Rule 8. Get everything in writing
Whenever anyone at a car dealership offers you anything, promises anything, gives you a quotation or provides an explanation for anything, insist that they put it in writing, along with any conditions.
Car dealers are notorious for making sweeping promises that they subsequently fail to deliver on.
One of the most common is for the sales manager to offer a free annual service to make up for any problems during the sales process. Maybe the car was damaged in pre-delivery or there was a mistake in the order and you didn’t get your sunroof.
You can bet your life savings that when you turn up for your free service next year, the service department won’t know anything about it and the sales manager will have no recollection of making such a grand offer.
If you don’t have it in writing, it’s worthless.
The same rule applies to quotations. A salesperson might quote you £24,350 as the total price for a particular car, but when you come back the next day to place your order it’s suddenly become £25,950.
When you query it, the salesperson can’t remember because he/she has been discussing half a dozen different cars with other customers since then, and your careful budget calculations have now gone out the window.
If you pay a dealer a deposit to secure a car, get a receipt that specifically notes that the payment is for a deposit for that car, including the registration number or VIN (chassis number).
If you are paying a deposit over the phone, request an immediate email confirmation and the receipt in the post that day.
If a dealer is offering or agreeing to anything as part of the negotiation of the sale, get it written into the contract. Both parties should initial each specific point as well as sign the contract.
Remember, a car dealer’s verbal promises are worth nothing. Some dealers will refuse to provide a written quotation for you to take away from the showroom (because they don’t want you take it to another dealer and ask them to beat it). If they won’t put it in writing, it’s not real. Walk away and do not accept such behaviour (see Rule 4).
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