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Avoid These 7 Deceptive Auto Dealer Tactics

Posted by Jared Katsoupis on Wed, Apr 02, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

Used Car Salesman, Danny Devito, Dealership, Car

The process of buying a car is tricky to navigate and can be made even more difficult by some of the deceptive dealership tactics you might encounter when dealing with traditional dealerships. Not every dealership plays by the same rules when it comes to getting you to buy their vehicles and once they are discovered, they can give honest dealerships like Wellesley Toyota a bad name.

Car dealerships have been portrayed as some of the shadiest businesses in the sales game, resorting to underhanded tactics to get you in the door while sneaking in miniscule fine print to lock you into a deal you don’t want or can't afford. However, this is generally not the reality. Those of us here at Wellesley Toyota and at other honest automotive dealerships have taken great measures to ensure that what we are advertising is honest and fair, and once you are here, we will make sure you have the best customer experience possible.

To give you the customer an idea of what is out there and to equip you as you start your search for a new car, we have compiled a list of unfair and deceptive tactics practiced by some dealerships to help you stay informed and aware of those “too good to be true” deals.

$0 Money Down With Undisclosed Fees

This first one is pretty simple, and leads the customer to believe they are paying less money than they actually are. The ad will typically say that you are paying $0 down with specific monthly payments, which sounds great because everyone loves low monthly payments. However, what might NOT be included is the substantial amount of fees. This may not seem like a huge deal, but dealers are required to conspicuosly disclose all applicable information on their advertisements in order to comply with the FTC.

Teasers & Low Monthly Payments

This tactic involves an advertisement claiming low monthly payments or an unreasonably low purchase price as a “teaser”. A teaser is basically a price to hook you in up front. Once you're in the door to take advantange of the unreasonably low price, you find out that after a couple months, the payment increases by $50, there are all sorts of extra fees to bump up the price, or even worse, they straight up tell you the actual price is higher than was advertised. 

You've Won A Prize!

Screen Shot 2014 03 27 at 4.59.00 PMThis one is especially low because there is no way to deny it as a scam. A dealership will send out mailers to people’s homes claiming they won a prize, when in fact, there is no prize to be won. This type of ad is solely there just to get people in the door of the dealership rather than getting them to actually purchase a vehicle. Once the customer is in the door, all bets are off.

You've Won A Prize! Pt. 2

This is an actual example of something that has been done and was caught by the FTC. The direct mailer was sent to homes where customers would scratch off part of a ticket revealing that they had "won". Upon driving to the dealership they would find out that they had actually won the right to BE ENTERED into a sweepstakes. The kicker is that at the end of the sweepstakes, there was no winner.

Poisoning the Well

Poisoning the well works when a customer comes in to a dealership and is interested in a vehicle, the salesman may give them an unbelievably low price to hook them in, a price that many other dealerships wont be able to match. So after the customer has shopped around, they return to the low offer only to find out that they will owe the actual fair and higher price for the vehicle.


Highballing works the other way around. The customer will have a vehicle that they are looking to trade in, and the dealer will give them an unbelievably too good to be true price for it. When you finally agree to do the deal, you find out that the salesman will try to justify reasons for lowering their initial offer. 

So why do dealerships resort to using these tactics? Simple enough, the sales volume that they will get is worth the risk. In many cases, if dealerships are exposed, their penalty will only result in a fine. Good dealerships however, will rely on their relationships with their customers to make a lasting impression and to earn their repeated business. The added bonus and satisfaction is when customers tell their friends and family to choose that dealership, such as Wellesley Toyota, to do business with as well, and that makes for lasting relationships for years to come.

If you ever find yourself at a dealership where you feel like you are being taken advantage of, do not hesitate to leave. There are plenty of other dealerships around that believe in honesty and integrity that want your repeated business.

Wellesley Toyota is one of those businesses with honesty and integrity, so if you are near the Wellesley, Massachusetts area please stop by and meet with one of our non-commissioned product geniuses to help you find your perfect vehicle, or visit us online at

Topics: Wellesley Toyota, Deceptive Dealerships, Tactics, Tricks

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