I saw an infomercial today for Crazy 88, a company that promises that it can get you a new car for $88 down and $88 per month. Bad credit? No credit? Multiple reposessions? Not a US citizen? Do you owe $15,000 more than your current car is worth? No problem! Crazy 88 can get a car loan for literally anyone, according to its infomercial. One guy said he had credit card bills, medical bills, an empty bank account and he had lost his house -- but Crazy 88 got him a new car for $88 down and $88 per month.
That all sounded too good to be true, so I went to the company's website to try to read the fine print. Crazy 88 is one of many, many similar companies that over-promise and under-deliver. The infomercial doesn't provide anything resembling the whole story, so here are a few of the myths propogated in the infomercial, contrasted with the reality that you'll find in the fine print on the company's website:
"$88 down, $88 per month." Crazy 88 is not a dealership or even a lender. According to the disclaimer on its website, Crazy 88 is a "registered marketing agent" and not a finance company. So "Qualification for the Crazy 88 offer is subject to dealer designated lender approval." But if it's subject to dealer designated lender approval, what exactly does Crazy 88 do? It claims to have "access to literally hundreds of lenders who specialize in helping customers with less than perfect credit." Newsflash: So do a lot of car dealers, and you can always shop around for different loan offers online. There's really no reason to get involved with a "market agent" like this company.
If you read the disclaimer, you'll see this gem: "$88 a month for up to 3 months at dealer discretion." Up to 3 months while interest is accruing and then you're back with high car payments that you can't afford. That is not a good deal!
"We can and will get you out of that trade-in you owe way too much on because we'll pay off your trade no matter what you owe." The next line, which is not mentioned in the infomercial, is "We simply apply your negative equity to a new loan balance." Right: So instead of being $15,000 in the hole on your current car, you can be $15,000 in the hole on your new one, with interest accruing daily (and it won't be 0% or even 15% if you have bad credit). And because you'll be upside down in your new car, you'll end up with even more negative equity as that car depreciates.
It's no secret that the car financing world is full of crooks and charlatans. But even by the low standard that the industry has set for ethics, the Crazy 88 commercial is incredibly misleading. Do yourself a favor: Before you buy your next car, read Remar Sutton's book Don't Get Taken Every Time: The Ultimate Guide to Buying or Leasing a Car, in the Showroom or on the Internet.
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