Depending on your needs and budget, purchasing an SUV can be a significant financial commitment but also a worthwhile experience. While most dealers can be trusted, there are always those who will try to take advantage of you or sell you a dud.
You should never forget that standing up to dishonest dealerships is the best way to ensure the safety of yourself and others. There are steps you can take if you have experienced dishonesty or poor service from a car dealership.
Dishonest or unprofessional things a dealership might do
You may have experienced some dishonest or unprofessional practices at car dealerships if you’ve ever tried to buy a used car or negotiate a good price on a new one. These car lots may use deceptive practices of varying types. Here are some examples of things they might do that aren’t honest or professional:
- Falsely advertising an incredibly low price that is either unavailable to most buyers or does not take into account additional costs. This violates several laws that protect the rights of consumers and is therefore illegal.
- Selling you a car that has failed a safety inspection or has major flaws that weren’t disclosed to you. You and those around you could be in danger, and the cost of fixing the damage could be several thousand dollars.
- Fabricating the vehicle’s background, condition, mileage, or warranty in some way. The vehicle’s value and functionality may suffer, and you could be held legally responsible if the car is used in an accident or a crime.
- Intimidating you into signing a contract or loan agreement with questionable or unfair terms. This can prevent you from getting out of a contract you didn’t fully understand or one that isn’t in your best interest.
How to avoid dealerships that aren’t honest or provide poor service
Do your homework before buying a new or used car to protect yourself from unethical dealership tactics. It’s important to shop around, research the car’s background, give it a thorough inspection, and get a second opinion from a trusted mechanic. You should also ask questions and make sure you fully understand the contract or loan agreement. Do not put your signature on anything that you do not fully understand or with which you do not feel completely at ease.
Here are some pointers to help you avoid purchasing an SUV from a dishonest or unprofessional dealer:
- Carry out your research. Do some preliminary online research on the makes, models, prices, features, and reviews of the SUVs you’re interested in before setting foot in a dealership’s lot. Check out the ratings and reviews left by previous buyers, and compare the prices and services offered by various vendors. Any SUV you’re thinking about buying should be researched using resources like Carfax or Autotrader.
- Compare prices. Don’t buy the first SUV you see or visit the first dealership for. Drive a variety of SUVs from different dealerships to get a feel for their handling, interior, and overall build quality. Inquire and haggle over the price and other terms. Don’t be rushed into making a decision or signing a contract before giving it careful consideration.
- Check the SUV thoroughly. Before agreeing to the purchase or taking delivery of any SUV, a thorough inspection should be performed to look for any damage, wear, or defects. Check for any obvious flaws like dings, scratches, rust, leaks, cracks, or mismatched components. The tires, brakes, lights, windows, doors, seats, and dashboard should all be inspected. Take note of any strange noises or sensations. Get a professional mechanic’s opinion on the used SUV if you can.
- Look over the paperwork. Verify that all of the information is correct and complete before signing any documents. Verify the mileage, title, warranty, and sales agreement, as well as the vehicle identification number (VIN). Verify that the total price is what you expect it to be, and that you fully grasp the terms and conditions of the agreement. Ask questions or leave the situation if anything seems off.
- Don’t second-guess yourself. Something that seems too good to be true or odd in some other way probably is. Don’t do business with a dealer who comes across as rude, pushy, dishonest, or unprofessional. Keep your guard up if you come across an SUV that is priced significantly lower than the going rate, has low mileage, and has no history report. Trust your gut and look elsewhere if you have reservations about purchasing an SUV from a dealer.
How to Make a Complaint About a Dealership
It’s normal to feel frustrated and even angry if something goes wrong with your vehicle or the service you received at the dealership. You may want your complaint to be heard and dealt with in a satisfactory manner. What steps should be taken, though? Here are some suggestions for making your voice heard at a Canadian car dealership if you have a complaint.
Explain the problem in detail
Make sure you have your purchase agreement, warranty, service records, receipts, etc., on hand before calling the dealership. Note the time and date of the incident, the nature of the problem, the impact on your life, and the resolution you seek from the dealership.
Make contact with the right person
There may be several people at the dealership who can help you with your problem. If you’re unhappy with your car’s performance or quality, for instance, you could try addressing your concerns with the service manager or the technician who worked on your vehicle.
Contact the sales manager or the finance manager if you’re having issues with your contract or payment. The customer service representative or the dealership’s general manager are good places to start if you are unsure of who to ask for help.
Be courteous and respectful
Keep your cool and be polite to the salespeople at the dealership, even if you’re feeling angry or frustrated. Try not to get angry, use foul language, threaten them, or belittle them. If you do this, they will become defensive and less likely to aid you.
Explain the issue clearly and concisely while maintaining a firm but polite tone. Demonstrate that you are an understanding and helpful customer who is looking for a fair resolution to the problem.
Stay persistent, but keep your expectations in check
The first person you talk to may not always have the answer you’re looking for. In that case, you may want to talk to the dealership’s owner or regional manager about your concerns.
If you’d rather deal with the Vehicle Sales Authority (VSA) or speak with the manufacturer directly, you can do so. However, you must be realistic about what you hope to gain from the dealership. If you’ve been too rough on your car or the warranty has expired, you might not be able to get it fixed. After a contract is signed, it may be impossible to change or cancel it without incurring a fee.
Always document your conversations
Keep a record of every communication you have with the dealership or any other party regarding your complaint. This includes the date and time, as well as the person’s name and position, as well as what was said and agreed upon.
You can also ask for a written confirmation or receipt of any action the dealership takes, such as a repair order, refund check, or cancellation notice. This will assist you in keeping track of your complaint and providing evidence in the event of a disagreement or legal action.
The dealership didn’t respond; what should I do?
The Vehicle Sales Authority (VSA) is where British Columbians can go to lodge complaints against licensed auto dealers and salespeople.
The VSA investigates individual complaints, and you can find a Consumer Complaint Form on their website. The form is available for download here, and once completed, it can be sent via email to email@example.com or via fax to 604-575-7049.
If you have any complaints, you can also report them to Consumer Protection BC. They have a complaint form available on their site and will mediate disputes up to $35,000 in the BC Provincial Court.
You can contact the BBB if you have suspicions that a company you’re doing business with is acting dishonestly or illegally.
Finding a good deal on a dependable vehicle at a dealership can be stressful and time-consuming, but it can also be rewarding. You can avoid losing your hard-earned cash to dishonest or incompetent car dealers if you know how to avoid common pitfalls and scams perpetrated by some of them.