Thursday

A Dealer Doc Fee Can Be Fraud

"You mean I didn't have to pay that?"

In many car sales contracts you'll see a charge for what car dealers call a "documentary fee." Watch out! That's nothing but extra profit. Doing the documents is part of what they do in every case so there's not really any extra work involved --- just extra money for the dealer.

Some states, like Ohio, do allow a car dealer to charge the documentary fee if they are arranging your financing, but there's nothing that requires it and there's nothing that says it has to be the maximum amount that even those laws allow under some specific circumstances. Nothing, that is, but greed.

That greed can get out of hand. Take the case of Lithia Motors, where they were hit with a record fine of $500,000, imposed on a dealership chain's nine stores in Alaska.

On top of the half million dollar find, Lithia Motors was also ordered to send $200 refunds to several thousand Alaskans who were charged document preparation fees that the state said had been overcharged or illegally charged. It was the largest fine handed out to an Alaska auto dealership and shows a good example of car dealer greed.

Lithia's 104 dealers, actually based in Oregon, had collected the fees from customers goiong back to 2002.

If a car dealer tries to hit you with $250 for their documentary fees, argue with them. If they won't reduce it for you to something more reasonable, then take your business elsewhere. If you just found out about it and it's too late, then call us. In many cases we can get that back for you and make the car dealer pay us for our time to do it too.

Don't waste your money and don't let a crooked car dealer rip you off. When it happens, call us. That's what we're here for.