This is a letter I am writing to Toyota Canada and Toyota International about an awful experience March 25-27, 2010.
Lied to and Humiliated by Toyota Scarborough
We are writing to complain about the humiliating service we received March 27, 2010 at one of your company’s Canadian dealerships, Scarborough Toyota, 1897 Eglinton Ave. East, Toronto, Canada. My husband had leased our first car through this dealership in November 2006, just before we got married and had an unpleasant experience with regards to the lease negotiations and the price obtained. Since then we had been back to our dealership for a few services (oil changes etc.) and there had been a change in management, so we felt more positively towards them.
Earlier this year, we received a notice about the loyalty program and were asked to come in to discuss an early termination of our lease (due to expire in November 2010). Since our marriage, we had moved an hour away from the dealership so we took off work early to go and see the dealership sales person. We test drove the Camry 2010 and liked it. However, we were not really sure about purchasing a new lease due to our personal circumstances. Over the course of the evening, we expressed our reservations while our sales rep continued to push very hard that we should get the lease so that they could deliver the car before March 31, 2010. This was the first negotiation my husband and I were doing together on a purchase of this size, so clearly we were inexperienced, and should have left at the first sign of discomfort. However, we continued with the process – our first mistake. We weren’t thrilled about the price, but were feeling it was fair.
In fact, our sales rep provided us with a verbal promise and a written note that if we brought him another quote for the same deal with proof in writing, he would beat that price by 5%. When we asked if we could get it in writing from the manager, he said it would then be legally binding and said something about “anti-competition clause/law”. This lead to further confusion on our end that. When we went in to discuss the bill, another manager tried very hard to sell us the dents and dings package telling us that we would be in “the minority who wouldn’t buy this package”. We felt really stupid. At that point, we didn’t even know if all the paper work we had done meant we had bought the car or not. Not understanding completely clearly that the signing that paper for the deposit meant that we had “purchased” the car, we went home. It was 9:30 pm, we’d been there for almost 4 hours and were exhausted.
For the next 36 hours, we discussed the deal and decided we did not want to take the car at this time. The four-hour process had been exhausting. We also wanted clarification on the price, which we received over the phone with our sales rep the next day. Although the price was fair, we had felt strong-armed into the deal due to our inexperience. So, we went back to the dealership to talk to our sales rep, discussing our reservations about the process, and he said he would recommend the dealership return the deposit. We insisted on speaking with the manager present – our sales rep said only the sales manager was present, not the “refund” manager, and asked us to come back after two days. We left the dealership to speak in the car, and then realized we would not be able to make the 2-hour return trek to the dealership on a weekday to discuss the “possibility of the refund”.
So in we went back to the dealership and insisted meeting the sales manager. This proceeded to become the most humiliating conversation we have ever had the displeasure of having. We politely explained our experience over the past 48 hours, that we were very uncomfortable with the deal and could we please cancel it. Instead of trying to help us out, the manager humiliated us by saying that our reason for wanting to cancel the deal was not reason enough! He insisted our discomfort could not possibly be the real reason; it had to be something else, the price most likely. It was the worst 30 minute conversation we have ever had. He basically explained to us that he would not, could not cancel the deal because he did not want to lose business. He did not care that the Toyota brand would suffer if its customers were upset with the negotiation process. He said no one could have sold him anything he didn’t want to buy and that his dealership had been around for 30 years so we could do nothing to ruin its reputation. We even said we were inexperienced and yes, we should have walked out earlier. Showing no empathy, he said the contract was “written in stone” and that even if we had come with a better quote/price, he would not have changed the contract, which means, in effect, that we were lied to verbally (*the note was scanned and sent to Toyota).
To be fair, we don't think the sales rep is a bad guy, but we do think the manager was the one putting pressure on him to make the sale. Anyway, what the manager basically said was we had to purchase the car, and to try to sweeten the awful conversation he would throw in some all-weather mats or a boot liner. $100 mats for 2 days of not being able to sleep? Wow! And being lied to by the only car company that we have been defending to our friends and colleagues for weeks!
You see, we are a family of Toyota drivers. There are five Toyotas within just our immediate family, and both our fathers are looking to replace their Toyotas. The dealership knew this and we thought if we had a good experience there, we would recommend them to our family.
Instead, we are considering letting our deposit of $1000 go because we the whole experience has left such a bitter taste in our mouths. The dealership can keep our money because if this is the way Toyota cares about its customers, we would never like to buy our cars there again. We were loyal to Toyota during the recent recall crisis and this is the way Toyota has repaid our loyalty! We weren’t explained the process properly; we explained our inexperience to our sales rep and manager with no one trying to help us. Instead, we were treated disrespectfully and frankly, we feel like we don’t ever want to do business with Toyota again. Just seeing Toyota on the road since yesterday afternoon makes us angry. Oh, and to add salt to wounds, the sales manager’s patronizing tone and attitude was just awful; why would you tell your customers that you feel sorry for those couples who don’t have children (we don’t have children) because they want their freedom and don’t know what joy children are?! Clearly this manager needs to learn some communication skills.
In his speech while being appointed President, Mr. Akiyo Toyoda said: “Rather than asking, “How many cars will we sell? ” or, “How much money will we make by selling these cars? ” we need to ask ourselves, “What kind of cars will make people happy? ” as well as, “What pricing will attract them in each region? ” Then we must make those cars.” Well, we are sorry to report but Toyota dealerships are not following their President’s vision.
$1000 may be a lot of money for us but clearly, to Toyota, our brand loyalty is not even worth that much. We are very disappointed with Toyota because if that’s the way the company wants to do business, it is going to lose many more customers.