Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Documentation Fees

raybearraybear Posts: 1,795
Working with a number of dealers and a number of regions I find doc fees vary from zero to several hundred dollars.

This can make a big difference in a successful negotiation.

So...if you're a consumer, how do you deal with it, and if a dealer, how do you justify it?


  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ..... I have been going down that road for about 2 yrs now, perhaps you will have better luck than I .. that's why I stay out of most of these "discussions" ..l.o.l...

    Terry :-)
  • alfoxalfox Posts: 716
    paying up to $100 for the documentation fee, as long as it includes the run to the insurance company for the insurance stamp, and the run to the Registry for the registration and title application. That way I can pick up the car without missing work. It's well worth my time, since they are chores I hate. I've never actually paid more than $75 for that service.

    I just consider the OTD price including all dealer fees when deciding what to buy.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    charge a doc fee plus registration, title and tire tax (a PA thing). In New Jersey, state law allows up to a $199 "doc fee" in addition to all the license and registration fees.
  • tbonertboner Posts: 402
    ...they want you to pay the same regardless if they are even going to do the work. Living on the border of MO and IL I've purchased cars in each state. I generally balk at paying a document fee only to be given a title or Certificate of Origin and told to do the paperwork in my home state.

    Besides, it is not like someone is going to do just your paperwork when they do run it. Let's say they run to Springfield, IL and back. That's about 180 miles round trip, and let's say it takes the whole day to do the job. So 8 hours at even $10/hour plus $0.35/mile for 180 miles is $63 for mileage. So a dealership might have $143 in transportation and labor costs if you did just one registration.

    However, I suspect this is done on a weekly basis, so a store that sells 100 cars a month might do 25 of these a week.

    Cost to process your paperwork, $6.00
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    these doc fees got way out of hand where a good natured dealer charged you $10 (close to the real cost) and another dealer would charge $200 in order to pad profits. In every state I know of, the state mandates caps on these fees.
  • manamalmanamal Posts: 434
    Cliffy could correct me, but I belive there is no limit on doc fes in Virginia.

    Some dealers charge upwards of $600 for the doc fee. I have not found any dealers that are less than 200
  • sonjaabsonjaab Posts: 1,057
    GM dealers all charged 20 bucks DOC fees.
    My family has purchased 10 new GMs this year.
  • blh7068blh7068 Posts: 375
    here in OK charges $10 DOC fee. The Nissan dealer I bought my Maxima from charged $249.
  • alfoxalfox Posts: 716
    It's just part of the Out-the-Door price. If the total price is too high, move on to another store.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    Contact a dealer or two when you start shopping and ask what their doc fee is - it certainly can vary by dealer.
  • raybearraybear Posts: 1,795
    It's not so simple. A dealer advertises a great deal in the paper and sucks people into his store. A certain percentage of them will stick no matter what the doc fee is.

    My local Toyota dealer charges $399, one of his competitors charges $139. Guess who advertises cheaper cars?
  • I suppose you also see injustice when electronics retailers, toy stores, etc. advertise low prices on items only to tell you batteries not included when you go to buy one.
  • audia8qaudia8q Posts: 3,138
    raybear your post is right on target. The magic of advertising*. haha

    *plus, TT&L, doc fee, lot fee, swap fee, storage fee, clean and detail fee, 50 year/5 million miles warranty and deer whistles.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    $229 pinstripes. That's $229 a side, by the way.
  • raybearraybear Posts: 1,795
    Batteries don't cost $260!
  • tbonertboner Posts: 402

    We don't mind paying a doc fee that covers your costs of having the document clerk go to the DMV and register our vehicle. Better him or her stand in line than me.

    But be realistic about that fee. Even figuring in the costs of office automation equipment, software and forms, it can't cost anywhere near $299 to get my plates and register my title (unless this $299 includes the fees charged by the state.)

    I believe in IL tags are $75/year and title registration is $60. (An insane price to have the state basically record my name, address and DL, mileage at registration, any lienholder info and a VIN.) So 200 beans to cover the state fees and the cost of the documents clerk is probably fair.

    However, that same 200 beans above the $135 I have to pay the state makes it worth my while to fill out the forms myself and spend 30 minutes at the Secretary of State branch office.

    But I do agree with the notion presented above, I don't care about the doc fee, as long as the OTD price doesn't exceed the pre-negotiated number.

    Besides, how much can it really cost in automation equipment if I can renew my tags online and only pay an extra $1.75 to use my credit card instead of driving down to the SoS office. I don't think $1.75 even covers my gas.

  • Be it furniture, electronics, cars, jewelry, etc., advertising is never going to lay the entire transaction on the table. If advertisers laid everything before the consumer, they would become ineffective.
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    there is a difference between a "doc fee" and "registration fees". Each state usually has standard registration fees - in PA, it's 33.00 for the title, 22.50 for plates, 5.00 tire tax and 12.75 if you have the dealer do the registration on-line. The doc fee is simply a charge that allows the dealer to recoup money and is usually linked to the "pack" - money set aside out of each car deal's profit for administrative costs.

    In my opinion, based on my experience, if a dealer charges more than $30-40 for a doc fee, it's just another way to grab profit. There's nothing wrong with profit, but hiding it in an administrative fee that IS NOT A PART OF STATE REGISTRATION AND TAX FEES is just wrong. There's plenty of money to be made in the car business the legitimate way - no sense in scamming folks.
  • tbonertboner Posts: 402
    I think we are saying the same thing. We just used different words.

    Obviously yours are more clear to me than mine are to (and probably others)


    Autocross This
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    I have to fight the urge to slalom cones in a construction zone!!
  • tbonertboner Posts: 402
    I did that once at 3:30AM after a service call. The customer has become a friend of mine, so we went to the local Denny's for a bite to eat. We went through a four lane undivided section of road with two lanes blocked off by barrels.

    Well, let's just say the Buick with a trunk full of tools and parts doesn't do too bad.

    Of course, nothing like my SVT Contour, however.

    Didn't pay doc fees on either, BTW.

  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    at Nazareth in E Street Prepared. He's very smooth and very fast.
  • audia8qaudia8q Posts: 3,138
    get in CT we have a computer right in our dealership that is connected to the motor vehcile department...we can issue hard plates and do the transfers, name changes, etc... right in the office....but for this privledge we pay the state apx $15K per year in fees, just for this system, and still have to send a runner with the actual paperwork to the Motor vehicle department daily.
    Plus...we must charge a $40 emissions fee per car sold for an state emission program that shut down and does not exist...but you get a nice colorful sticker.
    talk about a scam!
  • tbonertboner Posts: 402
    Like I've always said, it is sad when the government makes more on a sale than a business with capital at risk.

    Pro profit, anti large government, thinks he is a Smart Shopper.
  • sonjaabsonjaab Posts: 1,057
    Some of the mega dealers here in NY have
    the same deal. Plates and 'puter to print
    out reg. and stickers. No running to the
    DMV. Iwonder how much it costs them ?
    But like I said on all the GM employee deals
    on the 10 cars we bought this year 20bucks doc
    fees tho...........geo
  • alfoxalfox Posts: 716
    I don't care if it's $20 or $200, as long as the bottom line is the right price. Whether the dealer package his profit in the doc fee or on the selling price I could care less. As long as I'm paying market price on the car at the bottom line he can do what he wants.
  • kkollwitzkkollwitz Posts: 274
    was right at the beginning, and he is still right. Pay no attention to any number but the OTD (out the door) price.
  • the basic catch to the doc fee - and why it works as a separate fee - is springing it on the customer after s/he thought they had reached a final price. It's nothing more than one last chance to pad the price at the precise moment the customer has emotionally "bought the car" and has let down his or her negotiating guard.

    Even trying to find out what the doc fee is isn't foolproof as I've found that the doc fee that the salesman swears his dealership doesn't have suddenly morphs into an "Administrative Fee" or a "Delivery Fee" when paper signing time comes.

    Focusing on OTD and sticking to it is of course the answer. Nonetheless, it is undeniably wearying and irritating to have to fend off such arbitrary fees in order to get to a final price.

Sign In or Register to comment.