All Ina and Bill Fossett wanted was a new car capable of carrying his mobility scooter, a kind of motorized wheelchair. They also liked the idea of being environmentally conscious and getting good gas mileage.
So in May, they went to the Toyota dealership in Newnan, Ga., and asked about a new, 2009 Camry hybrid. The salesman said the car, priced at $28,043, could be fitted with a hitch receiver for the scooter. He also sold them an extended warranty for $4,123.
In just two hours, the Fossetts signed a loan for the entire purchase price and took the car home. A few days later, Bill found that the owner's manual specifically warned against attaching any kind of hitch to the back of the car.
Dismayed, the Fossetts asked the dealer to take the car back, but they were rebuffed. Afraid they'd be stuck with a vehicle they couldn't use, the couple struggled to find a compromise. At the end of a long day at the dealership, they accepted another 2009 Camry—a used V6 with 11,000 miles on it—in a straight trade for the hybrid.
The next day, Ina found a year-old window sticker in the glove box that showed they'd paid just $300 less than the car's original asking price. "We felt emotionally sick and embarrassed," wrote Ina. At that point, she just wanted to give them their car back, have them cancel the loan, and be done with it. But the dealer refused.
Since a couple of months passed before the Fossetts wrote to "On Your Side," I did not have strong hopes of being able to help them. They'd done a few things right, though: They notified the dealer fairly quickly of their dissatisfaction, and rather than driving the used car, they kept it parked in their garage. Yet this deal wasn't easily going to be undone. The Fossetts had signed a sales contract and a loan agreement.
The dealership's owner, Walt Gutierrez, was quick to return my call. After I questioned him on the numbers, he balked at taking the car back but offered to write a check for $3,000.
However, that wasn't the Fossetts' goal. They wanted out.