2002 Honda Civic / used car sale
shopped for a used car under time constraints.
found this dealer while looking for private car sales on craigslist. was deciding between two hondas, one a 2002 civic lx with no bells and whistles, the other a later model...2005 i think with lots of bells and whistles. told salesman, Kurt, I wanted lower miles and good mileage, reliable transportation, and to keep the price under 4K. Kurt told me the civic had 120k miles on it; the other (accord, maybe?) had ...180K i think, and lots of bells and whistles and wouldn't get as good mileage. was told by kurt that the dealer is a wholesaler, they buy cars, put new timing belts and other parts in them and then sell for $300 over what the dealer puts into them. 'tony' or 'mike' ...manager/partner?...don't ever give their last names and seem to use the first names interchangeably...One of the two did all the paperwork and said he 'didn't have' the carfax for the civic. Kurt mumbled something about 'the cluster' needing work as I was getting out of the car after test driving the car, but it was NOT that the odometer was not reliable due to it having been rigged to override various sensors as I later found out! Rather, I think it was in response to my mentioning that the thermometer seemed to be registering that the engine was running hot.
I bought the car and four days later the timing belt fell off. I brought it o a reputable mechanic near where I live (about an hour from the dealer). He stated I was very lucky so it hadn't fallen off while I was driving at a high speed, as it would have been very dangerous for me or any passengers and would almost certainly have destroyed He the engine. I told him about the thermostat registering hot and he investigated that and found that the 'dashboard cluster' ...now the term cluster was making sense to me...had been tampered with ...wires crossed to override various sensors..that the thermostat was always showing hot though the car was not, and that was a dangerous condition since i would never be able to tell if it was actually hot! So he said it was essential to replace the dashboard cluster. All told these repairs cost me $1300.
I called Tony and explained this to him. He told me he would have Kurt call me. Kurt asked for copies of the repair bills. I sent several copies over several days with him telling me he couldn't see enough detail until finally he agreed he could see everything but that my mechanic charges were way over customary and that the dealer's mechanic would warranty and reimburse me for no more than $500. My position has always been that it is the dealer's problem that they put me in danger and at risk of destroying the engine and whatever charges i incurred as a result was theirs to make right and reimburse me, but I agreed at that point to $1000. Kurt at this point told me he had no authority to go that high and I told him to have Tony (or Mike?) call me. Mike called me and went round andround insisting that I come in to talk about the issues 'face to face.' I had already spent numerous hours on this issue, not just in the phones calls and documenting but also in being without my own car, and borrowing another car, getting that owner to and from his work, etc. I was not about to go to the dealer without a guarantee of getting $1000 from them. He absolutely wouldn't change his position that 'business is done face to face.' I told him they had all the information they needed for a decision ...he said he didn't have the copies of the invoices. I said I would fax new copies. He said 'we are not millionaires...we don't have a fax machine." I suggested photos on a phone. No...he kept saying 'come in.' I told him I was hanging the phone and he could call me when he had $1000 for me.
I then pulled up the car fax and found that the last known odometer reading on the car was 210K . I told I wasn't coming in till they had the money ready because I didn't wan't to spend any more time dealilng with them. Then I checked the value of a 2002 Civic in good condition with 120 K miles on it ...AND a replaced transmission as reported on the carfax and saw that at MOST it was valued at $2100, I then called Mike and told him I wanted a cashier's check to reimburse me for the repairs and that it was obvious that they sold the car for AT LEAST $1000 more than it was worth and I wanted them to 'make it right' ...He said if I would come in before 2 they would have the cash for me and they would have me sign a document to hold them harmless from any lawsuit.
I got there at 1:45 and was asked to sign a document stating they were giving me $1300 and wouldn't pursue them any further. I refused to sign it and stated I now required another $1000 in consideration of the actual lower value of the car. "Mike" turned to "Tony" who at this point was not making eye contact and working on a computer at the next desk. Then he got involved and said 'he was not going to get involved' but then said 'YOU hung up on me! NO ONE has ever hung up on me!" I said they could give me the $2300 and I would sign. Tony/Mike then said they couldn't trust that I wouldn't change the amount again...I got up to leave and told them I would take it to the Attorney General of Texas next...
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