Civil Discourse Now

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Andy Mohr Toyota sale---if it seems too good to be true...

   "100% Reimbursement for your trade ... Any customer trading in a 2002-2012 model will receive 100% of the factory full base model MSRP when new." [FN1]

   The 8 1/2" x 14" envelope had required no signature. The postal carrier had folded it and pushed it through the slot of the front door. I saw it on the rug when I got home. The word "URGENT"---yes, in caps---appeared three times on the front of the envelope, although the letters were slightly smaller on one "urgent." There was no identification of who sent the package, only an address in Avon on East Highway 36.

   Years ago I would have been in "full alarm" mode, but the manner in which mass-mail advertisers send out their "things," plus all those dozens of paternity lawsuits (just kidding) have slowed my central nervous system in the move to "full alarm" mode. Curiosity had me in its grasp, however, so I opened along the perforations and unfolded what turned out to be an ad for Andy Mohr Toyota in Avon.

   Andy Mohr seems to be a pleasant fellow. He smiles in all his ads. Years ago, auto dealers stayed with one corporations. GM dealers did not stray from GM brands. The same went with Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, etc. Today the marketplace is different. Andy Mohr sells Fords, Chevies, and, in Avon, Toyotas.

   The ad promised that I would receive 100% of the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price on my 2002 Toyota Camry were I to choose to trade it in over June 20-24. The base price of a Camry, back then---without the specific "trim" or package on the model I have driven for nearly 130,000 miles---was around $19K, as I recalled. That meant I possibly could buy a new Camry only for another three or four grand. (I had not, and have not, looked up current prices on a new Camry; this only was a guess on my part.)

   Then I saw the footnote, a numeral 1 in parentheses, "(1)," slightly above the print at the end of the sentence.

   I followed the page and read the footnote. It states, in relevant part: "This offer is based on condition of vehicle and ... deductions will be made for mileage (10c-95c per mile depending on model), wear and tear and conditioning costs.  Trade value mileage will be calculated at a minimum of 12,000 miles per year if the actual odometer reading is less than 12,000 miles."

    At ten cents per mile---the minimum amount stated in the footnote, my car will be valued, for trade-in, at a minimum of $13K. At most it would be valued at nearly $130,000 (at 95 cents per mile). In all likelihood, a man or woman from the garage will come out, inspect a vehicle, give it a test drive, and, as that person usually would do when anyone comes in with a possible trade-in, jot a quick note to the salesperson of the trade-in "value" of the vehicle. The salesperson negotiates from there.

    I like my Camry. It was built in Canada. I've put more miles on it than any other vehicle I have driven. I have taken good care of it. This ad had me going, I have to admit. I am a lawyer and had to read the fine print. I would just ask the PR people for Andy Mohr: please me more straight-forward on sales you have. The next time I buy a new car, I'll do the same thing as last time. I'll find the invoice price of the models at which I look, offer two percent over that figure (and calculate any dealer "specials" that may be on at the time), and walk if the salesperson says anything but "yes." In the meantime, I will refrain from reading the "URGENT" messages about sales.

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