Saturn is famous for its no-dicker sticker strategy. But some dealers are ignoring that approach when it comes to the hot new Sky roadster.
While most Saturn stores play by the division's one-price rules, a few are tacking on surcharges of several thousand dollars.
Other Saturn retailers are ladling on expensive dealer options that boost the transaction price by up to $8,000.
The base-model Sky stickers for $25,195, including shipping.
Saturn is taking issue with dealerships that slap surcharges on the Sky.
"We've made it a point to go out where we've heard that's happening and try to counsel with them and explain the bigger picture," says Saturn spokesman Brian Brockman. "Our reputation is based on customer service and satisfaction, and we want to keep that. We don't condone any kind of practice like that."
When an incognito Automotive News reporter visited one Saturn store in the Los Angeles area recently, a salesman offered to sell a Sky for $3,000 over sticker "with dealer surcharge."
"That's what the dealer charges for a car that's hot," said the salesman, adding that "every Saturn dealer is doing it."
Indeed, some are.
Jon Bresson, sales manager of Saturn of the Valley in Los Angeles, says: "A customer called and said there is one dealer north of us who is putting a $5,000 premium on it. We don't do that." Bresson declined to name the dealership in question.
A letter to the editor in the September issue of Car & Driver complained that many Saturn dealerships in Los Angeles and Orange County were selling Skys for $2,995 over sticker. The writer said other retailers required buyers to pay for dealer options that totaled $2,995.
The reader claimed to have contacted Saturn corporate offices and was told that dealerships were free to charge what they wanted. Saturn's Brockman says that's not so. He adds: "There are things we can do to encourage them to strongly follow the rules."
Those measures include limiting a dealer's allotment of the popular car if the store does not comply with Saturn's pricing policies, Brockman says.