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Old 04-02-2010, 04:34 PM
 
55 posts, read 134,353 times
Reputation: 32
Default car dealership - theft protection fee (or fraud)

I have been shopping for a car recently. I visited several dealers, checked a number of cars and moved to the negotiation step.

The salesman came with a $600 theft protection package on top of the advertised price. If you search the Internet, you can see how little (less than 30-40 dollars) the window etching actually costs to dealers and practically, that package is useless, just another way to rip off customers... My insurance already covers theft.

Anyway, the dealership insisted that the car cannot be sold without the theft protection, the window was etched already etc etc... I said I didn't want the package. I asked for discount since I was offering cash, but no reduction. At the end, they refused to sell and I walked off. I assume this is common in most dealers.

This sounds ridicioulous to me, how can they put the etching without asking the customer first. The fee is a scam. I read that some dealers in California was charged for this practice. Is there anything to prevent this act in Texas? Either the advertised price should include all the fees or it should be optional, cannot be forced to the customer without asking.

I am sorry for the people who have to buy cars from the dealers. It is sad that the regulations are so vague and the customers suffer almost all the time.
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Old 04-02-2010, 05:09 PM
 
Location: Georgia native in McKinney, TX
4,746 posts, read 5,033,882 times
Reputation: 2883
Can't speak for all, but my dealership offers the window etching for about one fourth of that as a package when someone goes to the finance office. Some insurance companies do offer reduced rates for a car that has been etched and will usually recoup the cost of the dealer's charge over the span of most purchase terms.

$600 is definitely excessive. Our reduced price ($169 I think?) is presented with extended warranty plans in the finance office. It is not built in the price of the car on the lot and is never presented as something mandatory.
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Old 04-02-2010, 05:47 PM
 
Location: Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
1,184 posts, read 2,619,265 times
Reputation: 1902
Quote:
Originally Posted by ommatidia View Post
I have been shopping for a car recently. I visited several dealers, checked a number of cars and moved to the negotiation step.

The salesman came with a $600 theft protection package on top of the advertised price. If you search the Internet, you can see how little (less than 30-40 dollars) the window etching actually costs to dealers and practically, that package is useless, just another way to rip off customers... My insurance already covers theft.

Anyway, the dealership insisted that the car cannot be sold without the theft protection, the window was etched already etc etc... I said I didn't want the package. I asked for discount since I was offering cash, but no reduction. At the end, they refused to sell and I walked off. I assume this is common in most dealers.

This sounds ridicioulous to me, how can they put the etching without asking the customer first. The fee is a scam. I read that some dealers in California was charged for this practice. Is there anything to prevent this act in Texas? Either the advertised price should include all the fees or it should be optional, cannot be forced to the customer without asking.

I am sorry for the people who have to buy cars from the dealers. It is sad that the regulations are so vague and the customers suffer almost all the time.
To answer your question yes it is against the Deceptive Trade Practices Act as noted in the DTPA here BUSINESS AND COMMERCE CODE¬*¬*CHAPTER 17. DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES. This is the quote from the act:

Quote:
Sec. 17.46. DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES UNLAWFUL. (a) False, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful and are subject to action by the consumer protection division under Sections 17.47, 17.58, 17.60, and 17.61 of this code.
(b) Except as provided in Subsection (d) of this section, the term "false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices" includes, but is not limited to, the following acts:
(9) advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised;
You are free to file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General which is described here Texas Attorney General. Since you have already walked away from the dealership, did not purchase (you were intelligent not to), and have nothing to gain from a complaint I would ask that you do anyhow. The complaint might help prevent another person from being ripped off, such as an elderly person, other without as much savvy, etc.
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Old 04-02-2010, 06:30 PM
 
Location: Purgatory (A.K.A. Dallas, Texas)
5,012 posts, read 7,656,513 times
Reputation: 2262
To the above poster - It's not illegal if they have an addendum on the window detailing the additions and how much extra they cost.




There is no law or regulation that says they have to sell you a car. You didn't like them, don't buy from them. They don't have to bow to your wishes, you don't have to buy from them. It's called free trade.
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:46 PM
 
55 posts, read 134,353 times
Reputation: 32
I did not see anything on the window regarding this. It came up when I asked for the cash price. Apparently, this is one of the additions that bring a hefty profit to the dealers. You can just read up the tactics of car salesman (their managers to be exact) and how they push useless extra warranty/protection/insurance to the customers for making profit.

"To the above poster - It's not illegal if they have an addendum on the window detailing the additions and how much extra they cost."

Yes the trade is free but time is not. They did not even honor the advertised price which of course never mentioned the theft package. I drove 80 miles round trip and spent quite some time there. If they use this tactic as a bait, I am sorry it does not work for me. I'd rather give my money to honest tradesman - hard to find in car dealers. They could have mentioned it at the beginning. I was probably going to buy the car if they showed it upfront.

The dealer at Vandergriff Dr in Arlington: Your theft protection does not protect the customer, it steals instead. I don't think I'll ever visit you for a toyota in the future.
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Old 04-02-2010, 10:01 PM
 
Location: Purgatory (A.K.A. Dallas, Texas)
5,012 posts, read 7,656,513 times
Reputation: 2262
Oh, you went to a Van Tuyl Group dealership. That explains everything.
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Old 04-02-2010, 11:35 PM
 
1,212 posts, read 1,167,849 times
Reputation: 788
Quote:
Originally Posted by ommatidia View Post
I did not see anything on the window regarding this. It came up when I asked for the cash price. Apparently, this is one of the additions that bring a hefty profit to the dealers. You can just read up the tactics of car salesman (their managers to be exact) and how they push useless extra warranty/protection/insurance to the customers for making profit.

"To the above poster - It's not illegal if they have an addendum on the window detailing the additions and how much extra they cost."

Yes the trade is free but time is not. They did not even honor the advertised price which of course never mentioned the theft package. I drove 80 miles round trip and spent quite some time there. If they use this tactic as a bait, I am sorry it does not work for me. I'd rather give my money to honest tradesman - hard to find in car dealers. They could have mentioned it at the beginning. I was probably going to buy the car if they showed it upfront.

The dealer at Vandergriff Dr in Arlington: Your theft protection does not protect the customer, it steals instead. I don't think I'll ever visit you for a toyota in the future.
Vandergriff has a HORRIBLE reputation. I wouldn't advise anyone to buy from them. I'm a woman however I know a lot when it comes to buying cars and they assumed since I am a woman I knew nothing. I went there to look at cars for a friend who was in need of a car but didn't have the time to deal with all the drama that comes with buying a car, so I told her I would do the ground work for her and she'd come when it was time to sign. Anyway the first red flag was that they didn't have the carfax available for the car I was looking at, so I wrote down the VIN and came home and researched and the car had been sold at a auction when the salesman told me it was a dealer trade when I question the price of the car.

So I called the salesmen and told him the price she would be willing to buy the car for and he said my price was too low. Then I asked how was the price too low when the car was purchased from an auction so I know for a fact they didn't pay nearly what the sticker price said. Then he became upset and asked how do I know the car was bought at a auction and I told him I looked it up and I would not be doing business with him or Vandergriff again and thanks for wasting my time.

They are a total rip off. I also researched the dealer and found numerous complaints from customers who was going to buy from them but went somewhere else, or people who did make the mistake of purchasing from them and have had nothing but problems ever since. Their service department also has a bad rep. So I defiantly wouldn't deal with them in any form. David McDavid in Plano is a good car dealership from my experience but if you see a car you like you have to get out there fast because they do not keep cars on the lot for very long which also says a lot about their service.
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Old 04-02-2010, 11:39 PM
 
Location: Georgia native in McKinney, TX
4,746 posts, read 5,033,882 times
Reputation: 2883
Be sure to read disclaimers on advertisements for anything in the retail world. Most low prices in a print ad or even an internet quote will have a disclaimer at the bottom saying something of the like: "does not include tax, title and license fees, destination fees, dealer equipment, not to be used with any other promotion, in stock units only."

Even the national ads by auto manufacturers that you see regularly on TV have disclaimers. The big $0 down, $0 due at signing that everyone seems to be running these days aren't true zero down. Since these are national ads, they cannot allow for TT&L since every state has different tax structures for auto sales and leases, so you will have to at the least put down the TT&L to get the advertised lease payment even when the ad says ZERO DOWN!

Dealer equipment will include things like the theft package the OP lists and anything else added at the dealer that did not come from the factory. Some are called "hard" adds and some are "soft" adds. Hard adds are actual equipment like running boards, spoilers, door guards, mud guards, wheel locks, tinted windows, pin stripes, etc. Soft adds are things like the theft protection mentioned above and paint and fabric protections with warranties and the like.

I don't know of a single dealership anywhere that does not add some extras like this to make a profit. After all it is a business and since I've been around, a business is in business to do one thing, make a profit. There's nothing wrong in shopping around for a great price, but I don't understand the buying public getting in a wad for a business looking to make a profit and getting angry at the people that work there for doing such.

A market like DFW has many, many choices for the car buyer. The market is VERY competitive. The deals that are going down in the last couple of years are fantastic for the car buyer. To run into a sales person, manager or finance guy that tries to pull a fast one still happens, but in reality it is nothing like it used to be. There are too many other places for the customer to go for the same product not too far down the road.
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Old 04-03-2010, 03:14 AM
 
1,212 posts, read 1,167,849 times
Reputation: 788
**There's nothing wrong in shopping around for a great price, but I don't understand the buying public getting in a wad for a business looking to make a profit and getting angry at the people that work there for doing such.**

You as well are part of this buying public and I'm sure you wouldn't volunteer yourself to get ripped off plus I doubt anyone is personally getting angry at the car dealerships for trying to make a profit as anyone with a brain knows that in a buyers market the bottom line is to make a profit, however when you are going about making your 'profit' in a dishonest manner, (adding fees, equipment, etc.) without informing the customer then yes they have every right to be angry. When I purchased my car the finance manager ASKED me if I wanted to purchase any of the additional features, he did not add them in the contract and hope I would over look them in order to make his 'profit' and this was last year, so not everyone is resulting to dishonesty in order to make a 'profit'. It IS great the customer has tons of options which is why they shouldn't take any crap from anyone who will result to dishonesty in order to make a profit. They are more desperate then anything now and the customer should use it to his/her advantage.

Last edited by Shysister; 04-03-2010 at 03:26 AM..
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Old 04-03-2010, 02:11 PM
 
14,481 posts, read 26,586,880 times
Reputation: 4983
I think the economy has created terrific stress in car dealerships--some of them are still trying to determine if they are going to be closed

but to justify illegal tactics just because someone can walk away implies that people are never taken advantage of--I am not talking about making a profit on a sale--most car dealers are doing that no matter how hard an individual tries to negotia a "fair" price simply because we never know what the true cost of the car is...and there are always "options" that require additional costs...

there are plenty of people shopping for cars who don't know the rules, who ARE taken advantage of because they don't even know how to do math or read well enough to decipher the tangled language of a sales contract...
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