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Evidence of a Down Economy: Car Dealers in the News

Blame high gas prices, the economy, global warming – whatever, the truth is today in mid-2008 few people are spending money. 

Businesses are noticing and reacting.

Making Headlines

A cursory view of recent headlines involving auto dealerships offers a glimpse.

Man squatting to read newspaper headlinesGiving away gas cards with car sales has become so common, some dealers upped the ante.

Here are some of the offers out there

  • A Missouri car dealer has offered car buyers a free handgun or a $250 gas card
  • In the Orlando Sentinel, a Florida dealership offers a years worth of gas with purchase
  • A Suzuki ad offers $470 worth of gas for the summer with new car purchase
  • A Chrysler dealership was seen offering gas for $2.99 a gallon for three years with some of their models

The car sales industry is following a growing trend by getting creative to keep their share of the market in a falling economy.

Image from Deks

Reacting to Consumers

The Missouri car dealer said it sold more than 30 vehicles in three days after advertising a $250 in credit at a gun shop or a gas card of the same value to car buyers.

Sporting goods storeSuch marketing tactics aim at precisely how consumers think in today’s market, it’s not just limited to automotive sales.

Sporting goods stores are offering $100 gas cards for some purchases.  And even nonprofits are getting in the mood – you can get a $10 gas card, and a chance to win $100 worth of gas, by donating a pint of blood to some of Florida’s blood centers.

Blood for gas, how times have changed.

Going into the busy summer travel time, hotels are offering gas cards if you book a certain number of nights.

Companies that offer promotional giveaways are getting it. A Miami company, Air Aroma, sells a gadget that produces smells like pine, peppermint, and even leather.

Car dealers are big clients, not only to make new and used cars smell better, but also service stations and showrooms to keep potential customers there longer.

Industry data showed customers stick around longer in places that smell better, according to Automotive News in May 2008.

Image from Thompsonian.net

Regulation of Dealership Advertising

Car advertisement posterCertain markets, whether way high or dreadfully low, will produce some extraordinary behavior by those in the business. Which can keep government regulators quite busy.

For example, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced May 14 that four auto dealers in his state will pay fines and improve businesses practices to comply with advertising guidelines for automobile dealerships. 

It was a settlement agreement by the dealers, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal.

The dealerships deceived consumers by promising certain offers, while at the same time making the deals unattainable due to fine print or disclaimers few customers could meet.

Image from Ryan14702

Read the Fine Print

Some actions were in the form of thousands of flyers with sexy deals, which hardly anyone could take advantage of due to footnote disclaimers that were as hard to read as they were difficult to meet.

A page full of fine print textOthers were in the form or radio advertisements where disclaimers at the end were spoken so quickly they were comedic to some listeners.

One offered $5,000 if a dealer could not top any competitors’ pricing, enticing enough.

But the same ad required the listener to show a signed purchase order from a competitor. Which the Attorney General thought that was demanding too much.

Of course not all auto dealers choose to deceive. But in today’s economy, dealerships are getting more and more creative just to get you inside their establishment, and then to make a deal.

Image from Mission Ignition

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