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Thread: Guy tried to stack 207 $200 off coupons to get a free toyota

  1. #1
    L14 Officer Protégé Ménacé's Avatar
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    Guy tried to stack 207 $200 off coupons to get a free toyota

    Chris Shields of Eliot, Maine holds coupons he says entitles him to a new Toyota. Aaron Rhode/staff photographer

    Eliot man’s coupons not honored by car dealer


    Portsmouth Bureau Chief

    PORTSMOUTH - Chris Shields, a 40-year-old Eliot, Maine, resident who freely describes himself as a "coupon nut," is hoping his sharp eye for a deal will pay off in the form of a new car.

    While perusing the classified ads section of the Portsmouth Herald early last week, Shields, a stay-at-home dad, came upon a coupon placed by Toyota of Portsmouth offering $200 off on any new or used car among the 300 vehicles the dealership has in stock.

    "Twenty years ago I had a business law professor who saw an ad in the Yellow Pages offering $500 off on a car, and he clipped out 20 coupons and he wound up getting a $10,000 vehicle," Shields said. "Ever since then I’ve been checking coupons."

    Noticing the coupon carried a Feb. 28 expiration date but no disclaimer limiting customers to one coupon, Shields decided to test the truth in advertising theory.

    After purchasing over 200 Seacoast Newspapers carrying the ad, Shields clipped out 207 coupons worth $41,400.

    On Jan. 4, a day after his 40th birthday, Shields packed up his coupons in a black briefcase and made his way to the dealership on Lafayette Road with the hope of returning home with a silver-colored, 2002 Sequoia Ltd. valued at approximately $42,000.

    Shields’ account of what took place over the course of the next couple of days amounted to what he refers to as "a complete runaround."

    According to Shields, negotiations got off to a pleasant, courteous start and even reached the stage where a sales agreement was drawn up.

    Shields said the situation took a turn when he inquired if the dealership was still accepting coupons.

    "When I was told ‘yes,’ I opened my briefcase and his (salesman’s) jaw just dropped. I had written the words, ‘including coupons’ on the sales agreement when he left to speak to the sales manager. He returned about 10 minutes later and told me they wouldn’t accept the coupons, and that I’d have to come back with a lawyer."

    However, Shields said he received a call from the sales manager the next day, who told him the car was cleaned up and ready to be delivered.

    "I thought to myself, ‘what a stand-up dealership.’ But things changed when I went back. The first thing they gave me was the title, then a document authorizing acceptance of delivery.

    "But then they handed me a second sales agreement they had drawn up, but that one made no reference to the coupons. I was then told by another sales manager that if I didn’t have a cashier’s check I wasn’t going to get a car, and that I should have been thrown out for bringing in the coupons."

    At that time, Shield said he was also told specifically that the dealership had in its possession a letter from Seacoast Newspapers admitting that the publication had made an error in printing the coupon.

    "They wouldn’t show it to me when I asked to see it, so I called the classifieds ads department to see if they had actually sent such a letter," Shields said.

    Efforts to contact the Portsmouth Herald’s sales manager were unsuccessful, but according to Shields, he received a message on his answering machine from the Herald in which he was told that no such letter was ever sent to Toyota.

    "The message said the letter was never sent because there was no error. I still have it saved on my machine," Shields said.

    Shields, who says he is receiving informing counsel from an attorney friend but has no plans to hire a lawyer, said he has also contacted the state attorney general’s Consumer Protection and Anti-Trust Bureau office and has sent them copies of the coupons and the sales agreement.

    When contacted Wednesday, Toyota of Portsmouth owner Jim Boyle said he had been out sick for several days and had not personally dealt with Shields.

    Boyle did say, however, that Senior Assistant Attorney General Krysten Spath has already been in touch with him and has told him Shields’ complaint "has no legs to it at all."

    Efforts to contact Spath this morning were unsuccessful.

    Boyle said Shields’ attempt to buy a $40,000 car with coupons was a ridiculous attempt to try and take advantage of a situation, and that his allegations of unfair treatment on the part of the dealership only served to perpetuate an unfair presentation of car dealers in general.

    When asked if he would have added a disclaimer limiting one coupon to a person if he had it to do all over again, Boyle said he had already been given that advice by the Consumer Protection office.

    "One thing I am sure of. The ad ran as it was supposed to run, and there was nothing misleading or deceptive about it. No reasonable person could possibly expect to piggyback coupons like that and walk away with a new car," he said.

    Shields said he holds absolutely no grudges against Toyota of Portsmouth, and would like to work out an arrangement where he could receive a car at half the value of the Sequoia and have the dealership donate another car to charity.

    "It would be great public relations for them and a car for me, and it would demonstrate an honor to a commitment on their part. I want this to be a win-win situation for everyone."

    But that’s not likely to happen if Boyle has the final say in the matter.

    "If he wants to buy a car and use the $200 coupon, we’ll be more than happy to accommodate him, just as we have with a half-dozen other customers who were satisfied and thrilled with the offer," Boyle said.

    "We’re not here to hoodwink people. I’ve invested a fortune in this business and I’ve been here for a year, and I expect to have another good 20 years. You don’t stay around by cheating your customers, and we try our very best to always provide honest, reliable service.

    "But no mistake was made here, and we’re not going to let him capitalize on it."

    Portsmouth Bureau Chief James Baker can be reached at 431-4888, Ext. 5041, or [email protected]

  2. #2
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    Maybe I'll try that with staples. Try and get maybe a laptop or something, yeah right! Hell. you gotta give him an "A" for effort. I wonder what an attorney would actually tell him?

  3. #3
    L8 Private MexIndian's Avatar
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    I hate what he did... it's an abuse, and it's horrible...

    .... however...

    He was operating within what was allowed, and he should get that new car. If he hires a lawyer, he's got to win.

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