Desperate Chrysler Dealership Resorts To Stupid Scare Tactics To Drum Up Business

Apparently the people at Integrity (!) Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Las Vegas don’t read our blog, or they would have seen this post last year. Then they would have known what a bad idea it is to trick people into thinking you’ve hit their vehicle just to get them to call you about a trade-in offer.

Chris writes,

My wife went into a Wal-Mart the other day and when she came out of the store she found a note that was left on her car. It said “Please call me about your car” and was hand written on a torn off piece of notebook paper. Of course the first thing you think of is that someone bumped into it or something, but after finding no damage she called the number to see what was up. The person that answered was apparently a car salesperson from a nearby Chrysler dealership and asked if my wife was interested in trading her car in for a new one. Once my wife said no that was the end of it, but I’m just totally surprised at the tactics of the dealership to bring in customers.

Tricking people into thinking something happened to their car, which is in many cases the most expensive thing one owns and relies upon the most, is just low. Not only that, but it’s not like this particular salesperson was running around putting these notes out herself considering she was able to answer her extension at worth within minutes of when the note was left. Who knows? Maybe the dealership is just sending people out with handfuls of these things targeting Chrysler vehicles in parking lots. Amazing.

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  1. jklug80 says:

    Makes me want to go to dealerships and leave notes on the workers cars that say “Please call me about your lost morals” and leave the phone number for AIG Headquarters

  2. tc4b says:

    Can people who do this be prosecuted for littering? I often wonder that about people who cram fliers into the little red flag thing on my mailbox. They always end up all over the neighborhood on the ground.

    • tripnman says:

      @tc4b: If I recall correctly, putting anything that was not delived by the USPS in or on a mailbox is a Federal crime. Not sure if the little red flag thingy qualifies.

      • plustax says:

        @tripnman: It is a federal crime but goodluck getting the postal service to bother to enforce it.

        • Jeremy W. Simmons says:

          @plustax: @tc4b: Is it illegal to just throw those stupid fliers on the ground if you didn’t ask for them?

          • tripnman says:

            @Jeremy W. Simmons: When I’m feeling frisky and have nothing better to do, I’ve been known to troll our entire neighborhood and secure every one of those fliers (or worse yet, the little rolled up ones in a plastic bag with a rock that they throw in your driveway) and then deliver them back to the company doing the advertising. I was recently chased out of a gym by a couple of steroid shooting muscle heads when I dropped a LOT of them on the floor right inside their front door. Good times!

            • audemars says:

              @tripnman: I did this once, some local business in my home town went around and left little notes attached to small bags of gravel in the middle of the night. So early in the morning my friends and I went around and collected probably 80-100 of these bags and went to the business and left them in front of their main entrance doors. It was hilarious.

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @tc4b: i’ve always wondered why tossing cigarette butts out the window isn’t littering, or (if it is) why it’s culturally acceptable littering
      when i’m at work and see someone drop a cigarette on the ground, i kindly ask them to throw it in the trash. 90% of the time, people comply, but there’s the 1 in 10 who either ignore (or pretend to not hear) me, and i’ve had 2 or 3 people tell me that it’s my job to pick it up (it’s not. my job is to drive a minibus)

      • Anonymous says:

        @gStein: cig butts ARE littering. My city just started airing commercials featuring real footage of various people in the city throwing their butts on the ground. Their eyes are blocked out and the tag line is something like, “Next time we’re showing faces.” Very, very clever, I thought.

  3. Radi0logy says:

    Ah, american ingenuity at its best. Who says the Nigerians or the Russians are the best scammers.

    • docrice says:

      @Radi0logy: Nigerian consultants.

    • cmdrsass says:

      @Radi0logy: Except in this case, no one was scammed or would be scammed even if they had followed through on the offer. Try again.

      • Shadowman615 says:

        @cmdrsass: No, they pretty much definitely would have been scammed if they had followed through on the offer. Ever been to a shady car dealership? I’m willing to bet that one that practices these kinds of tactics is not one of the good ones.

  4. Tank says:

    Sounds like the salesman was the top student in his “Shameless Self-promotion” class.

  5. LuzioFantazmic says:

    I can’t think of any better way to get new customers. Scam them into calling you. I know car salesmen aren’t the brightest bulbs on the string, but these guys aren’t helping the cause.

    • eXo says:

      @LuzioFantazmic: There is a difference between scamming someone into calling you, and getting a new customer. When the first experience between a company and the potential client is deceit, it becomes exponentially harder to actually secure a sale from that. It is a ridiculous tactic.

    • Jeremy W. Simmons says:

      @LuzioFantazmic: @TanKill3R: It’s not about if they have a college degree or not, it’s about them stalking a potential customer soon as they step out of their car in the parking lot. They will come to the salesman if they need anything.

  6. Onion_Volcano says:

    My father sells cars. Was it him? He would have been the guy in the gorilla costume.

  7. philmin says:

    I don’t hate car salesmen, I just feel sorry for them. If they put in the same hard work/long hours into developing a talent or prepping for a real job, they could make a lot more money not trying to con people all day.

    • Brontide says:

      @philmin: You don’t know a lot about car salesmen do you? No college degree, good with people, low morals, and a suit and you too can ( could ) make a lot of money in car sales. Their alternatives without a college education are often retail sales or blue collar heavy lifting work, neither of which pays terribly well in comparison.

      • TanKill3R says:

        @snowmoon: I’m having a hard time understanding why your bashing people without college degrees. Many of them are honest, hard working folk. And for your information, their are many jobs that pay very well without a college degree; administration, schooling, government and even iT.

  8. unobservant says:

    This makes me wonder how else you could use this tactic… any ideas? I’ll start:

    Plastic surgeon: “Please call m about your face.”

  9. redskull says:

    Oh, I pray to Thor one of these lowlifes tries this one on me!

  10. tc4b says:

    Gastrointerologist: “Call me about your colon.” Note left taped to toilet seat.

  11. GavinEstecado says:

    philmin: You’re just a ray of criticizing sunshine today. Poking fun at $200 suits and saying all car salesman are lazy con artists….

    Someone needs a hug and a cookie

    • JayDeEm says:

      @GavinEstecado: If a car salesman offered me a hug and a cookie I might come in and take a test drive. Mostly for the cookie though (not oatmeal).

      • failurate says:

        @JayDeEm: The dealer I bought my car from offers donuts and coffee just for stopping in, you don’t even have to talk to a salesperson. And if you asked, I bet they would throw in a hug.

  12. edwardso says:

    Were they putting them on all the cars or just specific ones? There might be a demand for certain used cars at their dealership, in which case I think it might be a little annoying but not unethical. I sometimes ask people if they want to sell their hondas for my brother.

    If I didn’t see damage I wouldn’t call

  13. Anonymous says:

    I hear that some used cars are more valuable to a dealership than new cars. Her particular make/model may be a hot item at the dealership. Without damage to the vehicle, I don’t know that I would have been “tricked” into thinking anything happened.. more confused than anything else.

  14. internetsguy says:

    I don’t see how this is a bad thing or a big deal. No where on the note did it say that the salesperson hit the car. Would it have been better to include “I’d like to talk to you about trading in your car” on the note? Sure. But the way I see it, this is just a salesperson trying to find some business.

    • redskull says:

      @internetsguy: It’s bad because it needlessly implies that someone did something to your car, causing uncertainty, anger and stress – things that no one needs any more of right now.

      Sure the note doesn’t specifically say the writer damaged the car, but what else would one think? What other reason would someone write a note like this?

      If I got one of these notes and called only to find out it was a sales pitch, “pissed off” would not begin to describe how I would feel. “Furious and blinded with a white-hot rage” would be closer.

  15. Dustin White says:

    Who cares. Why is this “front page” worthy?

  16. econobiker says:

    Way back in the pre internet days some enterprising work at home scammer placed flyers under the wipers in my college’s parking lot. And gave his street address and a supposed contact name…

    I still wonder what he did with all the Rolling Stone subscriptions, record club enrollments (only Classical or old fogie music chosen), and extermination company inquiries we had sent to him.

  17. SkokieGuy says:

    This has also been done by real estate agents, with a note in a mailbox, “Are you looking to sell your house?” purporting to be from a couple eager to move into a specific neighboorhood.

    • redskull says:

      @SkokieGuy: But that’s different. They’re being upfront about what they want. They’re not leaving a cryptic note that implies they may have ran into your house and dented it.

  18. philmin says:

    Gavin: The $200 dollar suit thing was a (lame) joke – clarified in thread now – and I guess Im just commenting on car salesmen who do things like what the author wrote. Although I do think a very large majority of them are essentially con artists.

  19. WaywardSoul says:

    Can you imagine the reaction of someone who finds this note then looks over their car to find damage they’d never noticed before?

    Consider how many people that could happen to if the dealership tagged older cars that the owners didn’t watch as closely anymore.

    There’s potential for a lot of accusations and a lot of bad karma for the dealership.

  20. shepd says:

    Phone as if you found problem “X” on your car. Tape the call (if legal in your area). When they say they left it to sell you something get all high and mighty that they’re lying because they’ve had a change of heart. Get them to tell you there’s no way they’re paying for your “X”. Go to a body shop and get an estimate. Mail it to them. Get more confirmation they don’t plan to pay.

    Then, for the coup de gras: Sue them in small claims, bring in the call, bring in the letter. Even if they admit to littering, I doubt the judge is going to believe them–this doesn’t look like an ad, it looks like a “I bumped your car” note.

    Basically, make Kelly pay to get your car fixed.

    Oh, IANAL, and I am probably also morally corrupt. But, damn! Wouldn’t this be fun, though…

    • Brontide says:

      @shepd: With a mind like that you have a promising government career ahead of you!

    • Kaellorian says:

      @shepd: Don’t you have “AAA” rated mortgage backed securities to hock?

    • LordofBacon says:

      @shepd:

      So basically you want people to commit fraud?

      Nice. Real nice.

      • shepd says:

        @LordofBacon:

        Some people are asking for it. Just saying.

        I wouldn’t do it myself, but if I were watching it happen I know I wouldn’t lend a hand to stop it. Fraud couldn’t happen to a better group of people.

        Yes, I do know there’s limits. I wouldn’t refuse to help someone who’s dying, even if they were Charles Manson. But if someone were to rip off a dealership trying to rip others off? Hmmmm… that’s a tough one for me (not). Live by the sword, die by the sword and all that.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      @shepd: That’s awesome. Beat them at their own game!

      Although the sticking point is you’d need to have a car that already actually has problem X. Not like you’re going to smash it yourself just to hopefully get the money back that way.

    • Corporate-Shill says:

      @shepd:

      No, no. take your car to that specific dealership and tell the body shop to bill Kelly directly for the damages he/she caused your car.

      No matter what, I am sure Kelly is going to be paying the body shop for wasting their time. Might even pay with his/her job.

  21. jamesdenver says:

    I like shepd’s idea. Someone should call them know about that scenario, ignore their sales pitch and just be concerned about reconciling the dent that “wasn’t” there before the note was left…

  22. jscott73 says:

    @shepd: (grrr reply button not working again)

    Ahhh man, I hope that happens to me now, I have a big fatty dent in my car that is just waiting for a scummy car salesman to pay to fix. :)

  23. LegoMan322 says:

    I do agree with the shadiness of the sales person, but that is balls….and balls closes deals.

  24. KyleOrton says:

    @ unobservant – Free clinics. “I got tested. Call me…”

  25. lalaland13 says:

    This reminds me of those billboards that say “We need to talk -God.” I wonder if local churches will start putting out handbills that say “Dear Susie, please call me about your soul. -Jesus.”

  26. MrsLopsided says:

    LOL. You can get the salesman to pay for prior damage… & you have his note as proof that it was his fault.

  27. JGKojak says:

    Yep- I’d go to the police station, file a police report- give ‘em a copy of the note, find a scratch/dent on an exposed part of where the car was parked, and let the police give ‘em a call.

  28. TrueBlue63 says:

    It seems that Consumerist is using the same tactics in the note. Tell people that someone is using a shady tactic, then run an article that demonstrates a creative way to get someone’s attention.

    The dealer did not claim to have damaged the vehicle. They didn’t call up and say, sorry I dinged your car, but I happen to be a car salesman and I can give you a deal. That would have been shady, and fraudulent.

    It is hard to make a living these days, give the salesman a break, they are just trying to generate sales leads.

  29. emis says:

    I used to get those cards in the mail that say “We’re going NUTS trying to reach you” with a poorly drawn imitation of Mr. Peanut doing a dance… never any information on the card, just a phone number and a “case” number… I called once, realized it was a sales call, told them to remove from their list, and then just threw the card away every other time I received it.

    I don’t really see this a scare tactic or a “dirty” trick… it’s just a regular trick :)

  30. DrGirlfriend says:

    @internetsguy: The salesperson exploited a well-known method of letting someone know their car has been hit in order to create a sense of urgency in the car-owner to call back. It’s not a huge deal, but certainly sketchy enough to make anyone shy back from doing business with that person.

    • oneandone says:

      @DrGirlfriend: This!
      If people were used to receiving notes on their car for a variety of reasons (I like your car and am interested in buying, your alarm goes off and it is irritating, your rims are cool where did you get them, etc) then we would be used to notes with random inquiries or sales pitches.

      As it is now, note on car = I bumped/damaged your car. This context makes the sales note manipulative and underhanded.

  31. Outrun1986 says:

    This would work in the reverse on me, if someone did this to me that dealership would be the LAST place I would go to to buy a new car. This woman is hurting her business even more by doing this.

  32. jamesdenver says:

    Also this note looks like it’s from an invididual salesperson – with her own extension.

    The dealership may not even know she’s doing it. voicemail probably says “hi this is kelly’s desk” or something in case she’s out peope will still leave a msg.

  33. cleek says:

    i just got the same pitch from my life insurance carrier. a vague phone call telling me i need to call the agent about the policy, that i need to set up an appointment to “discuss things”.

    sales pitch.

  34. failurate says:

    The note doesn’t say anything about anyone hitting the car.

    I know they are all out to get us, but that doesn’t mean we’re not paranoid. – new Consumerist motto?

  35. runswithscissors says:

    Finding that note (and the subsequent call) would simply be a cue for me to note down that dealership as one that will never, ever get a penny of my money.

    So in a way it is a service… a giant “don’t ever buy from us” notice that could save me from a worse problem down the road.

  36. The_Legend says:

    Not any worse than Consumer Reports.

  37. metaled says:

    By the time I find the message i wanted to comment to, it’s over, try 2 or 3 times and 25 minutes are gone. This page would be jumping if the “Comments” would work.

    I was going to comment, but my lunch hour is up.

  38. InThrees says:

    You know what – this tactic is ALMOST perfectly legitimate and respectable.

    If I found a hand-written note on my car that said “Hi! This is Billy Bob Beaucephus at Screwem Motorcars, and I’d like to discuss trade-in possibilities with you. Call me on my cell xxx-xxx-xxxx M-Sat 8am – 7pm. Thanks!”

    I wouldn’t be irritated or feel like someone was trying to scam me. (Well, beyond the normal amount of scam any educated person expects from the car-buying process.)

    But this… not quite there, and it would be enough to make me write off a dealership.

  39. nybiker says:

    As for shepd’s suggestion, on the face of it, I like it. But yeah, it crosses the line if you actually go all the way to small claims court. But it might not be so bad to just make ‘em think you’ll do it (just like how they brought Jack Bauer in to question the aide 2 weeks ago and have him be so scared of Jack that he’d tell him what they needed to know).

  40. watchout5 says:

    This has been going on for years, happened to my dad about 10 years back

  41. Julia789 says:

    Almost as tacky as the “economic stimulus check” I got in the mail. It came in an official looking envelope saying “Economic stimulus check enclosed – deliver to addressee only.” With a return address of “stimulus processing center” or something like that. I was expecting a “real scam” but had a laugh when I opened it and the check was a trade in voucher check good only at that dealership toward a new car.

  42. Corporate-Shill says:

    I guess that quota system for x quantity of prospective customers calling for the sales dude/dudette has caused the sales dude/dudette to stoop to low life tactics.

    So what is new?

  43. runswithscissors says:

    It’s another short sighted attempt at generating short-term business gains (it might work on 5% of potential buyers maybe?) but at the expense of long term business health… For example, assume 5% phone and are interested, 15% phone and are annoyed, and the remaining 80% either don’t phone or don’t care after the call. You’re still alienating three times as many potential future customers as you are attracting potential short-term ones.

    You might hit your quota this month and next, but long term the dealership would suffer.

    So I guess I’m not surprised at a car salesperson doing this note thing, but would be surprised at dealership ownership being OK with it. Unless of course the dealership were in dire shape, then short-term gain is the only concern perhaps.

  44. lizk says:

    A car dealership I bought a car from about 5 years ago called me last week with a similarly scam-ish proposal. A guy I’d never heard of or worked with called claiming to be short on “small cars,” so they’re asking all their previous customers who bought small vehicles to come in and trade up. Of course, I did trade in the car the guy was asking about–8 months ago, when I traded it for a new vehicle. At the exact same dealership. Morons.

  45. RedSonSuperDave says:

    @shepd: Awesome. Possibly illegal, but I heard somewhere that littering and vandalism (which this sleazy sales tactic is both of) are illegal too. For that matter, this would make me take a bunch of my old newspapers and leave them all over the car dealership’s lot. Fight fire with fire.

    @plustax: The best way to get the post office to care about the assholes who leave things on your mailbox is to gather up a couple dozen of them and put them in a mail drop-off box. The post office will have nobody to go after except the company in question. Then they can explain to the post office that although they placed fliers in mailboxes in clear violation of the law, they didn’t place those particular fliers in that particular mailbox.

  46. Stream Of Consciousness says:

    Wow..what an asshole way to go about trying to sell cars.

  47. Marshfield says:

    Sales is a numbers game. You can’t make sales if the phone ain’t ringing.

    I think it’s kind of creative.

  48. MrsLopsided says:

    IMHO putting fliers under your wipers is tampering with your vehicle, trespass on private property, and makes the vehicle unsafe and illegal to operate unless it is removed.

  49. BMRFILE says:

    In today’s world, no one leaves a note behind if they bumped into your car. The world is a bunch of cowards. If I saw a note on my widnshield, I don’t know if I would take it seriously, especially if I don’t see any damage to my car.

  50. battra92 says:

    This was an old trick back in the 40s and 50s. I thought it was illegal, though.

  51. kickarse says:

    Is that number legit? Because I’m tempted to call it.

  52. blazinrebel says:

    Yep it’s real. 702 area code if anyone wants to “call them about their car”.

  53. Bs Baldwin says:

    Hmmm, call me about your home loan.

  54. mechmike says:

    Always – always – always Google unknown phone numbers before calling them.