Every day, hundreds (if not thousands) of car salesman try to pull a fast one on their customers. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't; other times, the customer sees right through their scheme.
Customers on Reddit reveal how they out conned a car salesman trying to con them. Content has been edited for clarity.
"Back when I was an IT freelancer, I was leasing cars rather than buying.
It was coming to the end of the lease term, I had a Capri 2.8i, and the local Ford dealer called me and asked about what I was thinking of leasing next. In fact, I wasn’t. I had decided buying would be a better deal given the financial climate of the time.
He invited my husband and me to lunch, which I thought was odd since it was only my name on the lease. I accepted for me only. I was deliberately vague about the leasing intentions, saying I only had a couple of months on my current freelance contract and didn’t know what I’d be doing next - possibly going back to permanent work. He kept asking about what my husband planned to do, which I found intensely annoying - he wasn’t even a freelancer.
The next thing was an invitation to a show evening for a new model of something, at the Ford showroom. This time we both went. The salesman leapt on my husband like a vulture and dragged him off to see one of the cars, while a saleswoman appeared and suggested I look at something she described as a ‘nice car for ladies’. I raised my eyebrows. She did NOT get a good response. It was something tiny like a Fiesta, totally inappropriate.
I had been driving the Capri to and from Brussels via Ostend or Zeebrugge and the ferry for the last year. No way did I want to buy something the size of a baked bean tin and I said so. I pointed out we also needed a car that we could tow our boat with - quite a large sailing dinghy.
I left her standing with her mouth open, and went to rescue my husband. He was still trying to explain it wasn’t his decision anyway. I asked him if he had seen anything that might be appropriate and he said no, handed his glass to the salesman, and asked if he could get us another drink. The salesman clearly felt insulted but got us drinks anyway.
We were within walking distance of our home so not worried about having a few drinks and whatever food we could eat off their buffet. The sales team decided to leave us alone.
We never did buy or lease another new Ford!"
"I was planning to trade in a 2014 F150 pickup truck with high mileage (188,000) so I logged on to the Kelly Blue Book website to see about what it was worth. I entered all the particulars about the truck including my zip code, the mileage, and 'average condition' with a small dent in one of the back doors. The website told me the trade in value would be 9.5k. It also told me that the range for my area was between 8.4K and about 11K for that truck in that condition. I also agreed to let the website send a message to local dealerships who would pay cash for my truck or allow that much in trade.
Now, I had paid 12k for the truck about two years earlier, so I figured 9.5K might be a bit high and if I could get that much I would be pretty lucky. Within a few minutes, I started getting emails from local dealerships, probably three of them, and then phone calls. The first one that called, I made a tentative deal for the car I wanted that was on their lot, and made an appointment for later in the week to do the deal.
I got to the dealership a little before dark, checked out the car, and handed them my truck keys. While they appraised the truck, I test drove the car and it was fine. It was in great shape, had good rubber, handled very well, and had fairly low mileage for a five-year-old car at 60K miles. When I went into the dealership, they handed me a piece of paper with the trade value of 5k for my truck, and I started laughing. I told the salesman we were done unless they coughed up 9.5K. He went back to speak with his manager, of course.
The sales manager came out with the salesman a few minutes later, and started explaining that with the high mileage on my truck, la da da and the dent in the door, yada yada yada, he could only offer me 5K. I started laughing again and asked him if he knows anything about Ford F150s. I explained to him that any running six-year-old pickup truck is worth between 5K and 6K, even a dodge or a Chevy, but that a six-year-old Ford F150 with rusty doors, a broken tailgate, 190K miles, and dents all around was still going to sell for over 7K.
Then he asks me what it’s going to take to make this deal. I told him I had $3K in cash and a 2014 F150 Pickup that I would give him for the car. That’s it. No additional fees or taxes or tags or anything else. Pickup truck plus $3K cash equals used car. He started to say something about how he was never going to be able to sell the truck for a profit and that he would have to send it to auction and yada yada yada, when I stopped him and asked, 'Doesn’t your business have a business relationship with Kelly Blue Book?' He said yes.
I said, 'So Kelly Blue Book is how I got here. The website told me that my truck with almost 190K miles and a dent in the door is worth $9.5K and notified your dealership of that, right?'
He said yes. I said, 'So you knew I was coming with this truck and the company you count on to pre-qualify deals already told you what they told me you would offer me - is that about right?' He said yes.
I said, 'Then I have a 2016 Ford F150 and $3K in cash that I will give you for that car.'
He said Ok, and that was that."
"Back in 1994, my wife and I decided it was time for her to own a brand-new Honda Accord. Over about three weeks, we visited four or five local dealerships after work to unearth the best deal possible (It was almost like a part-time job for us).
Anyway, while visiting a dealership which was maybe a 40-minute drive from our home, we managed to (preliminarily) negotiate everything we were looking for in a car model, added options, and price. The salesman (Craig) was new and said he’d have to clear everything with the dealership’s General Manager (who had already left for the day).
I told Craig that’s not a problem, he can just call us tomorrow with the results of his discussion with the manager. He calls me on the phone at about 5:30 the next day, and says his manager approved all of our conditions, and we could just come and sign for my wife’s new Accord.
I said: 'Craig, you understand that it’s a 40-minute drive for us, so DO NOT CHANGE ANY PART OF THIS DEAL AFTER WE GET THERE.'
'No problem there, Doug. Thanks, I’ll be waiting for you,' said Craig.
So we make the 40-minute drive, and as we’re entering the showroom, there’s Craig, walking solemnly toward us, eyes toward the floor, and slowly and sadly shaking his head.
'I’m really sorry, guys, but my manager now says there is NO WAY we can let the car go for the terms we discussed,' he told us.
I’d already half-expected this, so I very calmly and quietly said, 'Listen, Craig, we both like you, personally, but please tell your manager thanks for nothing, and to poop in his hat.'
My wife and I calmly walked out the door, got into our car, and began to leave. Craig came running out of the showroom, waving his arms in front of us, saying to 'Please come back and sign for this car for the price and features you wanted!'
As I said, we really did like Craig personally, so went back inside and bought the car. It had to stay there for another day for the negotiated options to be installed, so we returned on the following evening to pick it up.
As soon as we got there, some guy we’d never seen before kind of abruptly walked up to us and said, 'My name is (whatever-it-was), and I own this dealership. I want you both to know that if I were here last night, I would’ve NEVER, EVER approved the sales terms for this car.'
I replied, 'Yeah, well, before I forget,I understand we get a free tank of gas for buying a car here.'
He kind of stiffened, turned red, and his eyes showed what could only be described as 'restrained anger'
Through clenched teeth, he turned toward an employee and said, 'Alan, please give this gentleman a gas voucher.'
We walked outside to my wife’s new Accord. She excitedly got in the driver’s seat. I told her to enjoy the drive home, and that I’d be right behind her.
Before slamming the door, we had this final exchange:
'You’re very good.'
"Back in 1995, I was looking for a decently reliable car, as my 1977 GMC truck was acting up a little. I was on my motorcycle, and happened to see a little sporty 1992 Pontiac Sunbird SE on a used car lot. I stopped, took a look, and they let me take it for a test drive. Nice enough.
The salesman tells me, 'Hey, one of our assistants can drive it home for you and you take your bike, then bring him back to the lot. Then you can test drive it for a day or so.'
Huh? Okay, can’t go wrong with that deal. Of course, he knew where my address was, and I was an Army warrant officer at Fort Hood, TX, so he had ways.
Well, I drove it for a couple of days, and noticed an oil leak under the intake manifold. I went by the car lot, and the salesman told me he’d get the mechanics to look at it. Next day, he said to come to pick it up. Okay. Sure enough, leak-free, they had pulled the intake manifold and replaced the gaskets, and sealed it right up. And off I drove for a few more days.
Then, I noticed the rack and pinion was leaking a bit. Took it back, and they replaced the rack and pinion, and the next day, gave it back to me. I noticed a bit of play in the steering wheel after that, so they ordered me a new coupling they had messed up when they changed out the rack and pinion. I just replaced a bolt in the assembly and fixed it, but they still gave me the part, which I think was about $50 or so. It was still with the car when I sold it.
Anyway, after about two weeks of ‘test-driving’, I stopped by the lot, and the salesman came over, quietly said that I either needed to buy the car, or give it back. I laughed.
I said sure, I’ll take it. (That’s what I went to the lot for, that day, anyway). He gave it to me for about $1500 under book price. I never had any real problems with that car. normal wear and tear, drove it about 105K miles until I sold it nine years later. I’m sure he still made money on it, and I put in a good word for his business if people wanted to look at used cars."
"I sold cars for a brief period of time back in the ’80s and was quite successful at it. This experience helped educate me about what to look for when in the buyer's seat. I had no interest in being a long-term car salesman, so I quit the job when they started letting less successful salespeople go who had been there for years.
Many years after this experience, my oldest daughter found a Ford Mustang that she really liked. It was a very uncommon color. It was new and at the Ford dealership in our town. A friend of my daughter who had already graduated from high school was selling cars there, so my daughter and I went to attempt to trade her old vehicle for the Mustang.
Using knowledge from my car sales days, I had a figure in mind that I knew to be a fair deal for myself and the dealership. I was completely honest about the vehicle we were trading, and the sales manager desking the deal made an offer exactly $1500 more than the maximum I was willing to pay. I made my counter offer through the salesgirl and the sales manager declined, so we gathered our trade keys and headed towards the door.
Being my daughter's friend, the salesgirl confided to us that the sales manager told her to let us walk, 'They will be back' he said.
That solidified my resolve we would not buy a vehicle from that dealership. My daughter was disappointed, but respected my decision when I asked her to trust my judgment.
As soon as we got home, I called the next closest dealership in a nearby town and spoke to a very accommodating and much more experienced salesman. I described our trade-in detail, described the vehicle we were interested in, and he got to work and located the same vehicle in another nearby state.
The salesman called me back and we negotiated the deal and I got an identical car for a few dollars less than the maximum I was willing to pay. The deal was transacted without me going to the dealership, without the dealer even seeing my trade! I banked with a credit union so I arranged the financing by phone. The salesman faxed a buyers order to my credit union who had power of attorney to close the deal without me, so I made the purchase without leaving my home.
When the vehicle arrived at the dealership, my daughter drove the trade to take delivery of her new car with a friend. The salesman introduced her to the new vehicle and then called me as she was leaving to thank me for my business. I asked him if everything was found as I described on our trade which had been wrecked, and he acknowledged that my description had been perfect.
My daughter drove straight to visit her friend the salesperson at the dealership we originally went to and told her to let her sales manager know she was back, but not to get their car because we found a much better deal. From what her friend told her, the dealership owner was not happy with his sales manager that day. No one in the area would buy their vehicle being the uncommon color it was, with my daughter driving hers in our small town. They ended up dealer transferring it to another city instead. Sweet revenge. Incidentally, I have bought another Ford since then, and guess where I didn’t go shopping? Even better revenge!"
"When I was young (18 or 19 as I recall), I went to a used car lot to look at a new (to me) car. I took my old car as a possible trade and worked out a deal. They offered me $1500 for my car and the rest of the deal I was happy with, so we completed the paperwork and I drove my new car home (about 1/2 hour drive).
When I returned home, my mother informed me the dealership had called (this was before cell phones) and said there was a problem and they needed me to call/return. Since it was late at night by this time, so I called the following morning. They told me they needed me to come back to the dealership because there was a problem with the paperwork.
When I drove back the car, the salesman informed me they hadn’t realized my trade-in had a salvaged title when we made the deal (I had handed them the title before we started any negotiating so it was on them as it was clearly stated on the title that the car had been salvaged). Due to the money offered me for trade wasn’t going to work and they needed another $1000 cash (I had already done a cash down of $1000 the day before). I informed them I didn’t have another 1k so I would have to just take my car back and go find another dealership.
They then told me that would be impossible, as my car was already sent off (to wherever they send cars, so they would NEED that 1k). I felt like they figured since I was a young kid they could bully me.
Instead, I reached for the keys to the new car, picked them up off the desk, and said 'I guess YOU have a problem then. I am willing to cancel this deal, take my car and my $1000 and leave, however since you can’t provide that to me I will just leave in my new car.'
They scurried off to 'discuss' the matter, and came back a few moments later and said they had figured out how to make it work and for me to have a nice day."
"My then 20-year-old daughter decided she wanted a brand-new car and did her research; what she could afford, extras, miles per gallon, color. The base model is 20K, the Sports edition she wanted was 34K. She then begged me to take her car shopping.
We got to the dealership, she told the salesman what she wanted, the model, the color, extras, the year model etc. He showed us the demo model, it was perfect, save for the color. We test drove it, and she wanted it. She wanted this one. We asked if the demo is for sale as it was the end-of-year sale to dump cars badged in that year before the next year's models. He said yes, but he’s got one in white like she wanted outback, still wrapped in plastic. She said she wanted the demo car in a light color now she’s seen it.
We went inside to talk. I asked him his best price, he told me they retail for 34K. I tell him I know, but that wasn’t the question. He said 30K. I thanked him and stood up, he panicked. Goes away, comes back, ok can do 27K, absolute bottom price, no extras. I thanked him again and stood up to leave. He panicked again.
'Okay, what are you trying to spend?' I ask.
I told him I wanted the car closer to 20K, with tinted windows and premium floor mats, both minor cost extras. He laughed in my face, so I stood up again.
'Hold on, let me get the dealership manager, he’s in a meeting with the State Manager,' he hurriedly explained.
He went into one of those glass-walled offices with two other guys. I couldn’t hear anything, but one of the guys wasn’t happy! Here they come, the boys were coming to mansplain to me how this all works. They’re throwing paperwork around and being quite condescending when something catches my eye. I told them again what I want, reminded them she has her own finance and needs nothing from them but the sale and the keys. They got a little aggravated but keep their cool.
Finally, he tells me 24K, not a cent less, but that’s for the white 2019 model out the back in plastic and not the 2019 demo model. My daughter goes to argue, I kick her under the table. Make it 22K and you have a deal with the extras. He nearly blows a gasket and literally starts sweating, but finally says yes. The first salesman whispered to him that he’d agreed to the extras earlier, and we thought he was going to have an actual heart attack! We walked out of there in under an hour with a sales contract for a brand new 2020 model car, sports edition, fully loaded (they’d been out a month) because in their haste to try and get a quick sale from the two dumb women, he didn’t realize he’d just sold her a brand new 2020 model car in error (I noticed the year model on the paperwork).
Her bank manager said it was the best deal on a brand-new car they’d ever seen, and gave her an even better deal on her loan than they’d initially approved her for!
The car lot then failed to issue her a receipt for the deposit as promised, which I called about and got her another 500 bucks off. She bought a 34K car for 21.5K with 300 buck tinted windows and 100 buck floor mats. Think I did ok on that one!"
"I didn't intend to con the salesman, who happened to be the owner of the car lot. He was known to be a bully and had some shady dealings. I crashed my 1972 Maverick. The damage was 700 bucks something. After he looked over my car, he said he had one I might be interested in. It was the 1978 Granada. As we dickered on the price, he mentioned the 700.00 insurance check.
Well, after we signed the paperwork, pending loan approval, I showed my dad the contract of what I bought. I mentioned the insurance check as part of the payment, my dad said to show him in the contract the dealer would get the check. It wasn't on it, no mention of the 700 bucks. Now my dad had had a problem with this dealer over repairs on his car, as had many others, so while he wasn't happy I was buying from him. But he smiled when he realized there was no mention of the insurance check.
So, I bought the car, cash loan from my dad. About two weeks later, the dealer called me to ask if I got the insurance check yet. I told him I did. He asked about paying him. I asked where on the contract it said it was his. After a week of threatening me, my dad called him. Never heard from him again. In all probability, it probably cost the dealer a few hundred to repair the damage, not 700 bucks."
"My wife and I walked into a car dealership. I started looking at a Dodge Charger. We both knew we were going to buy one, although all of them on the lot were not the color we wanted. We were looking at the interior of one in the showroom. I’m pretty sure that because we were in our early twenties, he thought we were looking but not serious buyers and, since it was his turn up, wanted to get us out of there. He asked if he could help us, and I said we’re just looking. I wanted to look over the car some more before dealing with the pressure of the salesman.
So then he blurted out, '100 bucks over our cost.' I said sold, let’s write one up. The look on his face was priceless. So we sat there and ordered the car we wanted in the color we wanted and went through every option, adding what we wanted. I made him show me the retail and wholesale column to make sure he was writing dealer cost for each option.
He did get back at me a little in the long run. When my car delivery date came and went with no car, I pressured him. He told me the car came in the wrong color and he had to re-order it. I know what happened: it came in and he had the opportunity to sell it to someone else at a normal profit. I wouldn’t accept that at no consequence, so I ended up getting a free loaner from them until my re-ordered car arrived."
"Many years ago, my husband drove my car to a local dealership to purchase a replacement headlamp. As soon as he parked the car and started walking toward the building, a salesman came running over and immediately started to talk up the features and benefits of the car. My husband egged him on, and they negotiated a price almost double that of what the car was worth. The salesman then brought out the sales manager to 'close the deal,' but they could not find their inventory card (pre-computer days).
At that point, the manager said he would complete the sale and deal with the missing card later. He then asked my husband how he wanted to finance the purchase.
My husband, feigning great confusion, said, 'Why would I want to finance this car? It belongs to my wife. Your salesman just bought it and she is going to be very happy with the price she is getting.'
He thought the manager was going to have a stroke, and the salesman disappeared very quickly. We still laugh about this almost 50 years later."