Lesson Number One if you're dealing with Don McGill Toyota in West Houston, especially if you're not really fluent in English: Read all the fine print, even the parts where salespeople have folded the contract over so you can't see it.
Texas AG Greg Abbott announced today a $78,000 settlement with the dealership to rectify complaints that buyers had been tricked into signing lease agreements instead of purchases.
As the AG's office put it (boldface is ours):
Certain customers believed they were entering into vehicle purchase agreements. However, customers indicated they were actually signing three-year lease agreements. The situation drew complaints because the customers wanted to own their vehicles outright, and the lease agreements were more expensive than an ordinary vehicle purchase. Among other relief in this settlement, the defendant agreed to implement a restitution fund of more than $78,000 for consumers harmed by this financial scheme.
After reviewing the complaints, the Office of the Attorney General investigated the allegations. That investigation revealed that some McGill sales personnel folded sales contracts in a manner that obscured the customers' ability to view the entire document. Salespersons told customers that they would receive lower interest rates if their sales contract was prepared on a lease-type document. As a result, though customers were reassured their contract was a purchase, it was actually a lease. Investigators learned that salespeople targeted customers who didn't speak and read English well.
We have just one question: What will this do to the sterling reputation of car salesmen?
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Abbott also says McGill salesmen told some customers that the term "residual value" in the contract meant what they would get if they sold the vehicle back to McGill, when actually it was the balloon payment at the end of the lease.
And, as lagniappe, McGill often added the LoJack security system to the sale, whether or not the customer asked for it.
"In some cases, salespersons assured buyers that the LoJack system would be included at no additional cost, however customers were nonetheless charged up to $2,000 for this system," the AG's office said. "The cost to the dealership for the system was less than $400"
Buying a car: Such a pleasant fucking experience.