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When The Dealer Forces You To Buy Add-Ons

Illustration for article titled When The Dealer Forces You To Buy Add-Ons

I got an email from a gentleman who had a dealer try to jam some stuff down his throat while buying a new car. I had a dealer do the same thing to me, and it might have happened to you too. Let’s discuss these dealer “add-ons.”


Adam sent me a note about how he shopped for a new car and found a dealer that advertised “No Haggle” pricing. What you see is what you get! So when he sat down to reduce the deal to paper, the salesman tried to shuffle a price past them that was the sticker plus $2,000 for an “appearance package.” Huh?

Turns out, the dealer slaps this “package” on every vehicle on the lot. Mudflaps, pinstripes and heavy duty floor mats (you know: They’re turbo!) When Adam asked why he was being charged for this, he was told that the package was already installed and not negotiable. Take it or leave it. How’s that for “No Haggle”?


This reminded me of the Impala I leased a few years ago. (See top pic.) Long story but I got an employee discount and went to the dealer closest to my house. Picked one out and sat down for paperwork. PREPRINTED on the Purchase Order was “Pinstripes - $75.” That was tacked onto the price. I asked if I could get one without pinstripes.

“No. They’re all pinstriped.”

“Can I get one of the next batch that comes in, before it is pinstriped?

“No, we pinstripe them on the truck.”

I’ve been accused of saying bad things about car sellers and, I admit, sometimes I do speak ill of them. And this is one of the reasons why. As I looked across this man’s desk, he and I both knew he was lying. LYING. L-Y-I-N-G.

But it boiled down to this: Did I want to get up and walk out and go to the next closest Chevy dealer to get the same car without the pinstripes, just to save $75? The second-nearest dealer was a hike from this one. And he very well may have tried something similar since this is a common scam in the industry.

Illustration for article titled When The Dealer Forces You To Buy Add-Ons

The bright yellow arrow denotes the $75 stripe I ended up with when I decided to lease from them rather than go somewhere else. I assure you I never did business with that dealer again and never will (other than the numerous times I have sued them on behalf of clients).

As for Adam, he haggled with the dealer - despite its “No haggle” promise - and got them to reduce the price of the “package.” Of course, they yanked out his heavy duty floor mats and mud flaps. How will he drive without them? THINK OF THE CHILDREN!


Why do dealers do stuff like this? Shortsightedness. Yes, the dealer got $75 from me. Approximately $74.99 of that was pure profit. But they lost a customer for life. And how many people have I told this story to? Too many to count. Was that worth the $74.99? I don’t think so. Just ask the salesman I bought my THREE (3) Explorers from. He, obviously, does not work at the House of Pinstripes.

But I’m sure the pinstripe salesman is at the dealer today, sitting at his little metal desk, telling someone “All the cars are pinstriped,” and “No, there is nothing we can do about that.” It’s a customer he will never see again but - Hey, he’ll snag them for $75!


Follow me on Twitter: @stevelehto

Hear my podcast on iTunes: Lehto’s Law

Steve Lehto has been practicing law for 23 years, almost exclusively in consumer protection and Michigan lemon law. He wrote The Lemon Law Bible and Chrysler’s Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit’s Coolest Creation.


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Last car I purchased I told them if they were going to put their brand on it they were going to pay me to advertise. They did not put their brand on it.