Car buyers beware! Is this a new dealer trick?

Mr. B describes a most annoying attempt to extort an additional dealer charge when buying a car recently – including what looks like a deliberate attempt to conceal it, and obtain payment by at best underhanded, at worst dishonest means.

We haggle a bit, and agree on a price with the business manager. All good. Paperwork is drawn up, and a total agreed upon.

[My father] goes to the cashier and pays the agreed cash price for the vehicle, plus the doc fee and the fee for the temporary plate…..No sales tax because this dealer is in Illinois and he will be taking it back across the border to Indiana.

The dealership has to do their “Delivery Prep” and we wait for a few minutes. Dude comes up and hands us the keys and says…”We need to collect the sales tax, I was wrong.”

Ok, my dad is agreeable, so we go back to the cashier and he hands them a credit card to pay the 7% sales tax on a $16,900 vehicle.

The cashier says the difference is $2833. My dad looks at her and says…”7% tax, right?” She says “yes, the difference is $2833…”. My dad is pretty good at math and that doesn’t seem right to him…

I ask to see the paperwork, and it now shows the $16900, plus the doc fee and the plate fee and the line for sales tax…$1183….and a new line that says “Napleton Dealer Sales Experience Fee” and the number of $1650. Odd, that wasn’t there before….

There’s more at the link.  Go read the whole thing.

Prospective car buyers, you might want to take note of this.  It’s a dealer trick I haven’t heard of before.  I’d call it just plain crooked.  Has anyone else run into it, or something like it?  If so, please tell us about it in Comments.

“Napleton” . . . hmmm . . . an internet search for “Napleton Illinois car dealer” reveals a group of dealerships.  I’ll remember that name for future reference, just in case.



  1. Is there an honest car dealer out there? Even the doc fee is a rip off. I have bought from CarMax, as have friends of mine. The price is the price. My sister bought her car through Carvana, that was perfectly straightforward as well.
    They all get away with it, sadly.

  2. 74 franchises… Probably a car a day…
    Times $1650 for each car…
    That kind of thievery is why I got out of the automotive business entirely!

  3. The whole organization seems to have a history of these sort of charges. Better Business Bureau reports make for interesting reading.

  4. "Dealer Experience Fee", Really?

    Most would call that experience a fisting.

    I'd say I paid what I agreed and signed for. Gimme the damn car.

  5. I bought my car from CarMax over the phone. The fellow asked how much I wanted to put down, I said zero, he said fine. I flew to Maryland signed my name a few times, and drove away.Now there are several CarMax outlets nearby. When I buy another car, that is how I will do it.

    A fellow I know called the average car dealer a "rug merchant" as a disparaging term. He was right.

  6. A fellow named Kevin Hunter has a YouTube channel that has several videos on the subject of car buying, and what to watch out for.

    (No, I don't get a penny for mentioning it)

  7. Call the DMV. They love to slap fines on car dealers for unscrupulous activities. In some cases they will revoke their dealer's license.

  8. Protip: Hertz has declared bankruptcy. Others like Enterprise are ailing. Check their used car sales – they are hitting "everything must go!" prices. In my area, 2018-2019 cars with 12-24K miles are 2/3s or less the price of new. In many cases, cars with 10-12K miles per year are selling for 10% less than Kelly Blue Book Wholesale.

  9. I'm almost 60 and I bought one new car at the dealership and don't recall the details, and I bought another one at a dealership and was divorced about 2 months later.
    My advice? Don't buy a new car, ever.

    That other car is 20 years old and still runs just fine and I could fix the door and the air conditioner if I wanted to but I don't actually care.

    We drive by Lordstown enough to see the vast lots filled with their cars which nobody is buying. You can't miss Lordstown. It's about a mile long and right next to the interstate.

  10. Last new car I bought was an '85 VW GTI (very nice car BTW). The local VW dealer would't haggle on price and acted like they were doing me a favor to even talk to me. The final insult was an "additional Dealer Prep" fee.
    I asked (semi politely) WTF, doesn't VW include your dealer prep in their price? You mean to tell me that VW will allow you to sell a car not properly prepared? Eventually they agreed to drop the "additional Dealer Prep" fee, but I had enough of the FU treatment. I went up the road about 20 miles and bought the car I wanted, got a discount off the sticker, and was treated like they actually wanted my business.

  11. 1. There are penalties in life for people who do not do the math. Some customers wouldn't even check that the "tax" doesn't calculate out right.

    2. I once was considering an advertised position for an auto dealer finance manager. I found out it was not an accounting/numbers job. It was a position where you were evaluated on your success in selling dealer financing vs. outside sources of loans; extended warranty plans; and crappy stuff like the "experience" charge described here. No way.

    3. Generalizations may not be totally correct. There may be honest car dealers out there. I have known of two in my time. One sold Cadillacs, (which I was never interested in) and retired a long time ago. The other had to sell his franchise/dealership at a loss of most of his investment during a recession and in his 50's go back to "CPA'in" as he referred to it.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *