Avoid This Parking Lot Hustle

A chump and their change are soon parted. Don’t be a chump. Avoid this parking lot hustle.

Avoid the parking lot hustle of low-cost bumper repairs.

Your car has been sporting a bruised or busted bumper for a few months now, but who has time to fix it? Or maybe you don’t want the insurance company expense, especially if the busted fender was of your doing.

Still, that bruised and busted bumper haunts you every time you see your car. After all, you don’t want to end up with a beater.

You’re walking into work or school one morning when it happens. An earnest and clean-cut guy approaches you and offers to fix your fender for cash. His services include paint-matching, bumper repair, and even taking care of any small dents.

Sweet.  He’ll work  on your car while you’re at work or in class, and you can’t beat the price. You know if you go through a body shop, you could be without a car for a week or longer.

Who needs that crap when you have a job or three and need your car to get you to and from?

Besides, it’s only a couple of hundred bucks vs. a couple thousand a body shop would charge. What’s the harm anyway?

Don’t fall for it. Not for a minute.

One of the most popular parking lot hustles involves shady folks who pose as auto body repair techs eager to separate a gullible person from their hard-earned cash. Nobody wants to be caught driving a beater, and these crooks play on that fear.

They watch for people with busted or chipped bumpers, and then they close in.

They may say they’re just starting out in the auto body business and they’ll fix your car for a cheap price as a means of getting started. They may tell you anything.

Maybe they lost their job and are doing auto body work on the side.  A sob story or five…anything to get your cash.

One such hustler had his grandmother in tow, who assured targets that her grandson  was a “good boy.” That good boy was later talking with the cops after a potential victim filed a police report.

Here’s what you do instead:

If you are approached in a parking lot with an offer for auto body work, either say “no” flat out or ask for a business card.

Tell the person thanks, you’ll be in touch; and then Google the crap out of the business listed on the card.

Cross-check them under the Better Business Bureau website. Check Google and Yelp for any reviews.

If nothing checks out, toss the card. No harm done.

If there is no business card in the first place, you just saved yourself from getting played.

If you’re feeling particularly civic-minded, you can file a police report for attempted fraud. Only do this if you have enough information for the police to follow up with.

In short: never take a stranger’s offer of cheap bumper repair.

Your work hard for your money. Don’t be so quick to part with it.



Five Things You Need To Know About CarMax

When it comes right down to it, CarMax is just like any other used car dealer

A few weeks ago, I headed out to my local CarMax to test drive a 2012 Nissan Leaf. I chose CarMax because of its low-hassle test drive policy and supposed low-pressure sales/business model.I was even thinking of buying from them when the time came. Now, not so much.  Here are a few things I found out during my visit.

Carmax, home of no-haggle pricing


If you place a car on hold via their website, they assume you’re going to buy it no matter what you tell them. Not a huge hassle in the long run, but I no sooner finished reserving the car online than I received a call from a “sales associate” who agreed to meet me the next day.

I emphasized to him that I was in no position to buy, just heading out there to test drive and to either add or delete the Leaf from my short list. Period. “Got it.” he said. “No worries.”

They assumed I was going to buy it anyway, as evidenced by the sales associate’s upbeat attitude and the giant “hold for sale” pricetag on the windshield, and the sales song and dance I got.


Their CA salespeople are on commission, so if you’re a CA shopper and are expecting low-pressure tactics, think again. While the price of the vehicle is in fact their no-haggle take-it-or-leave it price, they will still try to chase a higher commission, which can get old quickly.

Gods know the sales associate tried to talk me out of the Leaf. He tried, he really did. He cited battery life statistics that were inaccurate, downplayed the overall awesomeness of the car, and really pushed the CarMax extended warranty and service plans.

I did my homework in advance and knew he was full of shit.

All in pursuit of a higher commission, no doubt.

They will sell you on their on their MaxCare program. Hard. My opinion? Think long and carefully about this one. You’ll be limited to CarMax service facilities. Based on the local user reviews, I’d run like hell.

If you already have a reliable automotive tech lined up, stick with them.  If you don’t yet have one, get recommendations from friends or by checking on Yelp.

Don’t take CarmMax’s word for it on their “125-point inspection.” CarMax, like any other dealer, is in the sales business, not the servicing business. It’s their goal to move inventory–lots of it–quickly.

The second you sign for your car, take it to an automotive shop that is familiar with the make and model of your car, just like you would with any other used car.

You may end up having to shell out for an outside inspection, but it could save you thousands of dollars if your new-to-you car is a potential money pit. By getting the inspection done soon after buying the car, you have the opportunity to return it within the 5-day trial period.

Despite their no-haggle pricing model, Carmax is in business for the same reason other dealerships are in business: to make money.  Think twice about add-ons such as their MaxCare plan. Obtain your own outside financing or come in with cash. Have your car inspected by your own mechanic during the trial period (5 days in CA).

I’m not sure what all the hype is about since CarMax really is no different from any other used car dealer.

Do your research, know what to expect, think twice about add-ons, and you could drive away in a great car that will be your sidekick for years to come.