DONNA HARRIS

Another reason to offer all products to all customers

Donna Harris covers automotive retailing for Automotive News

We've all heard of dealerships getting sued because customers claimed the F&I office sold them products they didn't want.

But have you heard of dealerships being sued for failing to offer a product the customer later needed?

At the F&I Summit in Las Vegas I heard about a Chevrolet dealership that was sued for failing to offer a guaranteed asset protection contract to a customer.

That's right. The customer had an accident not long after buying a new car and got a nasty surprise when the auto insurer's check didn't cover the balance on the loan.

So the customer sued, saying that he wouldn't have been $10,000 in the hole if the dealership had offered him a GAP contract, which covers the negative equity if a vehicle is totaled or stolen.

The dealership went out of business as a result of General Motors' 2009 bankruptcy. But it leaves behind a valuable lesson.

F&I managers need to present all products on the dealership's menu to every customer and to document the customer's decision on each item, whether declined or accepted. Dealerships must protect themselves.

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