Advice for After the New Car Deal

Last Modified: May 28, 2019 by Jeff Ostroff  | Originally Published April 29, 2013

Once you get your new car home, you may think the process is over. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. There are things like the Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSS) and the barrage of postcards you will receive attempting to sell you an extended warranty.

1. Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Some dealers may pressure you to turn in the manufacturer's Customer Satisfaction Survey (CSS) to them. Don't give it to them, mail it directly to the company. A few buyers emailed me to say dealers told them to lie on the CSS, right after scamming them! Many dealers offer you a free tank of gas to bring the survey to them instead of mailing it in. Some dealers seem to care more about how you'll fill out the survey than actually satisfying you as this visitor wrote to me:

To: Jeff
Subject: The dealer told me to lie on the customer satisfaction survey

He said "If you have any problems, just mark 100% on the CSS and call me and we'll work it out." I told him I was going to be honest, and he said "come on, all you'll be doing is ruining the commission for the salesman, and hurting yourself." It's like they were real scared. Also, they offered me a free tank of gas if I return the CSS to them personally. Why would they want to get their hands on it firs?

2. When They Bribe You for Your Customer Satisfaction Survey

Make a photocopy of your completed survey and return the original to the dealership to get your free tank of gas. Send the photocopy to the manufacturer with a note telling them the dealer bribed you to turn in the survey to them: "Since I was offered a free tank of gas from the Dealer not to send you my survey, I hope this photocopy will do."

Dealerships get bonuses if their Customer Satisfaction (CS) index is within a certain range, so never lie on a CSS. If you liked the dealer, indicate it and if there was anything you disliked from attitude to service to scams, write it in. The car makers want to know. If no one lets them know there's a problem, they can't fix it. If they required you to purchase extended warranties or credit life insurance as a condition for loan approval (which is illegal), indicate that on the survey and tell them you are calling the Consumer Affairs Division to complain.

3. If You Got a Great Deal, Show Your Appreciation

satisfied customer

If you got a great deal on your car after reading my guide, thank them and reward them for it by sending your friends to them when they go car shopping. Any dealer who negotiates down to the 3%-5% profit terms of this article is thinking win-win and deserves our repeat business.

For any salespeople who made it this far in the article, keep in mind that your industry is constantly fighting an uphill battle in the customer satisfaction arena.

4. What to do if You Get Ripped Off

This does happen more than you think. I don't mean the sneaky cash flow games and other tricks that I've gone over. I'm talking about actual crimes committed by a salesperson or other dealership employee.

Examples of Illegal Activities at a Dealer:

  • Forcing you to buy Credit Life Insurance or you won't get the loan.
  • Forcing you to buy the Extended Warranty or anything else or you won't get the loan.
  • Running a credit check without your written permission while on a test drive.
  • Giving you $0 for your trade-in by playing with the numbers.
  • Stating a used car is new or lying about previous accidents.
  • Rolling back the odometer.
  • Failure to disclose Cap Cost, Trade-in, Deposits and all fees on a lease (Reg M Laws).
  • Telling you that you are buying a car when they are signing you up to a lease.
  • Writing one VIN on the contract but selling you another vehicle. Same with Model Numbers.
  • Reporting your car stolen after you refuse to pay higher payments when they pull the "Spot Delivery" scam on you weeks after your purchase.

If you think you have been wronged, the easiest method to resolve it is to start with the dealer. Maybe they made a mistake and they'll correct it. If not, file a complaint with the Consumer Affairs Division for your state.

5. Where to Go for Help

Before you file any complaints, make sure you can prove a crime took place.

6. Most States do Not Have a 3 Day "Buyers Remorse" Rule

Don't expect to be able to return the car within 3 days of buying it and get a refund. There is no law in most states that allows you do this. You should be certain you are ready for a deal before you sign, not 3 days after you sign.

7. Lemon Laws

Don't forget, there is also a lemon law, which varies from state to state that protects you from being stuck with a car that won't work properly. If you have a lemon, your State's Attorney General web site is a great place to start. Most have an online complaint form for you to fill out. Make sure you read their directions for submitting a claim and what documentation you'll need.

8. Final Thoughts

Congratulations, you have completed the course on how to buy a new car and you are ready to conduct business on a level playing field. Please email me and let me know what you found out there too. If you liked this article, please bookmark it and share it with your friends on social media, they'll thank you for it. If you know any reporters, tell them to do a story on this site. Together we'll educate the world. Thanks for stopping by! Jeff has affiliate relationships with multiple web sites. We are paid referral fees for leads or sales generated from visitors that click on some links or fill out certain forms on this site. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.