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Yesterday afternoon on my day off of work, I received a call from Fremont Toyota telling me that a 2004 Prius (Silver #9) was en route from the Port of L.A. and if I wanted it, I would have to high-tail into the dealership to start the paperwork before it arrived.

I can’t tell you how long I’ve been looking for a Silver, # 9 Prius and although Fremont is a good hour and a half drive, I jumped at the opportunity.

The salesman (I’ll call him Mickey) greeted me with a big smile and a friendly handshake when my wife and I arrived at the dealership. We spoke of the long waiting list for a Prius and that there more buyers than there are Prius but that he hoped this will change because Toyota had increased the amount of Prius’ being produced by 50% for the 2005 models.

I had already given Mickey all of my credit information and he ran it before my wife and I left for the dealership so we knew before-hand that we qualified for financing and Mickey knew how much I was planning on putting down. Under normal circumstances, this is a big no-no due to the fact that you’re giving the dealer more of an advantage when it comes to the price of the vehicle. However, I’ve also learned that MSRP is what you’re going to pay for the Prius due to the high demand of the car so I felt there was no need to hide this information since I was not going to be able to haggle the price down at all.

While his finance officer (I’ll call him Bruce) worked his magic in another room Mickey, myself and my wife discussed how long it would take for the Prius to arrive and in which he estimated by September 2nd or 3rd. Just a few days away!

I was so caught up in the excitement that I didn’t catch on to something Mickey said: He stated that when the car arrives in the dealership, they would have to prep it and get it ready for me and that it would take about 4 to 5 hours because my Prius is having special “two-tone leather seats” being installed when it gets to the dealership. I thought to myself, “cool! Leather seats”. Mickey went on and on about the type of leather seats (coach) and how beautiful they are and how much they will increase the appearance of the Prius and that it’s much better looking than the cloth material being installed by Toyota.

When Bruce was finally ready for us to go over the financing, my wife and I stepped into his office. As he got the paperwork in order for me to sign, I noticed his computer screen where the finance numbers were located, I was shocked to see how much the Prius was going to cost. His computer screen displayed: $29,850!! My eyes widened and my wife’s mouth fell open.

I looked at Bruce and I asked him why it was so high when MSRP is only $26.055 via Toyota’s website. (I knew this due to the many times I used Toyota’s website to build the car I wanted.) Bruce had a look of confusion and asked me if Mickey had gone over the price and I told him no, I assumed it would be MSRP. He called Mickey via the intercom and he arrived shortly to explain that the leather seats being installed are why there is a difference between MSRP and his price.

I said, “Well, don’t install them than we’ll take the Prius as it arrives with the regular seats.” Mickey smiled apologetically and stated that this specific Prius coming in is “scheduled” to have the leather seats installed and assured me that I would love them when I see and feel them. I agreed with Mickey that I was sure I would “love them” however I would prefer my Prius not have the leather due to the big price difference of almost $4,000 and asked that the Prius be unscheduled to have this work done. Mickey stated that he cannot un-schedule the installation of the seats however if I was willing to be placed on the waiting list, he would stop the paperwork on this Prius and contact me once he received a Prius that was not going to have leather seats installed.

I asked, “so you’re telling me that when the Prius arrives, it will have the standard seats in them however you will take these seats out and replace them with coach leather seats?” Mickey nodded. I continued, “But you can’t NOT install these seats because it’s scheduled and you can’t un-schedule it.” Mickey nodded again but this time he added, “and I have a buyer that wants the leather seats.” BINGO. I realized that it’s not that Mickey won’t un-schedule the seat replacement, it’s that he has a buyer for the Prius with the leather installed meaning, if I don’t buy it with the leather, he has someone that will.

I did the math in my head, $3795.00 on top of MSRP, the seats are probably costing him $1000.00 at most, and he pockets the difference. So, on top of the commission he makes on MSRP, he’s getting an extra 3 grand for the leather seats.

I looked at Mickey and I said without blinking, “You know it’s illegal to charge above MSRP in the state of California?” Mickey smiled and he stated he wasn’t’ charging above MSRP, the costs of the leather seats is an addition and it's not considered charging above MSRP.

Mickey had me. He knew it; his finance buddy Wayne knew it too. I could see it in their eyes. I’ve been waiting for months for this car and here it is, just a few short days away but at a price I was not expecting.

I thanked Mickey and Wayne for their time, and my wife and I walked away. I can’t tell you how ticked off we both were. I’ll put it this way, we stopped at a nearby bar and had a drink while we vented about the whole experience before heading home.

So that’s why I’m here in this forum. To find out if this is common practice with other dealers and if other users have experienced the same thing.
 

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Dealers can charge whatever they want for a car in CA, as elsewhere.

My story: Spent four months on the waiting list at Santa Monica Toyota, but took a call from Miller Toyota in Culver City last week. I'm now the proud owner of a Tideland Pearl #9, after paying a $3,000 "dealer mark-up". Total with tax and all was $32,480.

Funniest thing was there were FOUR other people interested, but the sales guy reserved the car for me as I gave him my credit card # right away. They also had a white #9 at the same time which was being driven away by its new owners as I arrived.

The laws of supply and demand....
 

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I dealt with the same guy at Fremont Toyota. Be careful not to insinulate that their unscrupulous behavior is somehow linked to the fact that they are Asian.

Warning for everyone - stay away from Fremont Toyota.

If you want to buy a Prius (I got mine in 4 weeks), call Asif at Toyota Town of Stockton (in California).

He is the best sales person I've ever dealt with. I picked up my Silver #9 from him last weekend.
 

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Nimija2000 -

Weird. I got my Tideland Pearl #9 from Miller Culver City 2 months ago with "only" a 2k markup. Also, I got preapproved for credit union financing, then called Miller to ask how far I was down on the waiting list, and I was told #19. When I told them my financing was all set, and that they would have a check within 24 hrs of my number coming up, the said, "Oops! The exact car you want just came off the truck! C'mon in!"

There just doesn't seem to be any logic in the process. That being said, I am happy with Miller in that they didn't try to do any additional boiler room gouging when I took delivery, unlike VW of Van Nuys with my wife's Beetle. (VIN window etching, interest rate "adjustment", etc).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
My apologies, I was not insinuating that because Mickey and Wayne were Asian that this was why they were unscrupulous, not at all. You will find that I am the furthest thing from “racist” as you can get. I’m Hispanic, my wife is Irish. In my previous marriage, my ex-wife is American Indian. I have friends of all nationalities and cultures and although I may not agree with some of their ideals, I do respect them.

I just wanted to provide a descriptive scenario.
 

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While it is legal for a dealer to charge whatever he likes, it may be illegal to "bait and switch," which is what he did to you when he phoned to tell you there was a Prius arriving, and after getting you into the dealership, suddenly announced that you'd have to buy a Prius-plus-leather.

It is probably too late for you to get this particular car, but I suggest you file complaints with both the BBB and the State Prosecutor's office for bait-and-switch.
 

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I agree that it's terrible that this dealer attempted to railroad you into additional charges, but I too am disturbed by your characterization of them as "Asian". While I have no idea what you may or may not believe, I wonder if you would have written "Mexican" had the salesperson been named Carlos or if you would have said that they were "white" or "caucasian" had this been the case. What we choose to include and exclude as relevant information is often very revealing.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
First off; I AM MEXICAN second; I was attempting to place an accurate description of what transpired. Not for you to assume that I'm being racist because I stated I spoke to two Asian gentlmen. If you read my original post, I didn't use the word Asian in any derogatory mananer and I portrayed these two men as gentlemen and of distinct appearance in their dress. This would be called a "compliment".

I'll tell you what; I'll just edit my original post to no longer "offend" anyone. Geez, why do people always look for drama or make drama where there is none?
 

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Get off the guy!
What the heck is wrong with calling someone Asian? They are from Asia for God's sake. And before you call me a racist too, I'm Asian. Call me Asian as much as you would like.
Jesus, what next, we can't call Latins Latinos?

Back to our discussion about horrible practices by dealers...
 

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I was so sorry to hear about the awful experience that CLSHEP had in California. I live in St Louis and got on a list, finally, Dec. 5, 1003. When it looked hopeless, I heard of a dealer in Effingham, IL (Dan Hecht Toyota) who had a shorter waiting list. I placed my name on HIS waiting list in March 2004 (got another key chain) and a "hate" letter from Toyota telling me what I already knew: I was on 2 waiting lists. DUH!

However, I got my car in early May from Dan Hecht Toyota in Effingham, IL!! Why? Two folks ahead of me passed up the car because they didn't want (1) either the color or (2)the #9 package and cost associated with it.

I did not get the color that I wanted or the #-- but I did tell them that I would take MORE options than I "ordered." I wanted the BEIGE car-- it doesn't show the dirt (and it is pretty.....) but I got the silver #9 and my car and I have "bonded" beautifully. I wouldn't give it up for anything.

My scrupulously honest salesman was Bob Hecht --and he charged the regular MSRP. I never would have dreamed of paying extra for the darn car-- not in this neck of the woods (however, maybe things have changed even here, at this point....I can't be sure of all of the dealers.....)

It saddens me to see the inhumanity towards man all in the name of "profit." Honesty is honesty. I own a business. "Business" does not have to be synonymous with "dishonest and unscrupulous practices." Amen.
 

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NO SALES TAX IN CONNECTICUT

I just got my 2004 Silver Prius. I was shocked that when I went to DMV here in Connecticut I was told there was NO sales tax.... saving 6% of the 26000. + price!
Over $1500. saved - strange the dealer in Mass where I bought the car, or the dealers in CT mentioned CT has not sales tax....'
a selling point to me!
So far just broke 500 miles and average 45 MPG or so.. but love the car.
ANY CONNECTICUT PRIUS BUYER OUT HERE?
 

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No Tax

Sounds good. Alas, I live in AZ if I buy somewhere with no tax, when I register it in Arizona I must then pay the difference between the tax where I purchased it and the Arizona sales tax.
Jim
 
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