DealerRater to the rescue

In my last article, I told the tale of my recent adventure in the wonderful world of car buying. It was a pretty messy affair but a relatively happy ending was had in large part due to the website DealerRater.

In the latter part of the debacle, we were at a point where the dealer was ignoring every attempt at communication. After filing a formal complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), my family and I hit the internet. Our purpose was to leave as many in-depth reviews about this dealer as we could in the hopes that others wouldn’t become the next victims.

My mom stumbled upon DealerRater while Googling dealer review sites and she left the same detailed review she had left elsewhere. We quickly learned this was more than just a review site. What DealerRater does, in effect, is quite similar to what the BBB does. Better yet, DealerRater is international.

The DealerRater concept is fueled by consumers like us and designed to encourage and promote good customer service. Certain car dealers are certified sellers through DealerRater and they risk losing that certification due to poor customer service, which is reported on by the people who buy from them. People like us.

When a consumer leaves a complaint, DealerRater acts as a mediator of sorts. As soon as they receive a complaint, DealerRater contacts the dealer to let them know. The dealer then has a short period (2 weeks) to look into and respond to the complaint, putting the ball solidly in their court. The review goes “live” after the 2-week period [unless it is removed by the consumer] whether the dealer responds or not. Reviews can be updated with new information at any time during the process.

The primary difference between DealerRater and the BBB is that DealerRater acts as advertiser for dealers and individuals wanting to sell their vehicles. They have a comprehensive classifieds section for consumers to browse. But what makes DealerRater such an important tool for Missouri consumers is that our lemon law only applies to certain new vehicle purchases under warranty. And only then, you must prove that the dealer was given adequate (read: many) chances to resolve your issue. If you have purchased a used car, even if it’s under warranty as mine was, the lemon law does not apply.

The Missouri Merchandising Practices Act is a little more flexible in that it applies to a broad range of businesses, products, and services. The downside is that you must hire an attorney and file suit against the business, thus your case is limited to fraudulent practices that can be proved in a court of law. If your case is deemed inadequate, you could even end up paying the opposition’s attorney fees and related court costs.

The state of Missouri is a little like a teenage babysitter too distracted with texting her boyfriend on her Blackberry to pay much attention to the children in her charge. Maybe one of the children feels they’re too old for a babysitter but they’d probably be real happy to have one around should an emergency arise. Thankfully, websites like DealerRater are here to help pick up the babysitter’s slack.