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masraum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Houston, TX
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buying a used car "reconditioning fee," WTF?

Yesterday we bought a used car. It was a CPO car at a place that said "we don't haggle." The car is unusual due to having the larger 6 cyl motor vs the standard 4 cyl. There were only a few in Houston, and only a couple that were some color other than white and black. This particular car was about $1500 less expensive than the other two, and fortunately, it was the color that the missus (and I) liked the best.

When we were purchasing, we did advise that we had our own financing.

When I got the sheet that itemized the various items (vehicle, tax, tag, etc....) it included a "reconditioning fee" of nearly 5% of the cost of the vehicle. That had not previously been mentioned and caught me off guard.

"Well, we have to recondition the car to ensure that it's in great shape."

My thought was "yes, that goes without saying and is part of the process for every car and every used car dealer, but I've never seen or heard of that being charged separately before today."

I was not happy, and knew that the missus would be livid (she was at home watching the grandkids). I advised her, she said "what, no, we'll get a different car."

The end result, they ended up waving the reconditioning fee completely. The missus was still livid and only just barely agreed that she'd be OK with getting the car.

Have any of you ever heard of a dealer charging a "reconditioning fee" or "dealer assessed fee" on top of a car?

I get it, they can advertise a lower price. Many/most folks probably either won't notice the extra fee when they sign or they'll just eat it if they do notice.

After they waved the fee, they pushed extra hard to have us use their financing.

I'd love to know if the reconditioning fee is applied to all used cars from that dealer or if they were just trying to recoup some profit from us since they'd already agreed to fix some scratches on the passenger's side for us (how reconditioned could it have been?) and we were getting $250 credit towards accessories due to some sort of sale (applied to installation of a trailer hitch) and we weren't using their financing.

I remember reading an article that was posted here years ago, where a journalist went and worked at a few dealers, one was a no haggle dealership and another was a regular dealership. He then wrote a long article about the business and how they try to make money. (ie, you negotiate the cost of the vehicle, then they make up their "loss" in the financing or you negotiate payment/financing then they make up by not negotiating on the vehicle cost as much).

The good news is that the salesman wasn't high pressure and was a really nice guy. He was super busy with another customer and had to hand off the paperwork portion of the purchase to another guy who was also very personable. One of the other cars that we looked at involved a salesman that was a traditional smarmy guy. Anything that I asked him about the car was "oh, yes, it's got that feature, best of the best, fully loaded, safest car ever." I stopped asking him questions because he didn't know the answers of any of the questions that I asked and tried to feed me BS instead.

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Steve
'08 Boxster RS60 Spyder #0099/1960
- never named a car before, but this is Charlotte.
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Old 12-01-2020, 06:59 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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It’s another BS fee. Just like charging a title fee, paperwork processing fee, etc. Don’t ever believe a dealer who charges a “mandatory” fee either. Even things like temporary tags are not a required charge to the customer, they are just a cost to the dealer that most dealerships like to mark up and charge back. Sincerely a guy who used to have a dealer’s license and had my own small dealership.
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Old 12-01-2020, 07:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onewhippedpuppy View Post
It’s another BS fee. Just like charging a title fee, paperwork processing fee, etc. Don’t ever believe a dealer who charges a “mandatory” fee either. Even things like temporary tags are not a required charge to the customer, they are just a cost to the dealer that most dealerships like to mark up and charge back. Sincerely a guy who used to have a dealer’s license and had my own small dealership.
Right, I've gotten used to the "documentation fee" and a half a dozen other fees that usually add up to $200-300. They are BS, but seem to be charged at every dealer. This was shocking because it wasn't just a $150 documentation fee, it was nearly 5% of the cost of the vehicle.

Yep, I remember your days as a dealer. Those days and your various posts are the reason that we even looked at the AMG.
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Steve
'08 Boxster RS60 Spyder #0099/1960
- never named a car before, but this is Charlotte.
'88 targa SOLD 2004 - gone but not forgotten

Last edited by masraum; 12-01-2020 at 07:27 AM..
Old 12-01-2020, 07:20 AM
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As you saw they tack fees onto the sale and if the person pays without complaint they get the extra money. If the person complains they reduce it or waive it and the customer thinks they got a deal.
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Old 12-01-2020, 07:25 AM
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Here in Ca they are big on the "window VIN etching" and the "alarm" which is basically an aftermarket alarm that has been installed to lower the dealerships theft insurance.

Never heard of a "reconditioning fee", I thought that's what you did as a used car seller anyway.
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Old 12-01-2020, 08:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craigster59 View Post
Here in Ca they are big on the "window VIN etching" and the "alarm" which is basically an aftermarket alarm that has been installed to lower the dealerships theft insurance.
Sounds like "not something I asked for, you need to eat the cost" kind of thing.

Quote:
Never heard of a "reconditioning fee", I thought that's what you did as a used car seller anyway.
Exactly, this was my first time seeing this "fee" too. Crazy sheisse!

So much for "no haggle." "We're going to change you this extra 'fee.'"
"I'm not going to pay that, I'm outta here."
"Wait, we'll cut that in half."
"I'm still leaving."
"We'll waive it completely."

That sounded like a negotiation.
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Steve
'08 Boxster RS60 Spyder #0099/1960
- never named a car before, but this is Charlotte.
'88 targa SOLD 2004 - gone but not forgotten
Old 12-01-2020, 08:20 AM
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Steve, you were basically that dealers worst customer.
Where were they going to make any money off you?
You came in with your own financing, no chance for them there.
You looked at the 'fees' closely and refused to pay.
Best thing you did was attempt to walk out.
You always have to be ready to walk if the deal isn't what you want for a car you want to buy, not one they want you to buy.

And yes, I once spent a week as a new car salesman at a local Acura dealership. Didn't get paid a cent for my time but got an education in how to buy a car that is second to none.
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Scott
'78 SC mit Sportomatic - Sold
Old 12-01-2020, 08:30 AM
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I really don't care what they call anything other than my cost out the door. I know they don't get to control sales tax or title and regis. fees. I do see some value in being able to drive off the lot without a trip to DMV (especially in this current environment, where it's by appt only and can be months out). So I don't mind their charging for that convenience. But I only ever discuss out the door cost. I'll always use their financing if it gets me the best deal, and then I'll pay it off after one month if I have a better deal or just want to use cash.
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Old 12-01-2020, 08:33 AM
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Yup. We bought our CR-V on a spur of the moment type deal. We were prepared to pay cash but got a better deal with the dealer financing. They were able to work it out to our number out the door so we were happy.
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Scott
'78 SC mit Sportomatic - Sold
Old 12-01-2020, 08:35 AM
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That's why I've given up buying a used car from a dealer unless it's a Porsche or other high end dealer. The BS just takes my temper to redline too fast.

These days the discount on a new car vs the over priced used car market makes buying a used car almost a worse financial choice.
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Old 12-01-2020, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Douglas View Post
Steve, you were basically that dealers worst customer.
Where were they going to make any money off you?
You came in with your own financing, no chance for them there.
You looked at the 'fees' closely and refused to pay.
Best thing you did was attempt to walk out.
You always have to be ready to walk if the deal isn't what you want for a car you want to buy, not one they want you to buy.

And yes, I once spent a week as a new car salesman at a local Acura dealership. Didn't get paid a cent for my time but got an education in how to buy a car that is second to none.
Any hints/tips for improving the process?
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Steve
'08 Boxster RS60 Spyder #0099/1960
- never named a car before, but this is Charlotte.
'88 targa SOLD 2004 - gone but not forgotten
Old 12-01-2020, 08:45 AM
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Know what you are looking for, not what they are trying to sell you. If a car 'isn't the one' exactly walk away.
Let the sales guy know up front that you have your own financing and are willing to buy 'the one' right now. And know what you are willing to pay for it too.

I once had a customer come into the Acura place on a rainy Dec night, close to Xmas. He told me he and his wife had been out drinking and stopped by to look at new cars as they were going to get one when they came back from their vacation in January. He asked for a brochure. When I got the brochure from the manager's office, the manager asked me what was going on. I told him they wanted to look at the brochure. He said to let them test drive the car. I thought is this guy nuts? They've admitted to me they'd been drinking, it's raining and he wants me to let them test drive a car?
Needless to say, they didn't test drive a car, but, the manager sicked the slimiest sales guy in the place on them. When this happened, the customer says to the manager "I thought I was dealing with Scott on this." Manager says, no, so-and-so is taking over.
They hammered this guy for 2 hours. He wanted to lease it, no money out of pocket, no money down type of thing. He really didn't want a new car sitting in his garage for 2 months while he was on vacation so he raked them over the coals for an outrageous deal he knew they couldn't do. We finally closed up for the night with them still at the table. Next day I walked in and quit. I asked the manager if he knew why the guy didn't buy a car that night. He said he couldn't do the deal. I told him no, it's because he didn't want a new car sitting for 2 months while he was on vacation. He asked how I knew this. I said because I talked to the guy.

So, the best advice I can give you is, be ready to walk out. There are too many cars out there not to be able to find 'the one' for you someplace else.
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'78 SC mit Sportomatic - Sold

Last edited by Scott Douglas; 12-01-2020 at 09:14 AM..
Old 12-01-2020, 09:04 AM
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You're going to love this.
At a Honda dealership I applied to, their training started out by saying 'Every person that walks onto our lot has $800 of YOUR money in their pocket.'
Needless to say, I didn't stay for the second half of the training session.
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'78 SC mit Sportomatic - Sold
Old 12-01-2020, 09:08 AM
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Wow, crazy. Yeah, I'd NEVER make it in that sort of environment.
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Steve
'08 Boxster RS60 Spyder #0099/1960
- never named a car before, but this is Charlotte.
'88 targa SOLD 2004 - gone but not forgotten
Old 12-01-2020, 09:26 AM
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Worst car buying experience ever was when I got my 996. It was at a Porsche dealer but in the color combo I wanted. It was a no haggle place. First thing that went wrong was a higher price than agreed to once I got to the finance guy's office. Funny that I had to go to the finance guy's office since I brought a check...

A bunch of fees and some agreement to binding arbitration that was non-negotiable.

It took some time and pain but I got to the place I wanted.

The dealer was part of the Sonic auto group. I've done some research on Sonic, pretty bad customer and employee reviews.

Edit:
I said 'no haggle' but there was a trade-in so there was some haggle on that portion and the out the door price.
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Last edited by matthewb0051; 12-01-2020 at 09:34 AM.. Reason: no haggle explanation
Old 12-01-2020, 09:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matthewb0051 View Post
Worst car buying experience ever was when I got my 996. It was at a Porsche dealer but in the color combo I wanted. It was a no haggle place. First thing that went wrong was a higher price than agreed to once I got to the finance guy's office. Funny that I had to go to the finance guy's office since I brought a check...

A bunch of fees and some agreement to binding arbitration that was non-negotiable.

It took some time and pain but I got to the place I wanted.

The dealer was part of the Sonic auto group. I've done some research on Sonic, pretty bad customer and employee reviews.
Not that we often buy cars, but I'll definitely keep that in mind. Sonic seems huge, kind of like the "clear channel" company that I think bought up a bunch of radio stations.
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Steve
'08 Boxster RS60 Spyder #0099/1960
- never named a car before, but this is Charlotte.
'88 targa SOLD 2004 - gone but not forgotten
Old 12-01-2020, 09:33 AM
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I needed a shower the last time I bought a used car from a dealership. I see why Carmax gers away with overcharging since they don't pull much of this crap.

It was one of those mega dealerships along i45 near clearlake. A couple year old forester with 25k miles on it advertised for 26k was about 32-33k new.

Walked in, drove it and said I would be happy to buy it for advertised price. Things went downhill fast. Guy comes out with an itemized invoice for literally more than the new price. So many absurd fees. Got a bit heated with the guy over how exactly they recondition a 25k mile single owner car. I should have just left but ended up in hours of arguments to come down to the price they had listed on the internet.

It was the only highly optioned forester in the right color and mileage that my wife wanted in Houston area. I felt bad about giving them any of my money.

few years later bought my focus st at planet ford. They had a big sale advertised when ford said they were no longer selling them. IN and out no problem, paid cash price they had listed which was 25% off MSRP.

I think dealers are fighting back in the age of internet info. Since I am trying to never finance another car in my lifetime i think I wll stick to cash purchases of private owner cars.

We did buy our minivan from carmax. Completely pain free and pleasant process. THough I am sure we paid 1500$ more than we should have.
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Old 12-01-2020, 09:35 AM
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One of my former co-workers was a stupid car buyer. His only pint of interest was the monthly payment. He was upside down in his POS car and he "just knew" that only a new car would solve his issues.

He looked at lots of cars at a local "auto mall" that has several dealerships all side by side, and most all the manufacturers all there. He had two salesmen get in a fist fight over him as a customer. The fighting salesmen were in a real fistfight, and crashed through a glass wall. He just left.
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Old 12-01-2020, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aschen View Post
i think I wll stick to cash purchases of private owner cars.
.
Good luck with that. The dealerships have now taken over Craigslist, after having fully taken over Ebay too.
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Old 12-01-2020, 09:46 AM
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Our CR-V experience was long but not too bad actually.
Our daughter bought an Accord the same day. We worked her deal first.
When the manager came back with our credit report and said we could buy as many new cars as we wanted to, I knew we'd get our deal.
I let my wife do some of the negotiating. She offered a nice round out the door figure that turned out to be under their invoice price. We got to see the invoice since we'd seen the car up on the transporter that morning and I knew it hadn't been sitting on their lot more than 6 hours. We'd gotten there at 9:30, my wife saw the car up on the top tier of the truck at 10 and we were driving it home by 4:30 that afternoon. Took a while for them to prep it since I made them wash it twice. It had water spots all over it the first time they drove it out for us to take.
I told the manager they should really work on that part of their delivery process. Lots of people only get one chance to buy a new car in their lifetime and it should be as perfectly clean as possible for that experience to really be special for them. The car will probably never be cleaner than it is when it's delivered to the customer. She appreciated my candor and really wished I'd traded in my Accord coupe on the CR-V.

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'78 SC mit Sportomatic - Sold
Old 12-01-2020, 09:56 AM
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