Buying or leasing a new car is a big deal to most Americans. Committing to a monthly loan or lease payment for a new car takes a significant bite out of a household income. To get the best deal possible, shoppers scour newspaper ads and tune into radio and television ads. Especially at this time of the year, auto dealerships make all kinds of promises to get you in the door. Once you are there, you may find that the deal is not actually what the ad promised. When does this deception become auto fraud?
Dealer Tricks to Get You in the Door
Car dealerships know how to market their products. They are motivated to move cars, especially when new models are due in, but will still try to get as much money from you as they can. From the old bait-and-switch trick to “small print” exceptions, you might find your head spinning by the time you sign the contract and walk out wondering what you have actually agreed to. Some classic tricks of the advertising trade include the following:
- Low, Low Price! While the purchase price might look good compared to other dealerships, it likely doesn’t include the down payment amount or additional fees hidden in the small print.
- Only $99/Month! This too-good-to-be true offer may, in fact, be true but only for a limited time. Often, payments will balloon after a certain amount of time, more than making up for lower initial payments.
- 0% or Low-Rate Loan! While this promise may get you to the table, once you’ve started the application process, you may be told the offer doesn’t apply to you.
- You Are a Winner! The vague promise of a contest or giveaway often proves to be bogus. Often, there is no prize, but once the dealer has you in the door, she will work her magic to talk you into a purchase.
Sometimes, dealerships do have legitimate offers and good deals to make, but it’s up to you to go in with your eyes wide open, read all the fine print, and be willing to walk away when things go wrong.
What Can You Do?
If you suspect that a dealer intentionally put out a deceptive ad, the first thing you should do is walk away from the deal as soon as you realize you’ve been tricked. The next step is to report the deception to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC has recently cracked down on auto fraud and deception and takes complaints seriously. If you actually completed a deal and realized after the fact that you were deceived, you need the help of an experienced auto fraud attorney. Call The Consumer Law Group at 804-282-7900 for help.