Today I’m going to tell you a true story about how a big, bad company tried to steal my money and how I told them kiss the part of my body that I sit on.
It all started when I decided to get rid of my expensive, stupid 350Z and buy a less expensive vehicle. That is a whole story by itself (which you can read here), but this story picks up right where I am signing my lease papers for a 2010 Toyota Camry. If you’re wondering why I decided to lease instead of buy, check it out.
Driving Off the Lot
I decided to lease a new car just days before taking a 1,200 mile round-trip journey to St. Louis. I was about to spend a week in my hometown with my girlfriend, and I wanted to get into a new car with better gas mileage and more space than the 350Z.
I decided on a Camry and was ready to make my purchase. I qualified for the 0% lease for 36 months, and also qualified for a $1,000 recent college graduate credit. I was underwater (owed more on the loan than the car was worth) on my 350Z so I had to pay a little extra each month to cover the difference. I also got GAP insurance, which would make sure I don’t lose thousands of dollars if I totaled the car, which was another eight or nine bucks a month.
My total monthly payments came to about $232. I was ready to start my lease so I gave the dealer about $2,000 for my first month’s payment and tax, title, and license fees. Which, by the way, is a great reason not to buy or lease new cars all the time. That stupid crap is expensive! I signed the papers, gave them the keys to my old car, hopped into my new Camry and drove away.
In a normal situation, this is where the story would end. They would just send me a monthly bill and I would pay it for the next 36 months. This, however, was not a normal situation.
“We Need More Information”
As I mentioned before, I literally bought the car days before taking a road trip from Dallas to St. Louis. I was in the car driving through Oklahoma when I got a phone call from the dealer.
“Hi Kevin, it’s Gregory House from the Toyota Dealership. (note: his name wasn’t actually Gregory House, but it was a different character from that TV show. My favorite thing about him) I just wanted to let you know that we’re going to need some additional paperwork from you for your lease.”
“Um… I’ve already signed the contract and driven the car off the lot. How can you possibly need more paperwork?” I replied.
“We need your most recent paycheck stub because [insert B.S. reason here]. You were really supposed to give us that information before we gave you the car. Can you bring it in today?”
“I’m driving to St. Louis, and you never asked for that information. I won’t be back in Dallas for about a week. I will email it to you when I get a chance.”
“Okay great, thanks Kevin.”
He then proceeded to call me at least three more times over the next 36 hours asking for the information. I told him that I was on vacation and would get to it when I had time. I finally logged onto my work computer and sent it off, just to get him off my back. I thought it was finally over.
I thought wrong.
“We Need You to Sign Some Papers”
When I got back into town, I got another phone call from my friend Gregory House. “Hey Kevin, since we didn’t have your paycheck stubs, we had to redo your loan and you’ll have to come in and sign some more paperwork. Can you come in?”
At this point I was so tired of the phone calls, I just wanted to get this over with. Plus, they still had to pay off my old car loan, so if I didn’t make them happy and they didn’t pay off that loan, I would have started to default on the loan. I went into the office and talked to a woman I had never met before.
“Hi Kevin, I just wanted to let you know that it turns out you don’t qualify for the $1,000 recent college graduate credit. We get that credit from corporate and we thought you would be eligible I was just wondering how you would like to pay that balance.”
There was no talk about signing these elusive “papers” they asked me to come in for. Nothing about re-doing the loan. No mention of the paycheck stubs they made me submit. Once I was in their office, they told me that I owed them $1,000.
Give Us $1,000
“I’m sorry ma’am, but I am not going to pay that balance,” I replied. “We already signed a contract. I’m going to pay $232 a month for this car, just like my contract says I will.”
“Well, the car isn’t actually more expensive,” she retorted. “It’s the same price, it’s just that we need the extra $1,000 from you instead of corporate.”
“I understand what you’re saying ma’am, but I wouldn’t have bought the car if I were going to have to pay an extra $1,000 for it. I’d like to speak with your manager.”
She left to get her manager, and a few minutes later he came in and told me the same story I heard from the woman a few minutes ago. He asked me what I wanted to do.
“Well, I’ll leave it up to you,” I said. “You have two options. You can pull my 350z around and give me the keys. You can also cut me a check for the $2,000 I already paid for tax, title and license. Then I’ll give you the keys to the Camry that has already been driven 1,500 miles, and we’ll call it even. Or, you can let me pay $232 a month like we agreed to originally.”
I knew that they had probably already sold my 350Z to a different car dealership. And if they hadn’t, they would have fixed the holes in the convertible top and given it a new paint job. I also knew they didn’t want the Camry back with 1,500 miles on it. At this point, I was actually hoping to get my 350Z back with thousands of dollars worth of free repairs.
“Well, you know what Kevin,” the manager replied. “$1,000 isn’t worth making you angry. I’ll take care of this. You just make your payments according to the original agreement.”
Thanks for Wasting My Time
At the end of the day, I didn’t pay a penny more than I agreed to in my original contract. I also never signed those imaginary “papers” they mentioned to get me to show up to the dealership. To be honest, I doubt I even got rejected for the college grad credit. They probably just said that to try to get more money out of me.
I learned a very valuable lesson from this situation. When you know you’re right, stick to your guns. Especially once you’ve signed a contract, don’t let anyone tell you something different from what you agreed to.
For the future, I’m a little worried about turning my car in at the end of my lease. I’m afraid they’ve tagged my name in their system and that they are going to try to make bogus claims about stuff being broken when I turn in the car. I’m going to get the car inspected by a mechanic I trust and take pictures and video of it before I turn it in. Hopefully this will be enough proof to fight any more or their lies.
Let me know what you think about this situation. Have you ever had such a horrible experience with a company?