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My wife and I went to a franchise dealer to look at a vehicle we wanted to purchase. The advertised price was within our budget, but when we sat down to hash everything out, the dealer tacked on an arbitrary “dealer fee” to the advertised price. When I said, “Hey, you can’t do this,” they said, “I’m sorry, we do it in every deal.” Good thing I’m not a representative from the state because if I were, I would have been able to open an investigation against the dealership, likely resulting in a series of hefty fines. So, let’s talk about the legal dos and don’ts of car dealership advertising and what is considered an advertising violation.

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Vehicle Advertising Violations

Let’s talk about something I see all the time: advertising violations. The only thing that can be added to an advertised price in Georgia is tax, tag, and title fees. Yet, time and time again dealers add “dealer fees” to an advertised price (this is not limited to independent dealers). I’m not a state investigator, I’m an attorney, but I see it all the time and the investigations tend to follow. So here’s the deal with advertised prices: the only things that can be added to advertised prices are tax, tag, and title fees.

Advertising Nuances

Now, there is some nuance to advertising violations and what can vs. cannot be added to an advertised vehicle price. We see this quite often when a customer negotiates the dealer off the advertised price. In this case, the dealer can add a ” dealer fee”.

Common Examples

If a customer comes into the dealer and says, “Hi, I found this car on Car Gurus and it’s listed as $19,995. I want to buy it. I’m ready to pay today.” The dealer cannot look at the customer and say, “OK, it’s $19,995 plus tax, tag, title, and a $599 dealer fee.” The dealer fee is not allowed in this scenario. If the customer comes in and says “I’d like to buy this car for $18,995,” the dealer can then add a dealer fee because the customer is no longer paying the advertised price.

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Steven Lefkoff

Steven is the founder of Lefkoff Law and is committed to providing legal educational resources for businesses. Lefkoff Law serves Georgia-based small businesses and specializes in supporting car dealers.

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