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Can fees add up to over $3,000?

robfocus2014robfocus2014 Posts: 7
edited July 2014 in Ford

I recently bought a brand new 2014 Ford Focus SE. I won't name the dealership just in case because they told me that Ford can be pretty harsh to sales people if a customer complains. But I'm trying to figure out if I was too gullible, seeing that I'm not that good with numbers and I was a bit too anxious to get the car, or if the excessive amount of fees on top of the car price are normal.

The car, as it was advertised on the dealer's website, was $19,833. Actually it showed as:

List price: $21,430
You save: $1,547
Now: $19,883

On In that page, of which I still have the print-out, it doesn't show any fees, and the only small print talks about the features in the vehicle. But from that value of $19,833 they jumped me to a value of $23,588.60, meaning there is a difference of $3,705.60.

I must admit that I don't have much experience buying cars, since I lived in a big city with public transportation most of my life, and the only other car I had before was a used car that someone else made the deal for me, so my lack of experience in this probably played a part. However, perhaps this is an honest dealership (it is one of the biggest in the area) and this is the way it usually goes, meaning there are several thousand dollars in added fees to the list price of a car. So for someone kind enough to keep reading and take a look at these values, I would like to know if I got ripped off or not, if only to learn something for next time I have to buy a car.

I have two documents showing the price on them with different fees. In each document, the total selling price is way different. In one of the documents, which doesn't have a title but it's printed on pink thin paper, it has a total selling price of 20,999. Added to that are:

  • Dealer Elec. Filing Fee: $59
  • Customer Services: $599
  • NC Highway Use Tax: $707.60
  • License Transfer/Title Registration: $ 74

Below that, it shows: Total Cash Price - Delivered: $22,438.60

My down-payment was $3,000 and there was a rebate for $1,000 added to the down-payment.

The last fee in this pink document, under "Other amounts financed" is Extended Service Contract for $1,150 (which they didn't ask me if I wanted, they only told me it was included with the car).

So at the bottom of this pink paper, it shows that the "Amount Financed" is $19,588.60

Then there is another document consisting of several pages, where it shows on the first page the same number, $19,588 as the total amount financed, and then on the second page it shows several other fees, which didn't show on the other document:

Cash price including $707.60 sales tax (same value that shows as NC Highway Use Tax in the other document). Then it shows the down-payment plus the rebate totaling $4,000. Then it shows "Unpaid Balance of Cash Price $17,706.60.

The other fees in this document are:

  • License fee: $34
  • Government Certificate of Title Fees: $40
  • Extended service warranty: $1,150
  • Documentary Fee: $599 (I don't know if this is the same as the "Customer Services" fee in the other document, since it's the same amount)
  • Optional Dlr Elec Filing Fee: $59
  • Total other charges and amounts paid to others on your behalf: $1,182

Finally, at the bottom:

Amount Financed: $19,588.60

I made a spreadsheet with all these values, and it gives me that there is a difference of $3,705.60 between the price advertised on the dealer's website and the final price of $23,588.60 that my Sale Contract shows. Also after adding all the extra charges, fees, etc, it gives me that those are $3,262.60, although this could be wrong, because there are two charges on both documents with different names, such as the NC Highway Use Tax of $707.60, and the same value on the other form for Sales Tax, and the Documentary Fee of $599, same value as Customer Services on the other form.

Either way, this is a colossal difference between the price advertised on their website and the price I ended up paying. So what do you guys think, did I get rip off big time, or are all these normal charges?





  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490

    The Extended service warranty: $1,150 is definitely a "padding" unless you wanted one---so you can ask them to remove that from the deal because you didn't order it, didn't read it, and don't understand what it is. They may protest but I don't think they will insist you buy it.

    The doc fees of $599 are also very high--unfortunately in terms of fee limits, NC does not have a limit on dealer doc fees. But you can certainly demand that they be lowered.

    Here's some further info on doc fees:

  • Thanks Mr. ShiftRight. The extended service warranty I'm fine with, it just bothers me that it was added without them ever asking me for it. But overall, even with the excessive $599, do all these fees I put in my post above seem normal, or did I get ripped off? I get the feeling I got ripped off, but I want to know for sure before I complain about it.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    edited July 2014

    Well I think the $599 is a total rip. As for the tax, well that's the tax, no helping that. As for the cost of the extended service contract, that all depends on the coverage, whether it might be worth it or

    But what's this: "Total other charges and amounts paid to others on your behalf: $1,182"?

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225

    I agree, 599.00 is just NUTS! I don't get the 1,182 either! I'm surprised you didn't ask a lot of questions or just walk out! I know I would have.

  • cmhj2000cmhj2000 Se, Pa.Posts: 381

    Someone saw you coming! GEZ

  • robfocus2014robfocus2014 Posts: 7
    edited July 2014

    @cmhj2000 said:
    Someone saw you coming! GEZ

    A comment like this doesn't really help me much. If I was ripped off, then I wasn't neither the first nor the last person in the history of the world to be ripped off. I know I made a lot of mistakes and I wasn't a big pain in the butt to them by asking every single question, and unfortunately the moment I drove the car I fell in love with it, so my eagerness contributed to this. I recognize it and I learned my lesson. Believe me, I went in there not even contemplating buying the car that day, I simply went there because they had the exact car and color I wanted, which perhaps was my first mistake, because had I gone to another dealership that didn't have the color I wanted, no push sales tactics would have worked.

    Basically I'd like to know if this was a giant rip off or not, because I still have to answer this survey from Ford where as far as the salesman told me, if I don't answer everything perfect, they take the bonuses from him for a full month. Now, this could also be a load of manure, like his push tactic that there was another customer that was going to get my car later that day if I didn't get it. However, whether it's true or not that they would take his bonuses away for one month, what I'm sure is that if I don't answer that survey with "Extremely satisfied" answers, they won't like it one bit, but if they ripped me off I don't really care if Ford takes all their bonuses away or whatever they might do.

    @Mr_Shiftright said:

    But what's this: "Total other charges and amounts paid to others on your behalf: $1,182"?

    Actually I copied that wrong, it's $1,882, and it's the sum of all the extra charges in the sales contract:

    • License fee: $34
    • Government cert of title fees: $40
    • Extended service warranty: $1,150
    • Documentary Fee: $599
    • Optional Dlr Elec Fee: $59

    Basically the sales guy came with a proposal at one point that was absurd because it was $2,000 down-payment and $407.88 for 60 months financing, at which point I told him I was going to go to another dealer because the Build & Price at the Ford website was giving me about $300/month for 60 months financing with $2,200 down-payment, at which point he obviously tried to keep me from leaving, and went to talk to the "finance" guy and came back with a deal that was $3,000 down-payment and $326 for 60 months, supposedly with 0% APR, but that's BS, because they added so much crap in there to the original price that even if my payments are frozen at $326, it's not different from paying much lower fees but a higher APR.

    The bad taste in my mouth is not so much the $599 in doc fees, I'm sure they put that in all the sales contracts, and what changes is the final price. But because I was eager to get the car I didn't stop long enough to do my own math and realize all the money that was getting added to the original price. I mean, from the $19,883 advertised on the website they went to $23,588, so for starters I'm sure that the $1,000 Ford rebate was null, that instead of subtracting it to the price of the car, they added it and then subtracted it.

    Then I'm not clear (perhaps some of you know this) if the "Documentary Fee" is the same as "Customer Services" because both are $599, with the doc fee showing in the sales contract and the customer service fee in the pink paper.

    By the way, sorry for the late reply, I thought I was going to get email notifications when replies were posted, but I didn't get any, until I realized that I had to setup the notifications to get them by email.

  • I also realized by going through the papers again, the NC Highway Tax is supposed to be 3%, so for a value of $20,999 it should be $629.97, but they put it as $707.60. This may not be a colossal difference, but it is a difference nonetheless.

  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 127,973

    @robfocus2014 said:
    I also realized by going through the papers again, the NC Highway Tax is supposed to be 3%, so for a value of $20,999 it should be $629.97, but they put it as $707.60. This may not be a colossal difference, but it is a difference nonetheless.

    Generally, they don't tax the CAP cost... .they tax the selling price, plus rebates, plus dealer document fees..

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • @kyfdx said:
    Generally, they don't tax the CAP cost... .they tax the selling price, plus rebates, plus dealer document fees..

    Not in this case, or the Hwy tax would be much higher. The sales contract erroneously says "sales tax", when NC doesn't charge sales tax for vehicles, it charges Highway Use Tax, and it's 3%, checked with the DMV website and several other websites. To the value of $20999 they applied 3.37% to end up with the $21,706.60 number, which I don't know where it's coming from.

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225

    My suggestion would be to just move on at this point and enjoy your car.

    If you ask after making a deal, someone will ALWAYS rain on your parade and tell you paid too much.

    As for the survey, I would just throw it in the trash. If it's a phone survey, just tell the person you don't want to participate.

    Life is short, enjoy your new ride!

  • OK, so I went there yesterday since I had to pick up my license plate, and the sales manager gave me the detailed explanation. The numbers are fine, even though the doc fee is insane, but I can't do anything about it because NC doesn't put a cap on that. And I'm sure that even on states with a cap on it, they add the rest to the price of the car anyways.

    So for whoever wants to know how the numbers match, here's the rundown:

    Car price: $20,999
    Minus $1000 Ford rebate: $19,999
    Minus $3000 down payment: $16,999
    Plus total fees and extended warranty ($1882): $18,881
    Plus NC Hwy use tax + sales tax for extended warranty: $707.60
    Final amount financed: $19,588

  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited July 2014

    One thing you can do is write a Dealer Review. When enough people read those and see the crazy doc fees, the dealers will be pressured to justify them or lose customers.

  • You're right, I think I did that shortly after I bought the car, but I will write another one. Still, in the Ford survey they sent to all customers, I made sure I wrote that in the comments as well.

  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited July 2014

    Good for you. Some of it is consumer education, but it's hard for most of us to keep track of the gotchas since we don't buy cars that often.

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