Cortese Chrysler Jeep Dodge / Bad Selling Practices by Car Dealer
On October 15, 2010, we finally decided, after nearly a month researching, to go to a local Jeep dealer and try to purchase a 2011 Grand Cherokee. We researched all the different models and options before we found the color and model with most of the options that we wanted (Inferno Red – Dark Leather Interior – 18” Wheels - Tow Package Group IV - V8 - Grand Cherokee Laredo) at Cortese Chrysler Jeep Dodge. We used www.jeep.com to search new inventory in our area and I found the Jeep above at Cortese. The website was helpful in that it listed the options and accessories of all the Grand Cherokees as well as the price. For the above Jeep the price was $40, 605 (w/ destination charge included in the price). We looked over our finances and determined that with some negotiation, we could afford to buy this Jeep or something similarly priced. We had a 2009 Mini Cooper S that we wanted to trade in and $10K in cash to use for a down payment. We never thought that we would experience such problems with a new car dealership we encountered at the Cortese Auto Group.
We saw the Grand Cherokee that was on-line in their lot and proceeded to look it over. The sticker on the vehicle showed all the options and the price was $40, 605 (same as on-line). We test drove the Grand Cherokee with a newly trained sales person, Joshua, who seemed nice enough, but clearly hadn’t yet learned all the features and functions of the Jeep. After driving the vehicle we were very impressed. Our next step was to go inside the dealership and try to negotiate a deal on the Jeep.
We filled out some details about our trade in, a 2009 Mini Cooper S w/ all the” bells and whistles”, with a documented pay off value of $18, 179.71. This was directly from the bank and below the official blue book trade-in value for our Mini. They agreed to give us $20K trade in for the Mini and to sell us the Grand Cherokee for $40K (less the ~$1800 remaining on trade in). We agreed with this and proceeded to fill out the preliminary paperwork. Upon going over the numbers, it was noticed that the original price of the Grand Cherokee was $41, 604. This was in conflict with the sticker price on the Jeep as well as the price on-line. We brought this to the attention to the sales person thinking that they made a mistake. I showed the sales person the price off www.jeep.com as well as the sticker on the vehicle. He could not explain this inconsistency and left us to talk to his boss. He came back with his boss and told us that the extra $999 was for a dealer addendum which included a clear coat protection for the fenders and windshield treatment similar to RainX. We were told that every car on their lot has this addendum. (Side note: At a later date, we looked at their website and there was no mention of this addendum anywhere.) We were told that there was suppose to be an addendum sticker next to the factory sticker with Cortese’s price. Funny thing is… There was no addendum sticker on any of the 2011 Grand Cherokees in their lot. They proceeded to blame the “Stupid lot boys” and told us “they should have put the stickers on” and that they have been screwing up a lot lately. We were even told they had to recently fire one. We then asked why the sales person didn’t tell us about the addendum up front. To us it seemed as though the dealership was being a bit dishonest. They said it was a mistake but were not making any money on the deal and they couldn’t do anything for us. Discussions became very heated and stressful. We finally got them to tell us that the addendum cost the dealership $150 to apply it to the vehicle. This is over a 600% markup. Does this seem honest? We realized that the dealer wouldn’t compensate us for their mistake (except 2 free oil changes), we conceded and agreed to purchase the vehicle at the before mentioned deal ($40k – Jeep, $20k – trade-in Mini).
We finished filling out the preliminary paperwork but were told that the dealership was encountering a large number of deliveries and were extremely busy. They took the Mini insurance cards, registration, etc… and asked if we could come back at around 5:30 – 6:00pm (they close at 6 on Fridays) to sign the papers and take it home. We originally arrived at the dealer at approximately 10:00am and were there until approx 3:30pm. We hadn’t eaten and had just been through a very stressful experience. We were happy to go and get something to eat and come back. We had been there way too long.
When we returned, our sales person, told us that he tried to call us and left a message on our cell phone saying that they were unable to get the paperwork completed before the bank, DMV, etc. closed. We didn’t hear the phone and therefore didn’t check the messages. Joshua then told us to take the car w/dealer plates and come back tomorrow (Saturday). Note: They never detailed the vehicle; they just quickly wiped the inside and we are not even sure if they washed it since it was raining.
We set up an appointment to return on Saturday at 10:00am to finish the paperwork. On Saturday, Joshua contacted us and asked if we could come in at 11:00am instead as they were again, really busy. We did that and arrived at 11:00am. We first brought it to the attention of the sales person that some scratches on the vehicle needed to be buffed out before we bought it. They agreed to take care of them (another day) so we scheduled the appointment for the following Friday. For our hassle, Joshua also agreed to give us roof racks for $209 (wholesale). The paperwork was ready and we finished filling out the paperwork that the sales person needed. We then proceeded to the finance office to finish the paperwork. At this point we purchased a 7yr, 60k mile extended warranty. We accepted the horrible sales experience and moved on. We were satisfied with how the finance process played out and were very happy with the new Grand Cherokee.
Friday 10/22/10: We still had to bring the car in for them to buff out the scratches (three different locations) and to look at the driver’s side mirror that was not affixed properly. The mirror piece was not seated into the frame due to the seal material being misaligned. They fixed the scratches but stated the mirror was defective due to the manufacturing mold for the mirror being out of spec. If they just order a new mirror it will also be defective. We must wait until Jeep fixes this problem and creates a new stamp (mold) for the mirror. I was then told there was no reason to place a warranty claim in. When I told my husband what Cortese had told me, the first question that he had was “Did you look at the other Grand Cherokees on the lot? They must all have defective mirrors too… sarcasm???” After he got home from work he proceeded to take the Jeep to Canandaigua Chrysler Dodge Jeep. They looked at it and said they would order the part, call us when it comes in and replace it with no problem. Really? So is Cortese just incompetent or are they intentionally dodging warranty work?
Just when we thought we had put these bad experiences behind us… On November 1, the dealer called to say we had given them the wrong payoff balance for the Mini and we owed them money for the difference. After investigating the situation more closely we found out that they in fact paid off the wrong car loan… (yes, that’s right). They paid off our Volkswagen Tiguan. That loan was at a completely different bank than the Mini and also had a different payoff value ($17, 081.17). At the time of sale we had given them the pay off value of $18, 158.74 for the Mini. They were now saying that we owed them the difference of $1077.57. Really? How does a dealer pay off a loan at ESL for a Volkswagen Tiguan when they received a Mini Cooper for trade and it was financed at Alliance? At first our sales person, Joshua, told me that it was my husbands fault. He said my husband told him the loan was at ESL and gave him the account number. This is a complete lie. My husband gave him no information and in fact didn’t know the account number. I gave him all the correct banking and account information for the Mini (including the correct payoff balance) at the time of sale. I tried to reach them, nothing short of 10 times in a matter of 2 hours. I was transferred to 3 or 4 people that couldn’t help. Finally I reached the General Manager, Joe Provvidenza, and made an appointment for the next morning at 11am to discuss this issue.
Tuesday, 11/02/10: Before my meeting with the Joe, I made some calls to ESL to find out how they could have made this error. ESL advised me that the loan had been paid off but then reversed, so it was ok now. More concerning than that was that they accessed the loan information, not with the account number but with my social security number. At no time did I ever give them my ESL account number and my SS# was to be used for a credit check. This is a complete misuse of the information and in fact resulted in them making a huge error. They not only accessed information I didn’t authorize, but they never checked the VIN# to see if it matched the car in their possession. ESL said they have never seen a dealer make such a huge error and ensured me that no other information about my accounts or status would be given to Cortese due to my complaint.
Once I arrived at my appointment, I was left in the lobby to stew for 30 minutes while every s
ales rep smiled and offered to find Joe for me. All came back empty handed and said, I’m sorry, he is meeting with “Mr. Cortese”…..again, not my concern! When I finally got into the office, Joe stated, there are 3 errors that happened.
1. Joshua didn’t accurately pass on the payoff details to the finance office resulting in the paperwork reflecting a value of $1077.57 less than what was actually owed.
2. They didn’t check the VIN# on the loan before paying it off.
3. You (yes me) signed the contracts with the inaccurate figures.
Joe then produced all the paperwork that showed I clearly gave Joshua the correct balance and bank details for the Mini. If Joshua had accurately passed them along, all would be fine. Since he didn’t and I signed the papers, I now owe them another $1077.57 (I tried to give them the Grand Cherokee back but of course they can’t take it back now)!! Joe stated that he is under no obligation to take the vehicle back and that they are under no obligation to perform any checks and balances on any of the paperwork that their employees fill out. After 20 minutes of me reviewing the complete train wreck this whole deal was, he stated I would either pay it or be in breach of contract.
Well, I paid it. I then advised him I had already moved my service to another dealer. We had already had Canandaigua Jeep replace a defective part. The Cortese’s Body Shop / Kelly McManaman refused to fix this issue. I also told him I would do everything in my power to ensure that all the people in Rochester, in the market for a Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Lincoln, Ford, Mercury and Mitsubishi will know the truth about this dealer and find an alternative dealer to purchase from or get service.
I really didn’t have a good feeling about Cortese so I waited until the end of the week and contacted Alliance to see if the Mini loan had been paid. Well, it wasn’t (not shocked anymore). I called Joe and Joshua. Joshua assured me a payment had gone out “overnight” and they would receive it that day (Friday). The following week, on Monday, I contacted Alliance and they had not received the payment. At this point, the monthly payment was late (still in our name) and we were within the 10 day grace period. I again called Joe (who never called me back) and Joshua (now won’t call me back) and ended up getting Tony who promised to call me right back with an answer. He never did. I then resorted to calling the general Cortese operator and demanded to speak with the head of the Accounting Office.
These folks were nice, but stated they had sent the payment but weren’t told to send it overnight. I thought, well, at least Alliance will get it. I also questioned the payoff balance. It seemed that so much time had gone by that there is no way the payoff amount could be the same. She stated she sent the original amount but would call to get a new balance and send a second check. After a few days, the Cortese Accounting office called me to say they had sent the checks to the wrong address and wanted me to give them the correct address (why they didn’t actually call the bank, I will never know). It took more than another week for the payments to actually get there and be confirmed by the bank. I then left for a business trip and came home to a confirmation letter from the bank. The loan was finally satisfied (big sigh of relief…) and there was also an overpayment check of $3.67. At this point, all I could do was laugh at the complete incompetence of the entire Cortese organization.
After more than a full month, we finally have the sales deal sorted out but we had not yet received the permanent registration. Cortese assured us they had mailed it. After waiting 2 more weeks I called and demanded that they reissue the registration and to call us when they get it. We will pick it up, as our temporary registration was about to expired. About a week after I called, we finally got word they had the registration and we picked it up. Sale Complete! We love the Grand Cherokee but have to say that this was the worst car buying experience that we ever encountered.
Ok, deal is done after more than 6 weeks and while I can replay history in my head, I can’t change it. I can, however, do my best to ensure that all those in the greater Rochester area and those managing this experience will know how bad it was and do not repeat it.
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