Liesl’s car is getting a bit long in the tooth, so a week and a half ago we went and test-drove some cars. And decided on a Prius; one of the surprises was that I actually preferred its interior dimensions to the Camry’s. (I kept bumping my head on the Camry’s ceiling.)

We didn’t like the dealer we test-drove it at enough to want to give them our money (and the only package 2 Prius they had in stock was black, which didn’t sound great for summer driving), so we sent out some inquiries via Piercey Toyota in Milpitas got back to us saying that they had a non-black package 2 in stock for $23,909. That sounded fine, so we left them a voice mail.

And didn’t get a response—I guess the person we were dealing with was unavailable on the weekend?—but we heard back from them yesterday, and made an appointment to drop by there this evening.

So we show up; the first words are “I have some good news and some bad news”. It turns out that they don’t have one in stock any more, which was pretty annoying; couldn’t they have e-mailed us to let us know? Still, we wanted a car, so we probably would have been willing to put down a deposit or something and wait for a week for the one they had on order to show up.

But, it turns out, Toyota has raised the MSRP in the interim: not only would we have to wait a week, we’d have to pay a few hundred bucks more. They kept us sitting around for a good twenty minutes or so while thinking about whether or not they really wanted to charge us the MSRP, but ultimately they stayed firm: if we wanted a car, we’d have to pay the higher price, instead of the price they quoted to us.

Which Liesl and I were both furious at, and were completely unwilling to do. The reason why we went through in the first place is so we wouldn’t have to deal with stupid dealer crap: they’d make us their best offer, we’d take it or leave it, no hard feelings either way. Instead, they told us one thing, gave us no indication that anything had changed, had us drive through rush-hour traffic to get there on an evening when, frankly, we had better things to do, only to tell us then that they wanted to change the price on us.

I’m not particularly mad at them for selling the one they’d mentioned on the e-mail: it’s a hot market, we didn’t jump in our car to drive there and buy it immediately. (Though, you know, it would have been nice if they’d indicated that they wouldn’t hold it for us unless, say, we called them to put down a few hundred bucks as a down payment or something: we got back to them pretty quickly, after all.) But if they are going to sell it and we’ll have to wait for a week or two to get another one, it’s simple basic courtesy to spend a minute and send us an e-mail: that way, we would have known what was going on, and hopefully we could have avoided tonight’s trip entirely, arranging whatever needed to be arranged over the phone.

Even with that, though, we would have been willing to put down a deposit for the next car tonight when we showed up and were told that, in fact, they didn’t have a car for us. But to change the price like that with no advance warning is completely unacceptable. Basically, it turns out that what their original “we have a #2 Prius to sell you for $23,909” e-mail actually meant was “we’re a Toyota dealer, it’s likely the case that we’ll be able to sell you a Prius at some point in the future for some undetermined price.” Which we could have figured out quite nicely on our own without blowing an evening on it, thank you very much.

Liesl will contact the next dealer on our list tomorrow; hopefully they’ll be more honest in their dealings with us.

Post Revisions: