Our research findings differ from those reported in the Dec. 5 "Dateline NBC" story about unethical and illegal practices in the finance and insurance offices of auto dealerships.
We've been conducting interviews for our F&I ethics certification course for more than three years. We have found some instances of unethical and illegal behavior, but we have encountered many more cases of F&I managers and dealers treating customers honestly and ethically. Some examples:
An F&I manager in Beaufort, S.C., tore up a customer's special finance agreement at 24 percent when he learned he could get a 12 percent loan from his credit union. That approach is representative of most dealerships we surveyed.
A dealer in Midland, Mich., sends the customer a rebate check if his or her vehicle brings more at auction than the trade-in allowance.
An F&I manager in Phoenix reduced a customer's monthly payment a week after she took delivery.
Reason? The finance company gave her a better rate than he had estimated. That is the policy at almost every dealership we surveyed.
An F&I manager in Scranton, Pa., talked a customer out of a lease that would have been very profitable for the dealership.
Why? Because when he checked the trade-in, he saw the customer drove 40,000 miles a year, 25,000 more than the lease allowed without penalty. Most dealerships we surveyed follow that policy.
A used-car dealer in Middleville, Mich., lets dissatisfied customers return their cars for full refunds up to six months later, no questions asked.
In the interest of balanced and ethical reporting, we offer these examples to tell the other side of the story.