Pulled Over By Police After Toyota Dealer Rented Me A Car That Was Illegal To Drive

UPDATE: Chris goes back to the dealership and makes the manager give him 50% off his bill

Chris took his car in for repairs and they rented him a loaner car. While driving it, the police pulled him over and could’ve written him a ticket for several things that were the dealership’s fault: unlawful plate display, driving an unregistered vehicle, and there being no rental agreement in the car. They let him go without a ticket but wrote out on the back of a ticket (pictured) all the citations they could have issued.

The police wouldn’t let him drive the car back so Chris had to wait for the dealership to come by and pick him up. The dealership dudes were very apologetic and hooked him up with a new rental, and a slice of pizza, but Chris feels he should get more for all the hassle he endured.

We do too. The dealership manager should call and apologize and should knock off the price of one of Chris’ repairs, say throw in the tire balancing for free.

Resolving customer service issues like this takes two ingredients:
1) an apology from a supervisor and
2) a material gesture of apology (i.e., something of monetary value to the business (no, the pizza doesn’t count))

Chris’ letter, inside…

Chris writes:

I took my 03 Corolla in for repairs because it was shaking intermittently at high speeds. I took it back to the dealership where I purchased it in November 2006. I’ve only driven 2700 miles in that time, and the car is still under the factory warranty, and the 3 year / 36,000 mile warranty I purchased. Part of the repair cost was covered by the warranty, part of it was not (calipers broke – covered, rotors and pads had to be replaced as a result of broken calipers – not covered).

They gave me a rental, covered by my warranty, a new Prius. I drove it to work from the dealership. On the way home from work I was pulled over by the police. The registration sticker was out of date, the plate was improperly displayed, and the plate didn’t match the VIN (discovered after they pulled me over). The police were very friendly and told me that the dealership had really screwed me over, and that I definitely couldn’t drive this another inch. The dealership hadn’t given me a rental agreement, and I had assumed it was in the glove compartment (as it had been before when they gave me a vehicle after my initial purchase while they did minor repairs I negotiated during the buying process) – it wasn’t.

I gave the police the business card for the dealership and they arranged for the dealership to drive out and pick up the car, and give me a new rental. The office wrote up all the citations he could have issued on a blank parking ticket, which he told me to show the dealership. I have attached a picture of it, the text reads:
1372-3 117.50 – Unlawful Plate Display
1301-A Court Unregistered Vehicle
6308-A 117.50
Police Investigation No Rental Agreement
Tow Charge $135.00

Only his manners saved him and dealership fines.

The officer said the unregistered vehicle charge could carry a fine of up to $1000. The officers left to go on another call and told me not to move the vehicle.

I remained there for another twenty minutes, for a total of about an hour by the side of the road, before the dealership vehicle showed up. However, instead of another rental the had just driven up in one of the dealership branded lot vehicles. I had to return to the dealership with one, while the other drove the Prius (against my polite recommendation not to). I asked why they couldn’t have brought a new rental and a rental agreement, they said I had to do it at the dealership.

Once I arrived they were apologetic and attempted to rent me another vehicle as quickly as possible. I said I didn’t want to sign an agreement until they told me what they could do to make this right, since I had been inconvenienced by their mistakes, and I had saved them from getting a bunch of citations and fines.

I spoke with a couple of the guys there, and unfortunately neither of them were in a position of power (the manager of the service center wasn’t there) to do anything, but they were both polite and empathetic, promising to explain the situation to the manager the next day and “go to bat for you”. I accepted this (and a slice of pizza since I was starving, and they were nice enough to offer), and signed the rental agreement and went home, arriving just over two hours from when I was pulled over.

All that happened yesterday. Today I haven’t heard from them yet. I am supposed to come tomorrow morning to pick up my car and turn in the rental. My repair bill is going to be $609.95 (Deductible on calipers – $50, New Rotors & Pads – $395.00, Brake Flush – $95, Rotate/Balance Tires – $69.95). They told me that everything but the rotate/balance is really required for the repair, and they recommended the rotate/balance.

I am pretty mad and frustrated with the experience, but other than this, I have had very positive experiences with the dealership. What is a fair resolution? What should I ask for if they don’t volunteer anything? Would it be useful to contact Toyota Corporate at any point?

Oh, and don’t bother contacting corporate. They rarely give a damn what their dealerships do. — BEN POPKEN