Dear Consumer Ed:
I am looking to buy a luxury car. A dealer recently gave me a quote on a used Mercedes Benz that included a $700 doc fee. That seems excessive to me. What is the highest doc fee that a dealer is allowed to charge in Georgia?
Consumer Ed says:
Georgia does not regulate how much a car dealer can charge in dealer fees, also frequently referred to as “document fees,” “processing fees,” or “customer service fees.” Given this, you will likely notice a range of these types of fees at dealerships throughout the state. Dealers are, however, subject to restrictions in how these fees are advertised. The Georgia Attorney General Office’s position is that only government fees such as tax, title, tag and Lemon Law fees may be excluded from advertised vehicle prices. Any other amounts of money that the dealership collects as part of the sale – including, but not limited to, dealer fees and previously installed dealer options – must be included in the advertised price. This pricing requirement extends to any advertised price in any medium, including online advertisements, whether from third-party advertisers, such as AutoTrader, or on dealer websites.
While advertisers are allowed to put disclaimers explaining what is going into the cost of the vehicle, they may not try to hide the dealer fee by stating that additional fees may apply. For instance, a dealer cannot exclude the dealer fee from the advertised price and instead include “plus dealer fee” in a disclaimer. Rather, the amount of the dealer fee must be contained within whatever price is being listed in the advertisement.
Failure to include a non-government fee in an advertised price is considered an unfair or deceptive practice, and therefore a violation of Georgia law. If you believe a dealership has charged you unfairly based upon the advertised price, you can file a complaint with the Georgia Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division by calling (404) 651-8600.
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