Thursday, July 9, 2009

High River Toyota

I'm no lawyer, so I am not sure how this all works, but I wanted to recount our woes of working with High River Toyota, without slandering their name. This isn't about gossip or about defamation, it's about our experiences with this particular dealership. Make your judgement call according to your opinion of the situation. This will be pure fact.

To start off, a little background on the matter: my car, a 99 chevy cavalier (2.4L), broke down in Westlock, Alberta, on my way back down to Airdrie, Alberta. It needed a new engine and we felt the high expense of doing so wasn't really justified (particularly after having the car in the shop twice already this year after only purchasing it last fall) and so began our search for a new vehicle, in particular a small-sized 4X4 truck (Sonoma, Tacoma, Dakota, S10 etc), which would be particularly practical for my work with the horses as well as driving Alberta's "wonderful" wintertime roads.

I was stuck in High Prairie and thanks to the boyfriend's work schedule, we did not get down to Airdrie until last Tuesday late evening. Wednesday we spent the day searching for vehicles and getting things done around home that needed doing (including preparing one of our horses to ride in the Calgary Stampede Parade), Thursday we spent the day searching for vehicles and preparing our horse, Friday we were in the Stampede Parade and looked at vehicles once more, and Saturday we spent looking at vehicles again. We had until Sunday morning to find a vehicle; my boyfriend would be headed back to work that morning and thus would no longer be able to help me in our purchase of a vehicle. Saturday, our first stop was a 2000 GMC Sonoma ZR2 at High River Toyota. The vehicle was advertised for I think it was $7,000 and had the most potential yet - worth the one-hour trip down to High River.

The dealership was very busy when we went down, so we were understanding when the salesmen were unable to be as attentive to us as usual and seemed a bit rude (we brushed it off to his being busy). The vehicle was red, had a front grill, a box liner, had a third door, was a standard, and had only 120,000km on it. We took it for a test drive around town and on the highway and fell in love with it. It was the best vehicle we'd seen yet. We found the salesman once more, returned the keys, and followed him inside to sign some papers.

After some deliberation, he agreed to sell the vehicle to us for $6,500 on the conditions that it met inspection (and thus any repair needs would be met at that time) and the windshield would be replaced. He refused to write down the conditions in full detail because he didn't want to "tell the mechanics how to do their jobs" and so simply wrote, "inspection" and "glass". After signing the appropriate papers, he then sent us on to a man in financing.

At one point when going over financing the vehicle, the Financer commented something to the effect that "oh, so you're leaving it to the last day" in regards to our purchasing a vehicle. We felt the man was critical and judgmental of us and did not leave with a good feeling. However, it was a good price, though we needed to find our own financing. We thought, though we weren't particularly fond of the Financer or Salesman, that we could get a good deal and be rid of them soon enough. Rather than looking for further vehicles, we spent the day rushing back to Airdrie for some paperwork and back into Calgary to a bank appointment to acquire the appropriate financing. Afterwards we took a well-deserved break after so little sleep the past several days, as we had finally found the vehicle, signed the papers, gotten the financing, and were simply waiting for the red tape to clear. Or so we thought.

The vehicle was not to be inspected until Monday, so I vowed to call on Tuesday to see where it was at. Monday I received a call from Salesman guy telling me there were a few things wrong with the vehicle as per the inspection. It needed rear brakes, the windshield needed replacing, so did the power mirror switch, the rear shocks were leaking fluid, and the outer tie rods needed replacing. It could not pass inspection until this was done, yet for the dealership to do the work would cost them a lot of money (= less profit). So, he made us a deal. $4,500 for the vehicle, as is - we do the repairs ourselves but we still get the 1,000,000 warranty provided we service the vehicle at their dealership as specified. I did the research and calculated that to do the repairs ourselves would actually save us money on the vehicle, and the repairs were all minor. I countered back at $4,200, he said he'd call me back. He returned my call shortly after, telling me he'd spoken to the owner, who'd said that $4,200 was the absolute lowest he could go on the vehicle. I told him we were in, just that I wanted to see the inspection report and that we had a few minor details to work out. I had a few questions, and Salesman guy tells me he'll return my call with the answers, and the inspection report, the next day.

Tuesday I call by the end of the day and Salesman guy's got no answers for me. The mechanic is not in so he's got no inspection report for me. (He didn't know the mechanic wouldn't be in yesterday when I spoke with him?) I say fine, call me tomorrow when the report is in.

Wednesday I get a call from Salesman guy telling me there's more wrong with the vehicle. I ask him what is wrong, he replies the Mechanic is saying something about the tires being too big? I tell him that's not a problem (we'd planned on replacing the brand-new tires, which had DEEP tread, with some more moderate tires anyways), is there anything else wrong with the vehicle?
-Well, yea.
-Okay, like what?
He mumbles something or other about nothing in particular - he doesn't have the inspection report in front of him, he doesn't know the full details, yada yada yada
-Okay, is there anything else wrong with the vehicle other than the tie rods/rear shocks/rear brakes/power switch?
-Well, yea, the windshield
-Okay, but is there ANYTHING ELSE wrong with this vehicle other than what you mentioned to me yesterday?
-Well, no
Okay then, what's the problem (my thoughts). The guy starts rambling on again, and I get the feeling he is trying to convince me NOT to buy the vehicle now. Yesterday he was desperately trying to convince me TO purchase the vehicle. What the heck? I call the boyfriend up and explain to him the situation - I'm frustrated and confused as to what is going on with this truck. He calls the owner. The owner explains to him the Mechanic's report is not ready for him today but that he will get it to him tomorrow. He'll sell the vehicle to us for $4,500 though - as is, without warranty. Okay, fine. Wait, $4,500?? My boyfriend points out we'd already agreed to $4,200. And hadn't this allegedly been discussed with the owner yesterday when I went back and forth with the Salesman? Did he forget? Or was he never asked? Okay, $4,200 then.

We're still thinking this is a good deal for the vehicle, even without the warranty. But things are looking a little fishy, so we decide between us to get a second inspection on the vehicle. Either way, my boyfriend is set to finalize the details tomorrow and I am set to pick the vehicle up Friday.

Thursday (today) my boyfriend calls me to tell me there is more wrong with the vehicle. Not only that, but the dealership now wants $4,200 for the vehicle, PLUS $2,500 for the repairs for it to pass inspection. And we still don't get any warranty. Wait a minute, weren't we purchasing the vehicle as is to have the work done ourselves?? So now, somehow, we're expected to pay $6,700 for this vehicle, despite the contract we drew up last week? Then we get the inspection report in. Not only has this vehicle allegedly been used for off-roading (news to us, despite being obviously being in contact over this vehicle for the past week), but it has an entire plethora of problems. Not only are we being told that the Salesman we originally dealt with has not shown up for work (in this economy??) the past two days (and he doesn't work Friday), but we are also being told that the vehicle can no longer be sold to us for the above agreed-upon price and that the owner would rather take the vehicle to auction, where he can get more money for it. But, they have a 2007 Ford Ranger they (the dealership, according to the owner), are willing to sell to us at cost!

So this past week we were jacked back and forth - we're buying the vehicle, we're not buying the vehicle, we're buying the vehicle, we're not buyi- it was frustrating, disappointing, and, to be honest, disrespectful. I do not know whether these "mistakes" were made honestly or if we were simply duped, but I'll leave the fishiness and holes in the story up to you. My sole intent in writing this was to perhaps help get the word out in regards to this dealership's scrupules. I will update as necessary. I was really looking forward to picking up this vehicle and now instead have to look forward to searching for a new vehicle on my own, in between work, without the aid of my knowledgeable boyfriend (who cannot get away from work), which will admitedly be a financial risk for us (though there are some precautions we will be taking for sure). I would never recommend this dealership and will be taking my complaints as high up as I possibly can (Toyota associates? BBB?). So much is just not adding up about this vehicle. I also wanted to point out that the vehicle drove great. Despite tie rods allegedly needing to be replaced. It drove great on the highway, at highway speeds - no steering wheel shake, no nothing. It braked fabulously, shifted smoothly, had no apparent leaks, and was all-round a great vehicle to drive (and in great shape too - a very flashy truck). Yet it is allegedly falling apart and was used for off-roading (which we were only told afterwards?).

Good luck to those of you purchasing vehicles, it's a rough world out there and seemingly no-one is to be trusted.

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