We Want Your Car Dealer Horror Stories

Illustration for article titled We Want Your Car Dealer Horror Stories

There's car dealerships that give the auto industry a bad rap. And then there are the ones that make those look like fuzzy kittens. We've highlighted them with "Cotomer Sevis," but now we're ready to give them a name and its own investigative column here on Jalopnik. We call it "Stealerships." These aren't just hard-nosed negotiators who know how to get you to agree to a bad trade-in value and a high monthly payment. These are the dealers that straight up jack you. We're talking total lemons, reneged deals, detailing that leaves scratches all over your car, and $62,000 cars being pushed on 70-year-olds with dementia. Now we want your stories, and we want to help make them right.


I'm Ben Popken, former managing editor of Consumerist (which Gawker sold to Consumer Reports in 2009). I've spent the past six years investigating and exposing corporate chicanery, and giving tools to the regular guy so he can solve consumer complaints on his own. Often that's meant giving great stories exposure so the forces of the internet can converge to share tips and tactics. It can also mean putting bad actors in the public pillory so we can bury them in tomatoes. (I know how you like to do that, internet.)

Now Ray has asked me to come over here and see what we can do for car buyers — making the calls, getting the quotes, digging through evidence, getting the straight story and solving problems. The ultimate goal is to make this car industry more honest, transparent, and fair to you, the car enthusiast.


So help us out by sending us your tales, forum links, and best supporting evidence (docs, audio, video, pix) to our tips line with the subject line of "Stealerships".

Greasy dealership guys in checkered jackets and two-toned shoes, consider this your warning shot.

(Photo: DennisSylvesterHurd)

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Not exactly a "Stealership" per se, but more of a bad experience at multiple dealerships. Briefly- I'm a 25 year old guy, married, owns a house, all that. I've been looking to unload my C4 and get something a little more practical, checking out the sort of sporty-coupe/hot hatch range of new cars.

Anyway, the Mazdaspeed3 was on the list, so I went in on a Sunday to test drive. I had been to this particular dealer with my wife a week or so earlier just to look, but she wasn't around this time. Long story short, the salesman practically spat when I told him I wanted to drive the speed3, and reluctantly shlepped off to get the keys. He didn't say a word to me after that and as I was asking him where to go for the drive, he just said "eh, whatever." He didn't try to sell the car at all, mention any features or suggest any things to check out.

His total inability to hide his disdain for me was so distasteful that I ended the test drive early, and told him why. I asked to talk to his manager, who he said wasn't around, and tried to give me his card. I tossed it in the trash at his desk and left.

The next week, I was out at another Mazda dealership with my wife this time, and had a nearly IDENTICAL experience. Is this just an aspect of Mazda culture? My FIL describes a similar experience, although he ended up buying his CX-7 anyway just because it was so deeply discounted. I mean, I'm a young guy, sure, but I was out with my wife, in the afternoon, and this is not an expensive car. I don't think I looked like some 18 year old out for free joyrides after school. I can see getting scoffed at at a Corvette dealership, but 25 year old dudes with good credit are who the speed3 sells to, right?