On Tuesday, June 23, 2015, my daughter, a recent college graduate, and I visited Maplewood Toyota, in Maplewood, MN, after salesperson Peter Ihle, told her over the phone that they would match any competing offer we could present in writing.
We had solicited offers on a new Corolla using Edmunds from dealerships both in Chicago, where she will move next week, and here in MN, where she will be until she moves. We had a very competitive offer from Chicago Toyota Dealership Elgin Toyota, which was disclosed to Mr. Ihle on the phone before we went there. He said if it was in writing he would match it. There were no statements of exceptions to this promise.
Upon arrival at Maplewood Toyota, we asked to confirm Mr. Ihle’s offer to match the Elgin Toyota price, which he did. Then, after two hours and forty minutes spent with Mr. Ihle, during which time he collected such personal information as a transcript for the Toyota College Grad Rebate Program, an offer letter for my daughter’s new job, and running a credit check, along with two test drives, and one check-back with other Maplewood Toyota personnel to determine the price match could only be applied to in-stock cars, because the price was so competitive he could not pay the fee to transfer another car from another dealership, the sales manager Ross A. Meyer, came to us to tell us he would not honor any of Mr. Ihle's promises to us about the price.
It was immediately our opinion that we had experienced a bait and switch at Maplewood Toyota. After speaking to a representative from the MN Attorney General’s office the next day, we learned that this general fact pattern is consistent with a trend that office is tracking. Dealerships make an offering to get the customer onsite, make assurances to continue the interaction to the point of causing fatigue and a concurrent emotional investment in the desired outcome of a purchase, and then after considerable time has passed, decline to honor the initial offering on price.
Ross Meyer and Peter Ihle said it was a mistake. Mr. Ihle said he has 20 years of experience. Despite this length of service as a car salesman, he stated by way of explanation that did not know he was not authorized to promise he could match an in-writing offer, as he first stated over the phone that afternoon and confirmed in the first five minutes of our in-person interaction with him later that same day.
Ross Meyer, by additional way of explanation “speculated” (his term) that Elgin Toyota would not honor their in-writing offer provided through Edmunds and that this speculation was sufficient rationale for Maplewood Toyota’s refusal to honor their promise on price made to us (multiple times).
In a telephone conversation on Thursday, June 25, 2015, General Sales Manger Tom Beedy, a member of the Toyota Board of Governors, further explained that there are “unscrupulous” (his term) Toyota dealerships across the country that engage in bad faith promises on price, specifically in IL and CA. And this was the Maplewood Toyota rationale for the experience we had with Peter Ihle and Ross Meyer, where an in-person promise on price to us was withdrawn, two hours and forty minutes into the purchase process.
I feel badly, as initially in her purchase process, my daughter was not especially interested in Toyotas. I convinced her to check them out as I thought it would be a good option, to her preferred brand, Honda, and that Toyota would provide a good first-time car buyer experience. That was my mistake. Previous to this, Comcast had held the distinction of providing the worst customer service, in my opinion formed in my experience as a consumer. Maplewood Toyota, in my opinion, has now displaced Comcast for that dubious honor.
Two days after our very unpleasant experience at Maplewood Toyota, my daughter bought a Honda Civic. She is very pleased both with her new car and her Honda purchase experience.
Respectfully submitted with the hope that your car purchase experience is more efficient and more pleasant than ours was.
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