Monday, October 4, 2010

Warning: Always read the fine print ...

Recently, I've been considering whether or not to buy a new car. I've been doing research, looking at cars, checking out flyers, and seeing what's out there. The usual.
Last week though, I came across an interesting trick presented by two Kia dealerships, AutoServ in Concord and Bonneville in Manch. Both dealers have advertised pretty low prices for cars in the Hippo (Bonneville had a display ad; AutoServ a multi-page circular). The AutoServ flyer had an asterisk next to the "buy for" price. When you look up the disclaimer, it says that all "buy for" prices on new vehicles include a "20% of MSRP" down payment. On the used vehicles, it's $3,000. So, the "buy for" price isn't really a "buy for" price at all. It's "buy for" plus thousands more.
This is so close to bait and switch it isn't even funny. Imagine the surprise of someone going into the dealership to look at a 2010 Dodge Challenger for $14K only to find out that it is $17K or more! But, it's not really "bait and switch" - because, yes, there is a very small asterisk and yes, there is very small fine print telling potential shoppers that they will actually be paying more than the BIG NUMBER price listed in the circular.
The Bonneville ad also has a disclaimer, noting that all lease and purchase prices include a $2,999 down payment. So, that 2010 Kia Optima isn't really $11,900 ... it's $14,899.
There really ought to be a law against these kinds of tricks. Since there isn't, consumers, as I have said before, should just ignore the tricks that are out there in flyers and television commercials. Simply decide on the vehicle you want, go to and look up the invoice price, and ask the dealer to get as close to that as possible. With so many car choices out there, it can be a little hard making a decision. But a little protection from the tricks can take you a lot way.

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