I am not a judgemental person. Whenever I heard the term “Used Car Salesman” in a negative connotative manner, I would roll my eyes. Selling used cars is a legitimate career, and surely not every used care salesman is “bad”. | Well, let me tell you. I did business with a used car salesman who is everything slimy you can imagine and more. | The first time I met Tom Haraldson, I was driving in a car with 2 friends of mine. One of them saw his car and said, “Oh my God, is that Tom?! He used to be my sugar daddy! I’m gonna tell him to pull over! We should pull over!” | Thus commenced the reunion between a very gay borderline prostitute young man and his significantly older car-selling sugar daddy. How sweet. I harbor no judgement against the lgbtq community seeing as I myself am a member, and I try not to judge people for how they live; | 2 weeks pass, and over this time we find out that Tom sells cars! We need a car! We’re poor college students, and this man is supposedly nice and willing to work with people who have difficult financial circumstances. Wow, how lucky that we should come across this man– he is just what we need. | November of 201*: We are ready to buy a car. I am on the phone with the two friends I had driven around that day, who are looking at the cars. He mentions a very nice SUV for a veeeeeery nice price. All I could think is, What’s wrong with it? Well, this car doesn’t go in Reverse. If you want to back up this car , you must put it in neutral and push it. Hmmm… Surely he was joking about selling this to us. I laugh and tell my friends that that would be a no. | We settle on a car that Tom has actually been driving around. Great gas mileage, nice and compact. Wow, what could possibly go wrong? | We’re poor, and I can’t quite make the first down payment because my bank has a limitation on how much money I can withdraw at a time. Downpayment is supposed to be $500, but I must give him less. Not to worry, my gay friend says, because he can work something out with Tom. Just give him 20 minutes. | Tom docked the price we had to pay up front. How sweet! | Things in the car are odd. Tom said it was in Top Condition, though there was no warranty for the vehicle. Fine enough. I start the car and the check engine light is on. I ask should we be worried, and he says the light just “does that” and there’s nothing wrong. We get in the car and pull out, happy owners. Tom says there are 4 “new” tires on the car, and there is literally nothing wrong with it. Cool beans. | We open the console, and the lid/arm rest detaches immediately. It’s broken. Eh, no big deal, right? We don’t have to have an armrest, or a lid to cover the contents of the console. Besides, we got such a nice deal on the car that we didn’t mind. We start driving around and hear strange metallic rattling from the back seat. | Clamato and Bud Light cans everywhere. How did we not see this? Well, the back windows are tinted, and they had been stashed under the seats. Eh, no big deal. We’ll just throw them away. | Thudding around in the trunk. What’s that? A 5-gallon water jug. Eh, no big deal. We’ll toss that, too. | Open the glove compartment, and there is the manual to the model of our car, but for the year previous, aka not actually to our car. It was haphazardly marked over with a permanent marker to change the year on the front. Well, the book still mostly matched up with our car, so…. you guessed it: Eh, no big deal. But what else is in there? An instruction manual for making incendiaries. (For those like me who had no idea what that word means, an incendiary is an explosive device! (: yay for us.) | We make it less than a mile away from his shop and get pulled over by a sheriff. “Did you know your tags are expired by a year?” …What? We just bought this car. That’s not possible. “Well, the tags on the back say 201*. That’s a whole year ago.” | Ugh. Seriously? So we settle with the sheriff to call Tom at the shop to vouch for the statement that yes, we did just buy this car. His mistake, if we could just turn around with the Sheriff’s permission, he would write us a new tag. | He doesn’t. He just tries to write over the wrong number. “Eh, no big deal?” Nope. For our trip following the vehicle purchase, we would be pulled over 3 separate times because the tags on our car were not legible. | Fast Forward to about a month later. At this point, blood has already been drawn on the vehicle: someone mysteriously smashed every piece of glass in the window to smithereens. Nothing can be salvaged, so we tape a shower curtain over the window. We’re trying to take a trip for the winter, and before we even make it out of town, a tire blows while we are driving at 60 mph. The brakes had always been squeaky to a cringeworthy degree, but needing to slow down quickly in this emergency proved to be very difficult. Terrifying, but we managed. We pulled over and a passerby stopped to help. Then we call Tom. | He says he just cannot believe that one of those tires blew, since he had just put one of his on it when we bought it. He’s nice and helps us get the car back to his place where he will put on a new tire, no charge. He’s always glad to help. Well, I tell him, that tire doesn’t look very new, and he says, well it is, he got it off another car and it’s just fine. | Okay, then… I’m pretty sure that would mean those are “used tires”, not “new tires”. I’m suspicious of the other tires on our car in general now, but there is nothing to worry about, right? | On the course of the trip, 2 more blew, and the final tire had a slow leak. As a matter of fact, due to us not having the finances to fix it and after he said fix a flat would seal it right up; looking at it where it is parked, once again the tire is completely flat. Ugh. | Also while on the trip, the check engine light and a warning sign start to come on. Then a power steering light. These come on and off sporadically. It’s the middle of winter, and for some reason the lights for turning on the heat and air start blinking. If we push them off and then on again they’ll stop, but sure enough they’ll begin again. We hadn’t before had a use for the air system, so it’s hard to say whether it was an issue when we bought the car or if it happened since. | Moving on, our tags expire. He said he would take care of the license plates and registration for our vehicle, but it is an entire month before we can drive it again, so it sits in a parking lot with that stupid a*s slow leak going completely flat. When we call him, confused, and ask what we need to do to get the plates taken care of, he says, “oh, didn’t I tell you? I’ll take care of it, but I’ve been waiting for a (insert random month) payment from you. I won’t do it until I receive that payment.” So we scrounge up the money and pay him for said month, even though that month had already been paid for. | As poor students, I informed him at the time of purchase that we do not have a consistent income of money, and so we will be late on some payments, but when we pay him, we will give him what we owe up to that point and probably more to cover us in advance. Despite this and doing our best, it does not stop him from calling us repeatedly saying that we shorted him, missed a payment, whatever the excuse is, and we must pay him more money, even if we had paid for that month. It also does not stop him from consistently calling me the wrong name on the phone. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal, except that I am transgender and I do not, under any circumstances, go by that name. I will sign that name for legal purposes, but at the time of signing my car title, I informed him that he ought to make a note not to call me that name and call me “*****” instead. He never does. It is very disheartening for someone of my position to not only have someone disrespect you on every phone call from the getgo, but also raising his voice and saying that I’m being disrespectful to him and How dare I? | There was never a record kept on our end of what we paid him (which was a stupid mistake on our part), but my friend and I know that we should be paid up to this point. He insists that we have been giving him the run around, and he starts to raise his voice. Every phone call we get from him about our car begins progressively worse, with him calling me entirely the wrong name, yelling at us, and harassing us. He’s been “really sticking his neck out for us” with this car, and he “never asked for the remainder of the down payment we owe him”, but he wants it now. He also makes it a point to inquire about our friend and why he won’t talk to him. We don’t know… That’s between them. This makes him more irritated. | He asks why we can’t pay him right then. We tell him of the issue with our jobs, and how we were in a near fatal car wreck and are struggling to pay the bills. He says he doesn’t give a f**k if we almost died, he wants his money and he wants it now, and if we don’t come up with it within “x” amount of time, he will report us to the police for [insert some quickly stated reason that i don’t understand] and he will take the car back. | The catalytic converter isn’t a normal one. If we want it fixed, it will be $1500. The Power steering is an electrical component. If we want it fixed, it will be $1200. We can’t afford this, but we need the car. | In short, I firmly believe this man sold us an unsafe piece of s***. The brakes are failing, the air system is becoming compromised, and the maintenance on the vehicle is more than we can afford. Tom Haraldson does not have his vehicles inspected for safety or repair needs, he goes back on his word
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