Typical Dealer Tricks

We think that the more you know about Planet, the better we look. So we're eager to let you know all about us and our unique approach. There's no disinfectant quite like sunlight.

Most dealers do not share our enthusiasm for transparency. In fact, the typical dealership separates you from your money by separating you from the truth. Some of their techniques:

  • Bait and Switch. How it works: Typical dealer puts an unbelievable price in an ad, but provides the stock number for only one vehicle. When you show up, the car "just got sold." Of course! The one that's just like it is going to cost you thou$ands more. And then next week, the dealership advertises the car with the same stock number!

  • Asterisk pricing. How it works: Typical dealer advertises an unbelievable price, and then buries in the fine print that you need cash down or a trade to get that price.
  • Phantom rebates. How it works: Typical dealer uses a rebate to lower the price, but very few people, such as active-duty military service members, are eligible for the rebate. The dead giveaway is when the dealer uses the term, "Lowest Possible Price." For a very unusual somebody, but not you.

  • Model Misrepresentation. How it works: Typical dealer uses a picture of a premium model but the price for the base model, or fails to disclose that the car does not have an automatic transmission when nearly every one buys an automatic.

  • Low Ball. How it works: Typical dealer advertises a price or quotes a price that does not represent the final price of the vehicle. For example, all manufacturers charge dealers a destination charge, which we all have to pass on to the purchaser. These are in the $1000 range. The typical dealer advertises or quotes the car without it, and doesn't disclose it until the last minute, when you try to take delivery of the car.

  • High Ball. How it works: When you tell the typical dealer about your trade, they don't give you a range in good faith, but rather tell you an unbelievably high price (perhaps found on Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds) that they have no intention of honoring. When you show up, they make various deductions so they can justify giving you a lower price.

  • Poisoning the Well. How it works: After you make the mistake of visiting a typical dealership and they fail to pressure you into a car, they walk you out the door with an impossible price so when you go to an honest dealer, there is no way for the honest dealer to match the price that you think you were offered. If you fall for the trick, you go back and they get another shot at you, even if they have to tap dance to explain why they can't give you the price they said they would.

Why do dealers do these deceptive practices?

It works on enough people. We see it often, from people you would expect to know better. Some people are seduced by the temptation of visiting these stores even though they know in the back of their minds that the deals are too good to be true. Some people will suffer any indignity to think that they saved money on a car (even if they end up paying more). And once there, after they've been beat up for a few hours, they just want to get the grueling experience finished, so they do business with unsavory characters. And the bad guys get rewarded with your business. But not at Planet, where you always pay the low price you expected to pay.

What are these typical dealers thinking when they use these tricks?

Many car purchasers visit only two dealerships when they buy a car. So, if they can lure you in, that means the bad guys have a 50% chance of selling you a car. Once they get you in, their salesmen are trained to "put you on the elevator"....to get you to forget about the ad car and pay more for another car.

So how do I protect myself when buying a car?

All dealerships are not created equal, so stay away from typical dealerships. It's not a fair fight when the deck is stacked against you, so go to a dealership where there is no fight and the deck isn't stacked against you. At Planet, for example, we've built our entire business model on the assumption that you'll come back again and again to be treated with dignity. We intentionally hire our Purchase Partners from outside the car business, so you'll never get the typical dealership treatment at Planet. Click here to see our sales process.

You'll never get "bitten" at Planet Subaru. But you might get "licked." Learn more about Blue and our other special team members.

How do dealers get away with all of this stuff? It can't be legal.

Massachusetts law is pretty explicit about the illegality of deceptive practices in car dealerships. But drunk driving is illegal too, and a lot of people get away with it because governments can only afford to put so many police officers on the road. In Massachusetts, the attorney general enforces advertising laws, but her resources are quite limited. Typical dealerships just pay the attorney general's fines and consider it a cost of doing business.

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Planet helps you avoid Subaru dealer tricks in Framingham, Cambridge, Newton, Brockton, and South Shore.

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