This is not a fake news tidbit or urban legend – it happened to me yesterday late afternoon, 6/16/17, at Costco:
I was sitting in my car, which was not in a designated parking place, waiting for my husband to come out with bottled water and berries. It was quite warm, so I had the windows down and engine off.
A car with two men pulled alongside and the passenger claimed to know me from the dealership where we’d bought my car – he gestured back toward my license plate bracket, still bearing the dealer name – and expressed concern for the dent on my door. He said he’d just fixed the VP’s car, but off the record, so he wouldn’t lose his job at the dealer’s. He said they could fix the dent quickly, the dealer would charge me a couple thousand and have it over a week, he could do it for so much less…
I’m pretty sure I didn’t give him a clear “Yes,” but the driver jumped out with a suction cup on a handle while slick willie kept saying things like “Usually it’s 249 times six, you can get the work for half…”
I said, waitaminute! I need the calculator! – $1474?! Half still being over $700? These guys couldn’t possibly do anything worth that much in a parking lot! What about an estimate, or a contract?
While the one “worked” on my car, the slick guy kept busy suggesting I could cash a check at the bank, or get the money from the ATM – I said I didn’t have my debit card and the bank was closed in any case (being the truthful person I am, these were indeed true). I started texting my husband to come out NOW. They said they’d taken care of the scratches and to just wait a day to wash it.
I spotted Hubby coming, walked over to meet him and quickly filled him in. I then slipped into the good wife role and “busied” myself unloading the shopping cart while he gave the two grief, told them no WAY were we going to pay them anything, he yelled that it wasn’t my car so I didn’t have the authority to tell them to go ahead with ANY work, and besides, why weren’t talking to THE MAN?! (One of the few instances where white lies and sexism actually work).
They left some smears on the door but drove off with none of our money, at which we saw their miracle elixir was nothing more than simple car wax.
My husband refreshed my memory of this same type of scam having been attempted at his grown daughter’s expense several years ago not far from our house. When she called him he rushed to that other big box parking lot, where he threatened to stick her keys up where their sun didn’t shine.
He reminded me that these sorts of scams are perpetrated by individuals who self-identify as Gypsies, secure in their belief that because their forebears (supposedly) made off with one of the Romans’ nails at Christ’s crucifixion, they “earned” free rein to steal for infinity!
Moral of the story is still: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t good or true.