As a traffic school experiment we recently ventured onto the dealer lot to purchase a Ford Fusion Hybrid, we noticed a small sheet of paper listing additional costs, posted next to the window sticker.
This innocent sheet of paper contained two seemingly “valuable” add-ons, adding $600 to the sticker price of the vehicle. In the industry, this list of add-ons is called the “supplemental sticker ” We call it the “rip-off sticker”, you judge for yourself.
This deceiving practice allows dealers to advertise a very low price for a vehicle (sometimes below a sticker). Then use a supplemental sticker to add high-profit items that hold little or no value to the consumer. In our experiment case, the sticker added two products: an interior “protection” package, and an “Express Code Marking System.”
The interior protection package is a chemical sprayed on the vehicle’s upholstery protect it from stains. Grand-Total: $195. At first glance, seems like a bargain, who would want stains on their brand new upholstery? But being scholars of a Defensive Driving School, we believe in research and facts. A quick search online found a bottle of 3M Scotchgard Auto Interior Fabric Protector for about $9 on 3M’s website. This product promises the same advantages as the stuff sprayed onto your upholstery at the dealership, but costs $186 less.
The second product was the Express Code Marking System. This marking system consisted of a special label placed on key body parts of the vehicle that if removed, would leave the imprint of an ultraviolet identification number. It wouldn’t notify the police, ruin the part or make any sort of noise. The dealer was charging $400 for this product. Now do you really think that someone who is about to steal your car will pause and look if your car is code marked? Chances are, if someone wants to take your car and chop it for parts they will… the fact that they won’t be able to re-sell parts won’t give you much comfort. Certainly not $400 worth of comfort. In our humble opinion, if anyone should pay for this service, it should be your insurance company. Your money would be much better spent taking an insurance discount course and saving additional $$$ on your auto premium. Many states mandate insurance carriers to offer you an additional discount for taking a defensive driving course.