Buying a new car can be stressful. There’s negotiating the price, going through all the paperwork and understanding the financing. And if that’s not enough, how about being on the hook for more money even after the deal is signed and you drive off the lot?
That’s what a Surrey man was left to deal with after the dealership he bought his truck from came after him for more money, days after the purchase.
As part of his purchase agreement, Jason Chow received a Costco and Ford loyalty rebate of $1,750. But Hallmark Ford told him the rebate was credited twice and it wanted the money back.
“They sounded like, I have to pay and that was that,” explained Chow, “They said to come in because they have different paperwork.”
But Chow couldn’t see where the mistake was made, and after contacting McLaughlin on Your Side, Ross McLaughlin couldn’t find it either.
The fine print on the contract does bind him to come back to correct mistakes. It states "if the correction results in money owed to the buyer or the seller, the buyer and seller agree that such money will be paid promptly."
When he didn't immediately respond the finance manager threatened to put an additional lien on his 2017 F-150.
"I'm not too happy. I've been a long time Ford fan and this has really upset me," said Chow.
"Certainly it's not a business practice that we would like to see," said Doug Longhurst with the Vehicle Sales Authority of B.C. "Selling vehicles, really selling anything in the province has to be clear and transparent."
The VSA received Chow's complaint because the dealer didn't make it clear to him why he owed more.
And when Hallmark Ford sent us their internal paperwork, McLaughlin spotted the real problem.
The dealer said the negotiated purchase price was $54,199, but it put $52,449 on the contract, deducting the $1,750 from that price. It’s a mistake that cost the dealer because the rebate was deducted again where it was supposed to be properly disclosed.
When we showed the error to Chow he said he wasn’t clear on the full price it was supposed to be because he was focused on the payment.
"That is probably the biggest lesson for consumers out of this file is that you need to pay attention equally to the total price and to the payment," said Longhurst.
Longhurst says dealers need to be clear about the transaction. But after CTV News got involved Hallmark Ford backed off.
"The issue has been resolved,” said Chow. “They are dropping all pursuit of the money and apologized for what has happened."
Things may be resolved with the customer but the file is still open for regulators because they want to make sure the transaction was made clear and they're also concerned about threatening the customer with a lien.
So how often do mistakes with rebates like this happen?
An industry insider told CTV News he's seen it before. But when a finance department makes a mistake like this on the contract the dealership typically sucks it up.
More importantly all this confusion could have been avoided if more attention was paid to the purchase price rather the payment. Don't be steered into negotiating the payment focus on the price instead. Then work out the financing.