Survey Reveals Deep Mistrust in Car Dealership Pricing

Respondents reported feeling pressured, finding hidden fees after signing paperwork and feeling like they were being "tricked."


The U.S. The 2024 KPA Dealership Trust Survey, conducted by The Harris Poll, found about one-third of Americans have experienced things like deceptive selling, hidden fees or dishonest salespeople. Yet more than three-quarters of Americans -- 76% -- don’t trust dealerships to be honest about pricing.

Regarding experience with dealerships:

  • 34% have felt pressured to purchase add-ons
    30% agreed on the price and when they went to sign the paperwork found there were hidden fees
    28% felt like the salesperson was trying to "trick” them into a deal
    29% left one dealership and went to another because they didn’t think they were being honest in their pricing

Regarding perceptions of dealerships:

  • 86% are concerned about hidden fees when buying/leasing a vehicle
    76% don’t trust car dealerships to be honest about pricing
    84% say price transparency is lacking at most car dealerships

The survey results come on the heels of the announcement of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Combating Auto Retail Scams (CARS) Rule, which would protect consumers from deceptive selling or leasing practices. Over the past year, the FTC enacted additional rules for dealerships around pricing transparency, financing, unnecessary add-ons and keeping customer information secure. Dealerships that don’t follow these laws and regulations can face heavy fines from the FTC at more than $50,000 per violation, which is roughly equal to the cost of an average car ($48,000) on the sales lot. Beyond fines, violations can also make dealers appear less trustworthy to potential customers.

“Buying or leasing a vehicle is a major financial decision for many Americans,” said Chris Fanning, CEO of KPA. “KPA partners with dealerships to help them operate in compliance with current regulations while also building trust with their customers and earning their dollars.”

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