Car Dealers & Illegal Dealer Fees (Georgia)

So you really dig the Honda Civic you saw advertised for $7100 online. But at the dealership you suddenly learn its take home price is now $8100. This really happened to me and I was furious. Turns out, the sales guy wanted to charge me an additional $599 “dealer fee” along with the taxes and title fees.

So what are dealer fees?  Can car dealers legally tack them on to the price they advertised?  The answer to the last question is NO. This practice is totally illegal in Georgia (See dealer fee restrictions in GA and other states).

A dealer’s fee is nothing more than a clever way for a car salesman to grab your money. Dealer fees may show up as “administrative fees,” “document fees,” “processing fees,” or “customer service fees,. They could also be called reconditioning or “recon fees”, or “protection fees” etc.  It’s all left to the car dealer’s imagination.  Bottom Line: A dealer fee is any non-governmental fee a car dealer tacks on.

Dealer fees are not per se illegal. Georgia law allows car dealers to charge whatever they like for these fees. But here’s the catch! It’s TOTALLY ILLEGAL to advertise a price and then tack these fees on later. THAT’S RIGHT! The price they show you must include any and all dealer fees or they’re ripping you off! This pricing requirement extends to any advertised price in any medium. So if they advertised the car for $7100, the law says this price must include all dealer fees. The car dealer can’t slip them in later. Even if their website disclaimer says “price does not include dealer fees.”

So if Stone Mountain Toyota decides to show you a computer screen showing the car’s price, they’ve published it! The only fees they can add to this price are the fees they must pay the government.

Other types of charges that MUST be included in the vehicle’s advertised price include “freight charges”, “transportation charges”, “destination charges”, “dealer preparation charges”, “overhead charges”, and any other terms of similar import.

Fees New and Used Car Dealers Don’t Have To Include In The Price
The only fees dealers DON’T have to list in the advertised price are government fees, which include tax, tag, title, Georgia Lemon Law, and Warranty Rights Act (“WRA”) fees. The GA Lemon Law fee is just $3 and applies only to new vehicles.

So be sure to ask the car salesman “What’s the full price when I walk out the door.” And don’t let them get away with tacking on dealer fees not already included in the advertised price.

How To Verify You’re Not Being Overcharged For Government Fees
If government fees are being added to the price of the car, be sure to ask what each fee is for and how it was calculated. You can ask them “Is this the exact amount you pay the government or is it more than that?” If the dealer inflates the title fee or tax amount, it’s nothing but an illegal dealer fee in disguise.

Don’t confuse the government’s title fee of $18 with the more expensive “Titling Fee” often charged by new and used car dealers. The latter is often five times the amount charged by the state. So the dealer’s titling fee also needs to part of the published price of the car. It can’t be extra.

Government Fees The Dealer Can Add To The Price Of The Car

Government Title Fees=$18. See DOR Title/Tag Application
($50 titling Fee=Deceptive per GA. Gov Auto Informer 2020)

GA License Plate Fees= $20 (car or light pickup truck)

GA Lemon Law Fee=$3

Ad Valorem (Sales Tax): To know the exact taxes the dealer must pay,  simply enter the car’s vehicle identification number into the Georgia Department of Revenue’s Ad Valorem Calculator.

Examples of Legal And Illegal Dealer Fees

ILLEGAL The car is advertised for $7,100 with a $600 dealer fee not included.  But a big disclaimer says THIS PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE DEALER FEES”. Illegal (all dealer fees must be included in price).

LEGAL An old beat up car is advertised for $7,100. Price includes dealer service charge of $599 and “title service” fee of $198. Legal (both fees are steep but allowed because they are part of the car’s published price and not added as an extra fee).

ILLEGAL The car is advertised for $7,100. Price includes dealer service charge of $599 but not title service fee of $98. Illegal as the actual title fee charged by the government is less than $98 (dealer fee in disguise).

The Advertised Price Must Include  Options Already Installed or Those Things “You’re Required To Have” to  Buy The Vehicle

ILLEGAL “A dealer policy where all new vehicles must receive a paint protection package and vehicle floor mats for an additional $1,000. (illegally forces you to pay an extra  fee beyond the published price or you can’t buy the vehicle).

ILLEGAL A car dealership  website invites you to click a button on the website, and communicate with your dealership in order to receive a special “E-Price.” This “E-Price” does not include your mandatory dealership fee which is tacked on later.  The “E-Price” must include all required non-government charges, including your dealer fee, according to The Georgia Department of Law-Consumer Protection Unit (CPU).

ILLEGAL “This car has a GPS built in so you need to pay an additional $200 beyond what was advertised.”  Not by a long shot! Like any other dealer fee, if this option is  already installed,  this “dealer addendum charge” must be included in the advertised vehicle price.

So when the dealer gives you a line on how “the rules require” a particular option to be installed, or “it has already been installed”, you get to tell them, “Great! The rules also say it’s you who will eat the cost! Now remove the charge!”

Negotiating The Best Deal With Your Car Dealership
(and convincing them not to back out once you expose them)

If you tell the sales person upfront about the illegal dealer fees, two things may happen:

  1. The dealer may not sell you the car;
  2. The dealer may remove the illegal dealer fees but then jack the price up with other fees/offer you second rate discounts.
    For example: To recoup their losses, the dealer could decide to lower the price of your trade in,  give you a terrible deal on auto  financing and warranties, or jack up their insurance or other service products. 

To be safe, DO NOT OBJECT TO THEIR ILLEGAL FEES UNTIL THE END WHEN THE DEALER HAS PRESENTED YOU WITH THE PAPERWORK LISTING ALL THEIR DISCOUNTS AND CHARGES. Yes, ask to see their final paperwork so that you know your absolute takeaway costs.

This is the time to make sure the dealer won’t back out when you expose them. They may try to do so simply because the deal is no longer a moneymaker. To ensure the deal goes through:

  1. Circle the illegal dealer fees, illegal add ons, and anything else illegal;
  2. Quickly take a photo of the finance page with your circles: Make sure to get their logo or anything else that proves this is from their car dealership;
  3. Object to the fees, and give the dealer the 3 pre printed, highlighted copies of the GA Department of Law pamphlets found in this blog under the Georgia Law section (listed under YOUR TOOLBOX: Helpful Resources)
    Better yet: Use their business card to email or text them. Be sure to attach the snapshot of the illegal fees along with the links to the GA law brochures. (might get the sales person personally on the hook by proving they knew of the illegality.)
  4. If the dealer still won’t sell you the car, no need to raise your voice or make empty threats. Simply explain that they are all on legal notice. They have wasted your valuable time, padded the bill with almost a thousand dollars in illegal fees, and you need to warn the whole state of GA so they won’t become victims. IF YOU WON’T SELL ME THE CAR SANS THE ILLEGAL FEES, I’LL SIMPLY SPREAD THE WORD BY SENDING THIS TEXT/EMAIL TO THE GA DEPARTMENT OF LAW, THE BBB COMPLAINT DATABASE, FOX 5, and WSB  NEWS.  I’LL ALSO SEND IT TO THE VARIOUS AUTO FRAUD CLASS ACTION ATTORNEYS WHO WILL ADVERTISE THIS ONLINE  SO THEY CAN ROUND UP ALL THE OTHER VICTIMS  AND SUE YOU FOR MILLIONS.

Help For Victims Who Were Cheated with Illegal Dealer Fees

You’ve heard that the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Well, mamma was right! Big companies including car dealerships are extremely sensitive to bad publicity.

But it’s best to use a flyswatter before you use dynamite. Your first step should be to contact the general manager and get them to fix the problem. After all, if you were in charge, wouldn’t you want people to come to you first, rather than go over your head?

But sometimes it’s necessary to go beyond the GM and even beyond the owner of the dealership.

For example: Say you were cheated by a dealership like
Nalley Infiniti or Stone Mountain Toyota, and the general manager doesn’t return your calls. These dealerships have to worry not only about their own reputation, but also about the reputation of Infiniti or Toyota (which allows them to sell their brand name cars).

So in the above example: if the franchise finds out the dealership is besmirching their good name, guess what happens? It means that the dealership could lose their right to sell Toyotas or Infinitis! That would cost them a lot more than a thousand dealer fees.

Keep that in mind if you think the dealership is not playing fair with you.  Your next step may be to call Toyota’s or Infiniti’s pubic relations department. You can bet they’ll be keenly interested in what the dealer is doing with their good name.
(In case you’re wondering, Infiniti is owned by Nissan; Toyota Stone Mountain is owned by Sonic Automotive.)

If this doesn’t work, try your local TV station for even more exposure. Be sure to Google if the car dealer has had prior complaints.  Reporters eat this up. You can also lodge a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.  A little bad press can give your dealer a seven figure lesson on freakenomics.

And don’t forget our government friends. You can also contact the GA Department of Law (404-651-8600) regarding any Fair Business Practices Act violation of the above. The GA Department of Law is part of the GA Attorney General’s office. They have the power to fine a crooked dealer and shut them down.

Finally, if you’re really really mad, find a class action lawyer who will gather other angry plaintiffs who have also been cheated.

I’d do this last, because if it were me, I’d first sue in the court of public opinion so the dealership would immediately lose millions and millions. But if you simply want your money back, it may be worth your while to deal with them pesky lawyers.

Getting Proof They’re Cheating Others
It’s always good to have proof this is not an isolated incident. After all, repeat offenses could peak the interest of the media or your U.S. or  local representative. First try Googling  the name of the dealership with any of the following words:

For example, you could paste in Google all these terms in red: “Nalley Infiniti” complaint OR fraud OR BBB OR unfair OR deceptive. You could also do the same search of complaint OR fraud OR BBB OR unfair OR deceptive with “Stone Mountain Toyota” or  “Hodges Ford.”

Also, be sure to monitor your dealer for further wrongdoing through Google Alerts.  Yes, you can create a Google Alert with the same terms as above so future complaints appear in your email in box!

Next, fax an open records request to the Georgia Department of Law so they can email you a printout of any allegations of fraud against the dealership. You can fax (not email or text) these requests to 404-651-9018.  If the request is simple, they’ll email you the results in just 3 business days. (free of charge). I just verified this with a lawyer who works there!

Sample Open Records Requests To Fax The GA Dept. of Law
“In regards to Gravity Auto throughout the state of GA, please send me a list of all  complaints against them in the last three years (formal or informal, substantiated or merely alleged) that involved deceptive pricing.”

“In Regards To Nalley Infiniti, please list any fines or settlements in the last three years that relate to deceptive practices.”

Making The Story More Newsworthy

Aside from how you were cheated, your story will gain more traction if you can show reporters that virtually every driver has or will become a victim.

The facts and figures below show the number of people who buy new and used cars from dealerships, and how much $ the dealerships make from selling these cars. Dishonest dealerships are a problem for everyone. This issue affects the rich, the poor, the elderly, the disabled, immigrants, democrats, republicans, the black, the white, Latinos and anyone who buys a new or used car from a GA dealer.

New Cars Sales Statistics & Market Size By Model in The US

  • 6 million more new cars on the road each year (sold by a dealer who may be ripping off consumers)
  • Sales Broken down by type or MFG
  • US Auto Sales By Year (from 1999-2018)
  • Top Ten Cars bought in 2019
  • 281 million cars registered in the US (prediction for 2019)

Total # of Licensed Drivers By State (2017)
With 3.5 million annual registrations, Georgia ranks in the top 8 of all 50 states.

Sales of Used Cars By Dealers in GA (2014-2019)

Your Toolbox: Helpful Resources Below To Stop False or Misleading Car Dealers and Crooked Auto Dealerships

 Georgia Law

Georgia Consumer Protection Division (Formerly The GA Dept. of Law) 404-651-8600
Complaints filed with this office alleging fraud may form the basis for an investigation into a company’s business practices. A significant quantity of complaints about a business may give rise to legal action—not on behalf of the individual complainants, but to enforce state law.

Georgia Auto Informer Government Pamphlets Below
The Georgia Department of Law-Consumer Protection Unit enforces the Georgia’s Fair Business Practices Act (FBPA) which prohibits unfair and deceptive acts or practices within the context of consumer transactions. These news letters are part of their efforts to raise awareness among auto dealers and advertisers regarding the FBPA, as well as the GA Government’s Auto Advertising and Sales Practices Enforcement Policies (AAEP).  Although the policies found in the AAEP are not actual law, they highlight those industry practices that the GA government considered to be unfair and deceptive, and thus violations of the FBPA.

What’s The Deal With Dealer Fees (Government Pamphlet Issue #12) Governor’s office of Consumer Protection newsletter: a dealer’s claim of ignorance or confusion regarding this matter will not mitigate OCP’s actions for noncompliance.  In 2013, Fox 5 Atlanta conducted numerous undercover visits to Atlanta area dealers in order to investigate dealer compliance with this policy. All of the dealers visited during these undercover shops were adding fees to advertised prices.

Pricing Representations: Dealer Fees, Options & Discounts  (Government Pamphlet issue #13) 1/22/16
Georgia Department of Law’s new bulletin: Advertised vehicle prices must include all non-government charges that a consumer is required to pay in order to purchase a vehicle, including but not limited to, dealer fees, previously installed dealer options, and electronic titling fees. Only taxes, tag, title, and Lemon Law fees may be added to this price. This pricing requirement extends to any advertised price in any medium, but most commonly becomes an issue on your dealer website or a third party site such as Autotrader.

Learn how the GA Dept of law determines what is deceptive and illegal in regard to automobile advertising and auto sales. This agency enforces the Fair Business Practice Act (FBPA) which protects consumers against tacking on to the sales price, things like illegal dealer fees, and dealer add ons, like “mandatory safety treatments”, etc.

GA Law On Mandatory Arbitration Clauses (Forum Selection Clauses)
In 2022 it’s still touch and go. The courts still have some leeway to decide that a clause forcing you to arbitrate (forbidding court or a class action law suit) are void.  And some dealerships do not have these clauses in their contract anyway.  Every case can turn on the facts, the judge or the jurisdiction. So consult an experienced GA class action attorney.

Select Dealerships: (Their Public Relations and Franchise Owners)

Stone Mountain Toyota is owned by Sonic Automotive. To report wrongdoing to Toyota Media Relations, contact Karen Nielsen, Corporate Communications (469) 292-2659. The General Manager of Stone Mountain Toyota is Steve Crane (or Steven Crane).
See also Reviews and Complaints against Stone Mountain Toyota.

TV Stations, Magazines, Blogs & Legal Help

FOX 5 Call For Action 404-879-4500
 Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m
Volunteers at Fox 5 Call for Action center try to resolve your problem by calling the bad auto dealer to work it out. Bad car dealers may want to respond to them, because if, not, their story could soon be on FOX news. Be sure to explain to the volunteer how many millions this affects so the story will interest a reporter, This will help the volunteer feel more confident to forward your story to a reporter if the car dealership remains uncooperative.

WSB News (Channel 2)
Nicole Carr (
(She’s done prior news stories on crooked car dealers)
See also (general inbox for WSB)

WXIA-11 Alive 404-892-1611
Call in or fill out their form.

FOX 5 Atlanta
News Crew
In 2013, Fox news did undercover sting operations exposing crooked car dealerships.

Find Your Local TV station
Here are links to the local TV stations near you!

AutoDealer (Publishes Deceptive Car Dealership Practices) Use them to give the dealer negative publicity, or to explain to the dealer what you will do if they don’t play fair.  

Top Ten Car Magazines
Perhaps they’ll do a story on your dealer’s misconduct.  

Top Auto Blogs
A post in the right place will spread the word to other car buyers.  

Better Business Bureau. (GA)
Warn other victims. Get the word out so car a dealer’s wrongdoing appears in Google searches.

GA Consumer Protection Division (Formerly The Ga Department of Law)
This is the enforcement division of the Georgia Attorney General’s office.

Federal Trade Commission
Regulates auto financing and false advertising.

GA Class Action Lawyers (Lawyers For Auto Fraud)
Even if you’ve been cheated only a little bit, the dollars add up when thousands like you have also been defrauded. Class action lawyers can file a mega lawsuit that punches the crooked dealer in the pocket book. Car dealers must learn that charging illegal doc fees, security fees and other illegal markups ain’t worth the trouble.

Georgia Auto Fraud Attorneys

Consumer Advocacy To Report Safety Issues Or Shady Dealings

Great resources for when you’ve been taken advantage of by your manufacturer or dealer, or if there’s a serious defect with your vehicle.

Other Blogs

Walking daily with Jesus, without all the churchy stuff.

Free legal help in all 50 states.

23 thoughts on “Car Dealers & Illegal Dealer Fees (Georgia)”

  1. So if I just bought a car and realized after the fact that the 749.00 dealership administration fee was already included in the advertised price and they added that 749.00 fee on again on top of the advertised price…. I am correct in disputing it??? Basically what you are saying is that’s illegal and not to mention I was double charged. Correct?? Notice I’ve not mentioned yet where I was because I’m first going to bring it to their attention and give them an opportunity to correct this. I doubt they will correct it based on my dealings with them for the 7 hours I spent with them.

    1. YES. If you are in the state pf GA, this is illegal. Car dealerships can charge any processing fee, admin fee, paperwork fee, transaction fee,they want…But it HAS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE ADVERTISED/publicized price of the car, They can’t tack it on twice. If you’ve got proof of such, you have leverage. The bill itself is proof. But may I suggest you find the car as advertised online-if you just bought it, the ad may still be there. If they refuse to give you a refund, you can get the GA Department of Law (GA Attorney General’s ) to investigate them. The dealership has lots to lose in such an investigation. The GA Dept of Law may choose to legally obtain all the other names of customers who were illegally charged dealer fees. The Dealership may then face substantial fines in addition to paying all the defrauded customers back. And then there’s Fox 5 and WSB… A little bad publicity can cost them a thousand dealer fees! Let me know if this helps or if you have other questions. Perhaps a second blog is in order.

      1. I agree, thank you. I’ve been fighting Pye Kia for all this and more since 10/10/19. So far, I’ve gone the BBB route, spoken to someone at Kia Finance corporate after doing a social media post (who’s take is, it isn’t our dealership, its a franchise – not our problem…)

        In my case, our car was totaled in an accident, and we made the mistake of walking in, telling them we had $3000 down and needed to buy a car that day. We’d seen the car advertised online and went in, not realizing they’d rip us off so badly.

        they put stickers on the car as they were washing it. I watched them doing this and asked why. They said it was part of the “theft protection program that comes with the car”. When it came time to sign the papers, they said it was a requirement of the dealership and the only way I could refuse it, would be to not buy the car at all. Our backs were against the wall and they knew it. They did the same thing with the service warranty, and for the last two+ months have said “the refund is in the mail”, while refusing to refund that theft protection program. The company who has that program, similar to Kia Finance says “not our problem”, never mind that those stickers were put on the car without any consent from us.

        I’m filling out the paperwork for the Consumer Protection division now. I dont have any clue how to get a hold of anyone in the media, I’m new to the area. They charged a $699 “document fee”, $500 GAP, $1695 for the “warranty”, $60 for something called an ETF Fee (which they wont tell me what it is, and I can’t find anything about it in a google search) and then $400 for that theft protection.

        They claim the purchase price was $7359 INCLUDING taxes of $409.50, and then a separate $69 for Government License and/or Registration Fees.

        Any advice you have I would very much appreciate!

        1. Virtually all of this highly illegal. Here are two contacts and what to tell them.
          Fox 5
          Randy Travis “”

          Channel Two

          Buzz words
          Car dealerships illegally ripping consumers off by the millions.
          Any time someone buys from a dealer, illegally charged dealer fees contrary to GA law.
          Violation of GA Fair Business Practice Act, Violation of GA Attorney General’s policies

          Guaranteed human interest story. Everybody buys a car and everyone who does so from a dealer in GA is getting ripped off.
          We need to hit them in the pocket book. And get the GA Department of law to hammer down and enforce their own policies.

  2. All, I’ve updated this blog to show:
    How to make your story newsworthy
    TV Stations to Contact and
    Legal Resources

  3. Great article & advice – thank you so much!

    I’m looking at a used car listing from a local (Atlanta) dealer that states: “Price excludes tax, tag, other governmental fees, freight and destination charges if any, dealer installed options. The dealer service fee of $699.00 is included.”

    What is the freight & destination charge about? And am I correct in thinking that they cannot tag that onto the advertised price? The last 2 Carfax entries are a registration in TN & then an passed emissions test in GA. Are they charging me for transport from TN to GA?

    Thanks for your help!

    1. I would call the GA Attorney General and confirm what I say below. (404) 656-3300, (800) 869-1123 toll free outside Metro Atlanta.
      Bottom line: A dealer in GA must include all non government fees in the price of the car, regardless of their silly disclaimer. And that includes their dealer installed options.
      I’m awfully suspicious of freight and destination charges. They don’t sound like a government fee at all. Find out for me please what the GA AG says.
      But I’m 98% sure they need to be included in the price or they are illegal dealer fees.
      The whole purpose of this Dealer Fee rule is to keep dealers from using bait and switch to lure you in. The GA Attorney General’s office says it’s a violation of the GA Fair Business Practice Act when a car dealer advertises a low price to reel you in, and then through disclaimers, or otherwise, tries to sell you the car at a price above what is advertised. The exception is for Tax, Title, Tag and Lemon Law fees (All government fees). And even the government fees have to be no more than what the government charges. So if a dealer’s Titling fee is over $18 it’s just a dealer fee in disguise.

      1. Thanks for the advice. I’ve had a couple of very busy days at work & didn’t get a chance to make any follow ups. Today I received an email from the sales manager, an “estimate only”. It went from an advertised price of just shy of $10k to over $12k, w/dealer fees ($699, which the website listing stated WAS included in their price), ~$690 for 2 items from their pre-listing work that paperwork shows would NOT be charged (& I didn’t ask for — & BTW I haven’t even seen the car in person yet, so I wouldn’t have asked for these add-ons) & $49 for something labeled “ETR”. Then there was the standard tax, tag & title. I worked late today, so I haven’t had a chance to get back to them – but this is ridiculous. I thought I was dealing w/a reputable dealership. If I wanted this kind of treatment, I would’ve contacted any of the shady-looking used car lots that can be found all over the metro area. I’ll let you know how it goes. But in the meantime, I’m open to any advice you might have on what to say/do next. I’m going to re-read your article for a refresher. Thanks again!

        1. I just re-read your article & you advised to not call out the illegal fees until they present the final paper work. Since the subject line of the email they sent says “Estimate Only!”, it probably doesn’t qualify as a final offer. I’m a little unsure of how to proceed. I wonder – if I schedule a test drive, would that be considered an implicit acceptance of their estimate? Hmm…

          1. Call the GA Department of Law (404-651-8600). You don’t have to give them the name of the dealer. Just ask them what you asked me. The issue is if there is deceptive advertising. It’s not about whether you schedule a test drive. Example: Say the dealer advertises a price, has a disclaimer in huge font saying “the price may not include certain non governmental fees”. Now say you decide to sign a contract agreeing to pay all these fees and the dealer televises it on world TV to prove you signed the contract. According to the GA Department of law, they still engaged in deceptive advertising in violation of the GA Fair business Practice Act.(And you or the GA Department of law can sue them for such). What you did, what you agreed to, etc, does not change anything. Whether you accepted a test drive, or signed a contract, doesn’t make an illegal thing legal. (not that I recommend you sign such a contract)

            The reason their conduct is illegal is because they have published a price which does not include dealer fees, add ons or other non governmental fees, test drive or no test drive, legal disclaimer or no legal disclaimer. It does not become legal simply because they say it’s an “estimate” or because of other technicalities. Note: take a picture or snapshot of their disclaimers and pseudo legal chicanery. And then ask the GA Dept of Law about each one. Also, under the section on Tools and Resources, look at the three government brochures on what are illegal dealer fees. These are the three links under the link to the GA Dept of Law.

  4. Hey there!

    Been in the business for over two years now. Everything above is true except for one big caveat–one most buyers make but I really wish people would stop doing—

    it is NOT the car salesman pushing the fees and it’s not the sales person that is your enemy–it is management and the dealership

    We hate the damn things and go in every day dreading them because we know they’re 100% grade A bull. Plus, we get 0% commission-nada-nothing for being forced to close customers like you all on the OTD # that includes them. Because most dealers are pushing at least $1k of this BS pure profit –managers have no compunction about giving “great” deals to stingy customers who demand they get full rebates , discounts, etc for new vehicles to where they buy them ‘at cost’ or under cost. I.e.- dealer and cust do great but sales gets screwed.

    hell, most of the time if you point out everything in the article they STILL do not remove them… They insist on just discounting the price to match the money….so if they dont steal from you…they can steal from their sales force. Please note that dealers are now doing this on top of claims over $1k of ‘holdback’ fees on every new vehicle which means if i sell a new toyota for 3k gross i only get 25% commission on 2k even though it is really over 4k in profit. You dispute the bs fees and I only make 250 bucks if I am very,very lucky— and that is after hours of carting your ass around on test drives, being forced to pay for your food and drink–it’s never free boys and girls – it goes on the AR of your sales person– and that’s before cust starts asking for yet more add-on freebies.

    In the current market where outside the major cities folks are only doing 12 cars a month? But dealers are demanding we be there from 8am until 9pm at night…and on weekends?

    You do the math.

    If you want sales people and dealers to exist at all versus having to do it carvana style… Pay the damn fee.. Or demand it be stricken without reducing the price. Hell, even Campaign for them to be made entirely illegal.

    Otherwise? Get used to few to no test drives, no visiting sprawling lots, no kicking the tires, no being directed to better fits to match your goals, and NO negotiation. That is what happens when you crush the margin to nothing.

  5. Here’s what I learned in the process…
    The advertised price cannot include those BS fees. However, as soon as you start negotiating, they start throwing all the BS back into the picture – & yes, it’s the manager that pushes all the numbers. I came away from it thinking that the only way to get an honest, hassle-free experience is to pay the advertised price (of course you’d feel like you paid too much). But even then you’d still have to deal w/the finance guy – even if you’re paying cash – so he can push the extended warranties. I’m not sure it can be a hassle-free experience…

  6. The links to Georgia State publications (ie the brochure discussed in the text) are all broken. I would like something official in my hand when going through this awful process.

  7. I’m looking at a 2009 Grand Caravan from a dealer in Cumming that is published on iSeeCars at $3990. I just inquired about the final price and I was told it’s $4900 out the door. I asked about the $910 difference a few minutes ago but have not yet received an answer. The TAVT estimator at the DOR says $264. So, with the tag, title, etc., let’s call it $4300 (rounding). No doubt the extra $600 is for air freshener.

    1. My guess is they will charge a $99 titling fee (A dealer fee that’s $81 over the real $18 Title fee) and the rest will also be an illegal admin or dealer fee.
      The problem is that with all the competition, plus Covd, the dealers are even more desperate to make $. Perhaps the new administration and the federal Consumer finance Protection Bureau will be more sensitive to consumers than the last one was.

  8. So not sure if this approach works for all dealers. I stick to a OTD price. So, sorry Sales person. I have seen two different dealer responses. One where they reduce the purchase price to meet my OTD price. And have seen them remove or reduce the dealer fee. I also add in the sales tax estimate from DMV site. So I try to be fair. Knowing what I roughly have to pay for tax.

  9. Great advice! Your post goes a long way to help consumers. GA needs a consumer group to highlight deceptive practices through advertising and/or false and misleading statements. In short, the additional resources found here today are invaluable.

    I printed the “Ask Consumer ED>Car dealer charging more than advertised price” post and the “AAEP – Revised 01-15-21.pdf” Both can be found on the GA Consumer Protection Division website. The first is plain English and the latter is legalese. The dealership had the vehicle mark below book value and stated it came with Certified+ warranty. The salesman added dealer fees, and the Certified+ warranty to the advertised price when it was clearly stated it was included. Also every dealer personally visited in North GA states that all dealers add a fee. Some boast how their fee is lower than others.

    Just this week, I am in negotiation with the same dealer and salesman. All the documents showing dealer fee, Non-tax items, and a dealership package added to the car demonstrate deceptive practices. A dealer package “That cannot be taken off” costing $2600+.

    One particular dealer is part of the Costco Auto Program and has yet to present the Costco Member-Only pricing. Only a tiny discount titled “Costco Savings.” This is on the same document used for all cars sold by this dealership day-to-day. They are not honoring Costco’s program policies.

    Salesman are holding their ground by stating that the car market in 2023 allows for these additional fees due to high demand. They are not honoring the advertised price because “everyone is doing the same thing.”

    Documentation has been recorded and will be sent as supporting evidence. Deceptive practices are happening in dealerships from Lexus, Toyota, to Honda. All are north of ATL and each of these are from personal experience. Either we the consumer are uneducated concerning our rights or worse, punishment is non-existent. I hope the former.

    Thanks again for spreading the word! Dealers should really be held to task for breaking the law.

    –Outraged Consumer!

    One last item, please. I tend to agree with the statement from “2years in car sales.” It is management that is directing and forcing this behavior. I have had managers step in and defend the additional deceptive fees. Most of the salesman appear to be the “Good Cop.” However, I would have to find another occupation as it would be hard to reconcile the fact I am deceiving and stealing from my customers.

    1. I agree on all counts. This is why you need to enlist the help of the media and the GA Dept of Consumer Affairs. And perhaps pull in the honest dealers that advertise no hidden dealer fees. Without such, it’s all a race to the bottom. Even before the Covid demand for cars, there was so much competition that if one dealer played fair, they’d lose the business to the dealers across the street that won’t. (Think Cobb Parkway) Plus they no doubt get a lot of sales by posting the absolute cheapest prices online (so they can lure you in and smack you with the dealer fees later-something legally referred to as “bait and switch” or deceptive advertising).

  10. Does this apply to motorcycles and recreational vehicles as well?

    I’m looking at a used Can-Am Spyder with an advertised price of $24,381 (with $1,297.63 for “Assembly & Prep” and $369.50 for the doc fee added on top).

    After some negotiating, they brought the sale price down to $21,789.39. Is the reduced $21,789.39 now considered the advertised price from which the “illegal” A&P and doc fees should be subtracted from? Technically speaking if they decided to reboot this deal and subtract the fees to “make me happy,” I’d end up paying more.

    Is it worth bickering over the legality of these fees or just take the deal and run?

    1. Note, this only applies to the state of Georgia. Every state has different rules on dealer fees.
      Whether it’s worth bickering is a judgment call. If they decide not to sell to you, you’re out of luck, even if they are later fined for charging illegal dealer fees.

      The issue with dealer fees is illegal advertising and this is enforced by the The GA department of Law’s Consumer Protection Division. They have a list of FAQs on dealers fees at
      You can also reach them at the number below
      GA Department of Law (404-651-8600)

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