I have to chuckle when I read the “expertarticles about new-car destination fees aimed at new car buyers.  Generally, they try to answer this question:  “Is the destination fee a ‘legitimate’ fee that the consumer should pay?”  And they all conclude that the destination fee is legitimate and should be paid.  Here’s the problem:  the answer to that question won’t save you one dollar cheap diflucan 50 mg.

The Basics:

Let’s start with the basics.  The destination (or “delivery” or “shipping” or “freight”) fee is a fee that, by law, is itemized on the window sticker of every new vehicle.  It covers the cost of shipping the vehicle from the U.S. factory or port to the selling dealer.  And again by law, the fee is the same whether you buy the vehicle from a dealer 10 miles or 2,000 miles from the factory, although sometimes the fee is higher in Alaska or Hawaii.  It’s also itemized on the dealer’s “factory invoice” (the list of charges paid by the dealer to the manufacturer for the vehicle).

Yes, the fee is “legitimate” — the dealer pays it and expects you to pay it as well. From that standpoint, it’s as legitimate a cost as the cost of the tires or engine.

Caution Sign: One more fee

The Problem:

However, the destination fee can be used as a way to get the consumer to overpay, and you should make sure that doesn’t happen to you.  Here’s how the sleight-of-hand works:

Almost all the time, when you see a vehicle price on a dealer ad or web site, that price will include the destination fee.  Let’s say a vehicle has a base list price of $25,200 and an $800 destination fee.  If the dealer advertises without any discount, the price you see will be $26,000.  So you go in and negotiate the price, and after a bit of back and forth you agree to a price of $24,500.  You saved $1,500 and feel satisfied.  But, when you get to the price on the transaction documents, you see that the $800 destination fee is added to the agreed-to $24,500 price, and the final price shown is $25,300!

Whoops.  You thought you were agreeing to a final price that included destination fee.  And you had every reason to think so, since the destination fee was included in the dealer’s starting price.  But it somehow disappeared, only to reappear later.

Destination fee charged to car buyers

The Solution:

When you negotiate with the dealer, make sure that you clearly state that your price offer includes the destination fee, so that there is no misunderstanding.  (By the way, for the same reason you should always say that your price offer does NOT include any rebates or incentives that you qualify for.  Those credits are due to you independent of the price you agree to pay).

So the question is not, “Is the destination fee legitimate?”  The question is, “How do I make sure I don’t pay the destination fee twice?”

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