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Clay Car Dealerships: We Hide Nothing*

Clay video

Finally, there is a car dealer that doesn’t play games. In its brilliant and funny video, Clay says that other car dealers have found “seven ways to bend you over and [stick it to you], but at Clay family dealerships we take a different approach.” 

The ad goes on to say “there are a lot of names for what goes on in a dealer’s showroom — hosed, cheated, scammed…” But, at Clay “we’ll show you each of the seven hidden ways car dealers take you,” “we’ll explain tricks like the bait and switch,” and “this is how cars should be sold — honestly, proudly, nakedly.” 

With the bad reputation that so many car dealers have gotten over the years, no wonder this dealer wants to try to set itself apart from the crowd. And, it is refreshing to hear that a car dealer really wants to be honest and open.

Now back to reality. Here is an ad from one of the Clay dealerships that appeared in the Boston Globe on April 28, 2007:

Clay ad small

*MOUSE PRINT: While the ad says that one can “buy for $22,702,” this Nissan, the smaller print above indicates that this artificially low bargain price was only arrived at by subtracting the buyer’s down payment of over $3000.

A down payment, whether in cash or trade, is never a discount off the price, but rather it is a means of partial payment of the total selling price. In this case, the real selling price is almost $26,000 (or maybe more), not the $22,702 represented as the “buy for” price.

To be fair to Clay, most car dealers in the Boston area play this same game of advertising a manipulated low price. That doesn’t make it right, but does make it common (unfortunately).

That said, if you are going to advertise the despicable nature of the dirty tricks played by other car dealers, why engage in one yourself? 

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14 thoughts on “Clay Car Dealerships: We Hide Nothing*”

  1. I’ve noticed this practice for quite some time and I’m surprised to see that it is still a legal way to advertise. Same goes for TV commercials, although I notice the small print on the screen it is usually too small to read and only displayed for a fraction of a second.

  2. Car dealerships need to be held accountable. Their advertising tricks have gone way to far. What really irritates me is when they quote a bargain price for an automobile, but they have only gotten to that price by applying every cash incentive under the sun – and even cash incentives that would be mutually exclusive of each other. This should be illegal. Period. Bottom line – don’t trust your car dealler for anything! Do the research yourself and go into the deal knowing exactly what the top price you are willing to pay for a car. Also, bargain down your fees and “dealer costs” – most of them are fluff and completely unnecessary.

  3. You definitely have to be very careful with dealerships. While buying my second car, I thought I was watching for all the tricks. The deal was done, I drove home happy, only to be called back to the dealership a few days later and was told that I had to either get a co-signor (which I would have done in the first place had I been able) or put more money down and more a month. When I explained that I wasn’t able to do that, and that I came into the dealership telling them to show me cars in my price range, they told me that I had no other choice and that if I chose to back out of the deal I would forfeit my down payment, by charging outrageous rates for daily use and mileage. So, now I’m stuck with a car that’s not all that great and not even affordable. I can’t even begin to express my frustration for dealerships and what they get away with.

  4. These are just acts of desperation. Car dealers (of a particular brand of car) each sell the identical product and competition is fierce. An individual car dealer offers an indistinguishable product/service from his lower-priced competition. The best way for a consumer to buy a car is to simply shop on price, avoid ALL extras (ESPECIALLY WARRANTIES), and get all price quotes via internet car-buying websites (rather than going to the dealerships–waste of time).

  5. With regards to what F5F wrote; my family has saved enough money with car warranties to purchase two or three more cars if we wanted…. our ford explorer had its transmission replaced twice all for free under warranty (it ended up being a lemon and they gave us a whole new car)… our saab’s have all had potentially expensive problems, all of which paid for their extended warranties the first time around. Extended warranties are definitely a cash cow for a lot of companies, but a lot of cars suck pretty bad and they can pay for their warranties immediately.

  6. Daniel,
    I didn’t say warranties are bad. Just don’t buy them from the dealer! There is no need to pay double for the SAME third-party warranty from the dealer when you can get it directly from the warranty company. People seem to think there is some kind of need to buy it right then and there, as if the dealership is the only opportunity. Other similar “nice to have” items, but best NOT bought at the dealership are: window etching, floor mats, alarms, and that plastic stuff that protects the front bumper.

  7. Car dealers are in business to make money “duh” and therefor will do what they can to increase profits and minimize efforts otherwise, so as long as they can get away with it expect nasty treatment from run of the mill dealers (this is different than those that sell service and ego massage to the truly wealthy) because intimidation works if the customer really wants that new car! See the dealer knows that if you leave feeling sore (in one way, but happy/excited (otherwise) driving the new car they’ll get away with such schemes — as when is the next time you’ll be in the market to buy a new car??.. and who will admit such defeat for the sake of desire; rather they’ll find some way to brag and look good to their friends. So who cares if you’re feeling negative after all you probably won’t be back for 5 years right? All dealerships are the same in this way no matter how you slice it. Their big fear is direct sales that require less overhead such as internet purchases, no big showrooms and sales commissions with lots of employees to take care of. Nope – you click and the hunk of metal is shipped out, if you don’t like it’s shipped back like everything else you buy online – the price and demand reflecting the ease of the return (like Amazon vs eBay).. Perhaps a new car manufacturer will appear on the scene promoting this sort of thing, working with independent auto shops to provide warranty service and the like. THIS will place auto sales on more even ground and then the sales guys will find work elsewhere…

  8. I have a question for Edgar, How big was that ad when it was printed? The trade and match seem to be what the dealer is trying to show off, and the type is very clear even in the picture posted on this website. As far as the dealer’s claim to show you everything, it would appear they are.

    In my opinion, how big the original image was could have everything to do with this one.

  9. Edgar replies: The ad is 4″ from below the price to the top of the spokesman’s head. The mere fact of disclosure does not make it right, however. The point is that you cannot buy that car for $22,702 no matter what you disclose. That is not the price, yet is labeled as the price.

  10. The problem with pricing is more complex than just this. Compared to e.g. Europe, Russia and Japan, Americans give themselves a really hard time because they allow taxes and fees not to be included in the “price”. When you shop in Europe, Japan or Russia, the price equals the amount of money you hand over to take the product home. Taxes and fees are not the problem of the customer, they are the problem of the vendor.

    Having been in Europe a lot and having experienced the ease of their system, I keep being surprised that Americans are willing to deal with the hassle of all these different sales taxes and other fees that are added when leaving the store. It is virtually impossible to understand as a customer what taxes and fees will apply. Even a simple trip to the supermarket is horribly confusing. Different sales tax rates apply for food, drug and alcohol products. And if you live near a state border, it gets al the more confusing because the next state has a complete set of different rules, making comparing prices even harder.

    In all, when you shop and watch the prices in a store, adding those numbers is useless, because some semi-random amount will be added to the total anyway. I believe that this practise is at the root of all evil here.

  11. It seems that we need to do away with any fine print related to price.

    And the price must be listed next to the product being sold (unlike above where it’s at the botom of the ad and the picture is at the top…they could have used mor fine print to indicate that the car shown is not the one being advertised at that price.

    The only exception I would allow is price because our US system allows tax at the city level, county level, state level and national level so they can add “+tax” and leave that to be determined by government regulation.

    Fees? Nope…gotta include that in the price, or at least show an itemized list of fees and who gets charged those fees.

  12. I came to the site to see if I could get information as to which government agency regulates car dealerships. How do these guys get away with all of this stuff?! Who is in control of the business practices of car dealers public and private taking advantage of innocent, uninformed consumers, like me.

    Edgar replies: Mae, consumer complaints about car dealers are generally filed at your state Attorney General’s office, the consumer protection division.

  13. Its no accident that car dealerships have gotten the reputation that they have “earned” and so rightly
    If you can believe any of the ads – then you are living in alice in wonderland
    Most people only buy cars when theirs breaks down or become unreliable – so they are sitting ducks in a not so good negotiating position
    Even with internet car sales departments it is just another means of getting prospects in the door
    Overall its a numbers game


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