New Vehicle Purchase – Read The Fine Print


Buying a new vehicle is one of those happy / sad events, like your 50th birthday, you’re happy to have a birthday, but sad because dammit, you’re 50 !! I dunno if that is actually an accurate analogy for car buying, but it sorta sums up how it feels to me.

On the one hand, you have this happy feeling of getting a new car, on the other hand you have this nagging feeling that you just got ripped off dramatically. By the time the sales rep and the business manager get done with you, you’re shaking hands with the dealership staff, right down to the receptionist, mechanic staff and the janitor and agreeing to just about anything they want…all you want to do is get out of there, drive away in your new car, luxuriating in the delicious aroma of corinthian leather, vinyl and rubber compounds so intoxicating you cannot stop sniffing. Your wife starts to wonder if maybe you have developed a habit….and starts looking at your nose…but I am digressing…..

So let’s get back to my post shall we? Ya know it really disappoints me to see large companies do things that are not always “in the best interests” of their potential customers. I am talking about the advertising commonly used in many vehicle advertisements.

I was recently reading a newspaper when I came across a full page new car advertising advertisment showing a 4X4 truck and a price. The price wasn’t out of line for the vehicle, infact, it seemed to be in line with other advertisements for similar vehicles, pricey, but not a bad deal.

Well in my experience, good deals and new vehicles are not something that happens very often. You know the adage, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…no…wrong adage, if it seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is…that’s it. So I decided to do something I don’t do enough of, and that is, read the fine print.

Smart consumers read the fine print…...

So armed with my Dad’s magnifying glass in hand, I turned the paper on end, and carefully read the copious amounts of fine print, information about financing, warranties, etc, but what really caught my eye was somewhere close to the end of the fine print, and it was the line that essentially said, the price quoted in the advertisement was not for the particular vehicle pictured.

So….what they had done was show a picture of a vehicle and a price below it in a big font, however, that price was not actually related to the vehicle pictured although at first, second and third glance it looked that way. So what the heck did the price quoted have to do with anything? It was for another model of the same vehicle.


But is it wrong?Did they, the manufacturer, the dealer or their advertising agency do anything wrong? Well not really, not in the strictest sense of the word, because it is in the advertisement, in the fine print, that the vehicle pictured is not the vehicle you can buy for the price shown. So arguably, it’s not misleading the consumer, not if you read the fine print, you know what they are showing you is not the vehicle you can buy. Honest? I suppose, they haven’t lied. Unscrupulous? Now we’re getting warmer.

I find this disappointing to say the least. It is disappointing to learn that a large company would stoop to misleading advertisements. But it’s probably legal because they have the statement/disclaimer in the fine print that, let’s face it, most of the time we don’t read. Do you?

Obviously you would find out when you got to the dealer and they aren’t able to sell you the particular vehicle shown in the ad for the price quoted, because the two are not related.

Complain to the dealer and they will likely say, “Oh yes, isn’t that terrible, that’s our national advertising for ya, we don’t have anything to do with that.” or “Yes, well it tells you in the fine print that that isn’t the price for that particular model.” You’ll like accept that, because the vehicle is probably not that much different than the one shown in the picture, and by now you are in the dealership, a miraculous place, full of shiny new cars and trucks outfitted with all the latest options, nice tires with sexy looking tread, satellite radios and air bags galore. You feel safe….almost as if you are surrounded by nice big cushiony airbags, ready to make you happy.

Before you know it, you’re cruising down the street in the proverbial ‘test drive’ waving to your friends, wiggling your back against the bucket seat electric back scratcher….and if it doesn’t have an electric back scratcher, it doesn’t matter, the sales rep is scratching your back.

But it’s little things like that that piss me off I guess, Not the back scratching, the other stuff that makes buying a new vehicle a much less than pleasurable feeling even if the service dept manager gives you a foot rub while you wait for the oil change.

These are tactics of unscrupulous companies, they shouldn’t be tactics you would expect from large automotive companies. And some of these companies have gotten large influxes of government money to keep them going….but that is another story.

How long would an ice cream company stay in business if they showed a triple scoop ice cream on their advertisements for $1.39 then, when you went to buy one they show you the fine print that says the picture of the triple scoop ice cream is not related to the price shown. The $1.39 is for one scoop of ice cream…..

This isn’t new.But automobile sellers have been pulling this stuff for years. I remember one time going to a local dealership with a newspaper ad in hand, wanting to buy a vehicle shown in the ad. The sales rep quickly told me that particular model of vehicle was only available in the United States. Why they were advertising it in a local Canadian newspaper defied logic, except it sucked me into going to the dealership. I haven’t returned to that dealer since.

Personally I would like to see vehicle dealers required to advertise a vehicle and the real price for the vehicle, not some suggested price, not some generic price, not some price less manufacturer’s rebates, discounts for students etc, put the damm price on the car that is the price of the car, that particular car.

Never mind giving us the line about wholesale price versus retail price, never mind telling us about the extra price for the optional moonroof, tires, door handles, chrome accessories, tool box or cup holder, never mind saying that prices may vary by dealership, region or whatever.

Say what the price is…up front. That’s the price. If you want to haggle, it will be about the value of your trade-in vehicle, period.

Large retail stores don’t put one price in their flyer and another on their product, nor do they advertise one thing and show you another when you get there, referring complainers back to the flyer to read the fine print.

Car Stores
I’ve noticed a subtle trend in the car business of late, where they like to refer to themselves as car “stores” or “retail” outlets as opposed to what I don’t know, but I don’t see how they can be if they continue to haggle and jerk us around with pricing. It’s the reason you buy a vehicle for one price, only to learn that your neighbor bought the same car for less money. Tell me that doesn’t hurt.

The thing is, I wonder if a vehicle manufacturer or dealer will try to manipulate me, the consumer from the get-go with their advertisements, how much more manipulation will I face at the hands of the dealer when I visit the showroom with car buying on my mind?

Of course these are sales techniques, that’s the best way I can explain it, sales techniques of the car sales business. Get the consumer in to the dealership, then it’s just a matter of guiding him or her gently to the vehicle that you are really selling and the price of it etc. By the time we smell the rich corinthian leather, and get our butts warmed and tickled by electric heated seats, we are hooked….and they know it, regardless of the price…..

By the way, did you check out the link for corinthian leather, Turns out, there really is no such thing, it’s just something an advertising agency dreamed up to sell Chrysler’s back in the 1970’s……

© 2011 – 2012, Rob Dares. All rights reserved. Cottager Online/The Cottage Chronicles / Rob Dares material is copyrighted, please contact me if you wish to inquire about reposting etc All prices quoted for products are subject to change, customer is responsible to confirm price with seller.

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