An Open Letter to the “Christian” Who Ripped Me Off

Dear Christian Car Dealer,

I just want to say please, please stop telling other people that you’re a Christian. At least if you’re going to conduct business the way you did with me. See, when I saw the crosses on the wall of your showroom and perused the selection of Bible tracts you had available on your desk I thought I could trust you.

Boy, was I wrong.

See, I told you that I needed to buy a car for my kids to drive around. You know, to get to school and practice and stuff. You said you had just the thing and then I bought a nice little 10-year-old car for $3,700. You should remember me, I paid cash. 37 crisp Ben Franklins in your hand.

Yes, I test drove the car and did a basic check of the engine. Everything seemed fine.

But, not two hours after I got the car home it started acting up! It wouldn’t shift into gear and when it finally did it was such a jolt I thought I would see the transmission trailing behind me in the street.

I brought the car right back to you. What you said next floored me. You said, “Well, this isn’t going to end well for you.” Yes, those were your exact words.

I said, “I haven’t even owned the car 24 hours. Can’t you do something? Like take it back and put me into another car on your lot?”

You said, “I’m real sorry. You bought it as is so there’s nothing I can do.”

Yes, sir, there is something you can do. You can act with integrity. You know that you sold me a bad car. You knew it and still, you did it.

Please understand, I’m not perfect. I mess up too. But, I would never screw a brother or sister over on purpose. Not for $3,700–not for $100,000.

So, please, take down the crosses and put away the gospel tracts. Stop telling people that you’re a believer. You’re making it hard for Christians everywhere. You’re feeding into the perception that we are greedy and that we don’t care about others.

Our culture is hurting and losing hope. People are more distrustful of each other than ever before. Know this, the world is watching Christians carefully to find out if what we believe makes a difference. They want to know if Jesus is real.

In the long run, I’ll be fine. My best friend actually gave me a car for my kids to drive. He did that because he felt bad for how badly you treated me.

In closing, I hope that you are treated better by other believers than you treated me. I hope that you’ll have more opportunities to make the right decision later. Because, honestly, I felt more betrayed by your deception than by just about anything else that has happened to me lately.



21 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the “Christian” Who Ripped Me Off”

  1. Phil,
    Sorry for how you were misled, and for how you were treated. But I’m glad that you shared the story. Maybe you can prevent this from happening to yet another person.

  2. Phil,
    Sorry to hear you ran into someone untrustworthy. Did you take any action other than this letter?

    1. Truthfully, I don’t have much recourse. I signed documents that specify the car is sold “as is,” no warranty implied or otherwise. I understood that. My biggest frustration is that I’m sure he knew the car had this ‘hidden’ issue.

      I also signed a document that says I agree to pursue arbitration instead of court.

      Essentially, I don’t think there’s not much I can do that wouldn’t end up costing more than the car itself. I posted an HONEST review on Google, yelp, and Yellowpages.

      1. I’m sorry that that you were ripped off.One fact that i have learned many years ago was that you don’t mix religion and business. A cross on the wall and a few tracts on the desk does not mean that the person is honest (or even a Christian which does not entitle you to a discount). “By their deeds you shall know them”.
        Just my 2 cents

        1. John,
          Thanks for your comment and taking the time to read my post. I appreciate your “2 cents.”

      2. Generally, and in most states, a contract can be cancelled within 3 days. Businesses play on customers’ ignorance, delay through the 3 days with false promises, and intimidate their customers. You probably had recourse to return the vehicle, if not, the final recourse through BBB, media, and telling the truthful story to other Christians (naming name and business) including his church and pastor. Nothing like a little pressure on someone to get them to do what is right – even reluctantly.

  3. Well, I wonder what you really think “As Is” means? How would Christian integrity change those words?
    I too once bought an automobile as is and found out later that the A/C didn’t work. Oh yes, for quite a bit more than thirty seven hundred dollars.
    I too was pretty upset when I was reminded that I bought the item “As Is”. Took a while to get to the realization that I had made a business deal, “As Is”. Those words always mean exactly the same thing, you buy it, if it breaks in half, you still own both halfs.
    As a Christian I learned a long time ago, that People who need to advertise that they are Christians haven’t actually got the point yet? Whether that’s you or a used car dealer. Christianity is about growing up and beyond thinking people some how owe you something for wearing the name Christian.
    Also having been a new car salesman for a number of years I am quite aware that preachers and pastors have a firm belief that they should never have to pay full price for anything, especially automobiles.
    Grow up, and really take responsibility for your own actions.

    1. Mike,
      Thanks for your comment! I don’t disagree with you – “As Is” means as is. I get that. However, since you asked the question about how Christian integrity would change those words, I will answer.

      A person of integrity would not knowingly sell a faulty vehicle to anyone, Christian or non-Christian. In that sense, AS IS takes on a new meaning – there is an expectation of “reasonable quality.”

      You said that you were a car salesman before? I am sure you wouldn’t purposefully sell a defective vehicle to someone, right? Well, that is integrity.

      If you understood my post to mean that I think someone OWES me something just because I’m a Christian then you clearly misunderstood. I have never assumed that I should be entitled to special treatment because I’m a pastor or a Christian.

      My point was that if you call yourself a Christian it’s important to conduct yourself with the utmost integrity, knowing that an unsaved world is watching.

      After I bought the car from this dealer I did some deeper research into his business and found numerous complaints filed with BBB and consumer advocate groups. Each of them experienced about the same thing I did.

      I admitted in the post that I’ll be fine. I don’t expect to receive anything from the dealer. No warranty, no compensation.

    2. Mike,
      Grow up?
      Seems a bit harsh. He did pay cash. And, he didn’t throw the Bible tracts all over the floor when he spoke to the dealer after the sale.
      He only expected to be treated with honesty and integrity.The salesman knew the car was bad. The salesman was probably hoping the car wouldn’t fall apart during the test drive.
      Phil said, ” I felt more betrayed by your deception than by just about anything else that has happened to me lately.”
      Maybe the person who needs to be more mature is you? And, I won’t tell you to grow up, because that is not a nice thing to say.
      I will tell you, “Be kind.” Which I assume your mother taught you as well.

  4. Several years ago, a Christian friend of mine who owns a construction business passed along this story. He said for quite a few years, he had the Ichthus (Fish sign) proudly displayed on his company’s vehicles. One day, he thought about what this truly said about him. First, it held him to a standard that he often failed. He understood how poorly he represented the gospel when he spoke in anger or did something stupid in traffic. So, he said it occurred to him that his witness to others wasn’t what it should be. Secondly, he recognized that the true mark of a believer is how we live life differently and it is a light to others around us. We don’t need bracelets, logos, Christian Tshirts or signs…we do the harder thing and live a life that is so compelling in our love, it stands apart. So, in virtually every case I find someone with a very public presentation of their supposed faith, a Bible on the desk, a picture with a famous Christian leader on the wall, or a reference in their business materials, I have found them less than honest and ethical. It is merely a tool they use to convince other Christians that they are in the club. It is sad but it points directly to the depravity of their soul and their need to use props as their life doesn’t show the fruit of a life in Christ. Harsh? Maybe, but we need to call it out for what it is.

    1. Walt,
      Thank you for commenting on the post. I think you understood my viewpoint completely. A life well-lived is the best proof that Jesus is alive. Thank you again!

    2. I met a preacher through a college Bible study who told of coming across an accident where one car had a bunch of Christian bumper stickers on it. He said, “What a bad Christian witness. That’s why I don’t put bumper stickers on my car.”

  5. Phil,
    It sounds like the dealer was hoping the car wouldn’t fall apart when you test drove it. He was grateful the engine fell out “after” you signed the papers. He was knowingly deceitful.
    Good job paying cash.

  6. Oh man…I grimace every time I hear stories like this. I wish it wasn’t so common.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  7. Wow, I didn’t know this really happened to you! I’m so sorry to hear it. Did you ever take it to a mechanic to find out what was wrong with it?
    When I used to be a Superintendent for a construction company, the owner and I sat down and had breakfast one day. I told him that when I meet a Christian, I like to trust them and give them my business. He told me that he NEVER uses a company claiming to be Christian’s. He said they are usually the ones that are most corrupt. Was unfortunate to hear, but understood what he meant. All we can do is try to change that perception one person at a time!

    1. Agreed! This happened to me a while ago. I took the car to numerous places, each telling me something slightly different about a problem transmission that would cost between 2 and 4k to fix. We still drive the car, bad transmission and all.

      My biggest issue is not that he didn’t refund me, but that he quite obviously knew the car was bad. He had been reported to Better Business Bureau so many times. I should have checked up on his ahead of time but I trusted him.

      Anyway, lesson learned.

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