Is dealer allowed to advertise car at special incentive price?

Dear Consumer Ed:

I recently went to a dealership after seeing a vehicle advertised at a certain price. It wasn’t until after I arrived that I was told that if I wanted to pay cash or finance it through my own bank that I would have to pay an additional $3,000, as the advertised price included a discount that was only available if you financed through the dealership. Can they do that?

Consumer Ed says:

Based on your question, the dealership seems to be offering a $3,000 special incentive to buyers who finance the vehicle through the dealership’s preferred finance company. Special incentive programs involve rebates, discounts, and/or financing that are not available to all of the buying public. These programs are allowed, but when a dealership offers a special incentive program it should not include the incentive in the advertised price because not everyone, like yourself, will qualify for the incentive. Dealerships can advertise special incentives, but should list the incentive separately from the advertised price as a discount only for qualified buyers. The dealership is also required to clearly and conspicuously include in the advertisement the specific qualifications needed to receive the discount. For example, it is considered a deceptive practice to hide the qualifications required for a discount in fine print where consumers have to search for them.

If you have a copy of the advertisement, you may consider contacting the dealership and asking it to honor the original advertised price. You can also submit a complaint to the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division by visiting consumer.ga.gov or by calling 404-651-8600.

Submit your own question to Consumer Ed.  Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.

Related to: