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January 4, 2012  |  Comments
The Fine Print: Guarantees and big rebates

Photo By  Paul Vladuchick

Creative Commons photo via Flickr.

The Fine Print: Guarantees and big rebates

We’re back with another edition of The Fine Print, a series of articles where we attempt to take the mystery out of automotive advertising. In this article we discuss the benefits of a money-back guarantee, what you should look for when you see big rebates and why a price match guarantee doesn’t mean very much.

Editors’ note: The offers and events you see outlined below are examples. You might see many versions of similar offers that will differ from store to store. AutoNation is offering general advice. If you want specifics on an offer (or offers) you are considering, contact the store that provided the offer. Ask them to walk you through it (and all options or variations) until you are comfortable. If for some reason the dealer is not willing  or you’re unsure about the offer, we suggest you walk away until you understand everything.

Money back guarantee

After purchasing a new or pre-owned vehicle, it’s natural to have buyer’s remorse. For most people, this is a passing feeling. Others, however, may soon regret their decision entirely. That’s where the money back guarantee comes into play. If you strongly feel like you’ve made a mistake, you can simply bring the car back and receive a full refund, minus any wear and tear.

The guarantee usually comes with a time or mileage restraint. For example: At the majority of AutoNation stores, we offer a 3 day, 150 mile money back guarantee. You can think of it as an extended test drive. In fact, it may even ease any concerns about the car losing value right after you drive it off the lot.

Great dealThis really is a great deal. Sometimes one can get caught up in the excitement of buying a car, only to realize they made a poor decision. This offer gives power to the consumer. However, be weary of stores that try to pressure you into exchanging the vehicle for another one. At AutoNation, we pride ourselves in delivering a money back guarantee with no questions asked.

Big rebates

We’ve all seen them. They’re usually front and center at the top of a newspaper ad. They pique your interest and make you believe that you’re getting a great deal. “$10,000 off every new car and truck!” But what you probably never notice is the small “up to” in front of the dollar sign and the even smaller asterisk after the word “truck.”

What’s really going on? Usually the large rebate is on a small amount of the store’s most expensive vehicles. Therefore, the vehicle that has an MSRP of $75,000 is the one with the $10,000 off rebate. That being said, most of the other vehicles should also have rebates, they just won’t be as large as $10,000.

Since these are usually manufacturer rebates, you can always go to the actual manufacturer’s website and check what rebate is being offered on the vehicle you really want.

Good dealWhile the store really is offering a large rebate, unless you want the most expensive car, the store is probably not offering the advertised rebate on the car you’re looking at. In the off chance that you do want the expensive vehicle, the store must give you the rebate. Watch out for stores that say they “just sold” that vehicle. This is a bait and switch and you need to walk away from that dealership immediately. In most states there are laws that require the store to have enough vehicles at that rebate to meet reasonable demand.

Price match guarantee

The idea behind the price match guarantee is simple. If you, the customer, find a lower price at another automotive location, we’ll match it. Seems pretty straight-forward. Alas, the fine print tells the true story.

Most of these guarantees are valid only if certain conditions are met.  Often, the competing store must be in a 25- to 50-mile radius, the customer must bring in a written and/or signed buyers’ order from the that store and the other dealership’s vehicle must be the same trim level and contain the same equipment. Good luck.

That’s a lot of hoops to jump through to get the store to match the price. With all that effort, why not just buy the car from the other dealership?

Too good to be truePrice match guarantee is more gimmick than reality. However, we believe most stores do not offer the price match guarantee to deceive customers but to comfort their fears.  If you really want to know the true market value of a new vehicle, visit Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book.

We want to hear from you

The examples above highlight a few popular offers that often confuse auto buyers. The key is to understand all of the facts and stipulations, trusting the auto retailer making the offers and being comfortable with your decision.

If you’ve seen other offers on new or used vehicles that seem too good to be true or want some additional help, send in your questions through FacebookTwitter, or in the comments below this post. We’ll do our best to answer your questions in a future post or reach out to you one-on-one.

To view past editions of The Fine Print, click here and here.

About Adam Lopez

Adam Lopez is an advertising specialist at AutoNation's headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
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  • Gmmckenney

    Amen to that, nothing like a honest dealer. Every sale has to be win, win for both customer and dealer. Having been in the business, we only retailed first line cars, the rest went to wholesale, even if we lost money! I’ve seen them come and go.In my franchise, the company in NY  does a lot of promices and push comes to shove they don’t deliver![ Talk on both side of thier mouth, like thier1 year money back guarantee, you can emagine the stipulations that are hidden in this promice. In Maine, when my customers ask me abiut this, I tell them right front we don’t mis lead you, and explain the hoops you have to go through to return the unit, they understand that is a big city slick ad gimick. You go to the hospital and have a prosedure done, if you are not better or worse, they bill you and encourage you to do another prosedure. If the operation results in your death, the hospital bills your estate!!A used operation has no resale value, but my Humidex has.  

  • Gmmckenney

    Sometimes,just to break it up, We would advertise a used car @ 49 cents a pound, [in 1968] emagine a 1 or  2 year car for around $1800.00!!