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Dear Consumer Ed:
I responded to an ad for a car on a website listed for $24,799. When I spoke to a salesman, he said the price is actually more than $1800 higher. He explained this difference was because the advertised price includes discounts and rebates that I did not qualify for. I asked him to show me where this was stated on the website, and he was unable to do so. What are my options?
Consumer Ed says:
From what you’ve said, it sounds like the dealer is claiming the advertised price factored in a special incentive program that wasn’t disclosed in the ad. A special incentive program is one involving rebates, discounts, and/or financing that does not apply to all of the buying public. Auto dealers are permitted to offer such programs; however, because only a small percentage of the buying public usually qualifies, the dealer may not factor in these types of discounts in the advertised price. Special incentive program discounts may be included in an advertisement, but must be listed as a separate, additional discount available only to those who qualify. Information about the specific qualifications required to receive the discount must also be included clearly and conspicuously in the advertisement. The advertised price should be the price available to all of the buying public.
Because the dealer incorporated special incentives and discounts in the pricing, the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection considers this to be a violation of the Fair Business Practices Act (“FBPA”).
If you have a copy of the advertisement, you could consider contacting the dealer again and asking that the original advertised price for the vehicle be honored. You can also submit a complaint to the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection at www.consumer.ga.gov, or by calling 404-651-8600.
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