Currently, dealers can get away with more absurd than ever. If you don’t like their antics, chances are there’s another jerk desperate enough to pay the exorbitant price. A recent buying experience with a dealer in Florida illustrates how crazy the market has gone.
I’ve already explained that buyers should focus on the best overall value they can find, rather than a discount, because used cars don’t have the profit margins of new cars. Even with the competition between listings on third party websites like Autotrader, Cars.com, CarGurus, etc… an alarming trend is that dealers will try to “play” with this online pricing system and list a competitive number only to catch it later with extra charge.
My team was looking for a used GTI when we came across a listing that looked promising.
We contacted to confirm availability and after a few back and forths insisting we come for a test drive, even though we told the sales rep we weren’t in the area, they sent a quote –
On the one hand, they offered a lower “sale price” than advertised, which is impressive in this market. However, any savings were quickly wiped out by the numerous item costs. I wasn’t even angry. I was a little impressed with the nerve of this dealer to add what seems to be almost every false charge in the book to bump an advertised price from just under $22,000 to an out the door price of nearly of $28,000!
Let’s dig deeper into the charges. The top prize is $1995 for the Xzilion Silver tier, which is basically just a “guarantee” for cosmetics like your paint and interior parts. I guess it’s a good thing they didn’t quote the “Gold” level. Next are door edge guards at $199. According to VWParts.com, these prices are around $65. “Shadow Mark” for $399 which is basically a “VIN etching” to aid in theft recovery. If theft recovery is a concern, DIY kits range from $25 to $45. Nitrogen tire inflation for $199. 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 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” which would cost nearly $900, but there you go. The rest of the fees can be a little inflated but could be tolerable if it weren’t for all the extra nonsense.
Ironically, this is the same group of Florida dealerships whose Hyundai store insisted on “establish a relationship” before they are able to send out any kind of quotes. This is an unfortunate reminder of the market buyers are in and why it’s essential to get a full quote before comparing your offers.
(Update 02/17/2022 I received a phone call from the VW store sales manager who wanted to clarify that this is not a quote but rather a “menu” as he called it and that with the exception of all charges below taxes, additional items were “optional”. He insisted it’s their way of being upfront and honest with the consumer about what’s on offer..)
(Tom McParland is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He makes buying or leasing a car simple. Have a car buying question? Send it to [email protected] )