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Old 07-17-2015, 04:17 AM   #1
DieselFumes
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Question Buying the wrong 4x4: What would you do?

First, story time. Then, a question for the combined expertise of the forum.

I ordered a 4x4 on the first day of availability, October 2014. I found a dealer who offered to meet me half way between invoice and MSRP. This is at a time when most were asking for MSRP or above. Good deal, right?

Fast forward to mid-May. I ask for an update, and am told the van will be at the dealership June 1.

June 1, no van. More emails and calls exchanged over the next couple of weeks (mostly at my prompting). Finally, Iím told ďOh, apparently that was the date your van landed at Lasdon, not the dealer date.Ē New date ďAbout a month.Ē

4th of July weekend, itís still in California waiting to be trucked up to the Pacific North West. Delivery finally happens on Sat 11th July while Iím on a mountain bike vacation I wanted to use the van for (and had already sold my old truck).

I get a text on Monday 13th morning with pictures of the van. The color looks a little off but that could be just cell phone cameras. Also, it has alloy wheels and I ordered steel. And are those fog lights? That wasnít part of any package I ordered.

I let the dealer know that things looked weird. No response. Maybe it was a nice dealer surprise to say sorry for the van being so late. I arranged to cut my vacation short and drive back to pick up the van on Weds 15th.

On Weds, I arrive with wife and dog, dusty from our trip, and the sales person proudly shows me my new van. Only it isnít. No suspension seats. No Active Safety package. An alarm system (not much use in the middle of a forest where we camp). A second battery (useless considering I have a LiFePo battery in the garage waiting to go in to the van). Becker GPS (I prefer Google). Wrong color. Wrong (higher) sticker price. Definitely a surprise.

So a conversation ensues. Turns out my van got sold on June 6 or 7. It was ďA feeding frenzyĒ to quote the sales person. In other words, they got above MSRP for it. Probably not very upset not to sell it to me.

Apparently no customer names are assigned to 4x4 orders, so they didnít think the one that came in was mine. I mean, itís not like is has a VIN they can check or anything, or that it arrived when mine was due in. **Miraculously**, they had done a dealer trade for this second 4x4, which they thought was mine. Really? They found a similar spec van from California completely by chance without in the slightest realizing that theyíd screwed up and needed to make good? Hmmm.

The sales person told me ďI would walk away if this happened to me.Ē I bet heíd like me to do that, because then he could sell this other van for above MSRP too, rather than the below-invoice price that Iím sitting in the dealership for 3 hours negotiating. In fact, he admitted he already had it sold. Whatís crazy is that at this point they were STILL trying to highball me, and running the ďIíve got to talk to my managerĒ game, until I stood up and said Iíll go with the sales person to talk to the sales manager.

I took the van home with me that day (without parting with any money). It's a nice van, but it's not what I ordered. The dealership manager (who was out on Weds) finally called at noon today (Thursday), and was still trying to not lose money on their screw-up. Of all the people who are potential candidates for helping him recoup his losses, I think I'm pretty far down the list. Sales person who sold my van, quite high up that same list. He didn't seem to see it that way.

Giving a dealer a deposit doesnít appear to constitute a contract. Or even if it does, they donít care.

Iím not going to name the dealership (yet).

My question is, in my position, what would you do? What would you be happy negotiating as a deal? What would count as compensation?

I am NOT looking for macho responses that are impractical. I donít find shouting at or threatening dealers to be particularly constructive. I want to know that I havenít left anything on the table before I give money to a dealership I never want to go near again.

Also, if you bought a 170 4x4 in Blue-Grey somewhere on the West Coast during the first few weeks of June without having put an order in, let me know (PM me). Don't worry - I'm not mad at you, it's an awesome van!

Some more detailsÖ
Original order: 170 4x4 Blue-Grey. Xenon, Active Safety, suspension seats, cruise control, hitch, etc. ~$58k MSRP. The list is long because I didnít choose packages if I could just get the single piece I wanted cheaper. Most of the inside was coming out anyway for a DIY conversion.

Actual van: 170 4x4 Silver Grey, Driver Efficiency (Becker, rear view camera, fog lamps), Premium Appearance (alloys, xenon), Additional Battery, hitch, power outlets, alarm system, overhead control panel, cheapest basic seats, ~$58.5k MSRP. Basically, lots of stuff that looks bling and sells vans on forecourts but has little practical use in a conversion.
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Old 07-17-2015, 04:58 AM   #2
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Default Re: Buying the wrong 4x4: What would you do?

I don't know what I would do, but I would be unhappy. Just having picked up mine, I really like it so far and I guess you would just have to decide the want vs. need and time that it would take to get another.

With that, I'd find a new dealer (which dealer was this?) for a number of reasons you already mentioned above. Also, my salesman was great and told me that another dealer tried to trade and buy my van out from under me as soon as it arrived and showed on the books and he hung up on them. So as I was told, your name is assigned to it. The worst part of the waiting is the lack of updates that the dealers can get.

That sucks, good luck.
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Old 07-17-2015, 05:20 AM   #3
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Default Re: Buying the wrong 4x4: What would you do?

Sounds like you spent a great deal of time and energy researching and ordering your dream 4x4 sprinter. You paid almost 60 thousand dollars. You did not get it. I think I would walk away. And name the dealer...
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Old 07-17-2015, 05:42 AM   #4
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Default Re: Buying the wrong 4x4: What would you do?

It's not what you ordered, you gave a deposit. They would lose in court. Because it's not what you ordered, you shouldn't settle for it, despite the long wait. In 6 months there will be many more available.

I would try to negotiate them PAYING YOU to walk away, so they could sell the van for a higher price. Giving all your money back + $10k sounds about right. Or re-order waht you WANT and have them knock $10k additional off the van. Start at $15k and settle for $10k.
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Old 07-17-2015, 08:05 AM   #5
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Default Re: Buying the wrong 4x4: What would you do?

Quit worrying about the dealer getting away with something (selling the van for a higher price). That is why they are called stealers instead of dealers -- they are experts at the game and do it daily to make a living; you will never out smart them. if it is not the right van for you then back away. You will own the van for a lot longer period of time than it will take you to find the right one. And you will always have sour grapes toward it because it was not exactly what you hoped it would be. Don't be foolish and spend 60 grand on the wrong van just because you thought you had out smarted the experts -- they will stick it to someplace along the line. They are in business to make money, not friends.
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Old 07-17-2015, 11:01 AM   #6
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Default Re: Buying the wrong 4x4: What would you do?

dont buy the wrong van.

i regret not ordering in a van with the few ok few dozen extra s i would have liked.

fyi, the difference between sticker and invoice on MB s is 7 % and they re still making money on hold back.

i got my sprinter at invoice and i got my s class at invoice both less what ever incentives were available.
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Old 07-17-2015, 02:35 PM   #7
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Default Re: Buying the wrong 4x4: What would you do?

@ranchworld, @surlyoldbill, @3mbusa, @hapaschold, Wow - it looks like the overwhelming advice is to walk away.

I was really tempted to walk away but I've spent 10 months planning this build and I have a garage full of components to put in it. The replacement van is sufficiently close that I can just about make it work.

Putting in a new order now would set me back another 6 months minimum. There's an opportunity cost associated with that - basically missing out on using the van for the rest of the summer. I'm trying to approach this without involving my emotional response. It's hard though, because as you know buying a vehicle for personal use has an emotional component.

I also don't want to give the dealer the satisfaction of walking away, I don't trust them to honor any future deal we agreed to now, and I never want to set foot in that dealership again.

I'm going back to talk to them today. I'll post my experiences and either name or not name them at that point.
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Old 07-17-2015, 03:47 PM   #8
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Default Re: Buying the wrong 4x4: What would you do?

Sounds like a crappy dealer.

However, if it were me, I would accept the van as-is and build it the way I wanted starting with what I got. Seems your costs will be a bit higher if you INSIST on a few things I don't think are that important, otherwise I think the practical differences are trivial.

If you INSIST on suspension seats, for example, you might look first at the cost of putting them in there yourself on genuinemercedesparts.com and decide if it's really worth it based on where you are now and how much extra time and money it will take to get them inside the van you think you really wanted directly from the factory. I'd say f' it. Reality here is that what you think you want anyway is based on catalog pages and fantasy, you haven't owned one of these things yet for 100k to know for sure what has value and what is a waste of money. For example, I would say the whole 4x4 thing is a waste of money based on owning 2 4x4 vans for over a decade (in CO, no less), but that's just me.
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Old 07-17-2015, 03:57 PM   #9
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Default Re: Buying the wrong 4x4: What would you do?

I think if it were me, I would (a) ignore the trivial differences and (b) insist that the dealer do a field retrofit of anything practical (seats, for example). Of course, only you can decide what is "trivial".

Not to make your decision more difficult, but if it were me the biggest pain point would be the loss of the Active Safety Package. It is one of my favorite features on our van and I doubt that it can be retrofitted as a practical matter.
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Old 07-17-2015, 04:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: Buying the wrong 4x4: What would you do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by avanti View Post
(b) insist that the dealer do a field retrofit of anything practical (seats, for example).
I would find the quickest path to stop interacting with this dealer ASAP. They seem to be causing the OP trouble. It's reasonable to assume that will continue, it always does. This dealer seems adept at putting profit before customer service in their interactions, that will likely continue.

My first rule of dealing with morons ... is to stop dealing with the morons.

If I was unable to perform the changes myself, I would find someone else to do them. It may seem at first like it will cost more - but it probably won't.
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