Have you heard the one about the woman who went to the dealership for new tires and came out with a new car?
No, it's not a joke, at least not in the case of Madeline Leonard. Leonard took her 2004 Mazda 3 in for new tires at Mazda of Orangeville in Ontario. She walked out with a 2010 Mazda 6, for which she paid $66,000 (note: All dollar figures in this post are Canadian). By the way, that 6 wasn't brand new, but had been used as a demonstrator by the dealership.
The 56-year-old mentally-disabled woman says that "Moe", the salesman, was a fast-talker who soon was talking numbers with her before selling her the car, which should have retailed for $41,000, according to the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council. Carey Smith, the director of investigations for the agency, has levied charges against both the store and two senior employees. Fines could total $250,000.
The deal went down in late December of 2009, and Kien Trung, the dealer's business manager, says it was on the up-and-up.
"We didn’t do anything wrong in the case of this transaction,” Trung told the Toronto Star. “We made a little bit of money on the deal. I guess she was not happy with it.”
Mazda Canada lists a base price of $39,969 for the car, but Mazda of Orangeville supposedly had the car listed at a sticker price of $45,846. On top of that, the dealership sold Leonard a $4,500 "protection package" that included rust-proofing and window etching. The unemployed Leonard makes less than $2,000 a month, yet she was on the hook for an eight-year loan for $16,000, which included a final balloon payment of $7,000. Smith says she should not have qualified for the loan.
Leonard says after the deal was done, she drove to other dealerships and compared prices on other 6s, only to find the difference in price to be, as she said, "shocking."
Trung and sales manager Mohammed (Moe) Shaikh are being charged with "engaging in unfair practice by making an unconscionable representation" opposite to the provincial Consumer Protection Act. Both plan to plead not guilty.
Mazda of Canada is withholding specific comment until the case is resolved in court.
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