I finally decided to shop for a new Prius lease totally online since I really had NO time to go driving all over LA once I had driven the car and decided on the options. And, as luck would have it, I ran into the Japanese earthquake and nuclear reactor radiation issues head on when the Toyota dealers (a week after when the nuclear reactors were beginning to fail) suddenly began canceling their advertised Prius discounts. Starting with the Consumer Reports Build and Buy Report service, which is a part of the zag.com network, I was given three dealers who were contracted to honor the posted price at the end of the report. All 3 wriggled out of the deal one way or the other...they emailed that they had the car when they really didn't, or raised the invoice over the manufacturer's saying their inventories were dwindling. I read moments later on the PriusChat site about the same treatment given to a AAA member whose dealer refused to honor the posted price due to perceived delays on Toyotas made in Japan. These dealers were jumping on the "cancel the discount" bandwagon even though the $500 off or 2.9% financing was posted right on the manufacturer website, and they had contracted with zag to honor their posted prices. They all used the earthquake to profit themselves with the "fear of future inventories" story that has also currently run up gas prices. Finally ran into wonderful Dianne Whitmire, the Fleet/Internet Manager at Carson Toyota, on the Priuschat website who had very simply posted there her current deals, one which was perfect for us. Eureka! An actual posted deal right online, with driveoff's, residuals and bottom line monthly payments right there in black and white. She assured me from the first call that what she had posted would be honored, and she had even lowered the monthly payment by $4. I printed her page to have it in writing, and drove to Carson Toyota on the first day of Spring which turned out to be some of the worst driving weather ever; blinding rain torrents blasting our windshield...wind blowing trees into the roads...slowed the 405 down to a crawl... but knowing that Prius dealers were raising their prices by the radioactive minute and that Dianne was holding this car for us, I was not going to be put off by a lousy rainstorm. She honored her Priuschat post to the penny and after an hour with her filling out the usual papers, 45 min more with her in the car explaining everything, (she even connected my phone to the car's bluetooth system) and a quick 15 min with George at the finance desk, we were on our way back on the 405 into the torrential rain, driving a beautiful blue Prius. Dianne Whitmire, better known as High Priustess on the Prius chat site was at all times cheerful, respectful, professional, honest, and straightforward, and gave us her undivided attention throughout. She is the complete opposite of the typical sleazy salesman who trots back and forth from you to the manager to negotiate a price. That kind of selling should be a relic of the past. If more dealers could adopt her kind of customer friendly approach, they might actually sell more cars, instead of driving people away with their "get them in the building" tactics. Don't fall for it...research your price by using Edmunds and the online forums before going anywhere. It really saved me since I was 2 weeks away from turning in my old lease, and fighting for time against the earthquake/nuclear issues affecting the Japanese automarket. And if you're looking for a Toyota, I would highly recommend getting in touch with Dianne Whitmire at the beautiful new Carson Toyota dealership. She was not only a delight to work with, but a true Godsend at a time when the Japanese markets were reeling from the tsunami and 9.0 earthquake. She took a very professional "let's wait and see" approach to the market's inventory issues which made real sense to me. Thank you Dianne, for honoring your post when others were not. This is integrity of the highest order.
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