Problem Solvers: Tips for buying your next car

CLINTON, Mo -- Dian Brown sifted through page after page of paperwork, all documents connected to her recent purchase of a 2015 Kia.

Even though she initialed each page, Brown said she never read them in full until after she returned home because she was signing them on a computer screen
shown to her by the finance manager at the dealership.

After she signed a page, he would swipe to the next one.

"They swipe too fast," said Brown, who at the end of the transaction was given a flash drive containing the contract.

As soon as she got home, she printed it out and read it. That's when she realized exactly what she'd been charged for.

Her $14,938 contract included a $1,597 charge for five years of SWAT coverage. SWAT is a tracking system that can be activated if Brown's car was ever stolen.

"I told my husband, `Don`t you remember telling him three times that we don't want this SWAT insurance?'" Brown said. "Clinton isn't known for stolen cars."

Plus there was another charge -- $890 for something called 3M/NITRO.

Brown had no idea what the charge was even for. She called the dealership to complain.

"So I gave the salesman and the finance manager a day to get back to me," said Brown who never got a call back. "Friday I called and spoke to customer service person Betty,"

She promised to have someone call her. But, again, no one did.

"Nothing, nothing," said Brown, shaking her head.

Consumer Attorney Bernard Brown said finding unexplained extra charges in a car contract is not unusual. That's why buyers should never deal solely with an online copy when purchasing the car. Insist on a paper copy.

"Exactly what you are being shown on the computer when somebody initials something could be very different from what you see when you print it out," Bernard Brown said.

Plus, always ask the salesperson or finance manager to tell you every single fee you are being charged.

"Document fee, admin fees, they'll put on $600 to $800 in things like that," he said. "They'll slip in things."

If you didn't agree to a charge, you can dispute the contract even after you've signed it.

FOX4 Problem Solvers paid a visit to Cable Dahmer Kia to get its side of this transaction.

We heard back from General Manager Dave Dunn who was concerned both that a customer believed she had been charged for an item she specifically didn't want and that no one had returned her phone calls.

Dunn said he doesn't ever want a customer to be surprised by a charge on their bill and every customer should have their phone calls returned.

He said he would reimburse Dian Brown for the $1,597 SWAT charge and also for the $890 3M/NITRO charge which was for an extra protective coating for the car's doors and for lifetime fill-ups of nitrogen for the tires.

Brown picked up a check the next day and said she was pleased how quickly Dunn and Cable Dahmer Kia had resolved the problem.

"He was very nice and got the situation taken care of," Brown said, smiling. "I would buy another car from Cable Dahmer as long as Dave is the manager."

Problem solved.

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