Buying a new car can be a stressful event. You could spend a lot of money, and if something goes wrong, you could be stuck with a bad deal. You also shouldn’t be paying more for unnecessary features or fees you don’t know about.
The process can come across as fairly simple: you look for a car online, enquire about the details and proceed to make a deal. The price you negotiate is the price you pay, right? Well, it seems that some dealers are hiding additional costs in the fine print.
You must look very carefully at the text at the bottom of the paperwork. Otherwise, you’ll miss the sneaky method dealerships are using to fleece you out of an extra $2,000. Here’s how it works and what to look out for.
Here’s the backstory
Many users check online sales pages to find cars or see what is available in their area. Finding a good price on a vehicle that you love can send your heart into a flutter. The price might even be lower than your budgeted amount.
But unless you pay careful attention to the fine print, you’ll miss a very sneaky line. “Internet Price is reflective after 1995 down payment.” What’s the deal with that? Well, it means the listing price on the website isn’t the real price you are going to pay. Only after you have paid $1,995 will you get the listed price.
“This isn’t a typical tactic, and most online dealer prices I saw matched their asking prices. In some cases, they were declared to be ‘Internet prices,’ and the dealer asked that you print out the listing to get the price, but that was it. However, I found two dealers that tack on the $2K: Empire Honda of Manhasset, NY and Motorhub, Inc. of Inwood, NY,” explained PCMag.
What you can do about it
As with all contracts and online terms and conditions, the smart thing to do is to read through the full text. Make sure that you understand exactly what is being offered and what is expected of you.
The extra $1,995 could be hard to spot as the additional charge amount doesn’t have a dollar sign in front of it or a comma to denote a dollar amount.
“On Motorhub, Inc., I found no notification of the price being reflective after a down payment anywhere on its shopping site listings. The warning isn’t even in the text of the car listings on its own site. Instead, it’s hidden near the bottom of the page as part of the site disclaimer,” journalist Will Greenwald wrote.
What to look out for when buying a car
There are several other tricks that dealers can pull on unsuspecting buyers. You must make sure that the Total Cash Price is the same on the contract as negotiated or written on advertising.
While not hiding it at the bottom, some dealers can “pack the contract” with additional items, services or warranties that you didn’t agree to. Common add-ons are rustproofing or protection packages.
The Public Counsel also points out that some dealerships will try to force you into buying additional options or accessories to qualify for a special price. “This is not an accepted business practice and may be illegal. If you hear this pitch, leave the dealership right away,” it advises.