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Made-up document prep fees prevalent at car dealerships, state survey finds

Posted by Mitch Lipka  February 17, 2012 11:28 AM

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If you ever wondered about a fee that's likely to show up on the list of charges when you buy a car called “documentation preparation,” be assured it's an unneeded charge. The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs surveyed nearly 190 car dealerships and found about 70 percent of the dealerships called charged the fees.

They ranged from $45 to $399. State officials noted the fees "appeared to be very questionable and literally made up by the auto dealerships."

“As consumers gear up for Presidents’ Day sales, they need to know that in most instances dealerships are hitting them with unnecessary fees claiming they are for paperwork and documents.,” said Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. “We found that many car dealerships are charging consumers exorbitant fees for costs that are negligible and in some cases telling car buyers these are required charges by state or federal law, which just isn’t true.”

Here's what the state found:


  • About 50 dealerships charged between $275 and $300

  • New car dealerships were more likely to charge the fees than used car dealerships

  • Some dealers also claimed the fees were for the title or the RMV.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com

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