In my last few posts, I detailed my adventures on purchasing a new car from among our fine selection of local dealerships. Remember that I had narrowed my choice down to the Honda Civic LX versus the Honda Fit Sport, and that the Nissan Versa and Scion xD had both been dropped.
Ciocca Honda (pronounced see-YOKE-uh) is a fairly new dealership at the corner of Route 22 and Route 39. Last week, I stopped in to negotiate a price for both vehicles. My sales rep was friendly and knowledgeable, and the sales process proceeded more or less exactly the same as it did at the other dealerships. It’s always been my experience that Honda dealerships are a little cleaner, a little nicer-looking, and a lot more customer-friendly than most other dealerships. For the most part, Ciocca Honda fit right in.
For the most part.
As was par for the course at every other dealership, we went back and forth on price for a while, and ultimately, Ciocca beat Faulkner by a noteworthy amount. I gave them my finance application, signed on the dotted line, and set up delivery for Saturday. But when Saturday actually rolled around, Ciocca Honda pissed me off faster than any pushy sales rep at Discount Donny’s Used Car-O-Rama could ever dream of doing.
Up through this past Saturday, Honda was running a special 2.9% finance offer on the Civic. This was my “x factor” that allowed me to justify bumping up to the slightly more expensive Civic over the Fit Sport. And while my FICO score isn’t 850, my credit is good enough to get me into the top one or two tiers. I stood an excellent chance of getting approved at 2.9% – 3.9% and was prepared to pay as high as 4.0%. But when their business manager took me into the office to sign the paperwork, he informed me that my loan was approved at a whopping 7.99% — almost double my maximum limit. I would later find out (not from Ciocca, of course) that this was wildly inaccurate, and that I had, in fact, been approved at 3.9% — more on this tomorrow.
My first thought was that this was some high-pressure sales tactic, and/or that Ciocca Honda was trying to recoup some profit on the deal by jacking up my interest rate. I played along — for the moment — and asked what my monthly payment would be. “I’ll get to that in just a second,” said the business manager. “First I want to talk about this Honda Care package we’re currently offering that gives you piece of mind in the event that…”
“First I want to talk about my monthly payment,” I interrupted. If they were going to be rude to me by jacking up my interest rate and dodging my questions, I was going to be rude right back.
“Now hold on a minute,” he said. “Just relax. I’m going to get to that in a minute.”
“No, let’s get to the payment first.”
“Well now just relax,” he repeated. “Just take a deep breath, slow down, and relax. We’ll talk all about that, but first you really need to hear about this great protection we’re offering you, because…”
“Tell you what,” I interrupted again. “I don’t have time for this, and I don’t care to be treated this way. You can either give me a payment amount right now, or you can put the tags back on my Element.” He grudgingly relented and told me that with the extended warranty, my payment would be around $380 a month for 60 months.
I got up to leave. He all but begged me to wait just a little bit longer, and disappeared to call American Honda Finance. I waited patiently up to and including the ten-minute mark, at which point I started to walk out of the dealership. Both my sales rep and the sales manager, who had also been very helpful, came running over to see what had gone wrong. The sales manager asked me to just hold on for one more minute, as the business manager was “on the phone with Honda Finance”.
So I waited some more. Out came the business manager, who informed me that the 7.99% rate couldn’t possibly go any lower. I pointed out that since they’d had my finance application for several days now, they had more than enough time to discover what rate I’d been scored at. I told them in no uncertain terms that I thought it was extremely shady and unethical that they coincidentally threw this outrageous rate at me on — surprise — the last day of the offer. I told them that I didn’t appreciate having to ask three times (and threaten to walk out) for my payment amount. And I told them that I didn’t appreciate their business manager “sneaking the extended warranty into the payment” (to which the business manager actually replied, “Sir, I do that for ALL of our customers here”).
Naturally, I left.
Yesterday (Monday), I went to Faulkner and discovered that I had, in fact, been approved in the second-best credit tier for that promo offer. Honda Finance had, in fact, approved me for 3.9% financing on the Civic. So why did Ciocca Honda quote me a rate that was 4.09% higher than what I was approved for?
That’s an excellent question.