Everyone knew that I needed a newer car! DAY CHEVROLET salesman Gene Russell made an unsolicited call to my residence on July 10, 2007, stating that he had a 2001 Malibu sedan for sale. Odometer reading: approximately 52,000 miles. Asking price: $6,000. I jotted these numbers down as I relayed them out loud to my wife.
Six thousand was more than we could afford, but Gene Russell assured me that neither DAY CHEVROLET nor the lending institutions that the dealership made use of would finance anything in our price range. Besides, car dealers often exaggerate the asking price of a used car so that they have a little wiggle room. My only concern here was price point, not make, not model.
Since Gene Russell was an almost daily customer (and friend?) at the convenience store where I have been employed since 1991, we drove over to DAY CHEVROLET around 4 p.m. and Gene Russell ushered us STRAIGHT to a four-door 2001 Malibu sedan pulled up and waiting by the side of the building. We took it for a test drive.
My wife and I were about to refuse Gene Russell’s original offer (as quoted during his phone call) of $6,000 minus $400 cash down minus our $100 trade-in for our car. We both felt that the asking price was too high given the present condition of this Malibu.
AT NO TIME was ANY mention made by Gene Russell (or anyone else) that the "original" Malibu had been sold and that an identical, and more expensive, 2001 Chevrolet Malibu sedan, with virtually identical mileage, was being substituted that night. Had the secret substitution been a 2003 Chevy Impala or any other obviously different make and model, we would have immediately noticed and asked "What happened to the Malibu?" and "How many miles?" and "How much is this car?" If, as DAY Chevrolet General Manager Debbie Peters has since stated, that DAY CHEVROLET, "had several pre-owned vehicles that fit his (meaning my) budget," why secretly substitute a car that sold for nearly $9,500.
The title to my 1988 Chevrolet Celebrity was signed over to Gene Russell only AFTER we were offered $1588 trade-in for our car. He hurriedly removed our license plate and asked us to surrender our car keys. We had no reason to assume that the asking price of $6,000 minus our $400 down payment minus our $1588 trade-in allowance was not the deal that DAY CHEVROLET had in store for us. We were kept waiting for hours. We were very tired and hungry. My wife’s sugar (diabetes) was low from missing her dinner.
Gene Russell intentionally obtained my property by deception. My wife and I were prevented from acquiring information which would have affected our judgment and the outcome of this transaction. Gene Russell failed to correct the false impression that he previously created with his "over the phone" quoted sales price of $6,000.
Sometime after eight o’clock, we were escorted into another office to begin the parade of paperwork. The PURCHASE PRICE on the temporary registration read $8,988. The CASH PRICE listed on the M&T Credit Services motor vehicle installment sales contract was $9,432. This left us with an unpaid balance of $7,541.50 to be financed at 11.9% interest.
"That’s not the price he said," my wife pointed out, nearly in tears.
I must confess to one shortcoming: When Gene Russell telephoned my wife at our home on the afternoon of Monday, July 23, 2007, his recollection became chaotic and confused as he tried to defend himself. He mumbled something to her about there being another 2001 Malibu sedan that day, (with higher mileage?) but that it had been sold after he called us around 2 p.m., but before we arrived. This is absolutely the FIRST TIME that my wife and I had heard about there being another 2001 Malibu sedan. This admission of a secret bait-and-switch went right over my head! Now I have a much clearer understanding of what transpired at DAY CHEVROLET on the evening of July 10th.
My wife and I are eager to pass a polygraph examination. Would the concerned parties at DAY CHEVROLET be as enthusiastic (or permitted) to participate in such fact-finding?
Gene Russell has not been to the store where I work since the day he sold us the car.
Right is right. Wrong is wrong.