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On Monday 06/27/2011 my wife, 4mo old son, and I met with a Honda Sales Consultant at Don Jacobs Honda in Lexington KY for a prescheduled test drive of a new 2011 Honda Odyssey EX-L with RES. We quickly learned that this vehicle had been removed in a dealer trade earlier that day, but did spend approximately an hour with another van (EX-L w/o RES). When we returned the salesman informed us that his sales manager was confident that we could get the original van we were interested in returned to their lot, and we went into the sales office to discuss the details.

The salesman divided a sheet of paper into two sections, top for the details of the van purchase, and bottom for the details of our trade. In inquiring about our trade he took our vehicle’s general information (mileage, features, accident history, and existing loan payoff). I then inquired about the existing loan (discussed as “just under $3000”), and asked if it would be beneficial for me to simply pay it off today before the trade, or trade the car in with the existing loan. He recommended just leaving the loan on it, stating that it would make no difference to them and would be easier for me. This is what we agreed to move forward with.

We moved on to discussion of the van’s price, to which he suggested that I throw out an opening price, which I did. After taking my price back to his manager he said that this price was a little too low, so I suggested that we table the discussion of the van while I thought about that, and let them go ahead and appraise our trade. After about 45 min he came back with an offer of $13,500 on the trade.

He suggested that I make another offer, I spent a few minutes and came up with an offer which essentially had the trade plus my check totaling invoice+tax. I thought their valuation of my trade was too low by $500-1000 so this would put them at a fair price.

He took this to his manager, and on his return I produced a copy of our trade’s payoff information (balance of $2,994.66) and handed it to him, stating that this was the exact number. He indicated that it was indeed correct as we had talked about “slightly under $3000” and pointed to the section of the sheet I had signed where he had written $3000 was owed on the trade.

He then said “I’m extending my hand, but going to pull it back, he (manager) took it with one condition, and since you are reasonable I know you’ll be OK with it.”

This condition was that I pay for the dealer installed splash guards and the cost of delivery from the other dealer. Their exact, written, counter offer was proposal was our trade, plus a check for $250 more than I had offered before. I had him look up the cost of the splash guards (he indicated it was “about $110”) and I proposed that I should not pay for the delivery of the van as it would also be putting miles on what would become my car, but I would pay $300 total for the splash guards and the addition of the All Weather floor mats and cargo tray.

He wrote this down and stated “you don’t need to sign again next to this one, we know exactly what you mean.”

He took this offer to his manager and returned, to shake my hand saying it was a done deal. My wife (this is her car, so we were putting it in her name) then signed a few documents (not the sales contract, just a privacy notice and another trade related document).

It should be noted that at this point in the conversation a recognizable contract has been formed though offer and acceptance for compensation. All terms of this contract were also clearly evident at this point with no reasonable expectation of confusion.

Adam told us that he hoped to have the van available for delivery before Thursday as that would be the end of the month. As I have a busy work schedule I wrote a check for the agreed upon amount so that my wife could just drop off our trade and pick up the van when it was available.

The salesman then told us that he had never had anyone write a full payment check for a vehicle not yet delivered and would have to check with his manager about how that worked.

Upon his return he apologized, saying that he had made a mistake and mispriced the deal. He explained that he had neglected to include the trade payoff in his discussions with his manager. He also said that he had no power to really do anything at this point. I requested that he bring his manager into the conversation so that we could get a mutually agreeable arrangement figured out.

The manager flatly offered a price $2,995 above where our current deal had been struck.

The manager justified this figure by saying that while he recognized that mistakes had been made he could not sell a car near invoice and expected to sell this car at MSRP, if not more.

I suggested that as reasonable people we could strike a happy medium and that I was willing to consider any ideas they had, but he refused to budge from his number despite the unique chain of events. It should be noted that the original terms of this deal, did still provide a profit on the sale. I also offered, in light of my conversation with him and truly out of sympathy for the salesman, to work with them to find a slightly higher price that would be acceptable to them, but the manager held firm at his number.

I brought up the topic of professional integrity and standing behind an agreed upon deal. The manager that cited that his boss, Don, wanted every transaction to be about profit level on that transaction and held that above any other factor.

In summary:
I am an understanding person who knows that sometimes mistakes are made. After this chain of events I have great respect for the salesman both as an individual with integrity, and as a professional. He was very open about his mistakes and was more than willing to try to continue to foster a relationship.

The manager on the other hand represented himself as the human incarnation of the stereotypical “slimy car salesman.” His shortsighted approach and unwillingness to even present the impression of willingness to try to work out a solution is a testament to his lack of professionalism, personal integrity, or understanding of how his personal actions tarnish both the reputations of his employer and represented product line within his market. I sincerely hope that the values he are not those instilled by the respective corporate cultures of either the family owned Don Jacobs Organization or American Honda Motor Company.

The next day (Tuesday) I made a couple of phone calls and bought the exact same van for a very similar price to my initial offer from a dealership a few hours away. I say enough good things about the dealership I ended up purchasing from, the folks at Penske Honda were great and I only wish the were a little closer to home.
 

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Sounds to me like a typical honda experience.....Wait, it gets better when it breaks.....and it will break
 

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Sounds like my local Honda dealer in Gulfport. They basically say if you don't like their deal go to New Orleans and get a better one which I did formboth my Accord and Odyssey.
 

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I want to make sure I understand the issue here. The first dealer offered you $13,500 for your trade. You interpreted this as $16,500 minus the $3000 you owed for a net credit of $13,500.....HOWEVER the dealer was trying to give you $13,500 gross, minus the $3k you owed, for a net credit of only $10,500?

Penske Honda then gave you the full $16,500 trade in value (net $13,500, after payoff)?
 

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This line may be the clue.

The salesman then told us that he had never had anyone write a full payment check for a vehicle not yet delivered and would have to check with his manager about how that worked.

They may have been expecting you to finance it through them and they usually get a kick back for any financing they do from the banks they work with. I discovered this when I bought our Accord and had already run a finance app through my credit union online prior to going to the dealership. They also had financing through the credit union but it was a quarter of a point higher, which was their kick back fee from the bank.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I want to make sure I understand the issue here. The first dealer offered you $13,500 for your trade. You interpreted this as $16,500 minus the $3000 you owed for a net credit of $13,500.....HOWEVER the dealer was trying to give you $13,500 gross, minus the $3k you owed, for a net credit of only $10,500?

Penske Honda then gave you the full $16,500 trade in value (net $13,500, after payoff)?
Not quite. Both dealerships were similar in their trade values (Penske higher by $500).

The Don Jacobs deal was clearly defined as my trade (after identifying that about $3K was owed on it - and that the dealer would be paying it off) plus a check for the rest. This was laid out in no-uncertain-terms from step 1.

There was no confusion here. I really think they were just trying to get me to cut a bigger check after they identified that my wife wanted THAT van, and that I COULD write a bigger check on the spot.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This line may be the clue.

The salesman then told us that he had never had anyone write a full payment check for a vehicle not yet delivered and would have to check with his manager about how that worked.

They may have been expecting you to finance it through them and they usually get a kick back for any financing they do from the banks they work with. I discovered this when I bought our Accord and had already run a finance app through my credit union online prior to going to the dealership. They also had financing through the credit union but it was a quarter of a point higher, which was their kick back fee from the bank.
I made it VERY clear from the get-go that I'd be penning a check for the balance.
 
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