TO THE EDITOR:
Here's why buying a car is despised by many.
Before I retired nine years ago, I worked for the U.S. arms of Porsche, Audi and Saab, eventually becoming Saab's head of dealership development and business management for the East Coast. I ended my career selling hardware and software to dealerships.
The factory reps I worked with stressed the importance of good customer relationships, advice that often fell on deaf ears -- especially in dealership service departments where overpricing and unnecessary add-ons were common.
Then came F&I software and features that allowed dealerships to cheat customers with hidden add-ons and obscene interest rates, especially on leases.
Each month, dealerships had to send a financial statement for review. I often fell out of my socks at the massive profit coming from F&I departments, such as $5,000 to $8,000 per new-vehicle sale. Ethics and morality were thrown out the window.
When discussing this with dealership managers, sometimes we were all but laughed at and told it was a way of creating profits that could not be made on the vehicle itself.
Recently, my youngest son, who was a special-needs student and is extremely trusting, needed a car. Wanting to prove he was capable of doing things on his own, he went to a Honda dealership to buy a used car.
He jumped at the first vehicle that interested him, which was overpriced, and was then taken advantage of. He belongs to a local credit union, from which he could get dirt-cheap interest rates, but in the F&I office, he was talked into financing with an out-of-state bank. The bank allowed the dealer to get a substantial portion of money from the interest rate it gave my son.
The vehicle he bought was $10,900. How much do you think was financed?
With a sky-high interest rate, an unnecessarily long term, plus the number of add-ons and fees, the loan was just over $22,000.
I decided to write after getting an email from Automotive News promoting a webinar, "Selling to the Connected Consumer." What's really needed is a course in "Selling with Ethics, Honesty and Integrity."
TOM LETOURNEAU, Cumberland, R.I.