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Old 05-12-2009, 08:18 PM   #164
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Join Date: May 2009
Default Saved from a Possibly Bad Experience with Bill Kolb Subaru

I apologize for posting this twice, but apparently there are several threads here on the subject of Bill Kolb :-)

Thanks to all the people who write on this and other boards, I was saved from possibly making a bad decision and the loss of money that might have entailed.
My son and I saw, and test-drove, a 2008 Subaru Impreza with 5,000 miles at Bill Kolb Subaru in Orangeburg, NY. The price was about $2,000 lower than similar cars at that and other dealerships, and we were told the reason why – it was a “lemon law buyback.” Our salesman, Jerry, assured us that the problem had been with the transmission and the transmission had been replaced so the car was “good as new.” I saw the Carfax report which clearly stated the problem, and I didn’t think it was a big deal at the time.
I want to make it clear that I really liked our salesman and thought he was very honest and above-board. My opinion on that has not changed. He told us everything up front and didn’t ever lie or whitewash the truth. He also always returned my phone calls promptly, even after he knew I was not going through with the purchase. In one of the articles on Edmunds, “Confessions of a Car Salesman”, the author claims that when a dealer has less-than-admirable practices it is usually the fault of the management, not the salespeople. I sincerely believe that to be true in this case.
At any rate, when we test-drove the car we both loved it, so I immediately went in, signed the contract, and gave them a $500 check. I perhaps naively figured that since the transmission was replaced all the “lemon” problems had been solved. As the owner of a 2002 Subaru with 170,000 miles and nary a major problem, I figured the car would probably be trouble-free, so I was not overly concerned.
This is where it gets murky. When I asked about the remote keyless entry I was told – as many people who have written here were told – that the remote hadn’t been included when the dealer purchased the car and “programming” a new remote would cost an additional $91. I was very surprised and asked if the cost could be included in the price, as remote keyless entry was one of the features listed on the car. I was told that there was no way they could absorb this expense, so at first I figured, what the heck, another $91 was no big deal, although it did irk me. Believe it or not it is this small item that caused me to search on the Internet and uncover all of Bill Kolb’s other specious practices.
The finance guy gave us the usual 20-minute rap; since we weren’t planning on financing the car the only thing he could push was an extended warranty (“a good idea for a car that’s a lemon buyback”). The least expensive one was over $600, so I told him I’d have to think about it and we left.
It was only when I arrived home and thought about how odd that $91 “lost remote” charge was that I decided to Google both the dealership and the “lemon law” thing and see whether buying the car was such a good idea. My main concern was not so much for the reliability of the car, which I thought (and still think) was probably pretty good, but for the resale value should my son ever decide to sell. What came up on the Internet was that, unless the deal was ridiculously cheap (which it wasn’t), when you buy a “lemon law buyback” you really don’t know what you’re getting. Selling the car would probably be impossible. On top of that, the fact that Bill Kolb offered no additional warranty on the car (other than the factory warranty remaining or one that I would pay for) did not exactly serve to reassure me. (A few days after I decided not to buy, I spoke to a friend of mine who is a mechanic and we both agreed that if the only problem initially had been with the transmission, which was a manual, Subaru would have replaced that long before having to buy back the car).
Then the recurring theme on several boards of the “lost remote” and $91 charge is what really blew me away. Maybe it’s a small thing, but the fact that they would be so tacky as to add $91 to everyone’s bill by claiming to lose the remote struck me as dishonest at best, and outright thievery at worst. What a scam! Even if the remote really had to be replaced, the cost of replacement to a dealer is probably less than $10. It’s only after finding these posts again and again that I began reading all of the other negative posts about Bill Kolb and began to really doubt my decision.
At that point I called my bank to stop payment on my check and, in addition, transferred most of the money from my checking account to my savings account so that the check would either be stopped or would bounce. I wasn’t sure how fast the dealer would try to ram the payment through. I then called the salesman to tell him I was not going through with it. Again, he was very understanding and polite and I can’t say anything but positive things about him. He told me the check had been returned to them and he would be mailing it back to me. As they say, possession is 9/10 the law; I wonder what would have happened if the check had actually cleared. Fortunately, I’ll never know.
So, bottom line is that Bill Kolb Subaru’s insistence on an additional $91 is what cost them what I’m sure was many thousands in profit. Thanks again to everyone who was kind enough to save us from what could have been a very bad experience indeed -- and hopefully, the next potential buyer will be equally forewarned about this dealership.
We’re still in the market for an Impreza but this time will be a little wiser about what we buy and whom we deal with. Since we only save a few grand by buying a used one, after this experience I may just spring for a new one. And, by the way, SOA left a message for me today to find out why I chose not to go through with the purchase. I certainly intend to let them know.
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