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Bigshot 08-16-2001 01:35 PM

Been ripped off by dealer, What to do?
Last Feb I bought a beautiful 1989 560SEC from Glauser Mercedes in Sarasota, FL. Car had 59k on it and is/was in fantastic shape. Car was carfaxed, gone over with a fine-toothed comb etc. according to the sales manager & saleman. In looking for a some info. I ran across DUG's free carfax today. Ran my car and BAM! 2 counts of speedometer rollback, front end collision damage, Not only that it had a "NOT ACTUAL MILEAGE TITLE" issued in 8/98. What can/should I do. If discrepency was small, I would sluff it off because I love the car and under my extended warranty,$6000+ of work has been done, she is tip top. Problem is a 63K mile discrepency! The car now has over 140k, not the 71 indicating. They are currently "looking into it". Regards, Nick

Lebenz 08-16-2001 01:54 PM

Dicey problem. Iím not an attorney. The problem is that if the car has gone through a couple of owners, the title could have been replaced and no one would be the wiser. However, the dealer should have been able to at least tell if the car was in an accident. If it was fixed so well that they couldnít, it is not a bad repair, after all! If somehow the dealer has mis-represented the vehicle, this is fraud. In fact, if they claim to have run car fax on it, you pretty much have them.

Thatís the good news. The bad news is that unless the dealer is willing to be very accommodating, youíll probably have to get a lawyer to settle anything. If the car is notably depreciated in value, the dealer may owe you the difference. However, it may cost so much in lawyer fees, which arenít always reimbursed, youíll get naught in the end anyway.

So this being said, give the dealer a little time, but require a deadline from them. Unless you want a refund for the car, consider the work done, verses the value of the car. Then negotiate for something. Worse comes to worse, you can always pursue a remedy by use of a lawyer. Otherwise, you might get them to foot the bill for some work and parts. In the end, if you really like the car and itís in good shape, I recommend getting them to give you an equal value in freebies. Provided they will actually do this, of course.

Good luck & keep us posted!!


-fad 08-16-2001 02:22 PM

...good heeled and well thought out advice, Lebenz.

..other choice is to seek the path to return the car and receive your purchase price +/- expenses back (in good faith)

...if negotiations get stuck, your last resort lies within the interpretation of representations within the hard documentation of the sale/ advertising, general and case law governing motor vehicle sales by licensed auto dealers in your state, & consumer advocacy group/channel pressure...maybe consider acquiring an attorneys opinion on possible causes of action, once you've identified choices, consequences, & probable results- - an best informed choice may be made

we know that hindsight is 100%, and that generally- what appears too good to be true, very often is not true. Happens daily, and I try to minimize this occurrence at all costs by ensuring that all significant factors of a business transaction are documented and executed in acknowledgement & agreement by both parties.

hope all turns out the best

Bigshot 08-16-2001 02:42 PM

Thanks Kids! I hear ya on your advice. They claim ALL their cars are run through car-fax, obviously not this one. My thought is they take my car at what they were originally asking and I make up the difference for another car on the lot, granted they show me all the carfax stuff etc. I know they will never give me my money back. This is unexcusable from a high-end reputable dealer and they should make good on their reputation. I paid the premium buying from them so this would NOT happen. I understand things happens but if this is the exception, not the norm, they should come through.

bstreep 08-16-2001 03:03 PM

Another thought or 2... This is EXACTLY the kind of story your local news "troubleshooter" would LOVE to get his hands on - especially if it's a Mercedes dealer. I've also had luck with signs. You could put one on your car that says "Glauser Mercedes sold me this car with a rolled back odometer". Park it in prominent places where other Mercedes owners frequent - or across the street from the dealer if you can. Take pictures of it and take them to the dealer. Just make sure your sign tells the truth...
I've used this approach several times with AMAZING success.

F.J.Lahme 08-16-2001 03:31 PM

Can you provide the http for that free car fax you are talking about?
Thanks a bunch and good luck with your case.

jcyuhn 08-16-2001 04:04 PM

Did the dealer commit the fraud, or were they merely an "innocent" victim? Your opportunities for remediation likely vary depending on the situation. At the very least, it appears the dealer was negligent in checking out the cars' title history - it was trivially easy for you to determine the fraud had occurred.

Odometer tampering is a federal crime. Perform a quick websearch - I found references to 15 USC 1984, 1988, 1990c. I believe treble damages are due - you can recover three times your losses.

Check with you state attorney generals' office. Most all have a consumer affairs division. See if they are able to assist you.

Decide what you want in terms of remediation. Does the dealer need to purchase the car back? Do you want a partial refund based upon the difference in value of a 120K mile car vs. a 60K mile car?

Don't let the dealer blow you off. They may stall, hoping you'll just go away - many people give up when they have been taken advantage of.

Good luck.

Jim Anderson 08-16-2001 04:25 PM

Another thought
Does carfax have a history of requests for each vehicle? That would be another nail against them. I know the credit reports do, my history shows everyone and every time a credit history was done.

-fad 08-16-2001 05:32 PM

adding to your things to think about:

if the dealer possesses an "Factory Authorized MB Dealer" status and this came from the used car side (Starmark program in effect- but not applicable on this particular vehicle), there may be some documented "reps and warranties" generally stated i.e. customer satisfaction, used car reconditioning process, quality, vehicle history checked out...etc.- - these types of buzz words/ phrases are what you seek (in writing, in ads, signs on the premises). I recall a "list of MB client rights" brochure/ website?

...if you do have luck finding these (the more the better), your attorney may effectively ghost-write a friendly but focused letter referencing these "reps and warranties" while requesting specific remedies based upon applicable law and/or based upon your preferences note: a ghost-written correspondence is usually quite effective while allowing a stronger option to be implemented in future correspondence ie one sent by your attorney. this point, barring any indication to the contrary, I would assume that the dealership will desire to rectify this unfortunate circumstance as quickly and amiably as possible & to your satisfaction...

no real need to immediately bring out big guns, send nasty grams, commence the smear campaign, threaten legal action, etc. as these paths may be more "situationally appropriate" in stalemate negotiations


joel 08-16-2001 11:39 PM


think about re-selling the car in the future, unless you would like to keep the car forever and ever. will there be any takers? i guess not!

so return the car and get back your cash and a bit more cash for pain and suffering! cheers!!

Steve019 08-17-2001 03:37 AM

Last year a guy and his wife took turns driving infront of a dealer all day with a large billboard in the bed of a pickup. "Dealer X sold me this lemon, ask me why" It made the news. I don't know whatever came of it.

G-Benz 08-17-2001 08:58 AM

I guess it all depends if the dealership really intended to defraud or depends on how they go about rectifying the problem.

The MB dealerships here won't go near a car with more than 40K...they just wholesale them off. Brokers will offer them for sale, and some are more prone than others to "stretch the truth".

Hope they make good on the deal in some way that you can realize some satisfaction with your purchase.

MedMech 08-17-2001 09:11 AM

YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY!!! Don't do anything until you at least consult one. I have been there and you can jeopardize your position fast. Dealers know EXACTLY what they can and cannot do and if you show your hand to early you could easily lose an easy settlement. I am not the biggest fan of giving lawyers money but when playing somebody else's game you better have a damn good team. All of these post are good advice I would first contact the attorney general, but they can be slow, however some jump all over this stuff if, if you go to the media make sure your ducks are in a row because they can slap a libel case on you faster than.....well pretty darn fast. good luck and keep us posted.

Bigshot 08-17-2001 09:18 AM


They want to make me "happy". I go there yesterday and they offer me $14k for my car. I just paid over $20k for it. It took everything I had not to hit the manager. I calmly said "You wanted to "make me happy" and now you insult me! 15 cents a mile I could see but almost $7k for 11,500 miles. Then my "representative" showed up and the tune changed. He does not have the authorization to "make me happy". So why am I talking to you I ask? The GM is gonna call me today.

My "rights" pertaining to vehicle title history and odemeter reading misinformation are as follows:Treble damages,$1500 statutory damages, punitive damages and attorney fees. they can also be sued by their warranty insurance company for mistating my vehicle to them(who paid over $6k in warranty work).

What I am seeking and they better agree or next step is court: My purchase price in full towards another used car at cost. I think this is more than fair considering if this does hit the news, everyone and their dog will be checking their VIN#'s. Will keep ya posted and run those carfaxes.

G-Benz 08-17-2001 10:05 AM

Go get 'em Bigshot! They obviously were just going to play footsies with you until you decided to play hardball!

Oh well, they forced you to play the "lawsuit" card! From what you've stated so far, I think you've got a very good case, and a pretty good shot at getting everything you want. They will probably settle out of court, unless the GM cuts his losses and gives you your money back...

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