Vehicle sales hype: distinguishing between mere puffing and fraud

Do you like bells and whistles?

Put another way: Are you the sort of person who, despite your best inclinations, tends to fall just a bit too easily for gimmickry, alleged good deals and overall hype associated with product marketing and sales?

If so, you might want to take along a rather jaundiced and cynical acquaintance with you if you become seized by the urge to visit a "really big sale" that is likely ongoing at a local car lot at this very moment.

The reason: The purveyors of that event are really good at what they do, and what they do is come up with creative and often impressively astute ways to take cash from you in a way that is ultimately detrimental to your financial well-being.

Consider a dealer claim, as noted in a precautionary online overview describing hyped-up vehicle sales tactics, that a shiny new car can be had for "Below Invoice Price!"

Really?

As pointed out in that overview, "no dealership plans on taking a loss on any of their stock." Although the sales price might in fact be beneath the invoice sticker, the dealer is certainly collecting a rebate or other incentive from the manufacturer that ensures a profit.

Dealers often lure customers via ads that hype super-low financing rates, no-money-down options and low monthly payments. Often the fine print relating to those terms reveals an anti-consumer outcome marked by an interest rate that balloons after a limited period, an inflated sticker price that compensates for lack of a down payment, or an extended payment period that ultimately yields a huge profit for the dealer.

As always, buyer beware. Many dealer advertisements are crafty but legal. Some, conversely, stray into territory that denotes fraud in uppercase.

Don't get taken. Read the small print, ask questions and fully evaluate alternative options.

And remember that no consumer needs to suffer from fraudulent behavior that results in a fleecing. An experienced consumer protection attorney can provide strong advocacy in any fraud-related matter.

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