Use of credit check on a cash purchase, waiving of right to have transaction conversation recorded.
As has been stated in another complaint on this (the BBB) website, we also were told that a credit report was required to be performed on us, even though we were purchasing in cash. As others have expressed, similarly we asked why and were told it was to make sure we weren't terrorists or something. I told them I did not want a credit report performed. (Nothing to hide, as my credit rating is very high.) The following day, at closing, we were presented with a yellow sheet of paper, titled NOTICE TO MOTOR VEHICLE CREDIT APPLICANT. That notice stated a consumer report from a consumer reporting agency was used in connection with your application. We were picking up the new care, had cheque in-hand, and accepted the notice since the deed (the credit check) had already been performed without our consent. At that closing, we were also asked to sign a Consent Form to waive audio or video recording of the closing event. I found this very strange; as to what precipicated the need for recording, as well as why it was being waived.
After purchasing the vehicle, I did check my credit bureau reports, and in fact, the credit check was recorded there.
It should be noted that we called before going to pick-up the new car (a new 2012 model), asking if they wanted a personal cheque, a cashier's cheque, a money order, or cash. They stated that a personal cheque was acceptable.
I have read the response from the dealership to another complaint on this issue. That response had apologies from the dealership, and stated that they would be training their staff to correct the practice. Since that response was from January of 2012, and we purchased in November of 2012, I can only guess as to 'if' the practice of running credit checks on cash purchasers was in fact "accidental by nature" as they stated; and, whether "continuous training will be (was) provided to our (their) staff in efforts to prevent it from happening in the future". Obviously, it continues nearly a year later.
Quoting that previous response from Walser Honda:
"...In order to provide the most efficient service, Walser has a centralized funding center that is in charge of submitting any financial information and finalizing all documents that are signed off on at the time of vehicle delivery. Unfortunately in this case, it involved a second opportunity for miscommunication between you, our sales staff, and our funding staff. Our records would suggest that we did inadvertently pull your credit. I trust that you made the effort to specify your preference, which was not to pull your credit. You can rest assured that this was accidental by nature and continuous training will be provided to our staff in efforts to prevent it from happening in the future...."
It is obvious to all, that if they were concerned that I may be a terrorist, they should check with Homeland Security, not a credit agency. If they wanted to check for any previous fraud on my part, they could check with the appropriate state agencies. I consider their action of the credit check to be unnecessary, and can only wonder as to what information they now have about me and my wife that we did not authorize. I believe that is a violation of federal privacy statute.
Not sure yet.
Business' Initial Response
Received business response via e-mail to BBB, 12-17-12.
Scan of original e-mail is attached (including copy of 'Notice to Motor Vehicle Credit Applicant'); text of letter reads as follows:
"December 17th, 2012
Mr ******* J ******
Bloomington, MN 55431
Dear Mr ******:
I am writing in response to the letter we received from the Better Business Bureau on December 7th, 2012 regarding your sales experience at Walser Honda in Burnsville. First let me apologize for the miscommunication.
It has become vivid that your understanding of our need to pull your credit history and our team's understanding were different. It is common that such information is sought in order to protect the customer and dealership from the common frauds surrounding personal credit. I am deeply disappointed that our ability to communicate our intentions was ineffective in this particular situation. Important that you know Walser completely supports the protection of consumer information and will not pull any credit history without signed authorization from the individual. I can only assume that your signed authorization (see attached signed form) left our team with the understanding we would be authorized to verify your credit and identity. I have shared your concerns with our compliance and training staff and will use this experience to further train out employees on the credit application process and procedures.
Walser is happy to forward a copy of this letter to each credit bureau explaining the situation. Again, thank you for taking the time to make us aware of the situation. We value a relationship with you and are always looking for ways to perfect our business model to provide each customer a fast, fair and transparent way of doing business.
Very truly yours,
Chief Operating Officer"
Consumer's Final Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
I find the response from Walser Automotive on December 17th, 2012 relating to our complaint with the Better Business Bureau to be inadequate, and completely irresponsive to the second element of my complaint.
Their sales person assured us no credit check was to be performed and that the release was required to confirm our identity and make sure as he put it, to verify we were who we said we were.
There appears to be discrepancies between Mr. ***'s response to our complaint, and that expressed by their in-store sales personnel as part of the total transaction. I question the validity of both responses.
Given Mr. ***'s avoidance to my second complaint, and the demonstrated lack of accuracy and ability to carry out stated assurances by his employees (to wit their response to the similar complaint earlier this year), we do not want Mr. *** responding to any of the credit monitoring agencies. Reading the accumulated statements from my complaint and that of earlier complainants, I do not trust that any communication between Walser Automotive and those agencies would be in our best interests. We will contact the three major credit rating agencies with the documentation we have accumulated to-date, which reflects that credit was never sought nor used in the purchase of the vehicle and our credit ratings should never have been queried.
Given Mr. ***'s response and its inconsistencies with previous complaints, we are referring this event, and the documentation of the complaint from earlier this year, to the Minnesota Attorney General's Office for further investigation under, but not limited to, Minnesota Statute § 325F.69, subdivision 1, given the signatures were obtained under false pretense. I would also contend that the response of Mr. *** possibly violated the judgment of the Minnesota Supreme Court (re: WIEGAND v. WALSER AUTOMOTIVE GROUP INC., No. A03-250, July 29, 2004) in which it was agreed that Walser Automotive would in part, "and to make a good faith attempt to satisfactorily resolve all future consumer complaints brought to its attention". (http://caselaw.findlaw.com/mn-supreme-court/1368008.html). And further, "In the event that Walser does not resolve a written complaint submitted by a consumer, by the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, or by a third party on behalf of a consumer to the consumer's satisfaction, the consumer may choose to have his or her complaint arbitrated in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 26." (http://law.justia.com/cases/minnesota/court-of-appeals/2006/opa051911-0606.html)
In addition, the letter from Mr. *** on behalf of his employer did not address the complaint of our required signatures on the audio and/or video recording release.
We thank the Better Business Bureau for its assistance with this matter. It is unfortunate that the other party has seen fit to avoid one issue and not reflect on the facts-of-record on the original complaint.