Monday, February 13, 2017

BUY YOUR NEXT CAR THROUGH COSTCO

There are lots of third-party new car buying programs out there but the Costco auto-buying program will give you the lowest price and the best protection from car dealers’ efforts to increase the price by dealer fees and dealer-installed options.

My second choice is TrueCar, www.TrueCar.com. My first choice used to be TrueCar, but several auto manufacturers including Toyota and Honda, have recently began requiring their dealers to increase the MINIMUM ADVERTISED PRICE for all the cars they advertise and sell. These manufacturers consider TrueCar dealers that share their best price with TrueCar, to be “advertising” their price. Thus you will no longer find a TrueCar dealer’s lowest price displayed on the TrueCar website. In my opinion, this is a bad thing for the car buyer because it has the net effect of raising the price you pay for your new car.

Unfortunately, Costco requires an annual membership fee, but this fee is nominal, $55, in comparison to the large savings you realize from buying, not only cars, but all of their products. I’ve been a member of Costco for over 20 years and I can promise you that you will save thousands of dollars a year by shopping there. There’s another problem with buying from Costco and that is there may not be a location near you. My answer to that is that you can still buy from them online, www.Costco.com and, if even if you have to drive 20 or 30 miles, you’ll find out that the savings justify your time and gas expense.

The only real problems with the Costco Auto Buying program are not from Costco, but from their car dealers. You probably have had bad experiences buying or leasing cars from car dealers and this is why you’re reading this article. You’re not alone, the Gallup Organization has been conducting an annual opinion poll on Honest and Ethics in Professions for the past 36 years. Last year (2016) car dealers ranked next to last, just above Congressmen. Car dealers have been at the bottom or near the bottom of this list for every one of the past 36 annual surveys. Even though Costco selected their car dealers in good faith and required them to sign a contract obligating them to give you their best price (the price must be lower than the price they sell to anybody else except a Costco member), does not mean that you will get that price UNLESS YOU FOLLOW THESE THREE IMPORTANT RULES.

COSTCO AUTO BUYING RULE ONE. Visit the Costco Auto Program website, www.CostcoAuto.com. You’ll be asked to input your Costco membership card number and other information pertaining to the make and model of car you wish to purchase. From your zip code, you will be advised of the Costco approved car dealer nearest you.

COSTCO AUTO BUYING RULE TWO. You will also be advised of the names of the Costco approved sales representatives at the dealership. It is imperative that you speak to no other sales person other than those named on this list. You should print out the information sheet which includes the names of those Costco sales people that are approved and bring this to the dealership when you visit.

COSTCO AUTO BUYING RULE THREE. When you arrive at the dealership and are sure you’re dealing with the official Costco approved sales person, insist on her showing you the Costco Member-Only Price Sheet which shows your exclusive prearranged Costco member savings. Remember that you are entitled to applicable manufacturer rebates and incentives or special financing. You should also ask to see the manufacturer’s invoice and MSRP for the vehicle you selected so you can see how much you saved as a Costco member.

Remember that Costco rules do not allow their approved dealers to add anything to the Costco Member-Only Price except GOVERNMENT FEES…namely sales tax and the actual cost of the rag and registration paid to the state of Florida. If a Costco dealer tries to add anything else, do not buy the car and report them to Costco. Be especially wary of dealer or port installed accessories like nitrogen in tires, LoJack, protection packages like Toyoguard, floor mats, pin stripes, etc. Also, pay no dealer fees which often carry different names like electronic filing fee, tag agency fee, dealer prep fee, doc fee, notary fee, etc.

If the Costco dealer attempts any of these shenanigans, report him to Costco immediately. If the dealer refuses to make things right, Costco will cancel him as an approved dealership.

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