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Visit Generations Digital

CarGurus and selective rule enforcement

Visit Generations Digital

Jeff Kershner

May 1, 2005
First Name
Sure is Drew. You should go back a few comments and read the one I shared this morning...

Timely article from Tom Parkland, Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert just posted a quick read/rant over on Jalopnik's website - Why Do Car Listing Websites Let Dealers Post Deceptive Prices?

His rant is legit and one that reflects your exact issue @M_Shaw with CarGurus allowing dealers to post a sale price that reflects a down payment in order to get to the posted sale price, allowing dealers to game the "Good Deal" "Not So Good Deal" labeling. Tom absolutely agrees "It’s certainly a shady practice, and for me, that would be a red flag to take my business elsewhere."

His conclusion being that these vehicle listing sites are possibly allowing this because it's the dealers are their PAYING customers and without their inventory they no longer have a business model. Could this be true? :banghead:

My argument(s) is that it's not only a bad reflection on the dealers playing these pricing games but it also causes a bad experience for the consumer, resulting in negative reflection on the listing site. And if the listing site doesn't think it has any impact on them, they've got their head up their A$$. I've witnessed customers complaining about it first hand, just as Tom is in this article on an extremely popular automotive website.

I guess it could be chalked up to dealers being dealers... but causing other dealers to say hey, if they can get away with it and reap the benefits then why can't we! See the growing issue here? Heck, why stop at $2000 down to game the labeling and not go for another $5-6K down guaranteeing you always having the absolute LOWEST pricing in the market on all of your pre-owned inventory??

You know where else this causes issues? With the dealer's sales employees. Can you imagine having to explain the shady pricing tactic to every used car customer that calls, submits a lead or just shows up?? What a headache to deal with.

@M_Shaw I was doing a bit more research (like it's last day of the month here at the dealership and I have nothing at all better to do... :nono:) and found a few of the dealers in your area playing these games. North Shore Certified being one of these dealers... huge problem here, this dealer DOES NOT point out to the fact that their sales pricing reflects a $1,995 down payment or equivalent trade-in anywhere on a VDP listed on CarGurus. However, they do have it listed out on the very bottom of the VDP on their own website. I don't know the advertising laws for NY, so I wonder if dealers are allowed to get away with this legally.

I found ANOTHER dealership in your area that does the same thing, Victory Mitsubishi. They tack on another $500. Again, NO disclaimer on their VDP listed on CarGurus BUT is found at the bottom of the VDP on their own website - **With approved credit. Terms may vary. Monthly payments are only estimates derived from the vehicle price with a 72 month term, 4.9% interest and $2,500 down payment.
All of their listed "Internet Special Pricing - Limited Time Offers" reflect the $2,500 down.

So basically - the SALE PRICE isn't the SALE PRICE. It's the Retail price MINUS the customers $2,500 down. I don't know about anyone else but I find this to be a blatant lie. NONE of the Sale Pricing for these 2 particular dealers point to any pricing disclaimer. No "?", no click here for pricing disclaimer, not even an *. You have to scroll to the very bottom of each VDP to find this pricing disclaimer.

Again, I don't know NY laws so maybe this is totally legal BUT I can't imagine there's no need for a disclaimer SOMEWHERE on the VDP for each of the listing websites they have their inventory hosted on.

Gunny thing is, it was really easy to find these dealers on Cargurus because BOTH of these 2 example dealers have GREAT DEAL badges with savings of well over $3000 on most of their vehicles.

It would be near impossible to be an HONEST dealer in these regions with so many dealers playing this game.

The question is, whose responsibility is this...
The States to mandate advertising guidelines?
The listing websites to keep dealers from playing pricing games, by default gaming the "Great Deal" labeling and causing a bad experience for the consumer?

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Sr. Refresher
Apr 30, 2009
Phoenix, AZ
First Name
Another note -- all these dealers with "after down payment of XXXX" are in violation of RegZ (Federal) -- as they are missing alot of other information due to the fact that "down payment" is a trigger term for RegZ.


Sr. Refresher
Mar 17, 2014
Columbus, Nebraska
First Name
It's up to the states to enforce and fine these dealers for violations. It's usually up to other dealers to police this and turn in violations.

Most states are pretty lenient on placement of disclaimers, as long as they are somewhere on the ad (VDP).

In Nebraska this is how their law reads:
(8) To advertise the price of a motor vehicle, motorcycle, or trailer without including all charges which the customer must pay for the motor vehicle, motorcycle, or trailer, excepting state and local taxes and license, title, and other fees. It shall be unlawful to advertise prices described as unpaid balance unless they are the full cash selling price and to advertise price which is not the full selling price even though qualified with expressions such as with trade, with acceptable trade, or other similar words;

(7) To advertise by making the layout, headlines, illustrations, and type size of an advertisement so as to convey or permit an erroneous impression as to which motor vehicle, motorcycle, or trailer or motor vehicles, motorcycles, or trailers are offered at featured prices. No advertised offer, expression, or display of price, terms, downpayment, trade-in allowance, cash difference, or savings shall be misleading by itself, and any qualification to such offer, expression, or display shall be clearly and conspicuously set forth in comparative type size and style, location, and layout to prevent deception;

This issue was brought up at the Nebraska Independent Auto Dealers conference about 18 months ago. The director of the Dealer Licensing Board was present, and he spoke in great detail about the issue.

Jurisdiction was where the issue was for him. He 100% agreed with how deceptive the practice is, but didn't see a way for him to enforce it within the current laws that exist in Nebraska. He went on to say that if he saw this type of pricing on the DEALERSHIP website, he would start fining these dealers immediately. In summary, he said that if dealers do this on Craigslist, Facebook, or 3rd party listing sites...he doesn't know hot to enforce the laws. Don't do it on our own websites though, or there will be fines coming.