The illegal things that unscrupulous auto dealers do to close a sale

Very few people enjoy the process of buying a new or used car from a dealer. ("Let me check with my sales manager." "How much can you afford per month? I'll make it work.") But while those tactics are obvious and annoying, some dealers will run schemes that are downright illegal just to close the sale. Over at Jalopnik, professional car shopper Tom McParland reveals some of those activities as reported by two consumer protection attorneys. Here's one thing attorney Steve Lehto says to watch out for:

Dealers that curbstone. They have a hard time moving the car off their lot so they advertise it on craigslist and pretend it is a private sale. (This may be legal in some states but it certainly is shady). The key? Beware of a private seller claiming they have a dealer doing the paperwork as a favor.

And attorney Daniel Whitney calls out these dealership tricks:

Inflating income and deflating monthly rent on the credit application.

Finance managers are notorious for inflating income so a consumer will qualify for a car that they cannot afford. At the same time, they decrease the consumer’s monthly rent for the same reason. I have seen many consumers with credit applications that say they pay no rent because they “live with family,” who also are stated as making double or triple their actual monthly salary...

The dealership steals the GAP (guaranteed auto protection) and/or extended warranty money.

The fraud here is simple. The customer pays for GAP and an extended warranty, but the dealership never pays the premiums.

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Man accidentally buys 1,000 chickens

Steve Morrow saw an "urgent sale" ad on the New Zealand auction site Trade Me from a free-range chicken farmer who was shutting down and selling off his 1,000 chickens; Morrow thought he was bidding on one chicken, but ended up buying all 1,000 of them for NZD1.50. Read the rest

How online retailers trick you into signing up for costly monthly memberships

Some online retailers (usually clothing companies. like Rihanna’s  Savage X Fenty) sneakily insert monthly memberships into customers' shopping carts, and if the customers don't remove the subscription from the shopping cart, they'll get stuck with a $50 monthly bill that can't be canceled unless they talk to a customer service rep on the phone whose job it is to use every persuasion tactic in the book to prevent the customer from canceling. Note that the cost of the monthly membership isn't shown in the shopping cart, so it looks like it's free.

From Nicole Dieker's Lifehacker article:

I tried shopping at Savage X Fenty, and although the website clearly stated that I did not need to become an “Xtra VIP Member” to make purchases, the site also automatically added a membership to my cart after I clicked on an item. Only after I deleted the membership from my cart was I able to begin the checkout process at the “Basic” (non-member, and twice as expensive) level—and even then, the site kept nudging me to join Xtra VIP.

As Vox notes, Savage X Fenty isn’t the only retailer with these types of membership fees. Fabletics is another well-known retailer with a $49.95 VIP Membership, and although the process of making a non-member purchase is more transparent, the site still uses color and contrast to convince you to become a VIP.

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Florida property-tax auction winner didn't realize he was bidding on a 12"-wide strip between two houses

A combination of hubris (failing to heed the stern warnings that bidders should only participate if they know what they're doing), cryptic annotations and confusing illustrations resulted in a bidder buying a 12" wide, 100' long strip between two properties in Broward County, Florida -- an odd parcel that had been formerly owned by the developer, who folded and stopped paying tax on it, sending it to the auction. Read the rest