TO THE EDITOR:
Despite the constant crusade by Automotive News to highlight best practices among dealers, it appears some still unethically work to squeeze every last dollar out of customers.
More than a decade ago, Automotive News published a letter in which I described being hit with an undisclosed item on the final bill for a new car. It was for $42.11 and was described as the dealer's local business tax. I complained mightily in a survey and received a refund.
It's still going on. Recently, I accompanied a friend to pick up her new Chevrolet Bolt, for which she paid the list price in cash. I was impressed when the customer relations manager sat down with us.
My friend had declined the paint and interior sealants, extended warranty and LoJack system. I asked if there were any further charges, and the customer relations manager said there was a $595 processing fee that Virginia allowed dealers to charge. She candidly admitted that it was simply extra profit and promised there were no other add-ons.
Yet the final bill included a $73.70 item, positioned under the state sales tax and described as "dealer's business license tax." When I questioned it, the billing clerk argued that it was simply part of the tax.
No, it's not. Why should a customer pay the dealer's taxes? It's nothing more than an undisclosed, sleazy way to pick up a couple of extra bucks at the last minute. Some things never change.
FRANK AUKOFER, Falls Church, Va. The writer is the author of a syndicated auto review column and serves as a juror for the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards.