Didn't Get Car Rebate
July 18, 2009 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Can I Still Get a Cash-Back Car Rebate After Buying a Car?

I negotiated and purchased a car for cash without knowing the car company was offering $750 rebate to customers who paid cash for that model. The sales guy never mentioned any rebates in all our negotiations. Two weeks after getting the car, registering it, driving, etc. I just got a confused call from salesperson yesterday saying I needed to re-sign some papers--nothing that affected me, etc. I couldn't make heads or tails of what this "accounting error" was about. It was inconvenient to talk, so I ask the guy to e-mail me the details. Herewith:

There was a small accounting error on our behalf resulting in a couple of documents needing to be resigned. Basically, there are 2 type of cash back from the manufacturer. One is dealer cash which is given to the dealer to use at their discretion and there is customer cash which is given to the customer to use at their discretion. We showed it as dealer cash when it should have been done as customer cash. There is absolutely no affect to you whatsoever. All we need is for you to sign the documents I'll be sending to you and return them to us. Please enclose the signed documents along with the plate in the return envelope we gave you. Once we receive the plate, we'll return the $50 plate deposit fee. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks.

WTF? Despite having had what I thought was a decent deal and buying experience, something bothered me about this request. So I went to Cars101.com and discovered the manufacturer's rebate offer for cash buyers for my model. (Yes, I should've done more homework, but I'm in the middle of an overseas move and couldn't. Shouldn't I have gotten this manufacturer's rebate anyway?) Is there some way for me to get this money?
posted by Elsie to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It sounds like the car dealer is trying to get you to sign over your customer cash rebate to them. This may or may not be a shady practice; if you negotiated a net cash price, that was to have included your customer cash in lieu of part of your final price, the dealer is just now asking you to facilitate that transaction, which you agreed to at the time of sale, by signing a waiver to that effect which the dealership should have gotten you to sign as part of the rest of your pre-delivery paperwork. Dealers do offer to collect and apply customer cash incentives sometimes, to be able to reach a final price for cash buyers, or for buyers providing their own financing, who need an "out the door" price for computing sales tax, title fees, etc. Since it can take 2 to 3 weeks for the customer cash to come through from the car manufacturers finance subsidiary, offering to collect that cash later, and apply it to the deal, is a legitimate service the dealer is providing to make the sale and deliver the vehicle immediately.

However, if you didn't intend or understand that your final price was to have included any customer cash rebates, I wouldn't sign the dealer paperwork until I explored the issue with car manufacturer's zone representative. Review your dealer paperwork carefully, to see if you did, in fact sign away your rebate, as part of your price negotiation. If you didn't, go for it. However, if there is a genuine misunderstanding, and you prevail, you should understand that the party who will be making up this amount is likely to be the salesman, out of his/her commission earnings.

If you are morally all right with that, go for your rebate, but be aware of the situation if you decide to take the car back in for dealer service. Twisting your sales rep's tail hard on a deal can result in pretty adverse service performance/warranty extension.
posted by paulsc at 11:14 PM on July 18, 2009

but be aware of the situation if you decide to take the car back in for dealer service

Find a good service alternative in your area to eliminate these factors. Best decision I ever made.
posted by @troy at 11:35 PM on July 18, 2009

Do you get anything out of this? If not, then why bother? I hate it when people call me and claim that I "need" to do something for them. Unless I get money for doing it or will go to jail for not doing it, I don't really care at all.
posted by jrockway at 3:04 AM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yeah, ask them what happens if you don't.

Or, call the manufacturer's customer support line and ask them what the deal is.
posted by gjc at 4:20 AM on July 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

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