If there are any adults out there that still believe in Santa Claus, then pick up the local paper and read the car ads. Dealers are having problems now trying to sell the 2011 models, which in many cases, are no different than the new 2012 models. Compound this with a few leftover 2010 models, and you have an advertising nightmare.
I think that most car dealers advertise to keep their name in the papers and let the car buying public know that they are still in business. The same car can be advertised by the different dealers with prices that range all over the map. The trick is apparently deciding what equipment they will include in the car price and what equipment they will hold back to let the gullible buyer know about when he or she walks through the door.
Now most lease advertising pricing is usually on the longest term lease with the lowest amount of miles per year – say 39 months with 10,000 miles per year. Again, many lease prices includes a $500 military rebate which is now understood to mean a retired active duty member not just someone who enlisted or was drafted for a period of time. Now the one that I like is the statement “Customer must qualify for waiver of security deposit.” Or, the kicker is “must finance through Ally Bank.” Never, of course, do they mention the infamous lease “termination fee.” That still remains buried on the ninth page of the lease.
At least, most dealers do state that the “picture may not represent the actual vehicle” or “two vehicles are available at this suggested price.” I like the statement too that says “No hidden fees or charges, just add 6% sales tax, destination charge, title fee, plate transfer, acquisition fee, and document fee.” Now we all know that the new cars now have a model designation at the end of their name – LT, LS, SEL, CLX, SLT, SE, and XLT. And, of course, this package is part of the price. The requirement is that you go to the dealership to find out what an SLT package includes. And yes, the dealer does offer a free oil change for all duty military. A generous offer as we have an over abundance of active duty military in the Detroit area.
Now many of the cars are offered as “made in America.” I assume that this means that they were assembled in America with 40% or more foreign parts? I get frustrated when I read these ads. Maybe I should stop reading them altogether as that would be the answer. What does “well equipped” mean or “loaded’? Does it comes with “floor mats” mean all four floor mats or just the front? I thought I knew a lot about cars but I am stumped when they offer “a spare tire package?” Is this a full-size tire or a donut with a thin metal wrench that breaks or bends when you use it?
I remember my mother use to wrap the garbage in paper before the advent of garbage disposals. I wonder if she used the car ads on purpose.
DONALD WITTMER is a retired business executive who held key roles in the automotive and banking sectors. For a time, he also served as a Fiscal Agency Manager for the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from Cincinnati’s Xavier University, an M.A. in business management from Central Michigan University, and earned certification in bank operations from the School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A husband, father, and grandfather, he teaches part-time at the Kent Place School for Girls in Summit, New Jersey.