I was so anxious to get home, which was once again an hour away, not to mention feed my son and myself that I hastily signed the papers without question or doubt.
• After waiting an additional half an hour or so, Nina, informed me that the insurance company never faxed the insurance certificate over. So I ten had to contact the insurance company to refax the verification of insurance over. After this was done and the insurance verification was faxed, I received a coupon from the finance company saying what my note would be monthly and when it was due.
• I received a copy of the insurance, only one key to the vehicle, and a temporary sticker which I had to put on myself. I was finally able to go home at approximately 7:40pm without any indication of what the bottom line cost of the vehicle is, how much the finance charges would be, or how long I would pay before the vehicle would be paid off. None of this was explained to me and no copies of what was signed were given to me. As this was the first time I have ever purchased a vehicle from a dealership, I assumed the paperwork was to be mailed out.
• The very next day, I received a call from Jane Doe asking was I happy with the vehicle. I began to point out that all four wheels were severely scratched up and the undercarriage of the vehicle was extremely rusted as if it had been sitting in water. All of these things I were not able to see due to it being dark at the time the keys were given to me.
• I even sent pictures of the wheels to her personal cell phone and after seeing the pictures, her response was, “there is nothing I can do about that because I already took a loss on the vehicle”. She expressed to me how much of a favor she was doing because of my personal friend who works at the radio station. This same radio station does lots of advertising for her. I was offended, but I also understood and I let it go.
• About a week later, I still have no paperwork for the vehicle and a relative asked to see the paperwork in order to see what I would be paying overall. I could only tell them what I was told with regards to the price, but began to feel apprehensive about the deal.
• I was told that I should not have been allowed to leave without any paperwork or copies of what I signed. I was told by several relatives that I should have been explained as to what the price of the vehicle was, my total with taxes and title, how much the interest and finance charges would be, and the amount of payments, along with my warranty and what it covers.
• At this point, I am upset and my relatives were upset with me. I also consulted a family member who is an attorney who stated that this sounded like predatory lending due to the fact that not being given a copy of the final sale is one of the things that is standard and of the norm. I was told that I should be able to return the vehicle and get a refund. On Jan 10, around 9am, I contacted Jane with my concerns regarding the payments and that I felt that something was not right. She immediately cut me off and started to explain about the finance company and once again how cutthroat they are. I tried once again to express my opinion and she then hung up on me.
• I then decided to take my family’s advice and take the vehicle back and ask for a refund. I contacted a friend to follow me in case I needed a ride home, got there and it was even more difficult to talk with Barn regarding the vehicle and the loan. She never allowed me to talk, even after numerous requests to speak. I asked to speak with the supervisor.
• She expressed that she was getting upset and even though she would get the supervisor, felt that there was nothing that could be done. During the 30-45 minute wait for the supervisor, she kept coming into the waiting area trying to explain that she had done all that she could have done to make the deal happen. She kept bring up the favor she did for my friend who works at the radio station.
• The supervisor, John Doe, came in and I explained everything that was previously mentioned here including not being able to speak with her. He seemed surprised that I had no documentation for the sale of the vehicle and said he would go get the copies. I also mentioned that I had yet to receive my plate for my vehicle and the temporary sticker had expired three days prior.
• When he came back with the paperwork, he went over everything with me as this was my first time being explained and shown this paperwork. I looked over the paperwork and recognized my signature in several places and at time it dawned on me that these were documents that I had signed were filled in later including an extended warranty for $1,380.00 that I never authorized nor needed as the vehicle was still under the manufacturers five year/100,000 mile warranty.
• He then pointed out the price of the vehicle on the sales sheet, which to my surprise was not the $17,999 plus taxes and title that I assumed I was paying, but was well over $22,925.00. I emphasized and expressed certainty that the sign on the truck was $17,999 and he responded, “Do you have proof?” He then said that the only thing he can say is if you want your money back the only way to get it would be to sue. At this point, I explained that I want the truck and like the truck, I just want to pay what the truck was originally advertised as.
• He then expressed that the deal is done and it is out of his hands. I was frustrated and decided to leave. I began to drive home and realized after driving almost half of the way home, that I was still driving on an expired temporary sticker, not to mention they let me leave with that expired temp plate.
I generally felt that I was taken advantage of, rushed under dourest, and all around cheated. At this point I still want the vehicle, but would like to have the things that are wrong with the vehicle repaired or replaced. I would like to pay the $17,999 plus taxes, 16.99% interest, fees, and title that was originally advertised for that vehicle. Since I have purchased this vehicle and I hear an advertisement for “Jane Doe the credit diva” or the name LaFontaine, I immediately become overwhelmed with frustration and anger. Her entire attitude and demeanor when trying to speak with her, made me feel as if she already knew that I was going to have a problem from the start. She tried to hide behind the finance company as if it was their fault, when she originally wrote the deal up. Any mention of Barb Van or the name LaFontaine in my opinion is the very definition of crooks. My first payment is not due yet and I have had this vehicle for approximately two weeks yet I genuinely feel like I was ripped off. This sounds and seems illegal and definitely immoral and needs to be investigated. Until this happens, I will pass this along to other dealers as a blueprint of how not to treat customers. My credit situation was clearly used against me in order to better benefit the dealer and not help me as a consumer. I will be notifying the state, Nissan, as well as every regulatory agency that investigates or monitors these types of business practices.
At this point, what I am going to do is to continue to distribute this letter as I have already sent copies to Nissan Customer Service Department and the Michigan State Attorney General. This letter will reach all media outlets such as television, newspaper, and even the radio stations, including the one in which you advertise.