Central Auto Group would not return a $500 deposit on a car that was significantly different than represented to me. A follow up with GMC customer service within 24 hrs of placing a deposit identified 10 warranty repairs conducted on this vehicle in its first 17,000 miles. This dealership also dealt in unethical business practices to get a sale, and ultimately my deposit. Now I know why this dealership is rated the lowest 1 out of 287 in Connecticut by the BBB with an overall grade of “F,” the lowest they can give. What seemed like a routine trip to see a well-priced used 2001 Pontiac Trans Am proved anything but that. I had set up an appointment 2 hrs before I arrived to ensure my trip would not be wasted. Imagine my surprise that upon spending thirty minutes looking over the car when I was told by my salesmen that another customer with cash was coming to buy the car in 90 minutes. Talk about ratcheting up the sales pressure! At that point I seriously contemplated walking out but decided to take the car out for a test drive anyways. Just prior to the test drive the sales manager handed me a CarFax which identified 5 significant repairs that this car had had under warranty back in 2002-2004 (engine rod bearing replacements (15,155 mi), powertrain computer replaced, catalytic converter replaced (5547 mi), front brakes resurfaced (6500 mi). Had they mentioned this to me before my visit I probably wouldn’t have bothered to show up. Note that I saw this car on Ebay and it only had an Auto Check report there which identified absolutely nothing wrong with the car. During the test drive the car shook heavily at highway speeds and pulled hard right under heavy braking. It was at that point that my salesman George, who was along for the ride said he knew that would happen because the rear tires were shot. He didn’t think the car should even be on the road. The car was priced well-enough though that if after the tires were replaced and another road test done the car might still be worth buying. The engine was smooth and there didn’t appear to be any lasting damage from the earlier engine repairs. Stupidly, I put down a $500 deposit w/o lining out “non-refundable.” I knew it was a bad idea. If they wanted my business they didn’t need a non-refundable deposit clause. I had some concerns about the rod bearing work and whether this car was beat on by the first owner rather than just an unlucky break. I was assured that the car was not beat on because they knew the owner personally and that I would never regret buying it. Good enough. I trusted my salesman at that point. In fact he said his family had a history of working on performance cars and he knew this car was “right” from all his years of listening to good and bad motors. And fwiw the “other” cash buyer never showed up as I stayed there until they closed the doors at 4:00 PM Sunday….big surprise there…lol! Sherman, the sales manager didn’t say a thing when I mentioned that to him. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have signed a thing until the cash buyer’s arrival time had passed. The next morning, I called GMC customer service to find out more about just what was done during that rod bearing replacement and if there should be any concerns as this car racked up more miles down the road (it only has 34,000 mi). GMC customer service then read off all the warranty repairs this car had ever had. Imagine my surprise when there 5 more repairs that didn’t show up on the CarFax. It was only later that I found out that CarFax only lists reported repairs. If they are not reported they don’t show up. Those repairs were 6 speed gear shifter replacement, full brake replacement (5547 mi), full exhaust system replacement (5547 mi), front door window regulator replaced, and a 2nd catalytic converter replacement (17,792 mi). This car was starting to look like it was truly beat on during its first 2-3 yrs of life. GMC customer service had me call a local dealership to get more technical info on the rod bearing work. The service manager at that GM dealership looked up the car again and was amazed at the 10 warranty item repairs that it had. In a nutshell he said this car was major trouble and to steer clear of it. He would never buy such a car. He said full brake replacement on any US car built in 2002 was a huge red flag. And a second catalytic converter by 18,000 miles was almost unheard of. Having the above information I called the dealership Monday morning, less than 24 hrs since test driving the car. My salesman didn’t want anything to with the complaint and immediately transferred me to the sales manager. I basically said I was very uncomfortable with this car and wanted out of the deal. He agreed to do that. I also said I wanted to get my deposit back. He said that shouldn’t be a problem since no additional money had been spent on the car other than the tires and driver’s window not working (2nd failure on that). Those problems they knew about before I got there and had already ordered the parts. The sales manager said he would run my situation against the general manager and call me back. His demeanor suggested to me that he was confident I would be satisfied. A full day passed and no phone call. I called back and left messages twice on the sales manager line. No call backs ever occurred, not even from my salesman who was such a “buddy” during the whole inspection process. They didn’t even offer me alternatives, they just flat out refused to respond. It was at that point that I checked into BBB and on-line complaint websites and found out these guys were your worst nightmare when it comes to rated dealerships. Some of the complaints said they didn’t even return deposits when you didn’t sign anything! I knew my chances were better with my c/c company and BBB than bothering to drive back an hour to discuss it with them. The car has also been sold in the meantime. For the right person (ie a mechanic) it was probably an ok car. But not for me. I stopped in my local Chevy dealer to discuss the above issue with them since I had been looking there initially for a car. They were quite happy to hear how their competition operated and said it only makes it easier for them to sell cars. They mentioned that they too use a “non-refundable” PO format. But the difference is when the customer is unhappy, and they haven’t spent additional funds on a car, they give the full deposit back. In any case my c/c company denied my claim on the deposit only because I signed for a non-rerundable deposit. It didn’t matter to them that the car had undisclosed problems unknown at the time I had placed the deposit. I initiated a BBB complaint as well. CAG has had 28 BBB complaints against them over the past 3 years with about half of them unresolved and 7 of them being unresponsive. If you’re ranked in the BBB’s bottom 0.35% I guess that’s how you do business. 35 yrs of buying cars (approx 24 of them) this transaction was a first. Lesson learned, don’t do business with a car dealership rated “F.” The dealership never offered me alternatives or even a partial refund. They just didn’t respond at all. They had the $500 and I didn’t. They sold the car to someone else.
This review (Central Auto Group) was originally published at Holy Smoke !.
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