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Monday, November 07, 2016

Quick Reference Guide to Fine Print in Car Ads



If you look down at the bottom of virtually every car advertisement online, TV, or newspaper, you will see some fine print. Most often,  you literally cannot read the print because it is so small and, on TV, displayed for 1 or 2 seconds. The disclaimers you read below were taken from a South Florida newspaper. I didn’t make any of these up. Basically what these disclaimers do is to totally negate the validity of all of the prices and payments the car dealers are advertising. The prices and payments are always much higher when you factor in the almost invisible fine print.

Combining a very short lease term with a high down payment. Nothing sells cars like low monthly payments. A car dealer can make a monthly lease payment as low as he wants by decreasing the number of months of the lease and increasing the down payment. I’m looking at an ad in the newspaper right now advertising an SUV for $19,999 or just $199 per month. In the fine print it says 27-month lease and $3,000 down plus a $799 dealer fee.


"Plus dealer installed options" The price you see advertised is not the full price. This loophole allows the dealer to tack on thousands of dollars in overpriced accessories to the price that was advertised. Dealers often charge well over one thousand dollars for floor mats, paint sealant, pin stripes, nitrogen in tires, emergency road service, and flimsy plastic door edge guards.


"Advertised offer good on select in-stock vehicles only" Dealers often advertise just one car at a price below their cost. They don’t pay the salesman a commission if he sells that vehicle. The chances of that car being available for you to buy are “slim and none”. Even if the car was still there, the salesman would do everything in his power to sell you a different car that he could earn a commission on.


"Impossible Rebates to Qualify for".  “Owner Loyalty”. Manufacturers offer special cash rebates to current owners of their make of car. These rebates are not available to you if you don’t currently own that particular make of car. Other exclusionary rebates are “College Graduate rebates” and “Military rebates”. These are great for recent college graduates and service men and women, but do not apply to the majority of consumers. It is also very common to see dealers combine all three:  loyalty, college graduate and military rebates, making it virtually impossible for any consumer to take advantage of.


"Price …plus, tax, tag, and fees". The red flag word here is “fees”. The fees these dealers refer to are “dealer fees” which are synonymous for DEALER PROFIT. Most people believe they are federal or state taxes of some kind. They are  nothing more than more money for the dealer that is not disclosed in the advertised and quoted  price of the car. These “fees” go by many different names…electronic filing fee, tag agency fee, doc fee, notary fee, dealer service fee, administrative fee, etc. The only legitimate fees that can be added to the advertised price are GOVERNMENT FEES…fees paid to the state for sales tax and license registration.


"Offers expire date of publication or may be cancelled at any time without notice". This simply means that the prices, payments, etc. you have read have no validity whatsoever. The prices are not good tomorrow, but they aren’t even any good today because the dealer can cancel the offer without notice.


"Not responsible for typographical errors". This is just one more way for a dealer to explain why they can’t sell you the car for the advertised price…We don’t have to honor that price because it was a “typographical error”.


"Vehicle Art for illustrations only". This means that that car you are looking at with the really great looking wheels might not have those wheels on the one you buy. Or, maybe it doesn’t even have those alloy wheels you see in the picture.


"Minimum Trade Based on Dealer List Price". The DEALER list price is not the same thing as the MANUFACTURER’S suggested price. Dealers add markups to the Monroney label also known as MSRP or manufacturer’s suggested retail price. They label this markup (often on a sticker designed to imitate the official federal Monroney label). Dealer markups of $3,000 and much more are common on such “counterfeit Monroney” labels. The dealer can mark up the price on the Monroney label by $10,000 enabling him to allow you an extra $10,000 for your trade in and still sell you the car for no discount from sticker price.


“$4,000 Trade Equity Required” This is another deceptive way to advertise a super low car payment. How many of us have $4,000 in equity in our trades? Certainly not the majority of consumers!

My advice to you is to ignore all car dealers’ newspaper advertising. Most car ads are designed to “get you in the door” so that they can sell you some other car than the one advertised so that they can make more money. If you must respond to a dealer’s advertisement, be sure you break out your magnifying glass and carefully read the fine print.

My advice
to you is to ignore all car dealers’ newspaper advertising. Most car ads are designed to “get you in the door” so that they can sell you some other car than the one advertised so that they can make more money. If you must respond to a dealer’s advertisement, be sure you break out your magnifying glass and carefully read the fine print. My advice to you is to ignore all car dealers’ newspaper advertising. Most car ads are designed to “get you in the door” so that they can sell you some other car than the one advertised so that they can make more money. If you must respond to a dealer’s advertisement, be sure you break out your magnifying glass and carefully read the fine print.

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