I've bought two new cars in my life. Each time I felt snookered. Even though I'd done my homework, poring over reports detailing what the cars should cost, after a final deal was reached -- and the salesman had made that obligatory trip to "talk with the manager" -- I felt somehow ripped off.
This doesn't happen when I'm buying a dress at
That's why it is unfathomable that
It's another story of money equals power. Since 2007, the car dealers' trade groups have spent
Haven't these people ever bought a car?
Here's a better question: Don't members of
Just ask Holly Petraeus, director of the
These financially unsophisticated young people desperate for a cool car are chum to unscrupulous car lots that crop up around military bases like stinkweed. Using an arsenal of fraudulent tactics, these dealers wreak havoc on buyers' finances and credit. The dealers know their victims will be deployed or transferred before legal remedies can be sought.
Soldiers are pushed into car contracts and financing agreements stuffed with overpriced extras such as extended warranties and gap insurance that covers the loan if the vehicle is wrecked. The fine print includes hidden fees and exorbitant interest rates that jack up the final price of a vehicle to many times its worth.
Sometimes loan documents are forged to qualify a soldier for a higher-priced vehicle that he can't afford. And there's outright theft, such as never sending the buyer the title to the car, or a dealer reneging on a promise to pay off the outstanding debt on a trade-in, leaving the buyer with two loans to pay.
The problem is so pervasive that the
This also affects military readiness. "A service member who is preoccupied with financial problems is one who cannot do his job effectively," Holly Petraeus said. "If he loses his security clearance because of those financial problems, he cannot do his job at all."
Meanwhile, every Senate Republican present, along with 20 Democrats and one independent, voted for the carve-out for car dealers, over the strong objections of President
On the business side, why wouldn't reputable car dealers want to get rid of all the shady doings in their industry? I would think dealerships that operate on the up-and-up would welcome tighter oversight.
Not a chance.
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