Extended Warranty Junk Mail Designed To Look Like DMV Letter

The letter was from “Motor Vehicle Services.” It warned Serra that his car’s manufacturers warranty is expiring. It accurately listed the monthly payment he was making on his car, and the number of payments he had made. It was even written in that typewriter font beloved by mechanics and bureaucracies. But it wasn’t from the Department of Motor Vehicles, it was a piece of extended warranty junk mail gussied up to look official. Here’s the letter:

I guess they’ve gotten bored of robodialing people?

Serra writes, “After making faithful car payments for two years I came home, went to my mailbox and found this. While I was aware it was a junk mailing, something that caught my eye quickly is the part in the upper left. It’s blanked out and replaced, but before that happened it accurately showed the number of car payments I’ve made and the payment amount. This is disturbing.”

Very sneaky guys. I can see how someone not thinking clearly could fall for this. And it seems that the extended warranty marketer had bought Serra’s car payment history and tried to use that as a hook to make their offer look more legitimate.

Serra adds, “The punch? The car’s factory warranty doesn’t expire until 2018.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    I don’t even OPEN mail, if I don’t know who it’s from..Junk mail, or anything appearing to be, goes straight into the shredder or the bonfire.

    • RandomHookup says:

      I open all my mail since I have occasionally found real money in there (usually to entice me to complete a survey). A couple of my correspondents have send bills in what looked like junk mail envelopes and, when I rented a parking space to someone, the check came in a really funky envelope from a bank I had never heard of.

  2. Grogey says:

    Your credit report will show many payments you have made and your monthly payment for a loan.

  3. danmac says:

    This sort of behavior needs to be squashed quickly and brutally, with jail time for anyone involved in its planning. In other words, these people are so shady they want me to throw due process out the window and settle accounts Wild West style.

  4. Mike says:

    I’ve always wondered if all these car warranty companies are bogus like those non-profit credit card debt companies. I saw a bunch of them when I worked at a car dealer, customers would bring in their cars to the service department and try and have these companies pay for it, but it was just like health insurance- they would claim things weren’t covered, or delay payment, anything but pay the bill.

    Has anyone ever had a good experience with one of these warranty companies?

    • Nytmare says:

      I’m convinced their business model doesn’t include actual insurance payouts, with possibly some occasional exceptions just to put on appearances. The people responsible for these shady setups need to have all their assets seized and go to jail.

    • vrefron says:

      I’m a mechanic, and I HATE aftermarket warranties. They make you wait forever before giving a yes/no answer, and if it’s yes, they pay me less than the job is worth. Many other techs I know cut insane corners with these jobs, because they’re mad at losing money.

      BUYER BEWARE; don’t buy this crap unless you’re fine with the mechanic cutting corners.

  5. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    If it doesn’t list my car model, year, date, etc… I know it’s junk mail. Also, my car is a 1985. If the warranty was just about to expire, I give GM credit for their innovative 26 year warranties.

    • Mike says:

      I have to know, what are you driving? I have such a respect for people who drive old cars.

      • nbs2 says:

        How old is old?

        • Mike says:

          Hmmm, how old is old is a good question. I would say old enough that there may be some legitimate safety concerns. Like, a Porsche 911 before they had traction control, or maybe a Pinto with a sign taped on the rear windshield that says “hit me.” My Chevy Corvair is awesomely dangerous. (OK, I don’t really have one, but I see a “barn find” Corvair at a dealer close to my house and I think about it every time I pass it.)

          But let’s put a rather arbitrary number, say 20 years or more. Although I respect anyone who doesn’t drink the “I need a new car every 2-3 years” Kool-Aid. If you personally have had the same daily driver for ten years, I applaud you. I love cars, but I hate when people waste money on them.

          • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

            I should note all of my cars have been hand me downs, and driven until they could barely drive anymore. Except my first car. My 89 Stanza was a great car, but after three front end collisions, the ‘rents decided that they didn’t want to fix her anymore. But aside from the damage to the front wheel, she still turned over and purred like a kitten.

          • nbs2 says:

            Safety concerns seems like a good measurement, but I’m nervous that a car from year X wouldn’t be considered old because it is a safe vehicle, even though the Porsche from that same year is old because of hte lack of traction control.

            I also don’t like the 20 year mark, as it puts me 7 years short. I need validation to feel good about myself. Although, I suppose our plan to by a new-new car would lower our average age so much, it doesn’t really matter.

            I was only asking because I see a lot of poorly maintained older cars on the road that appear to be generating more waste just by being in existence than would be generating in building a fleet of replacements. At the same time, I think a well maintained older car is not only a beauty to behold, but is a symbol of how quality and a little effort can stretch resources incredibly far.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        A 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. It’s taken an 8point buck to the side and killed the deer, and is still driving. I got her at 23k miles, and she’s almost to 23 again. She has her share of problems, but still runs. The latest problem is a stuck accelerator/throttle. Luckily, thanks to Consumerist, I know to shift it into neutral when approaching stop lights/stop signs/toll booths. I did bring it to a shade tree mechanic recently, and it mostly seems to have fixed the problem…

        • Mike says:

          Hats off to you sir, it takes a confident man to drive a car like that. In a society where your car is often portrayed as an extension of your manhood, you go out there and say: “My manhood is so awesome, I could ride a mule and still be badass.”

          Nice job my friend.

          • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

            You sound like my parents. But seriously, if a girl can’t understand that I am frugal, and this is my car, and I don’t want to put myself into severe debt just to “be cool”, then she won’t understand me.

    • moyawyvern says:

      I loved my 1986 Cultass Ciera. It drove like a dream and I could fit all my friends in it. Tragically, it is no longer with us. I still miss that car. My seven year old Cavalier, while sturdy and hardworking, does not even compare.

    • Rena says:

      I always find it especially entertaining when these letters tell me my car’s warranty is going to expire. You’d think it’d at least last until some time *after* I actually buy a car.

  6. WagTheDog says:

    I got a letter from AARP last week that was designed to look like it contained a replacement credit card and had “Do Not Bend” on the envelope. It was just junk mail, but sneakily designed to look like a billing. AARP knows how gullible those silly seniors are!

    • Captain Walker says:

      I won’t open anything from those people until I am Retired.

      • WagTheDog says:

        I would very much like the senior citizen discount though! I am *almost* eligible. Problem is, I still have a baby face and get asked for my ID every time I buy beer. I would have some ‘splaining to do to get that discount — but it might be worth it. Have to do some research on that.

    • Rena says:

      I get junk from Telus in an envelope that looks just like a bill or other official statement of some sort fairly often. Easy enough to spot, because not being a Telus customer, I don’t get anything else from them.

  7. AngryK9 says:

    My personal rule of thumb: If I did not ask for it, I avoid it.

  8. redskull says:

    Lately I’ve been getting letters with “Second Notice” or “Final Notice” fake stamped on the envelope. So far I haven’t missed any payments on anything (knock wood), so I knew it was a bunch of hooey. I open them anyway, and they’re always just junk mail wanting me to buy some warranty or some other worthless crap.

    Do they really think that lying about being an overdue bill and scaring people into opening the letter is going to endear them to people and make them want to buy whatever snake oil they’re peddling?

    This kind of thing needs squashed now, especially in these end times, when a lot of people are probably getting REAL final notices.

    • One-Eyed Jack says:

      My favorites are Charter’s weekly envelopes to us proclaiming IMPORTANT INFORMATION INSIDE, addressed to “Current Resident.”

      Hello Charter mailing, meet my shredder.

  9. Fortyseven says:

    Is there legal action that can be taken against these scammers?

    Regardless of how legit the business itself may or may not be, their marketing is corrupt: they’re purposely attempting to fool people by pretending to be from an authority they aren’t.

    This isn’t just being cute with the marketing and having a ‘theme’; this is blatantly trying to trick you into buying their product.

    Their kneecaps should be cracked open wide for this shit.

  10. GqhnqCTE says:

    Thanks for posting your junk mail… I guess.

  11. psm321 says:

    I’m confused… is this ad for a warranty or a loan? Or a loan that acts like a warranty??

    • Zero says:

      I think the latter. When I read it and it started talking about interest rates I got the impression it was more loan sharking than an actual Warranty.

    • BBBB says:

      I’m confused… is this ad for a warranty or a loan?

      It’s both .. and a floor wax!

      The loan is to pay for the extended warranty by monthly payments instead of one payment.

      I’d guess that they have a gotcha clause that if you are late with a payment, you owe
      29% interest retroactive to the beginning.

      [The 100% refund if there are no claims or breakdowns promise also will have some clauses to make it impossible to collect – the “breakdowns” will take care of a lot since most cars will have some sort of breakdown. Or, they just fold the company before the contracts end – each year they close one and open one.]

  12. DanRydell says:

    This stuff has been going on forever. I get junk mail all the time that are designed to appear to be coming from car manufacturer or my mortgage provider. It’s all just designed to make you assume that’s who it’s coming from.

    It’s shady, but I’m not sure what can be done to prevent companies from taking advantage of people’s assumptions. Even a slightly savvy consumer would see through this crap.

  13. sonneillon says:

    I wish I could do everything for the DMV by mail. That would be sweet.

  14. yikes says:

    I received this same type of junk mail. I called them demanding that they take me off of their marketing lists and remove me from their databases and those databases of their affiliates. Also, I sent a complaint to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) as well just to make sure they remove my information. This has worked for me.

  15. COBBCITY says:

    I agree. 75% of my mail goes into the nice big cross cut shredder without ever being opened. Also, as said, your credit report will show the amount you pay per month on ANY loan and how many payments have been made, etc. Not top secret stuff.

  16. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    The company didn’t pay for his payment history exactly, they just did a “pre approval” soft inquiry to his credit.

  17. smo0 says:

    I saw this coming. I posted once about the robodialers “your warranty is about to expire! oh noes!” and waited til I got a human on the phone and gave them an earful. Apparently, this was national – since they got sued? The company is apparently still around and mailing people. Surprise, Surprise.
    Little by little… reducing the days mail is delivered is looking reaaaaal nice.
    There really is no snail mail spam filter.

  18. wackydan says:

    Even legitimate companies are using this tactic.

    I’m tired of receiving enveloped designed to look “official” as if they are from the state, or federal gov’t… Having images of the capital dome, eagles, etc… Labels on the envelope and contents as “official business” “penalty for tampering”, etc…

    When is the FTC going to bitch slap this practice… I want a requirement that the envelope and contents contain the actual name of the business and what the offer is.

  19. ChuckECheese says:

    In 2007, just a few days after I registered my car with the TX DMV in El Paso, I received one of these letters. Thing was, I hadn’t even done a change of address yet from my previous residence, in another city. There were no bills in my name at the time, I had not changed my insurance info yet, so the only way these people could have got my car + new address info was via the DMV. I complained to Austin that somebody was selling registration data to scammy junk mailers.

  20. JonBoy470 says:

    Wow… This scam company can read your credit report… Move along…

  21. yankinwaoz says:

    There was a post here on The Consumerist that explained the loophole that allows these “insurance” companies to get away without paying any claims.

    Claims are limited to value of the car. So if your old car blows a motor or tranny, your car is now worthless. And the claim can’t exceed worthless. So you don’t get diddly squat.

  22. Chandru1 says:

    Ah, those robocalls. They always surprise me, as I never knew my car’s warranty was expiring. I never even knew I had a car! Where is it? I’d love to drive it.

  23. SugarMag says:

    I’ve gotten those letters. I’ve never had a car payment or bought a new car or warranty so I know it is fake. I’m in the camp letter such as these should be illegal and mostly, even if I were tempted to buy a product, I would never from a company that “lies” to me in order to attract business.