Automax Hiring Scam

A month or so ago I was suckered by a new age hiring scam. It’s a funny story…Let me tell ya:

Let me set the scene for you. It was two weeks before the end of April and I was in the process of moving back to Atlanta, Ga from Fayetteville, Nc. My enlistment with the United States Air Force was completed on March 30, 2012 and I opted not to “re-up” [The reasoning behind not re-enlisting is a whole nother bag of cats that I may or may not cover in a post.]. I wasn’t moving because I wanted to leave Fayetteville, I was moving back to Atlanta because I did not have any other viable choice. Hell, I wanted to go wherever I could earn a paycheck. I had begun applying to other jobs the moment I realized my enlistment was about to end. Low and behold one day prior to my departure I found an invitation to an interview in the spam folder of my e-mails [Google truly knows best]. I thought to myself “What the Fuck….” If I hadn’t checked this thing I’d be out of a job right now. I immediately replied and set up my interview time and date. I was interviewed by a middle aged Armenian man by the name of Harout Gapikia. He was a dick to say the least. It didn’t matter though because he offered me a job as a car salesman. I was so happy. I told all of my friends. My “girlfriend” at the time [the girl from Banana] was ecstatic because she was very broken up about me leaving. I was set to start training on the next Wednesday. I scrambled to make contingency living plans. I had already scheduled for my power and water to be shut off at the end of the month. I’d also already wiggled out of my lease. In my mind these were minor problems that could easily be fixed by my new earning potential of $100K/ year.

Day 1 of “Training”

Being that I am a motivated bright young lad I hopped out of bed two hours prior to the scheduled meeting time. I wanted to make sure that everything went perfect since this was my only opportunity at employment. As I was arriving at the dealership I got caught at a light. I looked to my left and who did I see? Harout…driving a rented 2012 Dodge Charger. That didn’t make much sense to me seeing as he worked for a Rick Hendrick’s Toyota.I payed it no mind. As I stepped into the dealership I saw what seemed to be a sea of other new hires. That didn’t make much sense to me either. In all it was about 15 people. I had never seen any establishment hire 15 people at one time. I figured to myself that it was going to be a competitive hiring process. Game on. After about thirty minutes of waiting on Harout and the arrival of an additional seventeen “new hires” we were all lead to a conference room in the dealership. Harout came to the front of the room and started his spill. There was nothing out of the ordinary, cell phones, make sure you write down everything, there will be a test, etc. Shortly after his introduction Harout gave us a “break” of five minutes. I smelled this one coming a mile away. Again, I was in the mindset of “competitive hiring” so I knew he was looking to cut some people right of the bat. We all left and came back. There were two “new hires” that came back after the allotted break time. Harout wouldn’t even open the door for them. He retrieved their things and told them “Good luck on your future endeavors…”. That set the tone for the rest of the day. You could have heard a mouse pissing on cotton in there. He began his spill again and somewhere in there he stated ” You are on Automax time now…don’t waste it”. Bing…another red flag went off in my mind. What the hell was Automax? At this point there were enough red flags for me to be suspicious. Why would Rick Hendrick’s Toyota bring in a hire/fire firm and not give the guy a rental car? Why were there 30 “new hires”? By the time the lunch break came around we were down 3 people. I made a friend by the name of Daniel Wheeler. We chatted about his engagement, his 7 year old daughter and how he was so grateful for this opportunity because his unemployment checks had run out. He also told me that he was giving up another opportunity in Texas to become a truck driver for this job.

The rest of the day was a blur of car salesman training treachery. We were given an “open book” test on what had been taught so far. Harout was basically teaching us how to con people into paying the most for any car. Things like leaving people sitting for long periods of time to make them anxious and/or nervous, and adding tax, tag and title after a negotiated price was agreed upon to hike the final price. It was a mess. At the end of the day I didn’t know how to feel about it all. Something just didn’t sit right with me about the whole thing. I went home, went over my notes and went to sleep.

At about 3 am the next morning I popped up out of my sleep. I laid back down but couldn’t get back to sleep. This whole thing was irking me. I remembered earlier that I’d made a a mental note to Google “Automax” and got up to do so. What I found hurt me dearly.As I was typing in “Automax” the word “scam” auto-populated into my search. I went to the first three websites and read about how numerous people had been duped by the hiring scam. The breakdown of the scam is as follows:

  1. Automax is hired by a shady dealership to hire a few new people at no cost to the dealership.
  2. Automax comes in and advertises locally to hire new salesman.
  3. Automax interviews and “hires” a large group of people.
  4. Automax “trains” this group for three days.
  5. On the last day the jig is up. The dealership takes the ones they like (supposedly). Everyone is  given a “certificate of training”, asked to pay $299 for their “training” and offered employment 50 miles away at other “Automax trained dealerships”.
  6. For those that pay they, are given a time and location in which to meet their new bosses and upon arrival they find out that they were never hired.
  7. The Automax trainer goes back to wherever he came from never to be heard from again in that city.

I was outraged. Here I was bragging to my friends and family about how I was starting a new career as a car salesman and the whole time it had been a scam. I wanted to cry. Luckily, I’d had the mind to not alter any of my plans until I had signed actual hiring paperwork. I spent the rest of the night planning on how I was going to corner Harout the next day in “training” and bust up the scam in front of the class. I didn’t go to bed until about 5 am. Needless to say I woke up late and was unable to make it to the class on time. I was undeterred. I was not only angry for myself, I was angry for Daniel. He was counting on this “job” to support his family and had given up on an actual job offering to be apart of this scam. Ugggghhhh I was livid. I called my best friend Jamaal on the way to the dealership:

Me: Bruh…I am about to go flip some tables over at Rick Hendrick’s Toyota. If you don’t hear from me in the next two hours I need you to come bail me out of jail…

Jamaal: Wait… what?? What happened?

Me: It’s too much to explain right now, I just need you to wait for my call and if it doesn’t come, come bail me out.

Jamaal: Aight…I guess.

Me: Cool *click*

When I arrived at the dealership I could feel my rage building. I hurried up the stairs and rounded the corner to the conference room. I stopped just outside the conference room to take a picture for this article. I made eye contact with Daniel and he looked at me bewildered. The front door was locked so I made my way to the back door. As I was opening the door to go in and fuck some shit up, Daniel popped out of the front door. I approached him and gave him the breakdown of what was going on. He told me that he had figured something was up and had already taken the job in Texas just in case. He said that he had come to the class anyway just to see how it would pan out. I was relieved for him and my rage subsided. I walked back down the stairs and out of the dealership at peace. On my way out I stopped a floor salesman:

Me: Hey, when you were hired here did you go through the Automax training and pay the $299 dollars at the end?

Salesman: Auto-what?

Me: That’s what I thought…thank you.

I called Jamaal back and filled him in on what I had discovered. As I was telling the story I got angry all over again. I was mad at myself now for not going through with my plans and turning over some tables, but figured it was best that I didn’t.


And now I’m in Atlanta, still looking for a job…

© Stephen R. Freshley and wordbending, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this
material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly
prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Stephen
R. Freshley and Word Bending a secret but not so secret blog with appropriate and specific
direction to the original content.

7 thoughts on “Automax Hiring Scam

  1. “You know it’s hard out here for a pimp!” People take advantage of those in need to turn a buck just as those may or may not do who are trying to earn a buck. Cut throat marketing, but I’m sure some people still find a way to scrape up that $300 they could have used on gas, food, & phone bills to spend it on what matters most.
    They say it takes money to make money, they don’t say you have to make money to have it taken. Best of luck on your future endevors, Patnuh. In times like these, the small businessman/entreprenure(sp?) dominate. All they need is a foot in the door. So stay focused and keep stroakin’ them keys with this wordbending. Once you se a crack in the pavement of this rat race, sprout a Redwood tree on them hoes… pause.


  2. I also was somewhat suckered into going to this class…at Route 22 Honda…in NJ. Same exact setup. I thought I was being interviewed by Honda..but ended up being a class…run by Auto Max. Long story short….a few people googled this scam while in class….and we all approached Harout about it and he claimed that “someone” put something on the internet…and it was a lie. WE ALL asked for our applications back…which had our SS numbers and driver’s license numbers on them. He basically was called out on his scam, and watched the entired group of 18 people get up and walk out on him at almost the end of the day. What a total waste of a day that I could have spent looking for work.

    Oh yeah…he wanted $499 for the training. Insane.


  3. I was going to write some big long story about exactly how Automax rips people off, and the fact that it is a scam, but I’m going to keep it simple. My story is exactly the same as every other story you read about Automax.

    Just like everyone else, I responded to what looked to be a real ad for salespeople at Huntington Beach Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram. They are located at 16701 Beach Blvd, Huntington Beach, CA 92647. Their phone number is 866-554-8590. The general manager’s name is Pete Shaver. Figured I should mention the dealership and general manager since they are helping to steal from unemployed folks by hosting events like this. What kind of a general manager, Pete Shaver I guess, would do that?

    I interviewed with a guy named Steve Rzepiela from Automax. He isn’t even an employee of the dealership. I went thru the same stupid interview with a word association game and was then told to show up on Wed, Thurs and Friday for training. What he did tell me was that it was unpaid training. That was the first red flag. I decided to show up and see what he had to say. Three hours of fluff including one hour all about him. Mostly just statistics you can get on the internet and a line or two about selling. It was a joke. As he continued to spew out nonsense that didn’t even come close to training, I decided to start reading a bit on my ipad. What did I find? Page after page of complaints about this company from all over the United States, some even mentioning this guy’s name. See what they don’t tell you is that you will be charged between $300 and $500 bucks for this crap, I mean training. Even if there was any substance to the training he thought he was providing, there is no need to pay for training to sell cars. And why is that (the fee) not one of the first things discussed one day one?

    When I tried to share the info with a few students at the break, I was told by Steve not to “poison:” his class. When did giving accurate facts about someone running a scam to rip people off become poison? My mistake? I didn’t have the courage to stand up in class and alert the rest of the students. I apologize for that. Hopefully the rest of the participants caught on before they paid money that they probably don’t even have. Shame on your Automax and shame on you Pete Shaver.


  4. There is no doubt about it, automax is nothing but a scam. Automax’s online reputation is the worst of any business. In 2005, they strong armed the administrator of “”, someone named “George” to shut down threads about the company, but that was a futile attempt to preserve their reputation. Thankfully, there are other sites like the Ripoff report that never remove reports. It is surprising that Automax continues to exist. They are riddled with complaints everywhere on the internet. The part about the salesman never hearing anything about Automax is absolutely true. You could probably ask 100,000 car salesman and still have none of then that has heard of “Automax”.


  5. This review explains how I was offered a job at this dealership. I also believe it reflects the poor management that I experienced.

    I have been job hunting for awhile now and saw an online job posting for Stephens Honda Hyundai in Bloomington, IN. I couldn’t have been more excited. I applied for the job and quickly received an email requesting to setup an interview with them. I responded to their email by expressing my interest and arrived at the interview. I was given the name of Heather Allred which you can see on Yelp and Facebook she has left a review for this company including 5 stars.

    Upon arriving at the interview, I asked to meet with Heather Allred. The receptionist I first spoke with said,”We don’t have anyone here by that name.” I found this to be very strange. She made a phone call and said she apologized but Heather was waiting for me in the lobby. Once meeting with Heather, she never stated who she works with but had told me she was hired by Stephens to do the hiring and training for the lot and that they were currently hiring a large group. She had continued to speak about the large group throughout the whole interview as if I would be concerned. As quick as the interview started was as quick as Heather had offered me the job. I was told to start on Wednesday at 9:15 AM and Thursday at the same time. I went home to discuss everything with my family. The interview didn’t sit well with me. The reason being: I was upfront about my background in which I stated that I have a past conviction on my record and I am a current felon. After stating this at the very beginning, she immediately overlooked it and never asked any questions. She even stated that it was expunged which is has yet to be.

    I decided to visit Stephens Honda Hyundai’s Facebook page. I had noticed that 7 hours prior from the time I visited the page, Heather had posted the same post that is now on Yelp. I discovered through Facebook that she works for Automax Sales Training. I researched on Google to learn more about Automax. As soon as I entered “Automax” in the search bar, all kinds of tags came up with the word “scam.” At this point, I became more concerned and somewhat heart broken. At the end of this review, I will post a few links I found on Automax.

    The following day, I called Stephens Honda Hyundai and requested to speak with the Sales Manager. I explained my concern about Automax. I had asked if the information I learned about online was true. The response was “What is your name and phone number? And I can’t talk to you about this. I will have Automax call you back.” His response was very unsettling for me. With my background in business, I know that the ability to answer a customer’s question and help them resolve an issue is essential in customer service. About an hour after my phone call with him, Heather texted me back and forth several times within the next few hours. This was our conversation:

    Dustin, this is Heather. Mr Derek just gave me your message. I’ll call you in a few minutes and layout exactly what you need to know.

    Okay thanks Heather.

    You bet. Just shows me you are throrough, detailed oriented, and research savvy. Like car buyers LOL

    Its my curse!

    No sir! It’s good. I have one more interview then a break and I’ll call

    We got swamped earlier ! Is it too late for me to call?
    Hope everyone made it home safely and had good mystery shop!

    Sleep well tonight and remember to dress to impress, sleep well, eat well, etc!!

    I did not respond to her last 2 text messages since she had put me off all day. Also the last message was very strange since I did not show up for orientation at the lot.

    Below are the links for Automax:

    There are many of these reviews! If you have been a part of this scam, please email me at I, as well as many others, believe this to be a scam and hope to put a stop to this.

    Dustin Dyer


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