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This letter is in response to the cover story “Lemon Aid” (3/19) written by Stephanie Mencimer.
I found so many holes in the article that I scarcely know where to begin. Let me start by saying that I have financed two automobiles through Credit Acceptance Corp. (CAC) and have nothing but praise for the company. The first car was when I was trying to establish credit and traditional lenders would not readily finance me. After I paid that loan off satisfactorily, I financed and paid off a second car, again through CAC, at a lower interest rate and not because I had nowhere else to turn.
I resent the reporter’s attempting to portray economically challenged consumers as being unable to make an intelligent and financially sound decision regarding a purchase as major as a car, and I found the references to the characters in the movie Used Cars to be inflammatory and irrelevant. Obviously, given that it was a comedy, the roles were exaggerated. I can honestly say that I have never yet seen a used-car salesman wearing white shoes, a white belt, and a plaid jacket. It is a movie, meant to entertain, not to enlighten.
The article then attempts to make it a racial issue by pointing out that all of the customers are black at a car lot in a predominantly white area, implying I’m not exactly sure what. If the writer considers herself to be some kind of champion of the underdog, then advocating that people with bad, slow, or
no credit shunt blame, make excuses, and hone a victim’s mentality is not
a solution. It is possibly what got
them into that position in the first place.
“Caveat emptor,” or “buyer beware,” should always be the first rule of thumb when purchasing anything preowned, be it a car or a toaster. Car dealers, both new- and used-, were known to sell a lemon or two long before CAC came into the picture; customers must be accountable for what terms they knowingly and willingly consent to. They have the option of having a mechanic check out the car before they commit to purchasing it, they have the option of buying an extended warranty and good insurance on the vehicle, and they certainly have the option of simply walking away from a dealer whose practices or cars they find questionable. It’s called shopping around.
If I financed a house or a car through a bank that did not live up to my expectations, I would still be responsible for that loan, and if I lent somebody money to pay his electric bill and her lights got turned off anyway, I would still fully expect to get my money back. Why is it unreasonable for CAC to expect to be paid? The article does not criticize banks or credit unions when people have purchased less-than-desirable cars through them, yet it seems to single out CAC instead of finding fault with the actual dealers who may be involved in deceptive practices.
I can honestly say that CAC has been a blessing for me personally, and I would not want to patronize a dealer, CAC-affiliated or not, that did not treat me like a human being capable of making my own decisions regarding my personal finances. We consumers are not helpless victims, nor are we at the mercy of unscrupulous car dealers. However, rather than encouraging adults to make responsible adult decisions, Mencimer condescends to all of us by saying that we cannot read a contract or ask detailed questions or even bring along a friend or family member more knowledgeable than ourselves.
In closing, this story strikes me as slanted, biased, and a weak attempt to portray big business as the enemy of the working class. As far as I can tell, the only objective is to look for somebody to blame (preferably someone with deep pockets), as opposed to promoting the idea of people being accountable for those choices.