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28 January 2019

The Adventure of Purchasing a Truck

Victory Found

The adventure began on July 14, 2017, when Melissa inquired about a truck on the AutoNation website.  The Salesman gave Melissa the information she requested and some additional information about a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD in Victory Red they had received on trade with only 35,000 miles. This truck seemed too good to be true. Melissa immediately responded. Putting a reserve deposit on it so we could drive over from Montana and look at it on Sunday.  At this point, we were not thinking about towing a 5th wheel. We were only thinking of getting an in bed camper to use on weekends and vacations so we could expand our hiking. We wanted to be ready to make the purchase as quickly as possible, so Melissa also contacted our Credit Union and lined up financing and verified the values of vehicles. That way if we decided to make the purchase then all we would need to do is to sign the papers and be on our way.  Little did we know that was just the beginning of what would be a long adventure through AutoNation.

A Sunday Drive

Upon arrival that fateful Sunday morning, we were happy to find the truck in the lot for customer parking and not out on the main sales lot.  We went to the showroom, from here things slowly started to go downhill. We walked to the counter where we saw a few Salespeople standing around and asked for the Salesman that Melissa was working with, as he said he would be expecting us that morning.  It took them a while to realize that he was not there, so they found another Salesman to help us.

After telling the new Salesman our story, he went inside to find the keys to the truck. After a long wait, we were able to look inside of the truck. At the time we looked at it, we thought that it would meet our needs.  It even had several upgrades already installed, air springs, a 5th wheel hitch, and the tailgate for a 5th wheel. We went back inside so they could get the information they needed so we could do a test drive. It was a little concerning when the Salesman inquired if the shop had done its safety checks on the truck.  No one was sure if it had been, they assured us that it was just a safety inspection that they do on all trades. After a long wait for them to figure it out, we were able to take the truck for the test drive. Things seemed to be turning around. The truck drove great, and it checked all the boxes for what we were looking to do with it at that time and even included those bonus upgrades.   

Let’s Make a Deal

When we got back to AutoNation, we sat down with the Salesman to start the negotiation. We let the Salesman know that we had already secured financing through our Credit Union and that we would be trading our car. We gave him the payoff information on the car and what we wanted to pay for the truck. Knowing that they would lowball us on our the trade-in, we made a low offer on the 2005 Silverado. After about a 20 minute wait they came back with a counter offer that of course was overpricing the truck and undervaluing the car. We again countered with a proposal that was closer to what we were willing to accept for the car and willing to pay for the truck. When the Salesman returned, he asked if they could discuss financing options with us to get us around a payment that we would fit us. We agreed to hear what they could offer us.  We had our doubts that they would be able to beat the Credit Union’s rate.

The “Finance Manager”

The Salesman brought over the “Finance Manager” so we could finish the negotiation and discuss financing. We shared the rate from our Credit Union with him, and he acted a bit surprised that we were able to get such a low rate. In the same breath, he stated that he might be able to beat it. However, he would need to make a few calls.  The Finance Manager gave us their credit application to fill out.

We knew this drill, had done it many times and our results had always been the same, the dealers financing never beats our Credit Union. The Finance Manager left while we filled the form out, but the Salesman stayed.  Our Salesman promptly took the application to the Finance Manager once we had completed it.

After what seemed like an eternity the  Finance Manager returned with a few financing options that he said was the best he could do on a Sunday without talking to “his guy” who he would call first thing Monday. None of the rates he offered us were as low our Credit Union.  He reiterated that he would for sure be able to match our Credit Union come Monday.

The Finance Manager then had us follow him to his office so we could discuss the other services and products that they had to offer.   We looked over the options he gave us and politely told him that the extended warranty, paint and fabric protection were of no interest to us.  However, we would listen to what he had to say. After working in retail management, for many years I had a good understanding of how extended warranties, product protection plans, and product insurance work.  I had to deal with many customers that had purchased these and were unable to use them, as the cashier explained to them. Since this truck, at the time, was 11-years-old it would be pushing the limit of any extended warranty, and we knew that we would have to follow every little bit of the fine print to get anything covered.

We thanked the Finance Manager for going over the details and went back to negotiating terms of the sale. We gave our final price, and of course, the Finance Manager counters with an offer that fell with the limits of what we thought we should get out of the car and pay for the truck.  We asked if he could give us a few minutes to talk about their offer.

Term of Acceptance

When the Finance Manager returned we let him know that we accepted the terms of sale. However, we wanted to use our Credit Union for the financing since he did not match the rate we already had. The Finance Manager stated that we were more than welcome to use our Credit Union.  But, since it was Sunday and he could not contact any of the banks, we need to choose one of the options that he gave us to purchase the truck that day. At this point, the deal did not feel quite right. Melissa offered to pay with a check right then and there, knowing our Credit Union would work their magic into making it our loan. The Finance Manager told us with the banks not being open; we would need to choose one of the finance options so we could leave with it today.  He assured us that if he could not match our Credit Union rate on Monday, that he would contact our Credit Union himself and get them the information they would need to secure financing on the truck. So, we took the offer that was closest our Credit Union, which was from another Credit Union. He started the paperwork for us to sign, after 2 ½ hours we would soon be done, so we thought. Boy, we were in for a funding surprise later!

We gave him the keys to our car and a credit card for the $2000 down payment. Yes, we made the down payment on a credit card.  We figured if a card company will give us cash back for using their card and not require a carried balance than we will. We let him know that we had already removed all of our personal effects from the car. They then informed us that we would not be leaving with the truck that day. Though we could pick it up in a couple of days after it had been through the shop and detailed. We reminded him that we drove in from Columbia Falls, MT and did not want to return for the truck in a couple of days. He got on the phone with the Sales Manager and had him talk to us so we could arrange to exchange the two vehicles.  They also informed us that we would not be getting the hitch and 5th wheel tailgate, however, the original factory tailgate would be put back on. The Sales Manager stated that the previous owner wanted them and would be bringing down the tailgate we had not seen yet. Up to this point, we based our negations on these item remaining on the truck; we felt so deceived. At that time we had no idea we would need them since we intended to do a truck bed camper. The Sales Manager also stated that they still needed to do their final inspection before they could release the truck.

Yes, we probably should have torn up the sales agreement, asked for a refund on our card and walked away. However, we knew that finding a truck with such low mileage is rare especially for an 11-year-old vehicle.  We had already been looking for several months only finding trucks a couple of years old with the same low mileage, and they still cost as much as a new truck. We set the vehicle exchange date with the Sales Manager for the following weekend. Little did we know it would take a full two weeks before we would have the truck.  We gathered up the paperwork and went back to Melissa’s parent’s house to get our overnight bag, then had dinner with them before heading back home.

The Baking Fiasco

Monday morning Melissa called our Credit Union to let them know what was happening and to give them the details of the truck so they would be ready to process the loan. By the afternoon Melissa still had not heard from the Finance Manager on what he was able to do for a rate. She contacted our Credit Union via email, and they informed her that they had no contact with them.  As always, our Credit Union was on top of things by sending the loan document for our signature. Then they would have payment ready for AutoNation, as soon as the next day. Melissa called AutoNation, again left a message for the Finance Manager to call her as soon as he had a free minute, leaving her cell number with the receptionist. Melissa had also been calling and emailing the Salesman we worked with on Sunday as well as the original Salesman that she first contacted online.  None of them ever responded. As the 5 o’clock hour approached Melissa thought she should give AutoNation a call. They again told her that the Finance Manager was with another customer and he would call her back when he was no longer with that customer. So, Melissa asked the receptionist to inform the Finance Manager that they needed to contact our Credit Union, they already processed the loan and needed to know how they wanted payment, again leaving her number. Of course, Monday ended without a return phone call, text or return email from AutoNation to either our Credit Union or us.

Tuesday morning Melissa called our Credit Union to see if they heard from AutoNation, the Credit Union said they had not, and they had been trying to get ahold of someone in the accounting or finance department, unsuccessfully.  She let Melissa know that she would continue to try to get ahold of someone to get payment to them so we could pick up Chevy Silverado. Once again Melissa called AutoNation to get ahold of the Finance Manager, this time they informed her that he had the day off and that they would take a message to give to him Wednesday.  This information perturbed her, and she passed this information onto our Credit Union. They let her know that they would continue trying to get ahold of someone to find out how AutoNation wants the payment and they have not had this trouble with them in the past. Melissa was ready to drive over to Spokane to get some answers but resisted.

Wednesday morning not wanting to wait for a call from AutoNation Melissa called them as they were opening so she could avoid them telling her that “he was with a customer.” Instead,  they let her know that he was in a meeting and she could leave a message, and as soon as he got out of the meeting, she would get a phone call. Melissa again let the receptionist know what it regarded as well as her cell phone number.  A couple of hours pass, so Melissa calls AutoNation, and as you guessed it, the Finance Manager was with a customer. Melissa asked the receptionist how to get a return call from this guy or who else to speak with so they could get paid from our Credit Union for the truck.  The receptionist said that she would personally make sure that Melissa would receive a return call within the hour, Melissa had her doubts telling her that this was day three of not getting a callback. Twenty minutes later he finally called, letting her know that he got a generous rate, still higher than the Credit Union and through one of the banks that we had told him not to use, Wells Fargo. The Finance Manager also told Melissa that we should be getting the paperwork on it soon. Melissa asked why he did not use our Credit Union. That she had been leaving him messages, sent emails and that our Credit Union had left messages as well to get payment to them. The Finance Manager told her that he never received any.  He proceeded to say he we should have received a voicemail on Monday about the rate he got us. If we wanted to use our Credit Union, we would need to call before the end of the day or that they would go ahead and use the loan they found for us. A message that he must have left someone else or he did not bother to call because we never received a voicemail. He proceeded to tell her that we were still more than welcome to use our Credit Union. However, we need to contact Wells Fargo and work with them to get the loan transferred. Melissa was not having any of that. As soon as she got off the phone with him, she immediately gave me a call and sent an email to our Credit Union. Melissa gave me the rundown of her morning and the information I need to take the next step, as the loan was in my name.

I first called Wells Fargo, after several failed attempts with the automated phone system I got an actual person to help locate the loan.  I gave the story of what was happening and what I wanted to get accomplished. After searching the system, she found the loan information and saw why it did not immediately come up. It was because they had submitted the loan documents recently, as in that morning. She then informed me that the best thing for me to do would be to have AutoNation cancel the loan. I chuckled a little bit and comment “now if it was truly going to be that easy,” I thanked her for her help, and she wished me luck.

Help From Above

Once I was off the phone with Wells Fargo, I started looking for the AutoNation’s national phone number, since the local dealership never seemed to respond to us. After some digging on their website, I found a number to call. After going several rounds with the automated system, I finally got ahold of someone that asked who she could direct my phone call too.  I gave her our situation, and what I wanted to accomplish so she could help find the best person for my circumstance. She asked which dealership I was working with so she could get me to the Sales Manager of that dealership. I informed her that our Credit Union, my wife and now myself had been trying to get the Finance Manager to return one of our messages over the last three days. They had more than enough opportunities to resolve our situation.

She asked that I hold for a minute while she found someone that could help me. Fairly quickly she let me know that she would be transferring me to someone that could help.  I went over the whole ordeal and that all we ever wanted was to finance the truck through our Credit Union. I do not recall ever getting his title, but shortly after getting off the phone with him, I received a call from the Sales Manager.  The Sales Manager assured me that he would have everything straightened out by the end of the day. I also got a call from the Finance Manager, and he let me know that they would work with our Credit Union for payment on the truck. He also told me that I needed to contact Wells Fargo to cancel the loan. I informed him that I had already been in contact with Wells Fargo I then let the Finance Manager know what Wells Fargo told me, that AutoNation should be the one to cancel the loan.

The Swap

On Thursday morning Melissa followed up with the Salesman that would deliver the truck to us on Saturday and take back our car that was the trade-in. He did not want to drive all the way to Columbia Falls, MT to do the swap that was set up at the dealership. Instead, the Salesman wished to us to meet him in Missoula, MT, which is a 5-hour round trip for us.  So, Melissa let him know that he would have an answer after she spoke with me. Melissa told me about the new meeting point, and after we gave it some thought, we figured that it would be best if we drove to Spokane to swap at the dealership. We would already be halfway to Spokane and would feel better if a ‘stranger’ was not hot rodding the truck over to us or damage our trade in any manner. Melissa called the Salesman back letting him know that we would be at the Spokane dealership first thing when they opened Saturday and to have everything ready.  The Salesman said okay, and he would work on detailing the truck this afternoon.

When we arrived in Spokane on Friday night, we drove by the dealership and saw the Chevy Silverado in the customer delivery area, and it looked ready to go.  Saturday morning we drove in and did not see the truck where it had been just hours before. We went inside to give them the keys to the car and take care of any remaining paperwork.   We asked for the Salesman, and of course, no one knew where he was. We waited impatiently in the lobby. They later located him in the detail bay with the truck, and they informed us that he wanted to get the rain spots off of it.

Once he returned they began to finalize everything: gave us the keys to the truck, let us look it over,  we signed the remaining paperwork, took our MT plates off our car and gave them the keys to the car. We were given a three-day trip permit to drive the truck home since we were out of state.  After about an hour we were finally in possession of the truck and ready to head home. While it only took a week to get the truck, our adventure would continue for a couple of more weeks.

The DMV

We contacted the Montana DMV to find out how much a temp would cost us, which was a bit much. Knowing that we wanted to do permanent plates, we figured we could wait for AutoNation to get the title paperwork filled out and sent to the DMV.  After all, we still had our other vehicles to dive and did not need to drive the truck right away. On the last day for AutoNation to get the paperwork to the DMV, we got a call that the paperwork had arrived and that we could come down to get our plates.  

In the meantime, we still had the Wells Fargo loan that needed our follow up. Which only took three weeks to ensure that AutoNation canceled the loan.

That was our Adventure through AutoNation, and we hope to see you on the road.

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