Thursday, April 1, 2010

Store Review - Planet Ford (Car Dealership)

We are all aware of the hundreds of thousands of recalls that Toyota has been dealing with for the past few months. Unfortunately, I am one of the poor victims that owns a Camry, so you can imagine the letters and phone calls I get daily about bringing it into the dealership to be fixed. However, a few weeks ago, I got a flier from a local Chevrolet dealership stating that they would purchase my poor Camry for 110% of its value, plus give me $2000 in cash to put towards one of their vehicles - new or used. At the time, I really liked the Ford Edge. Our finances being in order and the possibility of lowering my payments teased my senses, so K agreed to take me over to a Ford dealership, armed with my trusty flier. Our main goal was to get the Camry appraised and to test drive the Edge before we decided to buy.

We headed a ways away from our side of town to Randall Reed's Planet Ford Dealership in North Houston. Known for its huge selection of vehicles and apparently good prices, we assumed that we could test drive the Edge, and perhaps even find a used one. Unfortunately, the used Edge's didn't have the features I desired, so the used salesman sent us to the new car area, where we were picked up by an eager yet relaxed salesman. Right away I explained that I wasn't 100% ready to buy a car, but did want to test drive it. He said he understood and that he was willing to help us out. We sent the Camry off for appraisal.

According to, my Camry is valued at $12,000 trade-in. I understood that the value had diminished from the big recall, but I figured I would get something not too far away from it. Once again, I reminded the sales guy that I still wasn't ready to buy. However, after the test drive, the salesman happened to find the car I wanted - a cinnamon colored Edge with the new SYNC system, a few extra bells and whistles, but no sun roof, as mine has been rattling for the past 3 months and Toyota refuses to fix it.

The offer was about $32,000, and the appraisal came in at $7500. I was so insulted that I immediately shut down and ignored all of the wonderful promises the guy gave me, instead asking K to get us out of here. We immediately declined the offer. As the salesman headed back to his office in an attempt to crunch more numbers, I feel defeated. The car that I've worked so hard to pay down and stay on top of is now making me upside-down on it, all because of this stupid recall.

I've forgotten about the sales guy, who has returned with a new deal - $28,000 with $10K for my car. Nope, I've mentally checked out. I told him that I decided that I don't want new debt and to owe someone even more money and that I'll come back when I have a better grasp on my finances. He protests and K steps in, telling him that what I say goes, and that it's my decision; I deserve to be happy. We ask for his card and he went to the office to get one.

You realize this isn't the end of the story, right? Right!

I looked out at my poor Camry, sitting forlornly in the parking lot while employees milled about, waiting to snatch it up to fix and sell tomorrow. The little car has given me over 50,000 of its miles and just asks for an oil change, basic maintenance, and maybe a paint job for Christmas.

Enter J.R, the sales manager. I know this game, but I'm not prepared for this. The manager is a huge guy, poorly groomed, and proceeds to whine and moan and groan about my decision. He promises me $25,000 for the car, 1.9% financing, and almost $12,000 for my trade. He offers $50 cheaper payments monthly. I'm tempted (well, not really...I just want to get back to my car)...until he makes a comment that I'm stupid for not taking the deal. I immediately shut down and refuse to accept the deal. His voice rises and he scribbles numbers on paper. I shoot back with "Well, I wanted a USED Edge anyway."
"What's the matter with you? I'm giivng you 1.9% on a NEW car! Why would you want a new one?" (People are looking at this point, and I'm pretty sure steam is coming out of my ears.)
I told him "Ever heard of Dave Ramsey? I prefer to follow his teachings, and these numbers are making me panic." He asked why, and when he heard my response, he laughed in my face. I said "If I lost my job tomorrow, I would at least know that I only owe $8000 on my car rather than $25000 on your car."

I also gave my facts about new cars losing value as soon as they leave the lot. He tells me that I have no idea what I'm talking about and I'm wrong, new cars don't lose their value that fast. ya not see what I drove in here??? I bought a $24,000 car that is now worth $7500 and I owe $8500 on it!!! I'm livid and tired of him calling me beligerant and berating me. K has to grab my arm and steer me out of the dealership, all while the manager is cursing up a storm about not know what my problem is and how stupid I am.

We get in the car; I'm so irate I can't drive. I proceed to hug my little car and promise to drive another 100,000 miles before I consider getting rid of it. I ended up writing a letter to the managing partner and sales director of the dealership, plus I'm sending a letter to Ford headquarters for their lack of customer service. I said that I felt discriminated because I am a young woman, and was treated very poorly.

Overall, I highly advise you readers to avoid Planet Ford. They do business unethically and will do whatever it takes to put you in their car, even if it means insulting your character. We are to the point of desperation in this economy that test-driving a car is no longer an option - you have to buy it. How do we know what car we want if we aren't able to try it out? A friend of mine called up to the dealership earlier today and asked for a quick quote; when they demanded she come in and she declined, she was treated so poorly that she recorded the conversation on tape and sent it off to headquarters.

My email to the sales director and GM of Planet Ford was met with profuse apologies, but it's not their fault my car is worthless. Gee....thanks.