Ask Bark: Can They Actually Do This to Me?

2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Camo

When it comes to buying new cars, I don’t have much patience. When I bought my Focus RS in 2016, I spent less than an hour doing the whole deal, including actually deciding what car I wanted to buy. Got a blank check approval from my bank, spitballed some ideas with my older brother and my good friend Bozi, and then put down a deposit on a car at a dealership about a thousand miles away. But there was one time when I tried to have patience, and was sorely disappointed.

Eleven years ago, I put down a $5,000 deposit and placed an order for a BMW 135i with my local BMW dealer. It was the launch year for the ill-fated 1 Series in the states, and I wanted to have one of the very first Ones to hit our shores. I ordered a very stripped down version — black, stick shift, cloth seats, no roof. After about 12 weeks, the dealer called to let me know that my car had arrived. Well, a car had arrived… but certainly not mine.

This example was an automatic. But that wasn’t the only thing they got wrong. They added somewhere in the neighborhood of $5k to the sticker, including nearly every option, even a red leather interior. Imagine my disappointment and frustration with the dealer, who had recycled sales people a couple of times since my order and couldn’t seem to track down anything about it, not even the original order sheet.

I asked for my money back, which they reluctantly gave me, and I ended up buying a Pontiac G8 GT instead — not a bad trade. But not everybody who goes through the ordering process is so fortunate. Click the jump for a question from our friend Andy about his experience in ordering his own custom German whip.

Hey Mark,

Got a good one for you and I’d love some input on here in SF, CA.  I have a new G63 on order and I’ve had my deposit on the car since they announced it last year.  When I put my 5k deposit with the salesperson they didn’t even have the car in the system. They gave me a paper receipt and over a year later I finally get an email saying my original salesperson was no longer there and my order was delayed.  They eventually got me a spot, and I dealt with a new sales rep. Spec’d my order and got in line. This was still early and MBUSA didn’t have the MSRP confirmed. When I placed my original order, with the now disappeared sales rep, he agreed this would be sold at MSRP since this would be my second G-class purchased from the dealer.  Eventually, they received pricing, sent over an email with the MSRP and build sheet and I confirmed the order. I tweaked the order several times and every time they changed the order and price and I had to email my confirmation.

 A few months later, as we got close to the build date, they emailed me saying that these are selling for 30k over asking due to demand and “how much would I be willing to pay?”. I obviously explained that the agreement with the original salesperson (verbal) was at MSRP and all communications with them were assumed at MSRP.  Got some vague answer back from the dealer saying they will see what the manager says; and I’m not pushing the topic till the car comes into the dealer in 2 weeks.

 I don’t really have a signed contract or anything along those lines but several emails with the build sheet, at msrp, confirming my order.  They sprung this whole markup situation on me well into the process and I honestly have no idea what they will pull when I go to collect and purchase the car.  I’m fully expecting them to push me to pay a premium and I’m prepared to refuse it. This is 100% my custom order and I’ve had 5k on deposit for over a year (feb 2018) so I don’t think they can sell it without me walking away from the deal, which I don’t plan on doing.

 So many questions on how to deal with these guys if/when they attempt to charge me a dealer premium.  Any tips or thoughts on how to deal with this situation? I assume there is a small chance they will just sell it at MSRP but I’d like to be prepared with some good arguments or legal standings here. 

I wish that I could say that I’m shocked, Andy, but I’m really not. Not even a little. The G63 is proving to be a very difficult car to get one’s hands on. I’m hearing that you pretty much need to have bought an AMG (or even two) beforehand to even be permitted to buy one. I know a guy who owns about 60 exotic cars, including a couple of AMG GTs, and even he can’t get one. So it’s completely unsurprising to hear that your dealer is screwing with you like this — they likely have people lined up to throw money at them, and the general manager is probably feeling a little sad that he won’t be adding another $30k to his bottom line on your order.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a lawyer, and I have no specific knowledge of California law on this matter beyond what my Google-Fu can find. My educated guess, however, based on what I know of dealership practices, is that you’re fucked.

Since there’s not much documentation on your original deal, there may not be much hope for you walking out at MSRP. The dealer may argue that your deposit was for a G63, not necessarily this G63. You don’t have a signed deal with an agreed selling price, so they may also argue that no selling price was ever agreed upon.

But there are a few things you could do.

The first would be to walk into the dealership and assume positive intent and result. Since you have purchased from them before, they may just end up biting the bullet and selling you the car at MSRP (a hilarious statement, when you think about it). The email about “how much you’re willing to pay” may have just been a shot across the bow, hoping that you’d write back and say OMG WHATEVER YOU WANT ME TO. The dealer may just decide that he’d rather have the sale on the board than argue with you about it all day. Let’s hope for this outcome, shall we?

 The second would be to have a preemptive strike in your back pocket. You appear to be a man of more than modest means — it might be worth the $500 or so it would cost a lawyer to draft a letter on your behalf, stating that the emails back and forth constitute a written agreement to sell the car at MSRP. Would it hold up in court? Maybe, maybe not. But it might scare them into folding and selling the car at MSRP.

But if you’re committed to buying a G63, the fourth and final thing would be to print out this post and bring it into the dealership with you, explaining that 50,000 people or so read this blog on the daily, and that you’d be happy to post an update and put them on blast if they try to screw with you. I don’t know which Mercedes dealership you are referring to, but most of them are part of larger dealer groups, and they don’t like this type of publicity at all. For proof of how this blog can fuck up a dealer’s Google results for literally years, ask the dealer to search “orlando kia west.”

 Lawyer friends in the B&B, any advice for our friend?

[Image: Mercedes-Benz]

Bark isn’t a lawyer, but he’s great at arguing! Put the Bark to work FOR YOU! Seriously though, email Bark at [email protected] with your questions, and look at his pictures on Instagram. 

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