Gary Smith Ford in Fort Walton Beach got into some hot water recently when it asked $140,600 for its F-150 Lightning demo. The Lightning in question has an MSRP of $71,049, meaning that Gary Smith Ford was applying a $69,554 “Market Adjustment” to almost double the price of the truck.
For their part, Ford’s comms people were quick to respond, claiming the story was inaccurate and that the dealer’s addendum sticker was an honest (?) mistake.
This is inaccurate. The dealer confirmed it was an error and the MSRP was input twice online. In fact this a demo unit and not for sale. The sticker was removed within 24 hours. https://t.co/KbaGdNukj6
— Mike Levine (@mrlevine) June 8, 2022
So, fine — it’s a mistake? Maybe.
They entered the MSRP twice? Not a chance — and a quick glance at the dealer’s addendum sticker shows anyone in the know that this was definitely an intentional cash grab. Allow me to explain:
That’s not the MSRP they’re showing — that’s a Market Adjustment. In both CDK and Reynolds and Reynolds’ systems, Market Adjustment is a distinct line item — one that requires someone to manually select “Market Adjustment” from a menu, and then manually enter in the amount to charge. That doesn’t seem like something that’s likely to happen by accident, no matter how much Mike Levine and the rest of Ford’s corporate good guys want us to think it is. In fact, if there was an accident here at all, it’s probably that Gary Smith Ford accidentally got caught trying to con their well-heeled customers out of nearly $70,000.
And, of course they’re trying to snag the money. Why? Because the penalties Ford levies on its dealers aren’t enough. The company’s warning to them reads, “The sale of any F-150 Lightning FCTP (Ford Courtesy Transportation Program) Mannequin unit to a final customer prior to meeting all in-service requirements will result in a penalty of $25,000 unless the FCTP Mannequin unit can be replaced with another F-150 Lightning within 90 days … it will also result in the unit being ineligible for any retail bonus cash incentives and chargeback of any FCTP 30/60/90/120 Day incentives and will result in dealer ineligibility for future FCTP Mannequin programs.”
Remember, they only pay the penalty if they sell the truck. If they did, they’d still pocket $44,554 over the sticker price of the Lightning. It’s no wonder they’d at least try something like this — but the fact that they’d try something like this and not even have the decency to throw in their $1,495 VEPP? That’s just gross.
Op-ed: Some Dealers Just Suck
I try. You guys all know I try, leaping to the defense of good dealers over and over again and taking virtual bullets in the comments section time after time to explain F&I practices, pricing drama, and more to people frothing with rage at their latest exposure to random shenanigans. But with Gary Smith Ford effectively daring the Blue Oval to come in and snatch their franchise away from them in a fit of greed and arrogance, I just can’t.
Gary Smith Ford, you know you tried. You know you got caught. You suck.
As for Ford’s response? If you’re not even going to pretend to slap these guys on the wrist, you’re just opening up all your customers to more price-gouging. Do more. Do better.
Featured image from Gary Smith Ford, via Blitzify.
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