Getting ripped off by car dealer who tack on large fees for added items such as car mats or rust-proofing measures is real concern of many who want to purchase a vehicle. Even for those who do the basic research, it is still possible to get charged for items that you didn’t want or have the final price not match what you were quoted.
The question becomes what can you do if you find that a car dealer has ripped you off? The answer will depend largely on how well you protected yourself during the sales process.
Keep in mind that once you sign the final deal, your options become limited. This is because car dealers will ensure that their contracts offer very few, if any means of getting out of them. So, it pays to be cautious during the entire process. Here are a few things that you can do to address a potential rip off in terms of extras.
Truth in Advertising
The first way to protect yourself is having the advertisement of the vehicle’s price in hand, whether from a newspaper or printed off the web. Truth in Advertising laws hold firm when you are quoted one price and are charged a higher one.
It pays to know that car dealers will often try to bait and switch their way out of the advertised price by claiming certain conditions existed. However, if those conditions were not spelled out in the ad, then you have solid grounds for a lawsuit.
Get the Initial Offer in Writing
If a car dealer makes you an offer, get it in writing. This means that if you are quoted a price, write the price down and then have the dealership put that price in their offer to you. Compare what they told you to the written offer to ensure that it is the same.
This is very important because one of the few ways out of getting ripped off after you sign the contract is to have the initial offer at the ready. The Truth in Lending Act was designed to protect consumers from fraud such as adding expensive window tints, car mats, or other extras that could be obtained at a far lower price from other vendors.
Take your original, written offer and what you paid to an attorney skilled in such matters. If there is a difference, you stand a very good chance of getting a proper settlement not only because you have the proof, but also because dealerships do not want to develop the reputation of being rip off artists.
Local and State Laws
Another recourse is that many localities have specific laws against certain sales practices which include car dealerships. If they did not follow the law in terms of selling you the vehicle, then you can sue them based their actions. The statutes pertaining to the Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices provides consumers some protections if they are not followed.
Whether it’s window tint, car mats, or odd fees like destination charges, consumers need to be aware that car dealerships may add hundreds, if not thousands to the final sale price of the vehicle.