Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, CANADA, eh?
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Dealership Coercive Tied Selling: Legalities?
Mods, please move this thread to the appropriate forum category if I got the location wrong: I took my best guess.
So I recently bought my 2014 F350 Platinum here in Alberta, and I felt I did so-so with my negotiating of the sales agreement. I got a good price on the truck, but when I went through finance, I am certain the dealership recovered much of their "lost" money through all the extras. I know they are sales people and that is their job, but some of it operates at the edges of ethical behavior.
One item was that they offered me a 1% lower interest rate IF I bought additional protection package (rustproofing, etc) with them. Initially, I had declined all of this. I caved and went for the 3M, (the 3M was something I was planning on buying away from the overpriced service offered by the dealer) in order to get the better rate. I justified it in "it might save me money over the financing period", but later regretted it, as they did a crap job of the 3M anyway and are presently re-doing portions of it.
Second item was "nitro" charge. Initially I was told I had to be charged this $400 amount as "it had already been applied to the vehicle", but when I asked more questions, it became clear to me that this was in fact a road hazard warranty on the tires and wheels, as well as the (cheap) nitrogen to fill the tires. I refused to pay this fee and they removed it from the sales agreement.
They also tried to get me to buy the $400 "etching" package, which was also declined.
I tried like crazy to get the $400 "documentation fee" waived, but the finance guy wouldn't budge, saying all dealers charged something and they (the dealership) were forced to charge this to their customers. So I paid it, because even though I know that the GST and tire levy are the only true legally binding charges over the price of the vehicle, every other dealer is playing the same game.
So while depositing proceeds from sale of my Toyota truck at the bank, I saw an info pamphlet about "Coercive Tied Selling" and picked it up. Interesting, but I could not find information specific about the interest rate offering on my vehicle purchase.
After the usual government shufflling around to different departments and such, I ended up talking to someone at (Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council) AMVIC, who told me that as long as the dealer was upfront about the terms of the interest rates and packages offered, what the dealer did (although ethically not so nice) was not in violation of any industry practices. She did tell me that although the doc fee is not legally binding, the dealer can say "take it or leave it" to the consumer and the consumer has the right to walk away from the deal.
But she did say that I had a legitimate beef over the "nitro" charge since the dealer sales guy had initially told me that it was something that could not be removed from the deal, and that was not upfront and accurate. Even though this was a verbal statement from the sales guy, and the charge was dropped from the paperwork, a complaint could still be filed through AMVIC for this and investigated.
The sales guy happens to be a friend of my wife's family and actually seems to be trying to do the right thing most of the time. Yes he is a greasy salesman, but he made a few other small mistakes here and there on vehicle details and such, which were corrected / clarified. I honestly don't know if his mistake about the "nitro" fee was intentional or not; he seemed confused at times.
So I hate to get the guy in trouble as he still seems to be trying to take care of me with my 3M issues, but at the same time, the financing and paperwork left me feeling rather disappointed and feeling like I didn't get such a great deal in the end with all the extra fees, extended warranty, maintenance package, etc that I bought.
I would consider talking to sales manager to see if I could get the $400 dealership "doc" fee reversed (using the legitimate "nitro" complaint as my leverage) but I am not sure I would be successful. I don't know if it is worth potentially upsetting everyone over it.
I don't worry about retaliation so much, as I plan on servicing my vehicle at this dealership, as they aren't known for good service, but the sales dept is supposed to be mostly OK.
Anyone have any advice on what my next course of action should be?
I wouldn't mind the $400 if I could apply the pressure of the AMVIC complaint to get it out of them. Not sure if it is worth potentially burning a bridge over.