I’ll admit I am a bit hot about this, so I’m going to try to stick to as many facts as possible and as little conjecture as possible. Sorry if that makes this a boring read.
In August of 2011 I was in the market for a replacement to our Mercury Mountaineer. In general we have bought all our used cars at Carmax and have had very good results shopping there. However I felt like I wanted to see if I could get a better deal elsewhere.
I did quite a bit of looking around on line (like I do with most purchases) and finally decided that I liked a Ford Explorer offered by a dealer about 60 miles away named Thompson’s Toyota in Placerville, CA. So I called up the dealer and worked out financing on the phone so I really only would need to show up, test drive the car, and then, if I liked it I would buy it.
Well, the experience in the showroom was fine. The truck accelerated fine and looked in good shape. Here is where I didn’t do my job. I assumed that all car dealers check over their used cars like Carmax does. Certainly they do not all do so. More on that in a minute. When we went to complete the deal, it took hours. I sat their waiting as long as an entire trip to Carmax where I looked at, test drove and purchased a car. Oh well, no big deal really.
My problems started about 3 months later. I figured since I had the Explorer for 3 months I should start thinking about changing the oil. I checked the oil level and the dipstick was, for lack of a better word, chunky. I have never seen oil like that before. I even helped a friend change the oil in his car (a Toyota) that he hadn’t changed in, his words, “9 months or more,” and it wasn’t anything like that. So I changed the oil. Drove the car about 100 miles and changed it again just to be safe. Then I called the dealer to tell them they hadn’t changed, or even checked the oil before selling me the car under the assumption that maybe if the oil was old enough it might do that. I talked to two people, my salesperson, and the floor manager, both of whom insisted the oil had been changed. I honestly just figured they were lying to follow the CYA policy. I believe I was wrong.
In July of 2012 we took the Explorer to Yosemite, and while on the road the oil gauge dropped to 0, the oil light came on and the engine proceeded to seize up on me. Fortunately this happened in a place where we could get the thing out of the way of traffic. I immediately checked the oil level and it was fine. That being the case, I suspect the oil pump was somehow damaged and just finally failed (sorry that’s an assumption but if there’s oil in the engine and the oil gauge says there’s not, I’m not sure what else it would be. To make things better when the oil was checked about an hour later at a garage it was empty so the block must have cracked to let the oil out.
Well, so here I am, with a nice shiny boulder in my driveway now (after having it towed, which if you didn’t know would run you around $2,000). But I guess I just wasn’t careful enough when buying. I’ll take my lumps. But understandably (I think) I won’t go back to that dealer.
About the end of 2013 I got a call on my phone I didn’t recognize and the guy on the line was from Thompson’s wanting to see how the Explorer was doing. HA!! Well don’t ask a question you don’t want an answer to. So I told him. He made a halfhearted attempt at getting me up to the dealership but I, as politely as I could muster, declined. Well a couple weeks later I got an email from Thompson’s saying that they understood (I’m guessing from the phone conversation) that I was in need of a new car and they were there to help. HA!!! I wrote them a couple of messages explaining the situation and while I was down a car, I did not want a new one, especially from them. This took a large number (about 8 on my part) emails to get across for some reason. Perhaps I’m not a great communicator but they seemed to think I was contacting them to buy a car, rather than contacting them to tell them to leave me alone.
Well in May I got yet another call, where I re-hashed the situation again with the guy. He went to talk to his manager to find out “what they could do for” me. He offered to tow the Explorer to their dealership (at my expense) to see what they could offer me in trade. REALLY? I politely declined (though I do think I laughed at him).
Then late last week I got another email from Thompson’s saying that a new person was now in charge of my account and if I was in the market for a new car to contact them. So, like I always do, for some reason, I emailed back, rehashing the story again to try to get them to stop emailing, calling, whatever. Then I noticed a Facebook link in the email. So I go to their Facebook page and the first thing I see is a post telling me how great of an experience a woman named Holly from my own city had at Thompson’s Toyota. Hell’s bells, really? So I responded telling any would be readers about my experience. Well the good folks at Thompson’s responded and after a Facebook chat I’m betting I won’t hear from them again. Here’s their position, in short (you can see the conversation here):
“Wow, we screwed you. Stuff happens. Oh well, let’s be friends and don’t tell anyone about what we did.”
If I was the swearing type, I’d have a choice phrase or two for that. So instead, I’m doing the opposite. I’ll tell everyone. People I know, people I don’t know, if you’re on the internet, you can read about it. Honestly, I’m not that hot about them selling me a lemon. It happens, really it does. However, I shouldn’t have to tell you I don’t want a new car from you every other month (even if you didn’t sell me a lemon). I asked way back when for them to stop contacting me, but they never stopped (well they probably won’t contact me again now). So I won’t tell you not to buy from them: that would be irresponsible and potentially non-kosher. I will tell you that I would never buy from them again.