Undisclosed damage/repair to like-new vehicle has now come undone.
In July 2013 we purchased a certified pre-owned 2013 Passat *** from this dealership. The vehicle had a perfectly clean Carfax report and we were told by the sales assoc, *************, that it had been driven by a VW exec from Chattanooga, where the VW mfg plant is located. They also offered to reduce the price to beat another dealership's price for a similar vehicle. This all sounded great, so we completed the purchase and drove away happy.
On April 22, 2015, I noticed that a large piece of paint on the roof, right above the center of the windshield, had cracked open and broken off. The next day, a service rep at the Cool Springs VW dealership said it appeared to be bondo filler coming loose and that I should take it to SE Signature where it was purchased. The service manager at SE Signature, *************, said that it appeared as if something had caught the lip of the roof and ripped the paint loose. I assured him this was not the case. He said the material under the paint was not bondo, but a polymer used under all of the paint. He said paint is not covered under warranty, that I would have to pay out of pocket and referred me to his friend at the collision repair business across the street. The guy at the collision center immediately identified the material that was coming loose as bondo and also pointed out that the metal underneath had been ground down. With the aid of a paint mil gauge, he determined that the hood, roof and other portions of the vehicle had been repainted, with the area between the windshield and sunroof being significantly thicker. He suggested I go back to the dealership.
I returned to the dealership and Blake agreed to have the service rep, *****, open a case to have the vehicle repaired under warranty. ***** took pictures of the affected area and said they would contact me soon. On 4/27, ***** called and said the case was denied. I asked to speak to someone else and was directed to ***, the ops mgr. *** agreed to contact their dealer rep and pursue the repairs. He also told me that the current Carfax report now shows an accident that occurred prior to our purchase being reported more than 2 months after the purchase. On 4/30, ***** contacted me and said the repair coverage was approved and told me to get an estimate from a local repair shop.
On 5/1, I received a repair estimate that included the entire roof being replaced and costing nearly $4,000. The guy that performed the estimate did a simple feel test around the door openings and stated it was obvious the vehicle had been repainted. I emailed the estimate to SE Signature and was notified via phone on 5/8 that the repair was approved. I expressed concern over now being faced with owning a vehicle that will have had extensive repairs and significantly reduced value and requested to have some amount of the original purchase price refunded. I was told to contact VW Customer CARE about my concern and did so the same day. They told me I was misinformed about them handling refunds, but that they would investigate the issue. After several days of VW Customer CARE calling and telling me there was no response from SE Signature, I was informed on 5/14 that only the repair and a rental vehicle for the duration of the repair would be covered.
I find it difficult to believe, seeing as both repair centers immediately identified repainting, that the dealership was unaware of the same. I also now notice the Carfax report I was given was from 6/4/2013, a month prior to purchase. I recall the sales mgr, **** ********, telling me the vehicle had been with them more than a month, so "I knew it was safe." I feel that the dealership was dishonest and pushed for a quick sale in hopes of ridding itself of a vehicle requiring extensive repairs. While I appreciate the offer of repairing the vehicle, I did not purchase a CPO, 100% clean Carfax vehicle from a seemingly reputable dealership so that I could drive a car with a replaced roof.
I am requesting that the entire cost of repairs, the cost of a rental vehicle for the duration of repairs and a $2,000 refund from the original purchase price be provided by SE Signature.
Alternatively, I would also accept a complete vehicle replacement with a New 2015 Passat ****
Unfortunately, because CARFAX relies on the reporting of damage by insurance companies, and therefore there can be a lag of up to a year or more in reporting, we had no way of knowing that the vehicle had been damaged when we sold the vehicle to Mr. ******. The CARFAX representative told me that they are a live site and update continuously as they are provided with information, but in this case the data wasn't available to them until after the sale date. The current Carfax states that the accident/damage reported occurred on 2/19/13 but "CARFAX began reporting this information on 10/07/13." Due to this lag in information reporting we had no reason to believe there were any issues with the car as the CARFAX report was clean on the date of sale in July of 2013. The fact that the body shops were able to notice the defect in the paint does not mean our technician's, who are not body/paint experts, could have seen the issue almost 2 years prior. Mr. ****** himself did not notice any issues with the paint for the 21 months he owned the vehicle before the paint peeling began.
The fact that Mr. ******'s CARFAX report is dated 6/4/13 would not make any difference as CARFAX states that the information was not begun to be reported by them until 10/7/13 so running a new CARFAX on the date of sale would not have shown the accident/damage reported.
All this being said, I personally felt for Mr. ****** and reached out to our VW Regional Manager to inquire about assisting with the repair and VW readily agreed to cover the cost of repairs and a rental vehicle for the duration.
We had absolutely no intention of duping Mr. ****** into buying a vehicle that had damage as we had no knowledge whatsoever of the damage. We have never made any attempt to hide any damage/accident information from a customer and always willingly provide a CARFAX report for any used vehicle we sell. Again, due to the lag in information reporting to CARFAX, which is completely beyond our control, we had absolutely no knowledge of any accident/damage with the vehicle and therefore will assume neither liability nor responsibility for compensation to Mr. ******. The repair is being completed, at no cost to Mr. ******, due to our good intentions and our efforts to contact VW to assist with the repair to help the customer who is in an unfortunate situation. If Mr. ****** is interested in trading the vehicle in we would be more than happy to discuss any options available to him.
(The consumer indicated he/she ACCEPTED the response from the business.)
I understand the dealership's position. I guess that's the chance you take when buying any used vehicle. I would like to move forward with the repairs and also discuss future trade in options. I would like to speak to someone knowledgeable in the dealership's policies though. When I brought this up before, I was referred to VW Customer Care and was then told that I had been misinformed.