Exercising Caution with Online Car Prices
Since most companies have a network of authorized car dealers, they help customers find lower rates on new cars by comparing the price offered by several independent car dealerships. Customers are also advised to read reviews listed on blog posts on certain automotive websites, as it helps understand auto finance options and concerns regarding a new car purchase. Blog posts also help determine the cost of maintaining new cars, how to choose a good car and warranty related concerns. Websites like Edmunds provide useful tools that help calculate the total cost of owning a car and car trade-ins.
Unfortunately, just like the dealerships advertisements in the Sunday paper, some car prices online are too good to be true. It’s meant only to get you to visit the dealership to be subjected to the normal array of car dealership games. Whether you are shopping for a new or used vehicle, you should be wary of the best car prices online, especially if the prices quoted are well below market value or those quoted at other dealerships. Thankfully, with the transparency of transactions on the Internet, you should be able to contact the dealership via email or their website to get the fine print on any advertisements before investing time into a dealership visit. This guide will highlight typical car pricing scam techniques you may find online so you can spend your time in contact with dealerships that are committed to offering fair values and truthful advertising.
"Pricing Includes Guaranteed Trade Allowance"
If you spend time checking used car classifieds, you may find some dealerships that offer used cars for much less money than their competitors. If this is the case, check the advertisement to see if the pricing includes a "guaranteed trade allowance" that varies between $2,000 and $4,000. The popularity of programs like Cash for Clunkers of 2009 has shown that customers love getting a guaranteed amount for their old car. However, including a promotional trade allowance in an online price means that the dealership is trying to get you to visit so they can tell you "your trade does not qualify" or that "that price is only available for buyers with vehicles to trade". In any case, if a dealership is listing a promotion like this in their Internet price, try to hold them to the price, even if you do not have a trade. However, you may find it easiest to find a dealership that is more honest in their dealings.
"Pricing Includes All Rebates to Dealer"
If you are in the market for a new car, you may find Internet pricing that reflects "all rebates to dealer". As the rebates offered to the dealership are ambiguous at best, you may find it impossible to determine what price the vehicle may be purchased for by a member of the general public. The pricing may reflect an employee or supplier pricing program that not all buyers will qualify for. Additionally, many rebates and discounts are incompatible with each other, so an abnormally low price quote may include this. While many dealerships take this approach so they may advertise a low price, the truth is that nobody will qualify for it.
Other Online Dealership Scams
If a dealership offers amazingly low prices on its website, you may also want to confirm if the vehicle of interest is still in stock. Bear in mind, if the car was recently sold at an auction or sent to another dealership, listing an artificially low price will result in customers contacting the dealership. At this time bait-and-switch methods can be employed. You may also find a dealership that lists no prices online. Feel free to contact a dealership that does this, but do not expect to get very far in your negotiations without a visit to meet with a salesperson.