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A car dealer not honoring internet price, is a very common phenomenon. Today I am talking about it.
Ever hear of it?
Yeah, me too.
Even as a professional car buying concierge and a professional negotiator, I’m not sure why, but I still ask the question “So, are you saying that you are not honoring the internet price?”
The question remains. Does a car dealership have to honor an online price?
Most of the time, there is specific small print language within their ads that explains what is missing from the online price. And there is definitely small print on their website explaining the price.
The dealership website states that the price includes all applicable rebates; we cannot qualify for all of the rebates.
I’ve actually never seen it happen where someone qualifies for every rebate offered. They are never easily combined. So, even calling it a lowest “possible” price seems unrealistic. It’s actually not possible.
There are also some other requirements you must meet including selling a trade-in.
And of course, most consumers should know by now that tax, title and registration are not included in the online price.
What are administration fees? They are hard to define. Those fees are often referred to as doc fees or documentation fees. Regardless of what it is called (they vary from dealership to dealership), it’s simply a profit center for the dealership.
I see this all the time.
Just like you, I use car search sites like Car Gurus, Auto Trader, Cars.com and search for the vehicles.
I enter the make, model, trim, color, miles and any other feature needed.
Then the trouble comes. You sort it by price.
Herein lies the problem.
The dealerships will set the price they want to SHOW you. This is not necessarily the price they are willing to sell the vehicle for.
They simply understand the way consumers are searching and/or sorting. By PRICE.
The price they SHOW you is not the entire picture.
Then, the car research website may even state the vehicle you’ve found (at the top of the list) is a great deal.
Well… maybe, or maybe not.
Chances are, the great deal advertised (much lower than everyone else) may not be giving you the entire picture.
Now look at this online offer.
This quote, from a large online lead generation tool for dealerships (and your car research site), shows that this is a great deal.
The offer is $405 dollars below the average list price.
The keyword in that sentence is list price.
What is the $2,985 in dealer fees and accessories?
That eats up the $405 dollars quick, right?
It also wasn’t quite easy for me to find the breakdown of these additional fees.
You have to know where to look to find it.
You have to actually reach out to the dealership in a lot of cases. Some dealerships do not disclose these fees anywhere online. If they do, they are rarely out in the open. Therefore, you’ll need to scroll down, open another window or find the smaller print.
The average consumer only sees the price of $14,840 for the car and thinks it is a great deal.
They spend their time visiting the dealership and fall in love with the car. When the numbers are presented, the focus is set on the payment not revealing the actual cost of the car.
Consumers who spend hours at the dealership, accept the fact of the car dealer not honoring internet price. They accept it because they don’t want to go through the whole ordeal again somewhere else.
The dealer charged more than the advertised price. Simple as that.
A car dealer not honoring internet price should, in this day and age, be nothing new. In fact, the point of this post is to inform you what to look for when you’re doing your car research online.
The dealerships use the internet for one thing, to find a way to get you into the dealership.
You’re doing your research, so be aware, it’s highly unlikely a dealership will honor that internet price you see. Assume some added costs especially tax, title, tags. You also need to call them to get a real breakdown of the deal, any dealer add on’s and preferably get it in writing before you even visit.
I rarely recommend negotiating at the dealership.
Good luck out there. Tell us in the comments if you find a dealership that honors the actual online price, we’d love to know so we can work with them!
There is big difference between a traditional auto broker and independent car buying concierge services, like YCBA, for example.
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