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I’ve brokered thousands of car deals and encountered all sorts of reasons why some dealers refuse to email price quotes. A reader recently reached out to me with one of my favorite bullshit excuses, however: dealers who claim emailed prices are illegal.

I got an email from a reader who was pretty frustrated when, while he was shopping online for a car, he encountered this -

“I just can’t get my local dealers to cooperate and send me itemized numbers on a crossover. One dealer told me it was ‘illegal’ to send a price quote on the internet for privacy reasons? Is this true? How should I respond?”

I’ve encountered the legality reason from reluctant dealers a few times and it’s worth unpacking what is going on here.

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First of all, as to how you should respond: You don’t. This dealer is either too stupid to earn your business or, more likely, you are communicating with the dealership’s so-called “internet sales representative.” They typically have no authority to offer a price via email and their one and only job is to get you into the dealership. I bet this particular individual was just following some protocol set forth by his or her manager and probably doesn’t have a clue as to what they are really saying.

That being said, some dealers do some pretty illegal stuff sometimes, but sending a price quote via email is not one of them. It’s especially hilarious when a dealership cites “privacy reasons.” Whose privacy? It’s certainly not the customer as they are on the receiving end of the information. It’s not the dealership. Is it the car? My friend Jason Torchinsky may disagree with me, but as far as I’m aware, cars are not sentient beings with a right to privacy regarding their transaction prices.

As to why dealerships make excuses for not sending quotes, it’s very simple;. they are afraid that if they put their numbers down in writing, you are going to do what you should do as a smart buyer and shop them around. This obviously puts shady dealerships who play games with pricing at a disadvantage against stores that know better.

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If you are car shopping and encounter excuses as to why dealers won’t give you a written price quote, even if it is not as bonkers as this one, keep at it. Spread the net wider to dealers further away, find a store that will give you a deal on your terms. They are out there.