Consumer advocates taking aim at dealership finance profits usually publicize a few flagrant examples of consumers claiming to be ripped off. Recently the focus has been on young, vulnerable veterans.
But here's a tale of a finance manager who put compassion ahead of profits in dealing with a veteran.
Eric Judson, business manager at David Chevrolet-Buick in Niagara Falls, N.Y., called it a "feel-good Friday." A young customer in a wheelchair asked Judson whether he remembered his father, who had bought a vehicle a few months before. Judson politely told him yes, and the customer said he wanted the same service plan and appearance-protection products that his father had purchased.
"During our conversation, I noticed the Purple Heart on his ball cap, and I told him I would be happy to make him a deal on anything he wanted to buy," said Judson, sharing his story of the transaction with the Facebook Ethical F&I Managers discussion group.
But Judson said his "heart sank" when the salesperson wrote up a deal on a late-model Cadillac. Judson saw the veteran's credit score was in the low 500s, with slow payments on his auto and mortgage, medical bills and revolver collections, Judson said.
The veteran explained that after coming home from serving in Afghanistan he was struck by a drunk driver and paralyzed, and was in a coma for months. "It's hard to pay bills while you are in a coma," he told Judson.
"Don't you worry," Judson assured the vet. "You're picking up this car today."
Other finance managers may high-five each other over the healthy profits they make. Not Judson. He was pleased to tell his peers that he made the minimum profit on this deal: a $200 flat fee for the financing, a $1 gross on the service contract and a $1 gross on the appearance-protection package.
So much attention is paid to the bad apples. But they don't represent all F&I offices.