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In June 2004, my wife and I left a deposit with Toyota of Colorado Springs for a blue #3 Prius (side air bags and rear window wiper only) with a quoted price of $22,822. When the car arrived in early November, they wanted $25,792, with an out-the-door price of $28,010 (El Paso County’s 6.4 percent sales tax plus another unexplained $560). The only reasonable increases were the addition of smart entry to the #3 option package ($270) and Toyota’s increase in the meantime of $500; the rest was described as “additional dealer processing” or “fair market value adjustment.” Oh, and we were going to be the proud owners of wheel locks, cargo net, etc., none of which we’d ordered and none of which we wanted. This was accompanied by a hard-sell: “We can sell this car for $28,000. We have 63 people on the waiting list here, and 98 at the north store. [Both Colorado Springs dealerships are owned by the same people.] Do you want it or not?” They came down $1000 when we balked, but ultimately we decided we didn’t want to feel gouged every time we got into our new car, so we cancelled the deal. The eagerness with which Toyota of Colorado Springs refunded our deposit suggests they were aware of their shaky ethical ground.

That was November 5. The next day, we drove 40 miles south to Pueblo Toyota, where we ordered a blue AM package — an additional $1000 — from Anthony Aponte. Since happy tales are inherently less interesting than sad ones, there’s not much more to say: On February 9, we drove our new Prius home. There were no thumbscrews and the bare minimum hot lights; Anthony went above and beyond the call of duty when, an hour after we bought the car, he drove several miles to remind us how to start it (this is really embarrassing to admit, but Anthony deserves the credit); and the out-the-door price was $1250 less than Toyota of Colorado Springs’ final offer, for a car with a $1000 higher MSRP. The difference in the two dealers’ prices would have been even greater, except El Paso County’s taxes went up a point on January 1st. This cost us $240, which hopefully will fill a few of Colorado Springs’ Guiness-book-contending potholes.

Between November and February, I learned a bit more about Colorado Springs Toyota’s business practices. In December, we received a call from our non-salesman, who said he wanted to “make things right.” His story: A soldier at nearby Fort Carson had been ordered to Iraq, and had sold his Prius back to the dealer. It was a 2005 #1 (side airbags only) with 2,030 miles on it, and we could have it for the incredible low price, before taxes, of $25,672(!) — that is, only $120 less than they’d tried to charge us a month earlier for a brand new car with a better option package. Not to mention the tale’s Arabian Nights implausibility.

Then there was our complaint to Toyota USA about Toyota of Colorado Springs. It was referred to — guess who? — the owner of Toyota of Colorado Springs. In our single phone conversation with a customer service representative, the only meaningful thing we learned was that the dealer had lied about language my wife allegedly used in a phone message complaining about our treatment. (I swear; she doesn’t.) We have not heard back from them.

And in January, I met a man (actually, I buttonholed him on the street) with a salsa AM package. He’d bought it in Pueblo in November after having cancelled a deal with Toyota of Colorado Springs in August — when they tried to charge him more than the agreed-upon price. This triggered a memory: In August, our salesman had called us about a salsa Prius. The buyer had lost his job and couldn’t take the car; did we want it? It may not be the same person, but the timing and the car are suggestive.

There are people getting even better deals than we did; we payed MSRP, plus floormats (which I’m glad to have, but which I know can be had for less), plus a $295 dealer charge. But there are also plenty of Prius buyers who’ve been charged a lot more. The bottom line is, we could not be happier with the way Pueblo Toyota treated us, especially after our experience with Toyota of Colorado Springs.

Best of all, we love the Prius. Of course, the only direction to go is up when the car you’re replacing is a 1981 Dodge Colt. But so far up! The engineering shouts “intelligence.” It glides on the freeway and scoots across intersections. Even silently sitting at a red light is gratifying — a sensation that will quickly pass, I’m sure.

Thanks for letting me vent/ramble.
 

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All I needed was popcorn! I do love a happy ending. Now, put it behind and enjoy. The sequel is 10+ years away. :)
 
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