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Have we got a deal for you to stay the course
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


July 12, 2007

At Freedom Motors, the place to go for pre-owned vehicles (or used cars, in the old-fashioned manner of speaking), the salesmen are busy dealing with customers who ask why the Iraq Touring Convertible sold in 2003 has turned out to be such a dangerous and unreliable vehicle.

The salesmen are exasperated by these pesky customers and their complaints. They can't understand why they are making such a big deal just because most of the claims about this jalopy have turned out to be completely untrue.

Heck, don't the customers appreciate clever salesmanship and what that entails? Liberties were taken at the point of sale, sure, wild misrepresentations were made perhaps, but so what?

Didn't the customers know whom they were dealing with? True, used-car salesmen are not as bad as politicians, with all their smiles, handshakes and reassurances, but consumer caution recommended itself at the time. Talk about gullible!

Still, one has to feel a bit sorry for the customers who proved easy marks for the master salesmen on the Freedom lot. The chief salesman, George, just hugged his way into people's affections.

Colin was also much admired when he spoke at the car show in front of a crowd that contained many shifty foreigners. He won over the many doubters with evidence proving that this was the only vehicle for the road ahead. Yes, everybody trusted Colin. Unfortunately, he is no longer with the firm. I guess that sometimes salesmen in such operations just get disgusted with themselves.

The other partner, Dick, isn't as warm and fuzzy, and he's also a bit shy, so he continues to do other chores, such as dealing with repo men and torturing the books.

What a deal Freedom Motors had for the Iraqi convertible before it rolled off the lot in 2003. The vehicle was especially remodeled from bits and pieces of an older automobile that proved very popular -- the Cold War Coupe -- despite its being hugely expensive to maintain.

Unfortunately, the customers of its successor now complain that the wheels have fallen off -- and it also burns tax dollars like nobody's business. But that is no argument to abandon the vehicle, according to Freedom Motors. At further great expense, the vehicle has been given more horsepower. It can surge ahead without wheels or any other popular support.

Just because the customers in total continue to pay billions of dollars a month on the installment plan for this model, they can't very well expect the vehicle to perform well yet, or so the salesmen insist. After all, this vehicle was made by the government. That is why the Freedom Motors lot in Washington, D.C., is festooned with American flags.

A person would have to have been extremely unpatriotic not to have climbed into the Iraq Touring Convertible immediately. They didn't get any sort of written warranty, but everyone who drove away got a "We Support Our Drivers" bumper sticker.

At first, the vehicle was impressively zippy. It cleared all before it as it drove to its destination.

Unfortunately, over time, the pedestrians in the places it visited did not view its presence as liberating. Because they had no appreciation for American engineering, they came to resent that it occupied space, blowing exhaust while turning their land into a parking lot. They took to throwing things at the vehicle and they weren't the rose petals that Freedom Motors had led the customers to expect.

The customers endured this for a long time, but now they are getting mad. They were told that the extra horsepower would get the old jalopy working in good order, but a new consumer report indicates that some of the benchmarks for improvement just aren't being met.

No surprise there. Credibility was never an option on this lot. All you get for your money is patriotic noises on the car radio. Of course, no refunds are offered. Chief salesman George, in the white shed at the back of the lot, insists that his convertible that keeps converting into something else is just picking up speed and will bring safety to all who see it go by.

Trust us, say the folks at Freedom Motors, and never mind the wrecks. That would be nice, but with their record, trusting to common sense and calling the tow truck to remove this vehicle would be better. After all, when you buy a lemon, there's still no guarantee of lemonade at the end of the road.


Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
His email address is rhenry(at) For more stories visit
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Scripps Howard News Service,

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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska