I Tried to Buy a Car from Carvana and It Was Worse Than Going to a Dealer – Review Geek


Josh Hendrickson

By some stroke of unhealthy luck, each of my vehicles died concurrently. One won’t ever run once more. The different wanted 1000’s of {dollars} in repairs. Carvana seemed like the proper reply to buy a new automobile whereas I didn’t have a automobile. But what began as a good expertise became a full nightmare.

I skirt on the older finish of the millennial technology. By now, I’m used to ordering many of the issues I buy on-line, from electronics to groceries. I don’t even go into banks anymore, so why not order a automobile on-line?

After all, like most individuals, I hate haggling down a automobile worth. So Carvana’s “no-haggle we deliver” promise appeared excellent for my wants. Especially since I didn’t have a automobile to go to a dealership anyway. And whereas it’s good to test-drive a automobile earlier than you buy it, Carvana has a 7-day return coverage. When you concentrate on it, that’s higher than a fast take a look at drive carefully monitored by a pushy gross sales rep.

But what began as a largely nice expertise finally became an terrible headache. And in the long run? I purchased a automobile from a dealership the place I received a higher deal and higher remedy. Here’s the way it went down.

Ordering a Car Online is Mostly Easy

the Carvana website, featuring a CR-V Hybrid with several yellow symbols
The yellow symboles denote minor scratches.

Credit the place credit score’s due, Carvana makes ordering a automobile on-line a largely stress-free and simple course of. I say largely since you do really feel like you will have to rush. It’s in all probability a gross sales tactic to drive urgency to buy now, however you will have half-hour to end ordering it when you decide a automobile, otherwise you lose it again to the overall pool. Right now, used vehicles are briefly provide and overpriced, in order that’s a scary prospect.

You begin by reserving the automobile (in my case, a Honda CR-V Hybrid), which begins the 30-minute countdown. The stress stage rose a little at that time, betrigger I realized I wanted to unlock my credit score. That shouldn’t take lengthy, however for some purpose, each time I go concerning the course of, at the very least one of many large three has a difficulty, and I have to name for assist.

But it turned out my fears had been for nothing, thanks to one other difficulty I bumped into whereas ordering the automobile. You see, Carvana makes a large deal about how one can commerce in your automobile, and they’ll even tow it away.  Half the commercials present an outdated automobile on a Carvana-branded tow truck. My outdated automobile is lifeless lifeless lifeless, so I thought that’d be a handy approach to do away with it. It didn’t matter what Carvana provided, I needed it gone. I went by way of the trade-in outdated automobile course of, and when I selected the choice that said the automobile doesn’t run, the complete website locked up with an error.

Carvana’s website ultimately recovered and said it couldn’t decide the trade-in worth of my automobile, and I’d have to name a assist quantity to full the acquisition. At that time, I was apprehensive concerning the time restrict countdown. But inside 5 minutes, I was on the road with somebody, and the assist individual instantly added 24 hours to my timer. That by itself was a large stress reduction. I not had to rush to buy the automobile.

And what was the issue that compelled me to name tech assist? Apparently, Carvana gained’t settle for trade-ins for autos that don’t run. Which … effective, honest sufficient. But why does that require a tech assist name? If that’s the coverage, it ought to present up clearly at first. And when I chosen the “this car won’t start option,” it ought to have popped up an evidence and provided to take away the automobile from the method.

Instead, tech assist had to take away my trade-in choices and unlock my utility. Thankfully every little thing after that went amazingly easily. I made it by way of all of the choices in about ten minutes. And actually, it felt good not having a individual pressuring me to buy further issues I didn’t want. I simply stated no to prolonged warranties and different elective options then chosen a supply date. That final bit is essential.

With Carvana, you’ll be able to have your automobile taken to a native pickup station, however I didn’t have a working automobile. Instead, I paid an additional $500 to have my new automobile delivered instantly to my dwelling. And the date I picked meant I’d have it in time to go decide up my different automobile from the store! Sure it wasn’t model new, however the automobile I ordered solely has 3,500 miles or so and simply a few scratches. New sufficient for my functions, at the very least. Besides, new vehicles at all times price extra and drop in worth instantly, proper? (Yes, that is foreshadowing…)

We’re Sorry, We Don’t Even Know Where Your Car Is

An email confirming an on-time delivery.

Before the morning the automobile was supposed to arrive, we made positive to get every little thing prepared. That included including the brand new automobile to the insurance coverage coverage as a result of Carvana wouldn’t ship with out proof of insurance coverage. The day earlier than supply, Carvana despatched us an e mail assuring us that the automobile was on the best way. “Great News! Your Honda CR-V Hybrid is on schedule for delivery and will be making its way into your loving arms lickity split!” And proper on time, the automobile store completed fixing our different automobile. As quickly as Carvana dropped off, we might go decide up our second automobile, and we’d be entire once more.

And that’s the place every little thing went downhill. About an hour earlier than the anticipated supply time got here a textual content: “Hi, your Honda CR-V Hybrid appointment experienced a transportation delay.” After that got here one other, “We apologize for the delay and appreciate your patience. Please be on the lookout for a text with your new appointment date, and feel free to text us with questions.”

You guess we had questions, beginning with, “where’s my friggin’ car??” We wanted it, in any case, to decide up our different automobile from the store. A couple of extra politely worded texts later, and we received probably the most ineffective name from a assist agent. All they might say is, the automobile wouldn’t arrive at this time, and they didn’t know why. Nor did they know when it might arrive. But they’d name us again with extra data.

All we received was a textual content later. “Your delivery has been rescheduled.” The new supply day was over a week later. Shortly after, one other e mail confirmed the brand new date with the useful observe, “a change has been made in your order.” I made one more cellphone name and lastly received an evidence. When Carvana went to load up the automobile for transportation wherever it was, the hauling truck was full. So they didn’t ship it. I can perceive a transient delay from that, however not a week. Look across the web, and you’ll find plenty of similar stories. That’s particularly complicated, contemplating the e-mail from simply someday earlier than confirming the automobile was on the best way.

Soon after, Carvana “helpfully” despatched one other textual content suggesting we take the automobile we weren’t getting any time quickly off our insurance coverage. We’d already taken care of that, thanks. After all, it doesn’t make sense to pay for protection on a automobile we don’t have. Then it adopted that with one other textual content about one other delay; now it might be two weeks. And after all, Carvana didn’t clarify the rationale for the most recent delay.

To make issues worse, Carvana provided little greater than a weak apology. We paid $500 further to get the automobile delivered, and all anybody might say was, “this is unfortunate.” Eventually, after threatening to cancel, somebody promised to name us again in 4 hours with a higher resolution. That name by no means occurred. Instead, we received a type e mail the subsequent day explaining that somebody managed to get approval to ship us a $200 test “for our inconvenience.”

To rub salt within the wound, we later received this textual content:

We are actively engaged on getting your Honda CRV-Hybrid to you as quickly as attainable. We don’t anticpate some other delays, however we’ll attain out if any unforseen delays arrive. Most probably, an earlier supply just isn’t attainable, but when the celebrities align and it turns into attainable, we are going to completely get in contact with you. As at all times, please shoot us as textual content with any questions.

That false hope of an early supply actually felt like Carvana was gaslighting us at this level. Remember, simply a day earlier than the primary supply date, Carvana despatched an e mail assuring us the automobile was on the best way and could be delivered as scheduled. We managed to get assist from a relative to decide up our repaired automobile, which opened a world of alternatives.

You Mean I Can Get a New Car For Less?

The same steel-grey Honda CR-V Hybrid from before, at another angle
Josh Hendrickson

When we checked on-line, our native dealership inside spitting distance had a model new Honda CRV-Hybrid obtainable for $1,500 lower than the equal used mannequin Carvana nearly bought us. I really feel like that warrants repeating: the dealership’s new automobile worth was lower than Carvana’s used automobile worth. You higher imagine we dropped every little thing and rushed to the dealership.

Sadly we arrived simply as somebody completed shopping for it. And that was the final one the dealership had. Cars are briefly provide proper now, each new and used. And the automobile we wish is widespread. But in contrast to Carvana, the dealership was prepared to go above and past. We put down a $500 deposit, and it went to work.

First, the dealership tried to commerce one among its vehicles with one other dealership in one other metropolis that had the automobile we needed. Unfortunately, that dealership had simply completed promoting its final Honda CR-V Hybrid too. But the dealership I was working with didn’t quit and organized to promote us one direct from the manufacturing facility.

Along the best way, we received day by day communications from the individual we had been working with to preserve us up to date on progress. To be secure, we waited to cancel our Carvana order simply in case every little thing fell by way of (extra on that in a bit). But in the long run, the dealership secured a recent manufacturing facility model new automobile. We drove away with it on the identical delayed date Carvana lastly settled on. I didn’t really feel the necessity to haggle because the automobile already price lower than a used mannequin, and the dealership had no incentive to budge on worth; they’d promote to the subsequent one who walked within the door. And the dealership additionally didn’t push prolonged warranties and different elective but pointless options closely. One no is all it took.

Even higher, the native dealership will decide up my automobile, drive it to the service heart, do any upkeep like oil adjustments, then convey it again to me—at no further cost. Carvana can’t hope to supply a service like that. What it did do was jerk me round a little extra.

Let’s Cancel That Cancel Button

A website with a cancel button.

I didn’t cancel the Carvana order instantly, as a result of I was afraid the dealership would fall by way of. But one profit to the complete delay is that failing to ship on time mechanically voided the contract I signed with Carvana. Naturally, the corporate had one other set of contracts to signal instantly, however I didn’t.

But it did make me really feel higher that a cancel button appeared after the Carvana supply delay. That appeared to be an automatic course of. Every day we logged in to test the standing of the supply for any adjustments. Every day the cancel button was there—till one morning, it wasn’t.

About two days earlier than the brand new supply date, after we nonetheless hadn’t signed the brand new contracts, Carvana eliminated the cancel button. It was simply gone. By this level, we needed to cancel because the dealership has secured a automobile from the manufacturing facility, and it was on the best way. You can think about my panic when abruptly I couldn’t cancel the order.

The same page, with no cancel button.

Thankfully, I nonetheless had a tab open on one other gadget to take screenshots for this text. That tab hadn’t reloaded, and the cancel button nonetheless confirmed.  So I canceled it. Now you’ll suppose somebody from Carvana would attain out to change our minds, particularly if it spent cash transporting the automobile. You’d suppose Carvana would ship a affirmation e mail that the order is canceled. But none of that occurred. The solely purpose I will be sure that my order actually canceled is that the automobile by no means got here, and it’s again up on the market on the positioning.

In the meantime, my dealership already reached to be sure that every little thing goes nicely with the brand new automobile we bought.


As I close to the age of 40, I can look again at issues and see that the world has modified vastly since I was a child. I’m a journalist, but I work from dwelling, and you gained’t discover my writing printed on lifeless timber. I’ve by no means met my esteemed co-workers in individual, and I order my groceries and a lot of my different purchases on-line. I can rely the years between bodily financial institution visits, and I even file my taxes on-line.

Yet, for all of the developments the web caused up to now few many years, I discover myself confronted with the truth that some issues will seemingly at all times be higher dealt with in individual. I thought that ordering a automobile on-line appeared like a handy reply to a downside. I thought I was higher off by no means stepping foot into a dealership. I thought it might save me cash by avoiding “extra fees” and save me time by avoiding the haggle trouble.

In the top, I would have saved myself a ton of anger, confusion, and inconvenience if I had simply performed issues the old style approach. The dealership went out of its approach to handle me and to discover a automobile. And the ultimate worth out the door after charges got here out to $1,500 lower than Carvana deliberate to cost us. I take into account this a lesson discovered. Sometimes new isn’t at all times higher. Like a new system designed to “change the way people buy cars.” And generally new is healthier, like a model new automobile that price lower than a used one. Going ahead, I’ll attempt to preserve my eye on the distinction.





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