Taking A Bite Out of Car Dealer Fraud: Consumer Rights Bill To Be Filed This week

Unsubstantiated fees can add hundreds of dollars to the price of a vehicle

Today Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) announced he has pre-filed legislation to stop an often-fraudulent practice employed by used car dealers.  According to a preliminary report by the Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AKPIRG), the practice remains widespread.  Fifteen of eighteen surveyed Anchorage and Mat-Su car dealers add what they call a "Doc Fee" to the price of a car they sell.  Many consumers think this is an official government fee, or is otherwise non-negotiable, and don't question the fee.  In truth, the fee is simply added profit, and, at most dealers, amounts to a $200 add-on to the price of a car.

"Getting a good deal on a car or truck is hard enough without tricks and traps taking money from your pocket.  Doc Fees add hundreds of dollars to the typical car purchase, and they do so in a way that harms consumers’ ability to make informed decisions in the marketplace.  This bill means a little more money in the bank for Alaska's consumers," said Matt Wallace, executive director of AKPIRG.

Gara's legislation allows dealers to charge whatever price they feel is fair for a car, and does not interfere with honest negotiations.  It does ban dealers from adding a "doc fee" to the price after the negotiation. 

"Doc fees sound like an official cost to many consumers.  These are not required government fees, as many consumers think, and we should end this practice.  It will place buyers and sellers back on an even playing field," said Rep. Gara.

Rep. Gara has pre-filed this legislation which will be released Friday.

For any questions, please contact Rep. Les Gara at 250-0106; or Matt Wallace at 278-3661.

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