Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
No, it is called holding the guy's car hostage in the belief that he will pay the dealership an astronomical amount for a repair because he had the misfortune to break down many miles from home. Where I come from, it is called an unethical business practice. Let's review. Perhaps I missed something.
1. Car breaks down a long way from home and is towed to dealership.
2. Dealership charges $65 to take a look at said vehicle to diagnose a cracked radiator (which I think in itself is a stupid high amount) and tells him it'll be $900 to put it right.
3. Car owner does a little research, determines that the repair can be accomplished for much less money and decides to take it elsewhere.
4. Dealer won't release the car unless the guy drives two hours to deliver the funds in person.
Assuming I have all of this correct, then the OP has every right to go to war against the dealership, and that includes calling the consumer protection division of the state in question as well Nissan HQ. The government is, most certainly, supposed to protect consumers in cases like this. The issue here is that the dealership is claiming that there is no way that they it send or receive money outside a face-to-face transaction, and so you either take a half-day off of work to hand us a check or credit card or let us rip you off again by overcharging for a repair. That a business in this day and age can only accept money in a face-to-face transaction is utter hogwash. Do you think the dealership would say no to someone who asked to pay for a repair in advance with a credit card over the phone? Of course they would not.
Reporting such unethical practices to the attorney general may not bring immediate satisfaction to the OP, but it can accomplish one other very important thing: It puts others on notice to avoid the company in question. I don't know about the OP's state, but in my state, it is very easy to contact the AG's office and find out how many complaints have been made against any given company and how those complaints were resolved. Now, there are always going to be a few impossible-to-please folks out there who file complaints, but patterns are easy to spot. When my wife and I put windows in our house, checking the AG was one of the precautions we took before selecting a contractor, and it was very instructive. A couple of the bidders had a bazillion complaints. The guy we went with had none, put in a competitive bid and we are very happy with the work.
In sum, if you get screwed by a business, don't just stay bent over, ask for another and assume that's the way things have to be. Fight back. This is, after all, America.
Truth be told, I wasn't overly upset about driving down there.
1. I was so bored at work (other than Styleforum/eBay).
2. I was permitted to take a company vehicle.
3. I was on the clock the whole time.
4. I stopped at 4 thrift stores. I didn't find anything, but how does the saying go. "A bad day thrifting is better than a good day at work"
Still I did feel it was a bit ridiculous, but was too exhausted to fight the system.