The 2013 Ford Escape I ordered has an advertising assessment fee of $481 on the invoice. What is that?
Ford is one of several manufacturers that include regional advertising fees on the dealer invoice of each vehicle shipped to dealers (GM, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota are among others). These fees help pay for regional advertising and promotional campaigns and can vary by region and by vehicle within the same brand.
Now that you know what it is, should you pay it?
We would prefer that dealers give us an all-inclusive price that includes advertising fees and any vehicle preparation fees (which are included in the dealer's invoiced price from the manufacturer) so we can compare the bottom-line figure to offers from other dealers.
What's more, manufacturers may give all or part of those advertising fees back to the dealer later on or as an incentive based on sales volume. Are dealers going to contact you after the sale to share any of those kickbacks with you? Don't bank on it.
On a new and high-demand model such as the Escape, we wouldn't expect much of a discount below MSRP. If a vehicle is in really high demand, so much so that there is a waiting list to get one, we wouldn't be surprised to see some dealers try to charge more than MSRP, whether by adding dealer-installed accessories, an advertising fee or that old standby, ADP (additional dealer profit). Dealers are free to charge whatever the market will bear, so if any price is more than you believe you should pay, you have a good reason to keep shopping.
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