I swear I’ll stop talking about the car search any day now. Like, if we ever find one.
Yesterday we got the ultimate runaround. Well, probably the penultimate runaround. We went to a place with a $14,975 car, but with an Internet special of $11,988. Printout in hand, we schlepped over to Glendale, not a close spot, and test drove it. Tim was very happy with it. I was very satisfied and thought it would be a good car. I also thought I might be able to haggle down toward $10,000.
So imagine my suprise when I get the breakdown for fees, etc. (I request it before I make any real kind of offer because, otherwise, you have no idea what the end price would be.) And the manager comes over to inform us that, with such a low price, they can’t cover the X,Y,Z fees. So the end price is pretty close to the $14,975.
I said it seemed like the price shot up a lot. He pointed out that a lot was taxes and government fees. Uh, okay, but what about these X,Y,Z fees? Because by my count they add up to almost $900.
Turns out those “fees” were the cost of getting the car ready. He didn’t break it down item by item, which I should have asked him to do since he was so vague, but basically inspection and detailing. Uh huh.
Look, I know there are fees. I know that I will always wince as sales tax drives up an otherwise good price. But to jerk us around on fees that are part and parcel to getting a car on the lot to be sold? Fees that — and I checked — would have been included at the original price? I don’t think so.
If we had haggled down to $10,000 or so I could maybe see pulling this ploy. In fact, if we had haggled at all, I could see it. But we were talking about the Internet price that the company itself put up.
And if this sounds naive to you, I suppose it is. Yes, some companies will take away all fees (planning to add them back in) to make a price sound better. But if I go see a car with a price that you have said you’re willing to sell it for, I am not willing to pay extra — let alone $875 extra — for the cost of you getting the car on the lot to be seen and sold. Either include it in the price or risk pissing me off.
In fact, I was just annoyed while we were there. I even planned to go back today. But by the time we got to our Magic tournament, I was royally pissed about their methods. And, luckily, a different manager emailed me today a nice little form letter expressing his concern that we looked but didn’t buy and to let him know what he could do to help.
He got quite an earful — eyeful? — with the email I wrote back. And, yeah, I totally played up our health conditions. If you have a disability, might as well enjoy the few perks it gets you. Like discounted entrance fees and guilt trips for bad customer service. I pointed out that we made the relatively long trip out there, wasting my energy, because we thought there was a good price only to be jerked around.
We’ll see what kind of response we get back. Maybe we’ll go back just to see what kind of crow is eaten. It could make for an entertaining follow-up post, though I very much doubt a place like that will ever offer the pricing we’d be comfortable with. Clearly, they’re too fond of afterthought fees, as I’m beginning to think of them.
I wonder what would happen if we all priced things this way. Like, at work, if you told you boss that you wanted $30,000 a year and, once (s)he agreed, added that you needed work clothes, so that would be another $5,000 a year.
Or if you went to take advantage of a special on washers and dryers. And once you got there, they said the fee was so low that they had to tack on the cost of freight and the employee wage for shining it up for the salesroom floor.