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Old 10-28-2011, 08:10 PM   #1
vortrex
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Default BEWARE - Horrible buying experience at Putnam Subaru (Burlingame, CA)

Putnam Subaru of Burlingame, CA knowingly sold me a new 2011 WRX with body damage and even attempted to cover it up. This is long I know, but it's quite unbelievable, you must read it...

I went in to pick up my new car at 6pm in the evening. The car was in the showroom, right where the salesman said it had been for weeks. The showroom is very small, just wide enough for 1 car with salesperson desks on either side of it. The car was right at the front entrance so whoever walked in was greeted by seeing the car. There had probably been hundreds of people who looked at the car in the time it was there, not to mention all the employees.

I checked the car out right when I arrived and it was perfect. The salesman then moved the car right outside the door so I could look at it under the remaining daylight. The salesman went to help another customer and I walked around the car 5x or more to check for even the slightest issue (I'm very observant and slightly OCD). The car again looked fine. The salesman came back and drove the car to get detailed while we handled the deal. We then walked down to the finance dept to finish things up, which is in another building a block or so down the street. While I was with the finance guy the salesman got the car from detailing and went to fill it up with gas. Right when I finished up with the finance guy the salesperson pulled up in my car, I got in the drivers side, and he went over how to operate a few of the controls. I was then on my way home. Keep in mind it was late at this point, around 8pm, and it was getting dark out.

So, I drive straight home (1 mile to the highway, 11 miles on the highway, 1/2 mile to my garage). I pull the car into the garage and under my fluorescent shop light. As I am walking away from the car (maybe 6-8ft away) I look back and something catches my eye. Sure enough, on the passenger side front portion of the roof there is a 4-5" crease right where the A pillar extends up to the roof! Now this is where it gets shady. This portion of the roof is very rigid, not flimsy sheet metal. It would take a lot of force and something quite strong to crease the metal like this, yet there is not even a scratch in the paint. There is only one 1/4" mark where whatever creased it broke through the paint. Well, you might ask how is this possible with no scratch to the delicate Subaru paint? That was my thought too until I saw globs of rubbing compound stuck between the roof and the black roof rail at ONLY the exact spot of this damage.

At this point it's about 20 min elapsed time from the moment I left the dealer until now. I call the salesperson on his cell as the dealer is already closed. I explain the situation to him. He says there's nothing he can do about it and that the sales manager needs to get involved, but he's on vacation. I tell the salesman he better contact the sales manager somehow and also have finance hold onto my paperwork until this is resolved. I know for a fact that none of the paperwork had been submitted because the finance manager said he hadn't even got finance approval for me (perfect credit, large down payment, high salary, etc) and would worry about it the next day. I take pictures and send it to the salesman.

The next morning I get a call from the sales manager (who makes a point he is taking time out of his vacation to call me). I explain the situation to him and the first thing he says it's "that's impossible, nobody at my dealership would ever cover up damage like that". I ask if he had seen the pics and he says no. I mention where the damage is, what type it is, the leftover rubbing compound, etc and his only reply is "we detail all our cars so it's just leftover wax". I mention that the only glob of rubbing compound on the whole car is right at the location of the damage, he says that means nothing. I explain to him how I looked over the car multiple times before purchasing and there was no damage. He agrees and even states that he "walked by that car 50 times a day when it was in the showroom" and never saw any damage. He then says I damaged it on the way home and that I "signed the contact" and there was nothing he was going to do about it. The conversation got more heated at this point and he must have gone back to the "too bad, you singed the contract" thing 10 more times. He then offers to fix the car for me. I stand by the fact that I don't want a brand new car with body/paint work done to it. He says by CA law (not sure, I couldn't verify it) it's perfectly legal for the dealer to sell a new car with a percentage of undisclosed body repairs done to it. I go back to the point that someone there obviously tried to cover this up and it was most certainly done sometime between the point of me initially looking at it and of me finishing the financing. He absolutely will not believe any of this, or even consider it (also has no interest in seeing the pics). He also mentions that CA has the "no cooling off period" law and that I signed that paperwork. I mention to him that it's not a fact of me not wanting a WRX, it's a matter of having a damaged one. Again, back to the "you signed the contract" thing. I mention how I am now stuck with a car that will have bodywork done to it and how I will need to disclose this when I sell it. The sales managers response is "you don't have to disclose that". I'm sure you can see what an honest person this guy is. The conversation ends with him saying to bring it into their body shop and how it will look like new when it is fixed because they are so great, blah blah. At this point I see it is never going to go anywhere and I tell him I will contact Subaru of America.

I open a case with Subaru of America and they take my side of the story and the pictures. They are encouraging me to drive the car to show the sales manager in person, even though I explained to them how he is completely unwilling to even consider my side of the story. I really did not want to put more miles on the car driving it back and forth, thinking there still might be a chance to get out of this deal. SoA is totally leaving this up to the dealer to handle at this point and doesn't seem to want to get involved. Again they tell me to go show the sales manager, so I agree to. The day I was scheduled to go show them I traded emails with the salesperson. He says the manager will look at it, but there's nothing he can do about it since the deal is final. It's been a week or more at this point of dealing with this nonsense from the dealer and SoA so I give in and set up an appt with them for repair.

I drop it off for repair and go with the sales manager to the body shop. The estimator explains how they will fix it. Again, the sales manager is saying it will be perfect and he will personally see to it. I should mention that when I made the appointment with the body shop through the salesperson I mentioned that they had better get this right and have someone working on it who knows what they are doing. Fast forward 3-4 days and my car is ready for pick up. The salesperson says he picked it up, it's sitting on their lot, and it looks perfect. Great, my nightmare is almost over I think to myself. I go to pick up the car and see it sitting in the lot. Before I headed in I decided to look it over for a minute or two myself. In these two minutes I already see 3 flaws that weren't even there before taking it into the shop! There is a chip in the clearcoat to the rear of where the crease was, there is a 1/2" scratch in the paint in roughly the same area, a 6" scratch in the paint on the A pillar, and it seemed to be missing clearcoat in spots! I'm at a loss for words and this point and go get the salesperson and sales manager. The sales manager never even bothered to look at the car himself despite all his previous promises and is arguing with the sales person on why he didn't notice this before calling the customer. The salesperson is saying that he and 2 other people looked over the car and it was perfect. Really!? Are you implying I walked into the lot and damaged my own car? They offer to send it back to the body shop.

The following week I drop it back off a the body shop to try this again. A couple days later the car is ready for pick up. Again, I show up and inspect the car first before seeing the salesperson. The repair seems acceptable. I then open the passenger side door to throw my laptop bag in the car and the seat is covered in white stains! It's like they power washed the wet sanding residue right past the door seal and all over my seat. I'm not talking about a few spots, it's covered. How someone doesn't notice this is beyond me. I show the salesperson and he gets some toxic smelling liquid to clean it up before I head home.

At some point during this whole mess I requested paperwork from them noting what they repaired to my new car and the sales manager said it would be no problem. Well, I never got this of course. I spoke with the salesperson a week later and asked for it. He dropped it in the mail. Shocking, but it never showed up in my mailbox. I asked for it again (3rd-4th time?) and finally it arrives. Now SoA contacts me asking if I am happy with my purchase. I don't even know how to respond with this but I tell them I feel thoroughly ripped off for buying a damaged car at the going rate of an undamaged one. SoA says there is nothing they can do about the agreed upon price (uhhh, agreed upon before I knew it had damage) but offered me a $100 coupon to make things right. I never responded to that insult.

Also, all the while this abortion is happening the salesperson is telling me CONSTANTLY how he needs to get all 10's on his review. I did the follow up survey and was honest. 10's where I thought it was deserved and 1's likewise. I mentioned my SoA case number, but I doubt anything will come of it at this point. If you are in the Bay Area I would surely steer clear of this operation at all costs, no matter what sort of deal they give you.
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Last edited by vortrex; 10-28-2011 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:55 PM   #2
blackfang
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You need to give that Salesman a big ZERO on everything.
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Old 10-29-2011, 04:41 PM   #3
BryanH
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YOU need to get a lawyer. Stop dealing with THEIR body shop and see them in court. You bought a new car...what you are going to have now is a lot of depreciation for something you didn't do.
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Old 10-30-2011, 02:18 PM   #4
vortrex
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I considered the lawyer thing but then I realized it would be even a bigger waste of time and money as I had no hard proof. I wish I would have snapped a photo of the car while it was in the showroom, as that would have been the evidence I needed. I learned my lesson I suppose and will do this on my next purchase.
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Old 10-30-2011, 04:12 PM   #5
BryanH
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Need proof....did you buy a new car? Are you now having repairs on a NEW car?
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:32 PM   #6
vortrex
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like I mentioned, they blamed me for doing it in the 20 min after I left the dealership. I have no way to prove they did it. I will just do my best to get the word out there to show what a horrible dealership they are.
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:29 PM   #7
furiouswrx
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Location: Northern California
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2011 WRX Ltd Hatch
SWP

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Yeah..I tried negotiating with this dealer over email, but their response was so rude that I didn't even bother replying.

Unfortunately, this situation shows that you have to scrutinize cars very carefully before you buy, even if new. It's a good idea to pick up a car in the morning with plenty of daylight, and spend some serious time looking over it (30 minutes at the minimum) to make sure everything is as it should be.
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:57 PM   #8
vortrex
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Quote:
Originally Posted by furiouswrx View Post
Yeah..I tried negotiating with this dealer over email, but their response was so rude that I didn't even bother replying.

Unfortunately, this situation shows that you have to scrutinize cars very carefully before you buy, even if new. It's a good idea to pick up a car in the morning with plenty of daylight, and spend some serious time looking over it (30 minutes at the minimum) to make sure everything is as it should be.
that's the funny thing, I looked this car over so well before signing the dotted line. there was no damage. who in the world would think a dealer would damage your car while prepping it and then try and cover it up!?

dealing with the pricing was a bit of a hassle but they still beat the price of anyone else. the "best price" would change daily and sometimes only be good for a couple of hours. weird.
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:02 PM   #9
suberrific
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12 5spd Sport Prem
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good info..i was thinking of going to carlsen but i may go to downtown subaru in oakland or capital in san jose...I heard stevens creek subaru is shadey also..looking for '12 impreza
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Old 12-28-2011, 05:07 PM   #10
Strider327
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Location: Northern California Hayward
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2004 Impreza WRX
WRB

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Wow, I would have whipped his ass!
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Old 12-28-2011, 10:12 PM   #11
KIrbstermcgee
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I'm sorry to hear this. Indeed an awfull experince. I do feel a little sorry for the salesman too. Please understand the in most dealerships the review you give yor sales rep makes or breaks his paycheck and in many cases his job relies on it. So for instance if something happens that was completely out of his control and he gets nailed on the survay over it... Well it's kind of an unfortunate situation to be in. Maybe just shouldn't fill it out. But just stay diligent, ive personally delt with soa, there good people and want to solve your issue. If you pester a dealership enough you'll get what you want. Which in this case is a good thing.
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Old 05-23-2012, 10:26 PM   #12
swampviking
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Location: San Francisco
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2012 WRX
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We were in the market for a 2012 Impreza or WRX so we went down to Putnam (one of the few Bay area dealers). The Impreza was no problem to drive, but under no circumstance would the manager let us drive a WRX (which they had a few of on the lot). What I don't understand is how is someone supposed to buy a car that they can't test drive? I can (kind of) understand if we looked like kids trying to joy ride, but my wife and I are in our mid/late 30's.
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Old 04-04-2017, 04:53 PM   #13
petey123
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Was aboout to go there this weekend. Thanks for advice.
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