One LaFerrari owner allegedly made an extra million by bribing a Ferrari mechanic to roll his odometer to zero prior to sale.
A lawsuit filed by an ex Ferrari salesman and uncovered by the Daily Mail threatens to cast a dark shadow over Ferrari's reputation as one of the most respected auto brands in the industry. It all centers around a device called the Deis Tester that's allegedly used by Ferrari dealerships around the world with blessings from the Prancing Horse's headquarters in Italy to illegally roll back the odometers on used Ferraris.
This is no home-hatched Ferris Buller plot to put a Ferrari in reverse in hopes of scrubbing a few hundred miles off the odometer. If the accusations turn out to be true, it would be the exposure of a putrid scheme within Modena to reallocate seven-figure sums of money from the pockets of unsuspecting collectors into the bank accounts of Ferrari's dealerships and preferred customers, leeching money off of the value bubble such a pristine name brings with it. For a company as egotistical and exclusionary as Ferrari, this level of pettiness boggles the mind. However, as citizens of more civilized times, let's wait and reserve negative sentiments for a guilty verdict.
The facts of the case have emerged via a lawsuit against Ferrari and Florida-based dealership New Country Motor Cars Of Palm Beach. The lawsuit was filed by Robert Root, a salesman for the Ferrari dealership who has sold hundreds of the Prancing Horse's cars during his 22 year-long career. The lawsuit was filed after Root was fired under the pretense of old age after allegedly discovering that the Dies Tester, a device that a mechanic trained by Ferrari can use to reset the odometer of its cars, was used. Apparently, use of the device sends a signal to Ferrari headquarters, which then has to approve the mileage reset before it can be executed, meaning that this case isn't an instance of a rogue dealership using shady tactics.
Rather, it indicates a systemic case of fraud thats orchestrated and approved by Ferrari. The lawsuit reads, "The Deis Tester, contains a software program for resetting the odometer on a Ferrari to 0. Ferrari and its affiliates train technicians throughout the world on the use of the Deis Tester device." Obviously, this practice is both morally wrong and illegal under federal law. What's more is that, given the exorbitant costs cars like the LaFerrari Aperta command, even slight alterations in mileage can add huge sums of money to the car's value. In the lawsuit, Root explicitly names the retired CEO of food producer Sarah Lee, Steven McMillan, as one Ferrari client who paid a mechanic at the dealership to roll the odometer on his LaFerrari back to zero.
According to the lawsuit, this added a million dollars worth of value to the car. The lawsuit also states that Root mentioned the device to McMillan to warn him about low mileage Ferraris. McMillan allegedly used knowledge of the device's existence to bribe a mechanic to use the device, which required the approval from Ferrari headquarters. When other mechanics noticed an inconsistency with the odometer readings, they raised the concern to general manager Jay Youmans, who later learned that Root had first mentioned the device to McMillan. Root's firing was claimed to be for an 'egregious violation of business ethics,' a charge he earned after supposedly helping McMillan roll back the mileage on his odometer.
Root claims he was only telling McMillan in order to warn him about used Ferraris with abnormally low mileage, not to advertise the service. While the case expands to uncover what Root claims is an elaborate scheme to circumvent state sales taxes for buyers, the important news for enthusiasts to take away is that Ferrari appears to be in on a highly illegal scheme to manipulate the odometers of its cars for the financial gain of its customers and dealerships. This comes at a time where faith in automakers is low following high profile cases such as the Volkswagen's Dieselgate and General Motor's ignition scandal. We'll continue to update you as we learn more about the case.
If it turns out to be true, it would be a huge blow to Ferrari's reputation and a disappointment to the enthusiast community. As Warren Buffet says, "it takes 20 years to build a reputation and only five minutes to ruin it." Let's just hope this turns out to be a story manufactured out of a spat between employee and employer so that Ferrari's reputation doesn't burn down faster than its cars tend to.