Car Dealership sells previously wrecked car as new

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Apr 16, 2019
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#1
Treasure Coast Toyota of Stuart Florida sold my 86 year old aunt a "new car" in Dec, 2018 that had previously been wrecked. We were not made aware of this fact by the dealership, but found out accidentally in February 2019 when my aunt went back to the dealership to trade in the vehicle. The sales people confronted my aunt about the wreck, which was on Carfax, and accused her of lying to them which greatly upset my aunt. I reached out to Toyota's Corporate office, who told me today, they could do nothing. Please see certified letter I sent to Toyota Corporate Office on February 28, 2019.

February 28, 2019

Mr. James Lentz
Chief Executive Officer
Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
6565 Headquarters Drive
Plano, TX 75024

Dear Mr. Lentz,

I’ve been reading your very impressive Toyota profile online and see you have held numerous positions within Toyota, working both in the field and in management. I sincerely believe you value customers and realize their importance to the success of Toyota Motor North America, Inc. Because of this, I am asking for your help in resolving a fraudulent car buying experience with my 86-year old widowed aunt (Elsie Swan) at Treasure Coast Toyota of Stuart, Florida on December 26, 2018.

Since my husband and I have previously had great success with Toyota and Toyota Dealerships, we encouraged my elderly aunt to purchase a vehicle from Treasure Coast Toyota of Stuart, Florida, while we visited her this past Christmas. We accompanied her to the dealership, whereby the sales person persuaded her/us to purchase a 2018 RAV4 that had a 4-year maintenance plan, instead of the customary 2-year maintenance plan of the RAV4 she test drove. We didn’t realize there was possibly a problem with this RAV4, as it was “new” according to the dealership.

On February 9, 2019 my Aunt decided she wanted to trade this gray RAV4 for a white 2018 RAV4, so she went back to the same sales people at Treasure Coast Toyota. At this time, the sales people went online and insisted she had had a wreck on her new vehicle. My aunt denied she had, but they persisted, telling her she must have made a claim with her insurance company.

My aunt grew very upset and continued to deny that she had had an accident in this car, but they continued to harass her, telling her it shows right here on Carfax that you had an accident on December 11, 2018.

This was horrifying news to my aunt, as she had purchased the vehicle on Dec 26, 2018 as a new vehicle. Her friend that accompanied her to the dealership, shook her finger at the salespeople saying “Shame on you. You sold her a damaged vehicle”, whereupon the salesmen didn’t know what to say, began shuffling papers, and my aunt eventually left the dealership.

My aunt is extremely upset about this and cannot sleep at night, feeling victimized. Since she is 86, we are especially concerned about her health and her high blood pressure. We are all convinced that Treasure Coast Toyota of Stuart used her/us to get rid of a damaged vehicle, as they were eager to have that particular RAV4 sold.
Since my aunt notified me of her conversation with the dealership, I immediately began calling them on February 12, 2019. After several phone calls to the dealership, the sales manager, Doug Sinwall, told me there had been a vin number mix-up and another RAV4 had received $8000 worth of damage, supposedly not my aunt’s car. He suggested we have a mechanic inspect her car to see if there had been any damage, but we do not believe a new car, getting new replacement parts, would reveal whether there’d been an accident or not.

The sales manager finally agreed that his vin number explanation sounded fishy, and he called to tell us that he had recommended to the GM and the Owner, that the vehicle be replaced with another new 2018 RAV4.

The GM, Tom Christopolis, called me back the next day, not about replacing the car, but saying “we should be very happy as now the Carfax report had been cleaned up and there was no longer any evidence of an accident on the report.”

I explained to him that his resolution was insufficient and we were not happy, as we believed the car had been wrecked. I explained how upset my aunt was and how what they had done was wrong. They insulted my aunt and accused her of lying about an accident she never had. My aunt feels she has been used and is humiliated and angry with the dealership. She is no longer comfortable driving this car and wants what she paid for back on Dec 26th, a New, undamaged 2018 RAV4.

The GM told me they could no longer get a 2018 RAV4, as they didn’t have any in stock. When I suggested they get a 2018 RAV4 from another dealership, he said: “He was not in business to lose money.” I asked him if this is how he’d like his Mom or Aunt to be treated, and he had no comment.

Since then, I have contacted Toyota’s Regional Customer Service Office and Toyota’s National Customer Service Office for resolution. The National Customer Service Office referred me back to the Customer Relations Office at Treasure Coast Toyota of Stuart, whom I spoke with on February 20, 2019.

The Customer Relations person I spoke with told me she would consult with management and get back with me. She called me on Friday, February 22nd and her answer was still the same. We should be happy with a clean Carfax.

I cannot believe that Toyota Motor North America, Inc. does business in this manner or encourages their dealerships to perform so fraudulently or callously with their customers.

Prior to writing this letter, I googled Treasure Coast Toyota of Stuart and found numerous unresolved customer complaints from Yelp (attached), as well as an F rating, from the Better Business Bureau.

The Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc. Mission and Vision Statements are as follows:
Mission Statement: "To attract and attain customers with high-valued products and services and the most satisfying ownership experience in America."
Vision Statement: "To be the most successful and respected car company in America."

Clearly, Treasure Coast Toyota of Stuart does not share in these same core values and is a disgrace to your company.

Can you please help us?

Thank you.



Attachments

CC: Mr. Mark Templin
Mr. Chris Nielsen
 
Feb 16, 2018
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#2
The first thing that I would do if this were my car would be to take it to a reputable body shop of your choice, and have it inspected front to rear. You should have some type of evidence that the vehicle was damaged. This will give you the information you need to demand a remedy.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#3
Several things stand out to me.:
  • First, you went straight to the top, which effectively ends your negotiating room. If the CEO does nothing or says no, you are finished from a Toyota perspective. The volunteers here would have suggested you start at the first executive.
  • She bought the car on February 26th, but the CARFAX showed an accident on the 11th. That alone should have a been a red flag to the dealer.
  • True or false, you added insults to the mix while asking for help. It is considered best in this forum to stick to the facts and allow them to lead others to the (hopefully) proper conclusion.
"We are all convinced that Treasure Coast Toyota of Stuart used her/us to get rid of a damaged vehicle"​
"We believed the car had been wrecked"​
"I cannot believe that Toyota Motor North America, Inc. does business in this manner or encourages their dealerships to perform so fraudulently or callously with their customers."​
"Clearly, Treasure Coast Toyota of Stuart does not share in these same core values and is a disgrace to your company."​

Your anger is understandable, but phrases like this may likely antagonize the one(s) from whom you are asking for help.

As Dave112 has said, gather some hard evidence. That will either confirm or refute your suspicion about prior damage, wrecked vehicle, etc., and if there is no damage, it will set your mind at ease should she be stuck with this vehicle.

Best wishes . . .
 
Likes: jsn55

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#4
What a shame you've already sent this letter. You use the word "fraud" in the first paragraph. That will get your letter "set aside". The letter is 9 times too long, it will probably not be read at all. I am so sorry that this happened to your aunt, but being polite is the first rule of consumer advocacy.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#5
I do think as Dave112 has noted that proof is needed.

There are numerous news reports of inaccurate CARFAX reports

one such news report:

In fact, according to one of Carfax's competitors, Autocheck, the Hyundai had been in a rear-impact collision. And the Mazda had been in a multiple-impact collision -- the police report said it had been hit in the front and the back. ABC News also contacted the car's former owner, who said he was in the accident and confirmed that they were the middle car, so the car got hit on both sides.

It wasn't just this one dealer. The ABC News investigation revealed dozens of used cars with clean Carfaxes -- even though the cars had been in accidents, and others had frame damage, according to Autocheck. Like Carfax, Autocheck also includes a disclaimer about its comprehensiveness, but it does boast one important source of information that Carfax doesn't have: Car auction data.
 
Likes: VoR61

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
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Dec 27, 2014
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#6
Did your Aunt ask for the CarFax report when she bought the car? That should be done for any purchase.

How can the dealer call fraud when THEY had the car until your Aunt bought it from them Dec. 26 and the CarFax showed the accident occurred before she bought it? That makes no sense.

I would suggest she file a complaint with the Florida Attorney General if she takes it to an auto body shop and they confirm damage.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#7
Is it possible that the CARFAX was wrong? the accident date was Dec 11 2018 -- the car was purchased December 26 -- would $8000 of damage be fixed in 15 days over the Christmas holidays?

What about checking the VIN against the CARFAX competitor, Autocheck?

A mechanic should be able to easily tell if there has been damage -- an independent mechanic that is.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#9
It’s hard to fault anyone for not requesting a carfax report on what’s represented as a new car. It’s new. There shouldn’t be any data to report. No sales. No service. And certainly no accidents.
Was this in fact brand new? A 2018 in Dec. 2018 would indicate a leftover. Was there any mileage on the car?

It really does reek of a CarFax error. I still cannot understand how the dealer could blame the aunt for damage to a car she didn’t even own at the time the supposed damage occurred.
 
Likes: VoR61

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#10
Boy its really unfortunate that you used legal terms in your letter. If it doesn't work, and it probably won't, you've left yourself with only one option. I'd reach out to an attorney now to find out if they'll take the case and how much they'll want.
 
Likes: VoR61
Feb 21, 2018
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#11
If it was sold as a new car, it should have included the factory sticker that is placed on every new car. Was that in your paperwork?
 
Dec 19, 2014
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#12
This is an unfortunate situation, but there are a lot of distractions in the original letter.

1) The original bill of sale.... what does it say? It is a new vehicle or a used vehicle?
2) Is there a VIN error?
This should be easily verified. Take your vehicle to a mechanic and get a professional opinion. Has the vehicle been damaged and repaired
3) If you believe that the dealership committed fraud, you need to contact an attorney and the state AG.

However, one thing does stand out in your story. Your aunt bought a new vehicle in Dec 2018 and wants to trade it in for another vehicle 3 months later? Does she not realize how much depreciation occurs in those 3 months? We're talking thousands of dollars.
 
Likes: krisseye