Last May, Ward Scheindlinger of Summerville traded in his GMC Yukon for a fuel-efficient Toyota Prius hybrid from Gene Reed Toyota.
Gasoline prices were approaching $4 a gallon and Scheindlinger needed something better on gas mileage for his 50-mile round-trip commute to his job at The Citadel.
He said he paid $22,000 and change, plus a $2,500 surcharge, for the Prius because the salesman told him that when he filed his income taxes this year he would receive a large tax deduction that would offset the extra amount the dealership charged for the car.
When he filed his taxes this year, he discovered the deduction was only for the first several thousand of the hybrids sold, "which was done long before I bought my car," he said.
IRS spokeswoman Jodie Reynolds told The Post and Courier that the tax credit on the Toyota Prius expired in September 2007, seven months before Scheindlinger purchased his car.
Scheindlinger called the dealership to complain and was told he would get a call back. He said he never did.
He was misled by the salesman about getting a tax deduction, Scheindlinger said. "I want my money back."
The Post and Courier contacted Gene Reed Toyota about his complaint.
Here is the response from sales manager Alan Dowling:
"At the time of the purchase our dealership was indeed charging a premium for our hybrid inventories due to the availability of the cars. As you can imagine, no one expected gas to reach a $4 premium and most dealerships were ill-prepared with hybrid inventories for the demand, hence the reason for the pricing.
"Our sales people were instructed to explain this to our customers so that there would be no confusion during the buying process. As I am sure you understand, we cannot give any legal or accounting advice to our customers nor should any be taken, but if there was a program available that a customer needed to be aware of we certainly feel obliged to let the customer know that that program was out there.
"No one expected the levels of hybrid sales to have accelerated as they did, manufacturers, dealers and the government alike, which is why I suspect there was a (limited) level on the tax deduction. At no time was any fraud or misrepresentation directed towards Mr. Scheindlinger and I'm sorry he feels that way," Dowling concluded.
"It's typical denial," Scheindlinger said. "They figured I would just go away and never remember."
Scheindlinger said he wants people to know what happened.
The Post and Courier contacted corporate Toyota officials in Torrance, Calif., to see what they thought of the situation. Toyota spokeswoman Kym Strong said Wednesday they are looking into it.