A car dealership, or any business, is entitled to charge any price for their product they want. This is what the free enterprise system is all about. Prices by the sellers should be decided by what the buyers are willing to pay. All too often, manufacturers endeavor to influence or even control the retail price of their sellers. Sellers that are monopolies or near monopolies like Florida Power & Light and Comcast can also defeat the free enterprise system too. However, the most common threat to the consumers’ right to choose the best price is deceptive advertising by the retailers.
Car dealers lead the charge in the category of deceptive advertising. This is not “just a few car” dealers as their manufacturers and dealer associations want you to believe, but is sadly true for the majority of car dealers. If you doubt I’m right about this, just click on http://www.gallup.com/poll/1654/honesty-ethics-professions.aspx. This is the Gallup annual poll on Honesty and Ethics in Professions. This poll has been conducted for over thirty years and car dealers have been ranked at or near last for every year, including last year.
There is only one surefire way to get an honest and low price from a car dealer. This is by COMPETITIVE SHOPPING. This sounds simple but it’s not. Car dealers will do everything they can to prevent you from comparing their price. Their advertised prices are almost always lower than the actual price. When you ask for a price by phone, email, or in person, they will usually refuse to give you a firm price unless you commit to buy “today”.
You must insist that they give you their best price. I have a recommended “word track” for you that almost always work. “I know you don’t want to give me your best, out-the-door price because you don’t want me to shop your price with your competition. This is understandable. But also please understand that if you refuse to give me your best price, you have ZERO chance of selling me a car. This is because I will leave your dealership and never return. It’s true that, if you give me your best price, I will shop it with your competition and you will have less of a chance to sell me a car. But less of a chance is far better than ‘no chance’. The decision is yours.”
Follow this procedure with three car dealers and be sure to compare the exact same year-make-model with identical accessories. This car will have the identical MSRP on the factory sticker at each dealership you shop. Be forewarned that the car dealers will do everything they can to SWITCH you to a different car. You must remain firm on the exact car you originally chose. You must compare “apples and apples”; otherwise you will be tricked into paying the dealer more profit.
There’s a simple way to communicate to the dealer what you mean by an out-the-door price. Tell him that in addition to the quoted price you will pay extra only for GOVERNMENT fees. These are fees that do not go in the dealer’s pocket but go directly to the state or local government. These are simply sales tax and the actual cost of the license tag and registration. Dealers try to confuse you by adding extra charges, often with the word “fee” included in the same. Examples are dealer fee, doc fee, notary fee, electronic (or “e”) filing fee, tag agency fee, service fee, administration fee, billing and handling fee, and on and on.
If the car dealer tells you that he must charge these fees, explain that if he insists on charging them, you want them included in your out-the-door price. These charges are not really fees, but they are added profit to the dealer or reimbursement to the dealer for non-government expenses (the exact same thing as added profit) that should be included in the price of the car.
The second big trick most car dealers use is DEALER INSTALLED accessories. These cheap, over-priced accessories like (nitrogen in the tires or paint protections) are always excluded from the advertised price and even the verbally quoted price. Sometimes the dealers will tell you that you must buy their installed accessories because they are pre-installed on all of their cars. Tell them that anything they must include in their price you want to know upfront so that you can shop and compare their best price with their competition.Once you’ve chosen the lowest out-the-door price by shopping at least three car dealerships, be sure to keep the transactions for your trade-in and financing separate from the car purchase. You do this by shopping the value of your trade-in with at least 3 used car lots from dealerships that sell your make car. You shop your financing by checking with your bank and/or credit union. As a final check on the best price of your car click on www.TrueCar.com. At no cost, they will provide you with the lowest price from three dealers in your market for the car of your choice