San Francisco

New Car's Features Are Missing; Dealer Silent

Phil Wiseman splurged on his luxury sedan.

“I just felt good in it,” he said of the used Infiniti Q70L.

This gently-used, leather-appointed, 330-horsepower chariot spoke to him. So, he bought it for $40,000.

“It is a lovely car,” he fawned.

But, within days, the Infiniti began pushing his buttons, because he couldn’t find certain buttons. Adaptive cruise control, collision warning, lane departure alert, and blind spot monitoring were nowhere to be found. Phil said he discovered the entire “technology package” was missing.

“When I bought the car, I was told there was a tech package in the car,” he explained.

Phil said the used car salesman at Mercedes Benz of San Francisco who sold him the car had sent him an e-mail listing the Infiniti’s features. It included the tech package. So, Phil whipped up a message.

“I sent it… no response. So, I sent another e-mail… no response,” he recalled. “Then I left two telephone messages… no response.”

Phil calculated the tech package cost $3,000 new. So, he wasn’t going to just let that kind of money slide. After hearing nothing from the dealer for seven weeks, he’d had it.

“So, I contacted you,” he said.

NBC Bay Area Responds contacted Mercedes Benz of San Francisco.

We initially got no response, too. But, on our third try, Phil received some very good news.

“Full money back," he said. “100 percent... $40,000.”

The dealer manager, Mark Santos, agreed to buy back Phil’s car. He declined to go on camera, but in a note he wrote:

“As we strive for nothing less than complete customer satisfaction, even though it may have been miscommunication, we offered a complete refund of all monies paid.”

Santos also sent a copy of a disclaimer that he said applied to his salesman’s e-mail as well as all advertising materials.

It reads:

“While every reasonable effort is made to ensure the accuracy of this information, we are not responsible for any errors or omissions contained on these pages.”

We asked the DMV: If they’re not responsible, who is?

“The vehicle dealer would be responsible,” said DMV spokesperson Cristina Valdivia Aguilar.

The DMV told us a blanket disclaimer doesn’t give auto dealers latitude to offer one thing, but deliver another. The Business and Professions code requires them to be truthful.

Mercedes of San Francisco insists it made an honest mistake with Phil.

The DMV says buyers can prepare for disputes — like Phil’s — while car shopping:

  • Snap pictures of ads
  • Keep all e-mails the dealer sends
  • Point out discrepancies
  • Then, if you’re still upset, file an official complaint

“We would recommend to Phil to file a complaint with the local DMV investigations office,” Aguilar said.

Phil, by the way, is still driving the Infiniti.

After NBC Bay Area’s involvement, he negotiated a partial refund instead of a buyback. He's satisfied. And confident his call to us made it possible.

“Good job,” he said.

Contact Us