As if buying a car isn't confusing enough, now there are sneaky consumer cons to watch out for.
Several weeks after purchasing a used Toyota Highlander, AARP member Maurice Leckington, of Clearfield, Utah, noticed a puzzling $398 charge labeled Protection Plus Etch in the sales agreement. A call to the dealership confirmed that he'd been charged for glass etching — a security add-on in which a code number, often the vehicle identification number (VIN), is etched into each of the vehicle's windows.
Finance director Scott Roper at Toyota Bountiful, in Bountiful, Utah, said the add-on would help identify the car if it was stolen and could earn Leckington an auto-insurance discount. Leckington was certain he'd not been told about the service at the time of sale, and a check with his insurer revealed it offered no such discount.
Hoping for a refund, Leckington called the dealership more than 10 times over the next few months and says he was promised multiple times that he'd be sent a refund request form. But it never arrived. So he reached out to AARP On Your Side.
While etching vehicle windows is not an outright scam, the practice is of dubious value. You may well find that your insurance company does not discount premiums for vehicles with etched windows. The few major insurers I telephoned didn't. Moreover, charging $398 for a procedure an owner can do with an $18 kit from Amazon seems a bit cheeky. I asked Toyota Bountiful's sales manager about the massive markup. Auggie Wasmund said the price included an insurance policy that would pay the deductible if the car was stolen.
Leckington was certain he was never told about an insurance policy and had never received any supporting paperwork. Faced with that claim and unable to provide proof to the contrary, the dealership decided to give Leckington a full refund for the etching.