Car Dealer Sales Tactic Under Review

  • 3 min read

There’s a tactic some car dealers use that has persisted for decades. Whether 30 or 40 years ago, it’s resurfacing today and gaining recent attention in the news. Dubbed a bailment agreement, it’s a subtle yet impactful maneuver that can jeopardize your purchase. Also known as yo-yo or comeback, it involves the dealer calling you back after you’ve driven off, coercing or pressuring you into additional payments, or even swapping the car.

The Stealthy Dealer Move: Spot Deliveries and Financing
When you buy a car, the dealership often rushes through the paperwork for what’s called a spot delivery. Essentially, they want you to drive off in the car immediately to prevent second thoughts. They arrange the financing by submitting your application to lenders, aiming to secure the most favorable deal, often based on potential kickbacks or commissions. However, not everyone gets instant approval, leading to a potential loophole for dealers.

The Risky Paperwork: The Bailment Agreement
The dealership mixes in a bailment agreement amidst the paperwork. This clause states that if your financing isn’t approved as expected, you must return the car at their request or agree to altered terms, possibly paying more or switching to a different vehicle. It’s a standard practice for spot deliveries, invisible until invoked, and can catch buyers off guard.

Dodging the Pitfall: Protecting Yourself
To shield yourself from this tactic, refrain from signing a bailment agreement when financing a car at a dealership. Insist on finalizing the deal only once the financing is secured as per your agreed terms. Even if you’re confident about approval, delaying the commitment until the dealership has financing in place offers you leverage in case of any discrepancies.

The Real-Life Example: The Power of Holding Off
Consider a case where a customer, despite negotiating a great lease deal late into the night at a dealership, refused to take the car until the financing was confirmed. This decision proved pivotal. The dealership later realized a miscalculation regarding incentives, which, if unnoticed and delivered through a spot delivery, could have given the dealer power to demand more payments or renegotiate terms.

Asserting Fairness: Standing Your Ground
Should a dealership slip into a bailment agreement without finalizing financing, challenge the deal. Refuse to commit until the financing is secured and set in stone, ensuring a level playing field. If the dealership won’t guarantee the deal’s completion, why should you be bound by it? Avoid speculative agreements that favor the dealership’s options over yours.

The Current Resurgence: Avoiding Potential Pitfalls
Instances of dealerships reintroducing this tactic have surfaced in recent reports from various sources, like Jalopnik and car enthusiast YouTubers. Despite fading from prominence, it’s resurfacing in dealership practices. Awareness is key to steering clear of situations where you’re pressured into revising a deal after having the car for days or weeks.

Empowerment in Choice: A Wide Array of Options
Remember, if a dealership insists on such tactics, there are plenty of other cars and dealerships out there. Don’t let pressure or coercion force you into a deal that puts you at a disadvantage. Your purchase should be fair, transparent, and without unnecessary risks or hidden agreements.

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