Ask Amy: What to do if your new car purchase comes with an interest rate surprise


Hi there, 

I love shopping, with one exception: shopping for cars causes me anxiety. Why? When it comes to money and the numbers, it seems like it’s meant to be confusing.

This week, we told you the Houston Better Bureau is getting a lot of complaints about new car dealerships. Customers say their biggest beef is that they picked out a car, agreed to finance it and even signed a contract… only to find out later that they got a much higher interest rate than they thought they were getting.  How the heck does that happen? 

When you buy a new car and agree to finance through the dealership, it may take the dealer some time to find a bank to take your loan at the agreed upon terms. If the dealer allows you to take the vehicle home before they have found a lender, they will ask you to sign a “conditional delivery agreement.”

By state law, the dealer may take up to 15 days to look for a lender. If they can not find one, because of your employment history or credit, they may ask you to bring your new car back. If they do find one, but the interest rate is not to your liking, you are under no obligation to keep the vehicle. You can return it and get your trade-in and any down payment you made back. 

Once you sign a “retail installment sales contract,” you are locked into the terms of the loan in that contract. The dealer is also locked in. If the dealer signed this contract and then failed to get you a loan with the interest rate on the contract, the dealer is obligated to collect the payments and be the lender.

If you believe a dealership has changed the terms of the loan on your retail installment sales contract and they are asking you to come back and sign a new one, you need to file a complaint with the Texas Office of the Consumer Credit Commissioner.

You can do that online or by calling the Consumer Assistance Helpline and speaking with one of the agency’s investigators at (800) 538-1579. To avoid all of this craziness and uncertainty, you could try to get approved for a loan at a credit union or with your bank before you go to the dealership. Then you will be paying for the vehicle in full. You don’t have to worry about these shenanigans on the back end.

Here’s what else you need to know this week

Macy's is offering free same day delivery right now. 

Seriously. Houston is one of 30 cities where customers can order items by noon on Macys.com and have them delivered the very same day. On Sunday, you have to place your order by 10 a.m.
Just look for products with the “same-day delivery icon.” You have to spend $75 or more; but really- how hard is that at Macy’s? Macy's has not said when it will end same-day delivery, only that it is a temporary program.

Retailers pull Zantac over cancer concerns

If you get heartburn frequently and you take Zantac to help with the pain, you'll have a difficult time finding it now. CVS, Walgreens, Wal-Mart and Rite Aid have all pulled the over-the-counter medicine from store shelves. They will no longer sell the product after the FDA's findings that some samples it tested contained low levels of a chemical that may cause cancer in humans. There is no recall; but both CVS and Walgreens say if you have some that you purchased at their stores, you can return it for a full refund.