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

Chris tells us the endgame on his situation where the Toyota dealership rented him a car that was illegal to drive. He was eventually able to get a full apology from the place and get 50% knocked off his bill, but it took him showing up in person and going a few rounds with the manager.


Chris writes:

Thanks for the advice. I read the comments people posted on my story. I agree that the repair bill was very high to begin with. I took my car to the dealership because I thought that the repair would be covered entirely under the warranty, or would be something minor, like just balancing the tires. I called Toyota Warranty myself to try and argue that the rotors/pads should be covered because the damage was caused by the failing part, but they wouldn’t budge because it was ‘consequential damage’. I decided to get it repaired at the dealership anyways, because I thought it was worth paying extra to get their customer service, the nice rental, and to save myself the hassle of taking more time off work to go to another garage. As I said, I really liked the people I had dealt with when I bought the car. It was no pressure and they were reasonable in negotiations, so I got it for a very good price.

So here is how the whole thing ended. I eventually called the service desk myself, annoyed they hadn’t contacted me, and they said they were working out a deal and would call me in a few hours. They did call me, and I spoke with the assistant service manager. He brusquely apologized and offered $50 off. I said I saved them from a lot more than that in fines, and they had taken up a bunch of my time. I was firm and polite. The manager seemed indifferent, he interrupted me several times to try and speed things along, offering $100, and then asking what I thought was fair. I had considered this, and I asked for half the repair bill to be taken off. I thought that was reasonable for both of us. He said he wasn’t authorized to do that, so he would have to speak with Jamie the customer relations manager and get back to me. I asked if I could just come in and deal with Jamie directly, he said yes, and that my car was ready to be picked up.

I decided at that point to contact Toyota Corporate and see if there was anything I could do with them. They essentially took my complaint and forwarded it to the dealership, which was completely useless – as Consumerist predicted.

I left work early and drove to there with several photo copies of the ticket. I went in and asked for Jamie, they sent me to an office in the back of the service area. After knocking on his door and waiting for him to finish a phone call, we sat down. We reviewed the incident, he apologized several times on behalf of the entire dealership, but he attempted to minimize the situation, saying that the police had made mistakes, and that this had never happened before. Several times he said “No one has ever gotten pulled over in one of our rentals for something like this.”, and each time I would reply quickly but calmly “I was.” He said that they didn’t have the customer copy of the rental agreement, was I *sure* I never got it? I told him I was 100% sure. He claimed if I had the agreement, they would have let me go and there wouldn’t have been an issue (implying it was my fault). I told him that I still would have been pulled over, and even if I had the agreement and they let me go, it was hardly what I expected when I rented a car from them. I asked if he would consider it a success if every car he rented was pulled over by the police, but was let go if they showed the rental agreement. He admitted that would be a problem.

I think he realized that I wasn’t going to back down on the facts of the situation and that it would be better to just settle the matter. He got the finalized bill, which had been lowered $50 already, because with tax it was just $583. I asked him what he thought would be fair, and he said “Want to split it down the middle?” I clarified that he meant we would each pay half, then agreed that that would be fair. So my final repair bill came to $291.50, which after everything seemed like the right price to me.

Thanks for your help, consumerist!

-Christopher

Way to stay strong, Chris. You’ll be amazed what you can get by being firm and polite.

That dealership’s new motto: If all else fails, we have excellent customer service. — BEN POPKEN