Think you’ll always be getting a good deal when you head to the car dealerships? Not so say experts, like San Francisco lemon lawsuits attorney Conn Law. Unfortunately, there are more than a few auto dealers who are short on morals and high on greed, so you’ll need to watch out for potentially fraudulent moves they could pull to get you to make a purchase. Keep your eyes peeled, and watch out for these unscrupulous maneuvers if you’re out car shopping.
The specific fraudulent actions of a dealership can span far and wide, but if we’re speaking generally, they often fall into one of five categories:
- Misleading pricing: In some cases, after negotiating what you believe to be a fair price, a salesperson may add certain “fees” to the transaction, boosting your final price well beyond what was agreed. They’re hoping you won’t notice, and will accept the offer without asking any questions about the price discrepancy.
- Unwanted addons: In another scheme to boost the price you have to pay for your vehicle, some dealers will cram a bunch of addons, options, and extra accessories that you didn’t ask for into your vehicle contract. Think extended warranties, protection packages, and all the other things you would probably decline if asked. Read your contracts carefully and avoid this sort of manipulation.
- Bait and switch: The dealer will advertise one price, but when you come to purchase the car, they’ll tell you that price is “no longer available” and you’ll have to pay more. It could be that the price you wanted was never an actual option, and the dealer is engaging in fraud to lure you in and make you pay more than you expected.
- The secret lemon: Sometimes dealers will misrepresent a vehicle’s condition in order to disguise the fact that it’s a lemon. They’re hoping you’ll buy it, blissfully unaware, and once you have problems with it down the line, they’ll say it’s out of their hands.
- Financial fraud: Particularly dishonest dealers may lie to your face, and tell you that your credit score is “too low” to qualify for reasonable financing terms so they can railroad you into financing with unbalanced terms that will make them more money.
So, what can you do to avoid the machinations of shady car dealerships? Here are five bits of advice that may come in handy:
- Have a mechanic inspect the vehicle and ascertain its condition. They may be able to detect problems you wouldn’t have noticed.
- Do your own research on a vehicle’s history to determine if the dealership is hiding any details. Similarly, check the VIN on a vehicle so you know it’s not stolen.
- Get your financing sorted out in advance, so the dealer can’t cheat you.
- Make sure every part of the deal is in writing and be sure you understand what the contract says.
- Be prepared to walk if a dealer is being pushy.
Be sure that whenever you’re going to buy a car, you do so prepared, and ready to counter any of the mendacious maneuvers that a dealer might try to pull.