This January, my ol' faithful truck finally exceeded its value in repair costs. I'd been thinking about replacing it for a few years, but my 1995 Toyota was nothing if not solid so it wasn't until my repair shop quoted me $500 to replace some parts that I figured it would be smart to use that money toward getting a new/used car instead of continuing to pump money into a dying car.
|M saying goodbye to the truck right before we traded it in|
I was planning to finance with a loan through my bank, but when I got to the dealership they offered me a 0.0% APR, 5 year loan. It sounded too good to be true! They ran a credit check and my credit score was excellent, so the deal proceeded. M and I read though the paperwork and everything looked great. I traded in my truck for $400 toward the new car price, and drove home that night in my new car. And that was the end, I thought.
|My 2011 Toyota Yaris!|
- Trade the 2011 Yaris I'd bought for a 2010 model and keep the same APR, or
- Resign my contract with a higher APR. The going rate for the 2011 was 3.74, but he was willing to resign at 2.74 to compensate me for the trouble
I was shocked, but not knowing any better said that I'd come back in to the dealership on Saturday and resign the new contract. That night, when M came home I told him what a bummer it was that my great deal didn't pan out. He was confused and angry on my behalf, and insisted I search online to see if they were legally able to force me to resign. The whole situation screamed "SCAM" to him, and so I began googling to see if anyone else had been in a similar position. I'm glad I did, because I found tons of message boards and attorney's pages describing what they called the "yo-yo", or in other cases, "spot delivery" scam.
In my case, it wasn't that my credit was bad, but that they offered me a deal that Toyota wouldn't finance. Whether it was an honest mistake or a tactic to get me in the door and buy the car (bait and switch scam), the dealer was refusing to pay the difference in interest costs and forcing me, the customer, to pay for their mess. I read through my contract with a fine-tooth comb and found two things:
- My contract was dependent on financing being approved. At the time, I took that to mean my credit had to check out, and since I saw the credit report and was told I was approved, I didn't think I had to worry about it. Now I realized they would use this clause to negate my contract since it wasn't approved by Toyota.
- The third option: Instead of resigning or trading in my vehicle, my contract said I could return the Yaris if the contract wasn't approved, and receive my trade-in or downpayment back.
Then, earlier this week, I got my first bill for the Yaris. I held my breath, and went to their financial website to check out the terms. My 0.0% APR was right there in black and white. Is it over? I'm not sure, but my guess is that the dealer's legal department decided it would be more profitable to just pay the difference in interest than to take back a "new" car with 1500 miles on it and try to resell it. Not to mention the legal complications from them having sold my trade-in already. And now that I've made my first payment to Toyota, I imagine they'll have even less of a leg to stand on.
The moral of the story (and how it related to weddings!)
READ YOUR CONTRACT. We, as brides, hear this all the time, but it's not just about making sure the price and date is correct. It's about knowing your rights as a customer and covering yourself if the vendor promises you one thing and delivers something else. If there is a mistake on the big day or any of the days leading up to it, don't let your vendor push you around into paying for something that wasn't your fault. Remember, weddings are a billion-dollar industry and there be sharks in them waters.
Finally, be prepared to walk away. I love my little Yaris and would have been sad to return it and have to start the car buying process all over again. But I knew I did not want to sign another contract with a dealership that had already proven I had little value to them as a customer. When I said I wanted to return my car and cancel the contract, I meant it, and was fully ready to walk away.