John Mobley is not a hobbyist buying a vehicle. The Air Force veteran, now a technical college instructor, was on the hunt for a new car this year, and his heart was a new Toyota Supra.
He began his search online near his hometown of Augusta, Georgia.
“I found places that said they did, but they didn’t,” he recalls.
Mobley had researched the car and found a dealership in nearby South Carolina that had the vehicle he was looking for. Mobley was pre-approved for the loan through its credit union. The car’s price was listed online on the dealership’s website, but he said it has since disappeared. At the dealership, Mobley began checking the documents on the vehicle and saw charges that he didn’t recognize at first.
“I was like ADM; what is ADM? Then it hit me. The guy said, “That’s an adjusted dealer markup,” and I thought, “Over $8,000? “
Mobley said the staff told him the car was hot, which is why they were charging more than the manufacturer’s suggested MSRP. They also tried to reschedule the funding so the payments would be different, but at the same price, he said. He walked away from that deal and ended up finding the same new car in New Jersey.
“From start to finish, they were professional and they said we weren’t doing dealer markups,” he said of the New Jersey dealership.
So Mobley bought a one-way ticket to New Jersey and drove home in his new car.
Mobley was one of hundreds of people who sent their car buying experiences to Consumer Reports.
Chuck Bell of Consumer Reports said it’s not uncommon for cars to have markups as high as $20,000. The advocacy group draws attention to the Federal Trade Commission’s It is recommended that the rules be changed to better protect car buyers.
It would do things like prohibit bait-and-change claims from auto salesmen. It will also prohibit fraudulent and accidental charges. Require full and early disclosure of vehicle costs and terms of sale.
The FTC estimates the rule will save consumers more than $29 billion over a decade.
Currently, Bell and other consumer advocates advise consumers to get the price in writing before going to the dealership. Pay attention to vehicle features and any additional finance and service features, and most importantly, be patient and ready to walk away from the deal if things don’t pick up.
“If I can impart knowledge to someone to help them improve their situation, I’m more than willing to do so,” Mobley said.
You have until Monday, September 12 to comment on the FTC’s proposed rule changes.
You can submit comments online here.