Car dealership backs off after being accused of taking advantage of elderly couple

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A Craigslist ad shows the Bill Pierre car dealership was trying to sell a Ford Fusion for $15,999 it ultimately sold an elderly couple for over $21,000. (Craigslist) | Zoom
A Seattle car dealership has offered to take back a car days after refusing to void a deal, even though a Lake Stevens man claimed his elderly mother and her husband were tricked into spending their life savings and paid far more than the used vehicle was worth. But the dealership still insisted Thursday the couple got a good deal.

Kurt Sassé contacted KIRO Radio to report his 87-year-old mother and 68-year-old stepfather were sold a 2011 Ford Fusion SEL 4WD with 72,902 miles at Bill Pierre Ford in Seattle on March 8. The couple paid $23,493 total for the vehicle, which included an "undercoating" and theft protection.

The total sale price came to $33,696.52 after taxes, fees, a gap contract, a $3,241 service contract and interest.

"It's beyond just making a profit," Sassé said. "This is just gouging. I think it's almost criminal, personally."

He said the couple used their entire savings, $12,000, as a down payment for the vehicle.

"They have only their retirement income left to support them," he said.

Two KIRO Radio employees went to the same car dealership and were able to secure a verbal offer on a brand new Ford Fusion for $22,500, less than the cost of the used car Sasse's parents were sold.

Sassé tried to confront the dealership on Monday and said he told a manager that the purchase would be a hardship for his parents.

"He came back arguing and said, 'They clearly can afford this,'" he said. "I go, 'No they can't, they have other expenses,' and they said 'That's not our problem.'"

The following day, Sassé's mother and stepfather returned to the dealership to see if the contract could be voided. Instead, they were given $2,000 off the sale price and free oil changes for three years.

Sassé said the ordeal has taken an emotional and physical toll on his stepfather in particular; who he said is easily confused.

"It almost put him in the hospital," he said. "He can't handle this kind of stuff."

Bill Pierre Ford General Manager Luke Blackwell defended the dealership in an interview The Dori Monson Show.

"We showed them all the figures, gave them all the information and they purchased it," he said. "They were happy."

Listen: Bill Pierre Ford General Manager Luke Blackwell defends his dealership

Blackwell argued the fair market value of the car is estimated at just over $20,000 by Edmonds.com, with the value even higher in the Pacific Northwest because the 4WD SEL Fusion is no longer made and there are few available in Western Washington. He said the National Automotive Dealers Association retail guide estimates the national average price at $19,300.

Blackwell also argued that four-wheel drive increased the value of the car by $2-3,000 dollars.

"The problem with books is that it's subjective," he said. "We're in the Pacific Northwest. You can't find an all-wheel drive car. I couldn't buy one at the auction right now."

But in direct contradiction to Blackwell's claims, the dealership itself posted an ad on Craigslist for the car with a $15,995 price tag, $7,494 less than the price charged the elderly couple (KIRO Radio confirmed the vehicle identification number in the ad matches the VIN on the sales contract.)

When asked about the ad, Blackwell called it a "mistake."

"It shouldn't have been posted for that in the first place," he said.

The ad has since been removed.

Blackwell insisted that the couple got a good deal.

"They decided that it made sense for them to purchase theft and an undercoat, whether you wouldn't buy it or not I don't know," he said. "But we gave them the information and they made the choice.

Blackwell said he wasn't made aware of Sassé's complaints until Tuesday, and when he learned of the concerns he offered to take the car back.

"We're rescinding the deal I'm giving them back their money and I hope that they're happy," Blackwell said. "And that's all I really care about."

Josh Kerns/MyNorthwest.com contributed to this story


Brandi Kruse, KIRO Radio Reporter
Brandi Kruse is a reporter for KIRO Radio who is as spontaneous and adventurous in her free time as she is on the job. Brandi arrived at KIRO Radio in March 2011 and has already collected three regional Edward R. Murrow awards for her reporting.
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