Buying a car from a car dealership can be daunting because, as a car buyer, you’ll always wonder if you got the best price possible, and in some cases, you might even wonder if you got the right car. But what’s more worrisome is that some dealers will even try to pull off an outrageous scam at the end of the sale, but it mainly happens due to the buyer’s carelessness.
What is the scam?
You’re probably familiar with the old “bait and switch” that some dealers try to pull off. It usually happens before you even set foot in the door, in that they’ll bait you by advertising a car at a really low price to get you to come in, then tell you that the car is sold and try to sell you on another one. That car is usually more equipped and more expensive. But have you ever thought of the dealer trying to scam you after the deal is done?
The scam we’re referring to is when the dealer, more specifically the finance manager, “switches the paperwork” on you. This usually refers to when the dealer prints up the contract with all of the fine details of the deal (the price of the car, the value of the trade-in, taxes, fees, down payment amount, etc.) but maybe adds a little money to one of the amounts, only to have you sign everything without even knowing it. This “mistake” can easily lead to an extra couple of hundred dollars going to the dealer and if you ever do end up catching it, then they can just say, “Oops, it was a mistake. Sorry!”
How does the dealer miscalculate the numbers?
It’s not so much that the dealer miscalculates anything, in fact, all of the numbers should be agreed upon by both parties even before you step foot in the finance manager’s office to sign the contract. However, some dealers out there have the audacity to slightly change some of the numbers when printing the final contract in order to pull the wool over your eyes.
It doesn’t happen all the time, and it’s usually a pretty rare occurrence, as shady dealers that would pull off a scam like this would normally target elderly customers, those with bad credit or anyone they feel would more susceptible to not reading the contract in full.
Remember to read the contract that you sign!
If you want to ensure that you’re not one of the customers that end up falling for such an outrageous scam, then we recommend always reading over the contract when you buy a car. While you don’t technically need to read the whole thing, the line for line, it’s important to at least revisit all of the numbers and anything else that the dealer types into the contract. Just remember that shady dealers are looking for any customers that are careless, so the more diligent you are, the better off you’ll be after the sale is complete.