You know what those “Family Discounts” are? They’re used to reduce a bit more off of the price of a new car if you’re related to someone who works for the manufacturer. Car companies have offered discounts for years. And if you shopped at Parkway Chrysler-Dodge-Ram-Jeep dealership in Clinton Township, Michigan, in Detroit, then you more likely than not got Fiat Chrysler discounts. Even if you aren’t related to an auto manufacturer employee.
Discounts code amounted to $8.7 million in lost revenue
That’s because a salesperson there has extended the family discount since 2016 to non-qualified buyers. The 5% discount code amounted to $8.7 million in lost revenue to what used to be Fiat Chrysler. In fact, this salesperson was the number one user of the special discount code.
And he was using the code for more than just discounts for his own sales. According to Homeland Security, he was selling the Employee Purchase Control code to certain Facebook groups. All of these added sales also helped to boost his own salary as he received over $700,000 in bonuses from Fiat Chrysler.
In January 2020, he sold over 250 vehicles using the discounts
His sales were off the charts according to a federal investigation affidavit filed in US District Court. In January 2020, he sold over 250 vehicles. That number represents sales better than some dealers see in an entire month.
Buyers claimed to be brother-in-law or sister-in-law of a Fiat Chrysler employee. But Fiat Chrysler employees started seeing their personal discount codes being used without their consent. Almost all of the misused codes were used at Parkway.
So last summer Fiat Chrysler sent a list of almost 270 employees to Homeland Security to be investigated. It found that over a two-year period sales from a single salesperson were linked to the illegal activity. He was arrested last week and was released on bond. A preliminary exam of the details of the case is set for next month.
“Corruption of the sort imposes costs on manufacturers ultimately passed to consumers”
“Automobile sales play a major role in our state’s economy,” Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin said to Automotive News. “Corruption of the sort alleged in today’s complaint imposes costs on automotive manufacturers that are ultimately passed to consumers. The charges announced today are serious and reflect my office’s commitment to ensuring the integrity of this market.”
The suspect’s name came up frequently in Facebook groups around buying and selling employee discount codes. What’s especially strange is that the volume of sales he was able to juggle didn’t raise any questions by the head of the dealership or Fiat Chrysler itself.
It also raises the distinct possibility that recipients of the discount knew about the swindle, therefore are subject to prosecution. And, should the dealer be subject to a dealer chargeback? Unfortunately, this type of story leads many to question the ethics of auto dealerships everywhere.