Right now, dealers can get away with even more nonsense than ever before. If you don’t like their antics, chances are there is another sucker desperate enough to pay the outrageous price. A recent shopping experience with a Florida dealer illustrates just how bonkers the market has become.
I’ve discussed before that buyers should focus on the best overall value they can find, rather than a discount, since used cars don’t have the profit margins that new cars do. Even with competition among listings on third-party websites like Autotrader, Cars.com, CarGurus, etc…an alarming trend is dealers that will try to “game” that online pricing system and list a competitive number only to make up for it later with some additional charges.
My team was shopping for a used GTI when we came across a listing that looked promising.
We reached out to confirm availability and after some back and forth insisting that we come in for a test drive, even though we told the sales rep that we were not in the area they sent a quote -
On the one hand, they offered a “sale price” that is lower than the ad which is impressive in this market. However, any savings were quickly erased by the numerous line item charges. I wasn’t even mad. I was kind of impressed at the gall of this dealer to add what seems to be almost every bogus charge in the book to jack up an advertised price of just under $22,000 to an out-the-door price of almost $28,000!
Let’s take a deeper dive into the charges. First up is $1995 for the Xzilion Silver Level which is basically just a “warranty” for cosmetic stuff like your paint and interior pieces. I guess it’s a good thing they didn’t quote the “Gold” level. Next are the door edge guards at $199. According to VWParts.com these retail for about $65. “Shadow Mark” for $399 which is basically a “VIN Etching” to help with theft recovery. If theft recovery is a concern DIY kits range from $25-$45. Nitrogen Tire Inflation for $199. The next time a dealer tries to charge you for this ask them to send a picture of their Nitrogen fill tank, most of the time they “can’t find it.”
After the taxes, we have a “Pre Delivery Service Charge” of $899. It’s still a mystery as to what they did to the car before “delivery” that would cost almost $900 but there you go. The rest of the fees may be a bit inflated but could be tolerable if it wasn’t for all the extra nonsense.
Ironically enough this is the same Florida dealer group whose Hyundai store insisted on “establishing a relationship” before they are able to send any kind of quote. This is an unfortunate reminder of the market buyers find themselves in and why it’s critical to get a complete out-the-door quote before comparing your deals.
(Update 2/17/2022 I got a phone call from the sales director of the VW store that wanted to make clear that this is not a quote but rather a “menu” as he called it and that with the exception of all the fees below the taxes, the add-on items were “optional.” He insisted that this is their way of being upfront and honest with the consumer about what is being offered.)
(Tom McParland is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. Got a car buying question? Send it to Tom@AutomatchConsulting.com)