On June 17th, I tweeted and posted I’m Buying a 2011 Ford Explorer in Madison, WI. Who Wants my Business?.
I’ve reached an agreed price on a 2012 Ford Explorer, but with a dealer about an hour away from Madison, WI. It’s a great story, and I really want to tell the world, but I have one small problem and…
I need your input
Anyone who’s bought a new vehicle from a dealer knows there are some charges that are unavoidable, such as tax, title and license fees. In addition, you will always pay a destination charge, which is the amount auto manufacturers charge dealerships to deliver a vehicle from the factory to the showroom.
The destination charge is right there on the window sticker, and as you can see in the image above, it is also shown on the manufacturer’s website.
Here’s the problem
After reaching an agreed price for the vehicle and options, which I knew would would have the destination charge and tax, title and license fees added to it, the salesman emailed me the build sheet. After a close inspection, I found two additional charges:
- Fuel Charge – $67.07
- Adv Assessment $546.00
When I asked about these charges, I was told:
These are charges that come from Ford which are billed directly to the dealership for the vehicle. The Fuel Charge is the fuel that is put into the vehicle at the factory and allocated to each car. Advertising Assessments are the national advertising dollars allocated to each vehicle from Ford.
What really bugs me is that the last four vehicles I’ve bought have all been brand new (two Fords, a Honda, and a Nissan), and none required me to pay an advertising fee. In addition, Ford’s own website didn’t list this fee, and it doesn’t appear on the window sticker.
I was a little bitter about the surprise charges, and tweeted this on June 27th:
It won't be long before car dealerships start adding line items for their light bills and phone bills to their new car prices.
— Collin Kromke (@CollinKromke) June 28, 2011
They told me the charge was not negotiable, so I agreed to it and placed the order for the vehicle. However, I’m not finished with my beef over the Adv Assessment.
Time for your input
I look at it this way. If the dealership is going include a line item to charge me $546 for advertising, I don’t think they should benefit from any “advertising” I might do on their behalf. For example, I’m considering the following:
- No specific mention of the dealership in any of my blog posts or tweets
- Block blog comments from readers mentioning the dealership
- Delete past tweets where I mentioned the dealership
- No free advertising: no dealership decals, license plate brackets, etc on the vehicle
Is this a reasonable position for me to take?
Is there a better way to handle the situation that could work to our mutual benefit?
What would you do?
Edited to add: I’d like to clarify that the salesman I worked with was nothing but professional and transparent. He’s new to the sales position, and was just the messenger regarding the Adv Assessment. I don’t blame him in any way for the timing of revealing it to me. I have no doubt that he was just following the guidance of his GM and the usual workflow of the dealership. He’s a great communicator and I’d recommend him to anyone who asks.