To the Editor:
I was surprised to read Edward Lapham's comment in the Feb. 15 Automotive News, but I enjoyed it ("Document fee began with a lie, 'inventor' says").
I'm the dealer in Florida who is championing making the doc fee (aka dealer fee, prep fee, etc.) illegal. I'm one of the few dealers who don't charge such a fee, which has grown enormously since John Fashjian "invented" the concept in 1967. The average fee in my market is more than $750.
In his column, Lapham says: "We know that consumer advocates, assistant attorneys general and investigative reporters from TV networks consider the 'doc fee' to be a consummate evil that some dealers use to gouge a little more profit out of poor, defenseless, unsuspecting customers.
"Dealers, who have had their gross margins eroded by factory pricing and Internet-savvy consumers, consider the doc fee to be manna from heaven that lets them squeeze a little more profit out of every deal.
I guess "whatever" means that Lapham takes no position on this. I can understand why, since most car dealers, some of whom are among Automotive News' subscribers and advertisers, engage in this questionable practice.
I'm guessing Lapham considers this a "whatever" because there's a split of opinion between "consumer advocates, assistant attorneys general and investigative reporters from TV networks" and car dealers.
Why doesn't Automotive News engage a pollster to measure the sentiments of car owners and prospective car buyers about doc fees/dealer fees?
Since you consider the current status a draw (whatever), maybe the customer can be the tie breaker.