Couple Finds Cash For Clunkers Trade Back On The Used Lot

September 22, 2009

A Southern California couple who decided to trade in their 2001 Nissan Xterra under the Cash for Clunkers program in August later found the vehicle for sale in the same dealership's used lot.

Oops. It seems that the dealership, Volkswagen of Garden Grove, decided to forget about the CARS claim on the Xterra and tried to sell it themselves.

The environmentally minded couple says that they wouldn’t have traded the Xterra in the first place if they’d known it wasn’t going to be scrapped. They had intended to purchase a Jetta TDI and get the $4,500 CARS credit, but instead the dealership didn’t have any and they settled for a gasoline Jetta, with the $3,500 credit. The customer completed the transaction thinking that the 17-mpg Xterra would be taken off the road.

“I had brought in my car registration, the car title, and one year of auto insurance proof for the clunker, fulfilling my end of the cash for clunkers, the other was for the dealer to sell me a new car and to destroy my old one,” said Dan Hoang, who traded the Xterra with his girlfriend. “If I had known that the dealership was using the car as a trade-in, then I would not have brought the car in, but simply kept the car for another year or two.”

It sounds, based on the dealership’s response to the Orange County Register, that the terms of the sale were cleverly switched in the last minutes of the sale, allowing them to take the Xterra on trade when the owners had intended it to be scrapped.

The vehicle was priced at $5,995 on the lot.

The National Highway Traffic Administration replied to the OC Register that since a claim was never submitted, they had no jurisdiction over the issue; that punts it into the realm of the California attorney general.

If the opportunistic dealership failed to adequately communicate that the status of the trade-in had changed, an ethical if not legal line was crossed.

Have you seen a vehicle that you thought was being traded in through Cash for Clunkers back out on the used-car lot? Let us know about it, and report it to the proper authorities. Them's tax dollars.

[OC Register, via Consumerist]

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