Earlier this week, I read an absolutely appalling story about a dealership taking advantage of a customer. According to the Toronto Star, Madeline Leonard went to Mazda of Orangeville in Ontario to get her tires replaced and left after paying $66,000 Canadian for a Mazda6 sedan -- $25,000 more than the car was worth.
Leonard, described by the paper as intellectually disabled and unemployed, later complained to regulators, drawing charges for dealership personnel. The dealership owner apologized and pledged to give Leonard back her money.
In New York, Chevy dealer Pat Bombard was charged in March for allegedly taking out a loan in the name of customers who paid him cash for their purchase, according to the Post-Standard of Syracuse, N.Y. More felony counts were filed in April involving a second allegation.
Certainly, these stories don't represent the vast majority of dealers. But they do give the profession a black eye.
Lots of U.S. dealers are upset about attempts to include them under the purview of a proposed consumer financial protection agency. And I understand their position. In these examples, for instance, existing laws appear to be addressing the alleged wrong-doing.
But as long as stories like these continue to grab headlines, dealers will be vulnerable to calls for additional oversights.