• Mar 18, 2010
Earlier this week, we shared with you the budding saga of "Hitman" and the fact that he had won a 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 from Glenn E Thomas Dodge Chrysler Jeep for the amazing low price of $29,100 – about $13,000 less than the car is worth and also $13,000 less than Glenn Thomas wanted to sell it for. However, because eBay auctions are "legally binding" contracts and the dealer failed to put in a reserve, tough turkey, you gotta sell the car at a loss, right? Not quite.

We just got off the phone with John Davis, the general manager of Glenn E Thomas. Here's his side of the story: About two weeks ago, Glenn put the SRT8 up on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $43,425 and a Reserve price of $42,995. Six days into the seven day auction, Davis says that the dealership changed the Buy It Now price to match the lower Reserve price. At that time, the highest bid was about $21,000 (around half of the Reserve) and Glenn was hoping that a lowered Buy it Now price would drum up some bids. It did, in fact – but not for the reasons Glenn wanted.

Here's where the story gets fuzzy... Follow the jump to hear the rest of the dealership's side of the story.

Mr. Davis swears that they (Glenn E Thomas) did not remove the reserve. Contrary to popular internet opinion, this particular auction was not Glenn's first rodeo. They have been selling cars via eBay for many years, averaging about one vehicle per month. Not only that, but Glenn E Thomas uses eBay Motors Dealer Support Center and has even taken classes from eBay on selling cars. Mr. Davis feels that when they intentionally changed the Buy It Now price, the auction's Reserve was unintentionally deleted. Whether or not it was a software glitch or something else, he doesn't know. However, "We didn't make the mistake," says Davis.

However, the buyer, formerly known as Hitman but from this point forward to be known as Alex, smartly took advantage of the suddenly Reserve-free eBay auction, placing the winning bid of $29,100. When Glenn E Thomas found out about this bid, they contacted Alex (it turns out that Alex had visited and dealt with Glenn several times in the past looking for a Challenger R/T) and explained that they could not – and would not – take a $13,000 loss on the transaction. Glenn apparently did offer to give him a deal "he won't get anywhere else" on a Dodge Challenger, R/T, SRT8 or otherwise. Explained Mr. Davis, the dealership is "Looking for a happy medium. We're willing to take a reasonable loss." Mr. Davis also pointed out that Glenn E Thomas has been in business for over 100 years because, "Our philosophy is to make our customers happy." This, we note, is a much more benevolent attitude than appeared to be the case of the Kentucky Hyundai dealer that called the winning bidder, "A little psycho."

All of which leads us back to eBay and what role they play in all this. If there was, in fact, a glitch in the system, wouldn't that negate any sort of contractual obligation on the part of the seller? Here's eBay's somewhat boilerplate response:
Lowering the Buy It Now price does not trigger the reserve price to disappear. There are no other reported cases of this happening. If the Buy It Now price is lowered below the reserve price, the latter is reduced to the same amount as the new Buy It Now price. The help pages on our web site provide more details around lowering a listing price: http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/lower_price.html. Not knowing the details behind how this particular listing was changed, we are not in a position to comment on the result of the transaction. As a marketplace, eBay brings millions of buyers and sellers together every day, and have guidelines in place to ensure transactions occur in good faith. We hope the buyer and seller reach a mutually beneficial agreement on this.
At the end of the day, unless Glenn E Thomas can compel eBay to open up its electronic books (so to speak) and show that the glitch was on eBay's end, the onus for completing the sale remains on the dealership. Especially as someone may have accidentally and unintentionally removed the reserve when they lowered the Buy It Now price. We'll be sure to keep you posted, but in the meantime, what say you? Drop us a line in 'Comments.'


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  • 100 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      When you're the eBay "expert" at the dealership and you're dealing with tens of thousands of dollars, you better damn well make sure the terms end up being okay when you edit an auction. Hell, I do when I'm dealing with tens of dollars. I say sue the dealership
      • 4 Years Ago
      "This dealer (Glenn...) is a prick. The dealership is actually losing almost nothing on the transaction - if it goes through - because they paid Chrysler almost that exact figure to buy the car themselves BEFORE they doubled the price for the consumer. So a $40,000 car really costs a dealership $20,000 from the factory, then they mark it up to include a stratosphereic profit. Selling the car to 'Alex' for the amount he placed at bid wouldn't cost the dealership any loss but would, in fact, improve their public image as having rightly and fairly treated the buyer (but good luck finding THAT happen!)."

      Yeah, no. Dealer would pay maybe 2-4k below MSRP. He would still stand to lose about 10k over the amount he paid the manufacturer for the car selling it at $29k. If you're surprised they're not going to just do that you're delusional. The dealer is probably willing to lose maybe up to half of that 10k just for the good publicity, but even then that would be a nebulous gain/loss for his image. And no, it doesn't cost the manufacturer 20k to make a $40k car.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Basically, the dealer is saying "it's a computer error, so we don't have to honor a legally binding contract". So, in other words, if i buy a car, sign a contract, and then change my mind, I can claim "computer error"?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have nothing against the dealer, but none of this is the buyers problem. Whatever so called "error" occurred, it occurred between the seller and ebay, and should therefore only concern ebay and the seller. They should hand over the car for 29k, take the hit, and sue ebay for the losses incurred from the sale and make sure someone competent is in charge of online listings. If their "philosophy" is to keep customers happy there really shouldn't be any ambiguity on this issue.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I have to disagree. If the dealer's side of the story is true, there is no binding contract.

        I forget the legal term, but if something unpredictable (Ebay's screwing up the reserve) happens, beyond the reasonably foreseeable scope of the agreement, the contract can be invalidated. If Ebay screwed up, that's exactly what happened here.

        Again, if the dealer's side of the story is true... The dealer is well within it's right to nullify the contract. The buyer should know that there's no free lunch. Trying to work out a compromise is a perfectly reasonable action by the dealer.

        Even if there were a binding contract, ALL CONTRACTS CAN BE CANCELED. If the dealer violates the contract, they're obligated to make the buyer whole (baring cancellation provisions in the contract). That doesn't mean give them a car for near nothing. It means reimburse the customer for expenses they incurred because of events so far. If the cancellation was malicious, there could also be punitive damages.
        • 4 Years Ago
        +1 This.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree! The problem should b ebays if the dealer is telling the truth.
        • 4 Years Ago
        +1. Very well put.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Whatever the case, whether they decide to sue Ebay or not, completing this sale could only be a big plus for this dealership. Just a hunch, but I think they'd incur far more than $13K in legal fees if they wanted to take court action, meanwhile, they'd have a happy customer, and would have gained a reputation as 'the dealership that stepped up.' Given all the negative publicity that Chrysler has undergone, with bailouts and quality issues, this could go a long way for them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I guess we'll never know the truth.
      • 4 Years Ago
      if the dealership won't make the deal then ebay has two choices, one admit it was their fault, or two stick to their guns and prohibit the dealership from ever dealing another car on ebay.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think the most pertinent thing is that, according to ebay, the car sold for 29k. Doesn't sound like it's got a reserve price that's above 29k if they sold it for less than 29k amiright?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wouldn't it be better for the dealer to think about the $13,000 or so loss as advertising money and just sell the car for the auction price?
      They already got free publicity and it's not 100% negative yet, so they can use this opportunity as cheap advertising and come out ahead by a mile.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agree 100%. If it can be proven their was in fact a "glitch", the dealership can then let their corp. lawyers deal with ebay and not hold the Challenger hostage in the interim. Reportedly there is a meeting between the 2 parties tomorrow, so there is still a chance for the dealership to show goodwill toward the winning bidder and come out of this looking like the good guys. No one likes to lose in a dispute. Considering this has already gone viral, whatever the dealership's loss amounts to could go a long way toward turning the tide back in their own favor... win-win.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sounds like the Dealer made a mistake, but are trying to blame it on everyone else but them selfs. They are going to get a bad wrap since they are not settling this quick.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Car dealers (like most humans) will try to do the least amount of work for the most amount of return. I don't want to say they get lazy but they make a lot of money off of people's ignorance (for example - Paragon Acura in Queens tried to show me a lease calculation that was off by FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS - in their favor of course. I caught it but I am sure most in NYC would not) that when there is something that requires attention and actual work like an Ebay auction they get soft and f- it up.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yeah they have been in business for over 100 years. But it looks to me like the current owners are not the original owners. The current owners have the last name Davis and not Thomas like the dealership name suggests.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just give him the car, if you've been in business for about 100 years, what's one car at a lost going to do to your business? Stop being pussies and sell the car!

      It was a lesson learned on the dealer end, the buyer won the car fair and square no matter what at the end of the day regardless of any contracts or the dealerships acting like chumps!
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