I went to Balise Toyota to look at a used Subaru a day after speaking to Donovan on the phone about it. The test drive on went well aside from the presence of a vibration in the steering wheel. My inspection of the car revealed only some minor defects - a crack in the bumper, some scratches and dings, some curb rash on the wheels, and a broken latch in the center console. I related these issues to Donovan, who assured me that they would be dealt with asap and then I could then take the car to my mechanic for an inspection and hopefully purchase it by the end of the month. I put a $1000 deposit down to hold the car and I put my car up for sale.
I heard nothing until I called a week later to check in. The car had not been serviced, but I was assured that it would be done by the end of the week. I got the call that Thursday and made an appointment with my mechanic for an inspection on May 31st. Donovan again asked me if I could buy the car by the end of the month and seemed frustrated that my car was not sold.
I came in to get the car for inspection on the last day of the month to find Donovan actually frustrated if not angry that my car had yet to sell. When I began driving the car, I was dismayed to learn that the aforementioned vibration was still there. Things only went downhill from here. Upon parking, I walked around the car and discovered that while the front bumper had been replaced, none of the scratches on the car had even been buffed and the chips, several of which went though to the sheet metal, had gone untouched. My confidence was beginning to falter but I figured why not have the inspection done since I was already there.
When the car went up on the lift the extent of the abuse and neglect this car had suffered finally became apparent. Among the biggest issues were leaks from the A/C compressor and the driver side valve cover gasket. The oil leak was bad enough that drips could be seen falling from the car at ~10 second intervals. We thought it was actually pretty funny that the area around the valve cover gasket, aside from the oil, was the cleanest part of the whole car - apparently the Balise techs thought that cleaning this area would hide such a massive leak - which resulted in a chorus of laughter from the group of mechanics that had gathered to marvel at the sheer recklessness with which this car was "prepared."
The list goes on, but the highlight reel includes a rusted exhaust, half-dead battery, worn out front rotors and pads which had been documented as being serviced by Balise, deeply scraped and unpainted surfaces on the backsides (!?) of the wheels, and perhaps most telling of the carelessness of the Balise techs, the front tires were mounted on the wrong sides (AWD car, directional tread; there is a red dot on one sidewall of each tire that means "outside!"). Furthermore, the tires themselves, brand new from Balise, were cheap all-seasons, a significant downgrade from the performance summer tires that were original equipment on this car.
Needless to say, I was very disappointed that I had wasted so much time on a car with such obvious and significant issues. It is beyond impossible that the service department at Balise were not aware of them. This experience speaks volumes about the way Balise conducts business at all levels. From pushy salesmen to careless techs trying to hide glaring defects, it is apparent that Balise as an organization is not only unconcerned with ethics and respect for their customers, but that they don't even care if they are caught red handed. I am frankly amazed that this network of dealerships has grown so large when this is the way they do business.
I can assure you that I will never set foot in a Balise dealership or purchase a car that has been serviced by Balise techs. I hope that my experience serves as a stern warning about the unethical, predatory manner in which Balise conducts its business and keeps others from falling into the trap that was set for me.