Dealer fraud?

I bought what I thought was a 2012 Hyundai Elantra Touring last fall. I recently had to have my front windshield replaced because it was hit by a rock while driving down the highway. The glass replacer tried to fit it with the glass for a 2012 but it didn’t fit they checked my registration ( which says 2012 and was done by the dealer) and then the vin#. According to my vin my car is a 2011. I know a 2012 car can be manufactured in 2011, but the glass for my supposed year car didn’t fit so clearly something is wrong. This means I over paid for my car (bought new), overpaid for insurance and excise tax as well! How do I handle this with the dealership? Should I go straight to the better business bureau? Or try to talk with the dealer first?

The Vin# has is coded to include the production year of the car. Have the Vin# number checked and whatever year the Vin# says is the year of your car. If you have a 2011, you can go to the dealer or go to a lawyer.

You need to determine exactly how much you “overpaid” for the car. The dealer will claim this is a simple clerical error. You’ll need to document all the sales materials used to show they deliberately sold you a 2012 knowing it was really a 2011.

I think that the key to this situation is knowing exactly what is specified on the purchase invoice.
If the invoice states that the car is a 2012 model, then the OP should have a valid case against the dealership.

As to how to proceed, the one thing that is definite is that you shouldn’t waste your time with the Better FOR Business Bureau.

For reasons that I cannot fathom, many people seem to think that the BBB is a government agency with both regulatory and punitive power. In reality, it is essentially a profit-making, private club that businesses can join–voluntarily–and to which they pay dues.

The BBB is reluctant to take action against members, simply because the strongest action that they can take is to refuse to accept dues for the following year–and they hesitate to cut off their income stream.
In most cases, they simply request that a member business do what is necessary to satisy the customer. Requesting and requiring are very different things, and they cannot require a business to do anything.

And, if the offending business is not a dues-paying member, they do NOTHING except for placing your complaint on file. You should be aware that, a few years ago, Smart Money magazine published a study of the BBB, and they concluded that, “few consumers are actually helped by the BBB”.

If the OP wants to deal with an agency that does have both regulatory and punitive power, then she needs to contact the Division of Consumer Affairs, which is run on either the county or state level–depending on your locale. Their employees can frequently convince a company to issue refunds or to make other adjustments. This government agency, through the Office of The Attorney General, does have the power to prosecute companies that are repeat offenders. None of this is within the power of The BBB.

However, it may be necessary for the OP to retain her own attorney. And, an attorney would be more able to determine (in her favor) the real cost of the “damages” for any fraud that was perpetrated.

But, the first step is to look at that purchase invoice. If it states that you are buying a 2012 model, then you should go full steam ahead against the dealership. If it states that the car in question is a 2011 model, then this is simply a case of a consumer who is not as aware as she should be regarding what documents she signed.

All of my paperwork says 2012. I don’t think the error cost me more than a few thousand. Which is a huge amount of money for me but not enough to hire a lawyer. Thanks for the info on the BBB. I won’t waste my time. The dealership I used got the car from a different dealership. They traded to get the car I wanted. So I think the original dealership is the suspect one.

“Which is a huge amount of money for me but not enough to hire a lawyer”

Not necessarily.
Many attorneys will take a case on a “contingent fee” basis, meaning that they only get paid if they win the case. And, most lawsuits of this type include a demand for legal fees and court costs, along with compensation for the actual damages that you suffered, as well as punitive damages.

I can’t predict the outcome of a case like this, but it is possible that you could actually wind up with an award of a couple of thousand $$ more than your actual damages. But, the guaranteed no-cost solution is to bring action through the Division of Consumer Affairs.

I would suggest a small claims court. Claim that you paid for what you thought was a 2012, and what you paid was based on that. If you would have known it was a 2011, you would have negotiated a lower price.

Another issue - the 2012 is a new design, the 2011 is the prior design (that’s why the windshield didnt’ fit). I find it just about unbelievable that a dealer would not know this. It also means you have the ‘old model’ which, to me, would increase the amount of money I’d want back from the dealer.

Good luck!

I believe you are going to discover the problem is with Hyundai and not the Dealer. New cars come from the factory with a document that is basically the car’s first title, sometimes referred to as the (MSO) manufacturer’s statement of origin or (CO) certificate of origin. This document contains all of the information; year, make, model, VIN, etc, required by your DMV uses to issue you a title. This document would have to altered or forged by a dealer in order to sell you a 2011 vehicle as a 2012. My guess, the selling Dealer just copied what was on the CO on to your registration form.

Start by getting a printed VIN report from a reputable source. If it shows the Model Year is 2011 take it to the selling dealer and insist on an explanation and an adjustment to the selling price. That might be the easy part. Changing the title may be a bigger headache than its worth. To avoid problems when you decide to sell the car you should have a statement from the dealer or better from Hyundai indicating the mistake and stating the car’s correct model year.

Wouldn’t it put the OP in a very bad position if he doesn’t get a correct title? When he goes to sell it all kind of problems might crop up. He needs to get all paperwork correct now, as painful as it might be.

This means I over paid for my car (bought new), overpaid for insurance and excise tax as well!
How were you able to determine you overpaid for these things? Unless you paid the full sticker price, or bought from a dealership with non-negotiated pricing, it's difficult to compare what you paid to what you would have paid if you had known it was a 2011 vehicle.

I agree it would be good to get it sorted out sooner rather than later. I didn’t mean to suggest the owner shouldn’t try, it will depend on the owner’s DMV. My thinking was as long as the owner doesn’t try to sell the car as a 2012 a statement from Hyundai would document the error in the title.

I think that the first step is to go back to the dealer with the documentation that the car you bought is a 2011 and not a 2012 as claimed on the title. It might be wise to consult Kelley Blue Book or some source and note the difference in price between the 2011 and 2012 model. This may be an honest mistake. In this case, the dealer should be willing to resolve the problem. Hyundai may, as another post noted, be responsible. Be firm, but polite and the dealer may come around. If not, then you should speak with an attorney. My guess is that the dealer will probably cooperate.

“My guess is that the dealer will probably cooperate.”

I agree, but if they don’t see it your way, then there is another step that you could take, namely bringing the matter to the attention of the media. Some TV stations have consumer reporters who are fairly aggressive (Arnold Diaz on NY’s Channel 5 comes to mind), and who will chase after the owners of the dealership, with the video cameras rolling as they bark leading questions like…Why did you cheat Ms. X when she bought a car from you?.

Bad publicity is poison to a business like a car dealership. Keep that in mind when dealing with them, and remind them if necessary. I think that, in the long run, they will realize that it makes more sense to cut you a check for…maybe $2k…rather than lose sales due to bad publicity.

It isn’t uncommon for changes to be made during a model year. You might have a model year 2012 that was produced in 2011 before a change was made tha affected the windshield.

Or, your fears may prove out to be true. The dealer may have sold you a 2011 model yeas as a 2012 model year. The doorjam sticker along with the paperwork should clarify the issue. What’s it called in the Owner’s Manual?

@the same mountainbike–Good point. I recall that Studebaker, back in 1955, made a change during the model run to a “wrap-around” windshield to imitate other 1955 cars. In 1947, there were early1947 Chevrolet pickup trucks which were like the prewar trucks and then in midseason came the new models. Both were called 1947. Chrysler corporation had the first series 1949 models of its entire line and then moved to the 2nd series about March. Hyundai may have done the same thing. However, the OP should check out everything.

First I would get everything documented and send a copy to the dealer, registered mail. If the dealer doesn’t quickly fix this, I’d next bring in Hyundai (there should be a number in the manual), they may be willing to help. If that doesn’t work, then a lawyer and/or small claims court.

Thank you to everyone for the advice. After talking with the dealership and researching the vin it looks like the error is with the glass company and it is a 2012.

For future reference check the tenth digit of the VIN;


A complete chart can be found here;

“After talking with the dealership and researching the vin it looks like the error is with the glass company and it is a 2012”

I guess that all of us should be ashamed that we never bothered to think of this as a possibility.
That old saying…Never assume…comes to mind here.

I agree with VDC. Nobody ever questions the simple and obvious possibilities.
Hopefullly I can learn from your thread to remember to ask the simple things first. Hopefully.