Hidden extras cause delivery pains for buyers
“Delivery and related charges extra.” “Ex-works.” We’re familiar with such phrases, but what they mean is that the price quoted in adverts and on the windscreen of your new set of wheels in the dealership is, usually, not the final price you will pay.
Physically getting the car to the dealer from Dublin, Cork or Rosslare ports (other sea-going berths are available) will cost you extra, as will the final pre-delivery inspection (PDI). That covers the tasks of making sure your car has arrived without damage, with the correct colour and equipment, and that the oil and other fluids are topped off, the tyres are at the correct pressures and, basically, that everything is working as it should.
These are not expensive tasks, nor are they especially expensive to the customer. The issue is that they are, by and large, not mentioned until you sign on the dotted line. Why can we not just have the final, full, on-the-road price for our new car up-front and unobscured? It’s not that there’s a dramatic saving to be made, more that it’s an issue of transparency.
Certainly the National Consumer Authority (NCA) reckons so, and John Shine, director of commercial practice at the NCA says that “there is a requirement on all traders to display the prices of products on sale to consumers. The sale of cars is included within this requirement. The full price of cars for sale should be displayed by car dealers and garages, inclusive of any non-avoidable costs for delivery, number plates, etc.”
Clearly though, this isn’t always happening. The price quoted is generally the manufacturers’ recommended selling price (MSRP) and it’s up to the individual dealer to set the price for delivery and PDI.
Franchised dealers are independent traders and are free to charge whatever they fancy for delivery, and it’s up to the market economy to keep their costs in check.
We asked the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) why a simple table of prices for delivery and extra charges couldn’t be made available. After all, SIMI represents pretty much all the major car importers and franchised dealers, so it should be simplicity itself to find out who’s charging what.
Suzanne Sheridan, press officer for SIMI agreed, saying that “the extra delivery cost shouldn’t be something the customer finds out at the last minute. Delivery costs aren’t included in manufacturer’s advertising because delivery costs vary from garage to garage. Pre-delivery work might vary in cost. Just like the price of the car (MSRP) the delivery cost should too be part of the negotiation process and the customer can shop around.”
It would obviously be easier if the customer knew the total price but because, by law, prices can’t be fixed this isn’t possible. If the delivery charge was built-in, it would be subject to Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and could increase the price of the car. For example, €800 delivery at 18 per cent VRT is an extra €144 just for including it in the price.
The subject of price fixing often comes up when buying cars, and it’s usually quoted when someone tries to save themselves a bob or two by going abroad, purchasing the car in a jurisdiction where prices are lower and hoping that they can play the VRT game to their advantage.