I like Nissan cars, so much so that I have owned two Rogues and two Jukes. We currently have a Juke. Recently, however, we’ve had to reconsider our two small cars, the Mini Countryman and the Juke because Landon loves to fish, and the cars are too small for his fishing gear. I’ve been looking at buying a used truck for around $5,000 just for fishing trips, but as you can imagine at $5,000 it’s a little difficult to find something that runs well and looks decent. But, we continue to look. However, this weekend I received a flyer in the mail from Nissan advertising that they would pay 120% over book value for the Juke and give us $6,500 in incentives. They even included a $7,000 voucher. The promotion showed a new Nissan Rogue for $6,800 after promotions and discounts, and the trade-in.
Now, I know that these incentives are tricky schemes designed to get you into the dealership. Most car buyers have subpar FICO scores, are upside down on their car loans, and/or have little to no cash, so the dealers use these types of schemes to make money by financing the car through them or offering special deals on higher priced cars. I expected as much as I drove down to Sutherlin Nissan of Orlando.
What I did not expect is outright deception to the tune of $4,000.
I have an above average FICO score and I have cash on hand to pay for the difference between the Juke and the vehicle I was going to choose. The Juke is also paid off. In other words, unlike most other shoppers, I have flexibility. The flyer offered a 2018 Nissan Rogue, entry level, for $25,300 minus a “dealer discount” of $3,560 and a “factory discount” of $3,000 leaving a balance due of $18,740. I realize that it is a gimmick and that the model offered is likely not on the lot, but I figured with the discounts applied I had a starting point to negotiate with. The flyer also offered me an “offer up to $11,940” for a “2013-2014 Nissan Juke.” Guess what, my Juke is a 2014.
Flyer in hand, I was greeted by Luis, the sales person. By the time the dust settled, Luis refused to give me his last name or that of Leo, the “manager” that made me the offer that made me realize how deceptive car dealers are.
Like I wrote above, these flyers are designed to get you into the dealer and the car advertised is always sold out. But numbers are hard to fake, or so I thought. Now bear with me because I’m going to lay out the scam to you.
The flyer offers “up to” $11,940 for a “2013-2014 Nissan Juke.” Our Juke is a 2014 SL, with about 40,000 miles on it. So, hurdle number one is overcoming the “up to” argument. I ran a Kelly Blue Book value on my car. Although the car has no door dings on it, nor fading paint and the upholstery is like new, I ran a conservative valuation as “very good” and not “excellent.” Kelly Blue Book showed a trade-in value for the car as between $8,964 and $10,381. Since Kelly Blue Book depends on the goodwill of the car dealers, it has made a “devil’s pact” to offer trade-in ranges rather than actual values, you know for wiggle room. I took $9,673 as the value and applied the “120% trade value” they were offering, making the trade-in value of my car, $11,607.60. That was my starting point.
Arriving at Sutherlin Nissan I was taken to the Nissan promotions person who made great fanfare of checking to see if I was the grand prize winner. I didn’t care because I knew I wasn’t going to win and I wasn’t there for the prize, but to solve a car issue I was having – fitting fishing gear into our two small cars. But, I understand that the prize scheme is to get me to give up my personal information.
They already have it because I purchased two Juke’s from the dealership and the one I was planning to trade-in was not only purchased from there, but serviced regularly there. But, it’s a scheme and I needed to play the game to make them happy. After “winning” a ten-dollar bill, I was taken by Luis, the sales person to the car lot to see Rogue’s. Obviously, he steered me towards the ones with a higher profit margin for the dealership. But, I thought, why not look at the Frontier pickups while there and maybe buy one of those instead of the Rogue. I found a nice 4×4 for $29,000 at sticker price.
I didn’t even bother test driving it, because what’s the point, it’s new and I wanted to first see what kind of “deal” I could get first. No deal was the answer and the trade-in value of my Juke was $10,000, leaving a balance of $19,000 plus the dreaded dealer fee. I could work with those numbers, but I wanted the $7,000 voucher applied to the deal. No way, was the answer because it does not apply to the Frontier.
Ok, not surprised that the fine print says the voucher only applies to “select vehicles.” The first hurdle was the $1,940 they underpriced the trade-in. I couldn’t argue about the “only on select vehicles” but they wouldn’t even consider part of the $7,000 voucher or agreeing to what they were offering for the Juke on their own flyer.
Frustrated, I asked to see the Rogue (Stock #17067) they were offering on the flyer. I was not surprised to learn that the Rogue was sold and that the “10 to choose from” were also gone. I know the game. But I also know how to do math. So, I asked to see a Rogue that they had on the lot. It was priced at $24,600.
Luis comes back with a “great offer” from his manager, Leo. He was willing to give me $15,000 in trade-in value and incentives for my Juke, leaving me $12,800 to pay for the Rogue. Huh? Let’s do that math.
At $24,600, we subtract the $15,000 in trade-in and incentives, it leaves $9,600. The math didn’t add up in that there was about $3,200 difference in what I should be getting and what they wanted to charge me.
In Florida, your license plate is tagged to the owner, so when I buy a new car, I just take the tag and put it on my new car. Also, in Florida, the sales tax is applied to the actual amount paid for the car, after the trade-in value is deducted. In my case, the sale tax is about $624, and the tag transfer is about $225. That’s a total of $849. That still left a difference of about $2,351.
What made me question the whole “deal” was the insistence that I finance the difference. Ok, loan rates are low right now, so let’s do the math on the $12,800 and see what it will cost me in interest. Rates are at about 3.1% on new car loans right now, but it being a profit center for dealerships and knowing how they play games, I decided to do the math at 3.5% rate, although I easily qualify for the lowest rate possible. Over 60 months, the loan would cost me $13,971. Not a good deal for me, but what if I get the loan and pay it off in three months, what would the cost be?
Luis tried to keep me focused on the great $200 car payment, but I wanted to see the math. While Luis tried his best to focus me back on the low car payment, I calculated that in interest it would cost me $110.60 for the first three months and $216.98 over six months. (Thank God for smartphones!)
So, $110 wasn’t too bad if the “deal” required that I finance the difference because, although, I could pay the $12,800 in cash, I could also pay off the loan in three months, albeit $110 more in fees. But something didn’t sit right with me, where was the deal illustrated in the flyer?
The illustrated deal in the flyer showed a Rogue at $25,300, minus $3,560 in “dealer discount” plus another $3,000 off in “factory rebate” leaving the price at $18,740. Add to that the $11,940 promised trade-in value for the Juke, it left a balance due of $6,800. Ok, so they don’t have the exact car because it “sold” already. But, let’s apply the math and play their game.
The Rogue I was looking at was priced at $24,600, a difference of $700 less. Applying the incentives that the illustration showed and the trade-in value for my Juke, my out of pocket expense should have been $6,100, not $12,800! Even if we apply “dealer fees” and tax, title and license schemes, the difference was still well over $5,000!
I pointed this out to the salesperson, who told me I didn’t qualify for all the incentives on the flyer. Why not, I asked. First it was the argument that my Juke was not worth the full $11,940 they were offering. Ok, so let’s say we are off by $1,000, let’s move on. He said I didn’t qualify for one of the incentives, he refused to be specific, because I wasn’t a Nissan employee!!!
Dumbfounded, I pointed out to him that a flyer was mailed out to me and that, although full of disclaimers, it said nothing about me being a Nissan employee. As a matter of fact, the flyer makes it a point to exclude Nissan employees from the prices. I pointed out that with today’s computers the dealership mailing me their flyer would know I’m not a Nissan employee. Luis told me that his “boss” told him to tell me that. I asked to speak to the “boss” but Luis kept insisting that I first make a deal with him.
I told him that if the math wasn’t working on a deal that fits every parameter of the flyer, why would I trust that any deal wouldn’t be made with the intent to deceive to me.
I walked out vowing never to buy another Nissan again. Not because the cars are bad, but because the dealership, Sutherlin Nissan of Orlando, represents Nissan and if Nissan allows outright deceptions, such as the one I experienced then I have no more use for Nissans in my life. Too bad, I really wanted a 300ZX when I didn’t need to drive Landon, and his mom around and Landon only talks about the GTR as his first car. Not sure I could ever afford that, but it doesn’t matter because I’m done with Nissan because of their unethical business schemes.