On Saturday December 8, 2007, I was in the Chicagoland area to purchase a car from The Auto Barn VW in Mount Prospect. I was in email and telephone contact with the AutoBarn of Mount Prospect though their salesman, Frank Billman. It was through Frank I was in contact with Vic, the Used Car Sales Manager. After looking at their online inventory, I singled out two cars I wanted to test drive; a red 2006 VW Beetle from the Evanston store priced at $14,997, and beige 2006 VW Beetle from the Mount Prospect inventory priced at $15,980. We had agreed the red VW Beetle would be available at the Mount Prospect store Saturday, December 8, 2007, so that I could choose one of these two cars to purchase. I was to call Saturday morning so that the car would be driven from Evanston to Mount Prospect. Saturday morning at about 9:30am, as agreed, I called the AutoBarn store to ask Frank to request the red Beetle from the Evanston store; I told him I would stop by about 11:00AM. When I arrived at the AutoBarn store, Vic was more than insisting for me to buy a car from his store’s inventory. I insisted on seeing the red Beetle and was assured the car would be driven to the Mount Prospect store from the Evanston location. In the meantime, I asked if I could test drive a red 2007 Jetta, which was advertised for $17,980. By this time, it was close to lunchtime, about Noon; because we had not eaten lunch we were getting ready to leave and come back at which time they offered to let us take the red Jetta. I drove the car about two miles down the road where I found a place to eat. While waiting for the red Beetle to arrive from Evanston, my daughter Alia and I, test drove the beige Beetle for a short distance due to icy road conditions. During my visual inspection of the beige Beetle, I noticed the plastic panel in the front end, just below the front bumper, had some damage. I asked Vic about the damage, he said it was damage from pulling too close to the concrete parking blocks in parking lots, he said the damage was very minor and he could fix it by replacing the small plastic panel that was damaged. Given Vic’s explanation about the damage, I had no reason to doubt his word. During this conversation with Vic, he asked me which car I would buy between the beige Beetle and the red Jetta, I told him my daughter still wanted to see the red Beetle. At this time he offered, again, the cars from his local inventory, the Jetta would be $1000 more than the Beetle and it was up to me which one I would buy. I insisted on seeing the red Beetle and was told it would be there shortly. The reason for my insisting on the red Beetle was that my daughter liked it and the price was $1000 less than the beige Beetle. Vic seemed bound to dissuade me from buying anything but a car from his inventory, or so it seemed to me by his pushy attitude insisting I’d buy the beige Beetle or the red Jetta. I offered to drive to Evanston in my own vehicle to test drive the red Beetle, but I was told that was not necessary. Again, I trusted what Vic was saying, that the car was on its way to Mount Prospect. By this time, it was about 2:30PM, we were told the porter had just left Evanston and would be about 45 minutes longer. Alia and I decided to go to the lounge area to wait there. About an hour later, we were told that the porter had just left Mount Prospect and he would be back to the store as soon as possible. I was very disappointed by the lies and misleading statements from Vic about the status of the car transfer. I was ready to leave the store in disgust, but when I asked for my car, which I was trading in, I was told that the porter had taken the key with him, so it would be impossible for my daughter and me to leave the store in my car. At this point, I reasoned this was an unintended mistake on the part of the dealership and I decided to wait until the porter came back with the red Beetle. I complained to Frank about not being informed, honestly, of what was going on, I also expressed my disappointment about being told earlier that someone was already driving the car to Mount Prospect. From seeing how frequently Frank was consulting with Vic, it was clear in my opinion that Vic was making all the decisions. After asking every 45 minutes for a status, we were told the car would be there momentarily. We later found out a porter from Mount Prospect had left at about 3:00 to pick up the car, this was about four hours after I arrived at the store that morning. On his way back to Mount Prospect, about 6:00PM, the porter was rear-ended, causing damage to the red Beetle’s bumper.At about 6:45PM my daughter and I saw the red Beetle pull into the parking lot and went out immediately to take a look at the car. We thought the porter would pull in the front of the building where he saw us waving to him, but instead, he went around to the back of the building and parked the car with the rear-end facing away from us. After noticing very unusual behavior from the porter, we were given the keys to the car. My daughter and I took the car for a drive. We liked the car and once back at the store; we decided to walk around the car to inspect the exterior. It was at this time we discovered the damage in the rear bumper. The plastic under the paint was exposed and the paint and part of the plate holder were crumbling as we touched the area to assess the damage, which proved to me that this was damage sustained very recently. Only when I insisted the car was damaged from a recent accident, Vic told us the car had been in an accident on the way from the Evanston store. Vic insisted that we buy the car and he would have the damage fixed in the days to come. I made it very clear to him that we were there to buy a car which was VW certified and would not expect anything less. With the red Beetle damaged and with the store already closed, Vic gave me prices for the cream Beetle and for the Red Jetta. The Jetta was going to cost me $1000 more than the beige Beetle; I decided to buy the beige Beetle with the condition that the damaged plastic part be replaced in the days to come. Before signing the purchase agreement, I asked Vic about a strong odor in the car, I told him it smelled to me like cat urine. He suggested that the smell may be coming from the temporary floor mats which were wet from people getting into the car in rainy weather. He assured me that once the permanent mats were installed the smell would be gone. After signing the purchase agreement and writing a check for the balance after my trade-in allowance, Alia and I drove the car to my friend’s house, where we were staying the night. The ride from the store to my friend’s house was very slow as the roads were covered with a thin layer of snow and ice. We parked the car that night and did not drive it until the next morning when we got ready to make the three hour drive to our home in Champaign County, Illinois. On Sunday morning, December 9, we drove the car on the highway and noticed a loud noise coming from the front end. At the same time my daughter and my wife pointed out the strong odor in the car.While driving on the Elgin-O’Hare expressway, I realized the loud noise was from the plastic part that covers the bottom of the engine to protect it from the elements. I stopped at the Wal-Mart store on 290 and route 53, in Addison, to see if the mechanic could help me secure the plastic part that was being pulled down by the wind and the high speed on the highway. The mechanic there told me he could not touch the car for insurance reasons, as the services they provide were not those of a body shop. By this time I was about 50 miles from any friends and family, I decided to drive to the nearest Sears store, stopping in a couple of places to ask if they could help me secure the loose part. No one would help me with this very unusual problem, but when I got into the Sears store in Oakbrook and after explaining my predicament to the manager, he agreed to help me secure the plastic cover with a bungee cord I had purchased at AutoZone. I pulled the car into the Sears garage and after taking a good look underneath the engine I saw the extent of the broken plastic cover. The store manager at Sears and I noticed the plastic cover and other part of the suspension were covered with what looked to us like skunk skin and fur. The strong smell inside the car was even stronger near the engine, only then I realized some one had hit an animal with the car, breaking the plastic cover into pieces and damaging the front bumper where it was attached to the engine cover. I called Frank’s cell number and left a message explaining the problem. I asked for a call back. After waiting about half hour and not getting a call back, I decided to drive to Champaign to take my family home, since they needed to be at work and school the next day. On the way to Champaign, the headlight on the driver’s side kept flashing, the dashboard intermittently went dark many times during the three hour drive. As I experienced these malfunctions I realized I had been sold a car with more than just physical damage, it may well be a car with electrical problems and who knows what else could be wrong with this vehicle. Monday morning, December 10, I decided to drive back to Mount Prospect in an attempt to return the car for the reasons mentioned above. When I arrived at the store in Mount Prospect, I saw Vic as he was coming into the building. Immediately after that, I saw Frank eating lunch in the sales office. I told Vic I had problems with the car and I complained about not being told the extent of the damage to the front end of the car. Vic immediately got very upset and said because I had singed the paperwork and taken delivery of the car, the only thing he was going to do was send me to the service department so I could make an appointment to fix all the problems with the car. I told him it was more than just the cover/bumper damage and the electrical issues to worry about; I told Vic the strong smell would make it impossible for my daughters to drive the car, as my youngest daughter has severe asthma and allergies. I also pointed out that after driving the car to Champaign and back, I had a headache and was physically ill from smelling the strong odor in the car. It was clear to me that Vic was not going to help me resolve my issues with the car, which should never been present if the car had been inspected as called by the VW certification guidelines, as the staff of the AutoBarn had claimed on Saturday, December 8. Vic said to me, very forcefully, that the only way he would take the car back would be as a trade-in, with the understanding that I would loose money on the car. I asked about my Consumer Rights and he said I had none as I had signed a contact that had no return policy. He said when I signed the paperwork, the car and the problems that came with the car were all mine. I told him I wanted to resolve the situation in a way that was fair to me as well as to the dealership, but he refused to listen to my suggestions. He kept telling me that I had no legal recourse and that even if I was to talk to the General Manager, as I had requested, I had no case. I asked to talk to the General Manager but he refused to take me to his office. When I started to walk towards the main office, Vic said he was going to have me talk to the other sales manager, a gentleman by the name of Takashi Nishikata, as he, Vic, [was] too upset to deal with [me] Mr. Nishikata started by telling me that the only way for him to take the car back would be for me to loose money on the car, he would take it back for $13,000. This meant I would loose $3,152 between Saturday and Monday. I had traded in my car in for $9,500 plus had written a check for $6,652 just the previous business day. His offer, just like Vic’s, was basically a violation of my rights as a consumer. Not to mention the lies and deceptions they used to sell the car to me on Saturday. I got up from my chair and told Mr. Nishikata that I was hoping for an amicable resolution, but given their unwillingness to cooperate, I would have to talk to my lawyer and take the legal channels to find a fair resolution. He told me a judge would never side with me as I had signed and taken delivery of the vehicle. He said that since I was the one who solicited their services that I had no leg to stand on, legally speaking. I replied that since he has no license to practice law, I would take my case to a lawyer and let him tell consult me on my legal recourse. He proceeded to threaten me that I did not want to take on the dealership’s team of lawyers, to which I replied that I did not care how many lawyers work for the dealership, I cared that my rights as a consumer be respected. At this point in the conversation and as I walked away from the desk, he asked me to tell him what I was asking for as a resolution. I told him I was asking for the deal to be undone and that I was willing to pay for the use of the car and the cost of paperwork. If this could not be done, I told him I was willing to buy a different car from the lot, but I wanted to return the car and get $9,500 for my trade-in towards the new car. He agreed to this suggestion and added that I could not refuse to pay for the certification cost which was optional when I bought a car from this store back in August, and was also optional on Saturday when I bought the Beetle. By now I was at the mercy of the unfair conditions set by Vic and Takashi, finding myself in a situation that had been created by a) the conditions of the car after been damaged by someone hitting an animal, conditions which were admittedly known to Vic before I bought the car, and b) the misrepresentation of the car being a VW certified vehicle when the adverse condition of the car itself would have prevented it from passing the 112 point inspection the VW certification program requires. Considering these reasons, I ask that the price for the Jetta, given to me on Saturday December 08, 2007, be honored given the fact that the dealer, through the representation of its sales staff, knowingly and intentionally misrepresented the beige Beetle as a VW certified vehicle, when the damages and malfunctions were proven to be quite the contrary. The price I was given for the 2007 Jetta on Saturday was $16,551.82, a thousand dollars more than the Beetle. On Monday, I feel the dealership used unfair practices leaving me only one option to return the beige Beetle: buy the 2007 Jetta for $17,980, $1429 more than what they offered on Saturday, December 8. I feel the business practices used with me on Monday, December 10, forced me to take the deal they put together in order, as Takashi put it, for me not to loose more money on the beige Beetle. I would like to ask for the following: 1. The VW Corporation looks into the business practices of the AutoBarn in Mount Prospect, Illinois. 2. The VW certification program be enforced at this store in order to comply with the claims VW makes in advertising the certified vehicles, if they are going to continue to sell vehicles as VW Certified. 3. The State Attorney’s office investigate unfair practices of this dealership and the legal implications of their false advertising and selling their vehicles as certified, when in fact, they are not. 4. The AutoBarn reconsider the unfair business practices used with me and to resolve the situation. I would like to request a refund of $1429, which is the amount I was overcharged for the 2007 Jetta. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions. Juan Champaign, IllinoisU.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Volkswagen
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