Skip to comments.Negotiable Documentary Service Fee
Posted on 12/03/2017 9:52:20 AM PST by fireman15
Documentary Service Fees:
A 2009 change to state law increased the documentary service fee from $50 to $150. In order to charge a documentary service fee, the dealer must include a disclosure about the fee in its advertising. Absent proper disclosure of the fee in print, radio and television advertisements, a dealer cannot charge a documentary service fee of any amount. A dealer may use in its advertisements the statutory language, a documentary service fee in an amount up to one hundred and fifty dollars may be added to the sale price or the capitalized cost of a vehicle or other language that conveys that the documentary is optional and/or negotiable. Language that infers that the documentary fee is mandatory or required does not satisfy the statutes requirements.
If you charge a documentary service fee, you must: Include a written disclosure (in print that is same typeface as standard text and bolded, capitalized, underlined or set out to be conspicuous) stating that the fee is negotiable. This disclosure must be made before completing the purchase and sale agreement. Refrain from stating or implying that the fee is required by the government. Separately designate the service fee from the selling price and other fees, taxes and charges. Again, any advertisements must disclose that the fee may be charged as stated above.
(Excerpt) Read more at atg.wa.gov ...
We started watching Craigslist looking for a used one, but found nothing that really fit our needs. So using the ads from dealers to comparison shop I found that I could "save" a couple hundred dollars by driving a hundred miles to pick one up. I spoke to the "owner" of one of the companies and made sure they had one of the advertised specials ready for us to pick up.
So we drove two hours down to this place and he had a stack of paperwork for us to sign and then added in the cost of a spare tire, tax and licensing fees, and a 3% fee for using my wife's credit card. So he came back with the receipt after he already charged her card and I saw that the total for our $2799 enclosed trailer was over $3500. In my head I had figured that it would be approximately $3300 with the spare and taxes.
So I asked the "owner", "How much did you charge us for that spare tire?" He said $140. So I started looking through his paperwork to figure out where the discrepancy was and I found, "Negotiable Documentary Service Fee - $150".
So he started giving me this song and dance about how everyone charges this fee on utility trailers and I just hadn't noticed it before and he needed the money because he gave us such a good deal on the trailer. I replied that the utility trailer I have been using cost just $250 from Harbor Freight and I would have noticed an additional $150 fee.
I said that I knew he was giving us a pretty good deal on the trailer and that is why we were wasting almost our entire day driving down to his location. So after a heated argument and him accusing me of being unreasonable in a number of ways... he ended up giving $75 of the fee back.
When I got home I looked up the legality of not disclosing a fee in advertisements that makes it appear that a company's advertised special is better than it actually is. I found on our State Attorney General's website this tidbit,
"In order to charge a documentary service fee, the dealer must include a disclosure about the fee in its advertising. Absent proper disclosure of the fee in print, radio and television advertisements, a dealer cannot charge a documentary service fee of any amount.
The law varies a bit from state to state and is charged mostly by car dealers, but also RV and trailer dealers. In some other states there is no limit to the amount they can add on. But in Washington, if they do not disclose that they may add in up to $150 for this fee in their advertisement, then they can not do it. I thought this knowledge might save some other Freepers a little money in future transactions.
Hence the classic “Not including tax, tag, and title ...”
“Your mileage may vary.”
In Washington State if the dealer does not mention this “fee” specifically ahead of time in their advertisements in print that is the “same typeface as standard text and bolded, capitalized, underlined or set out to be conspicuous”, they cannot legally add it in.
It is $225 in Ohio.
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