By on September 28, 2008

The current fiscal crisis has its roots in easy money– on all sorts of levels. But even as the new car credit market goes into deep freeze (i.e. mainstream lenders finally tighten their lending requirements) and the product pipeline is beginning to suffer from serious constipation (as dealers just say no to ’09 inventories), plenty of stores are selling as if the go-go days aren’t gone. This press release from stuttering spinmeister Kevin Nay at Haldeman Nissan demonstrates that sales may be slow, but the pitch remains the same. “Nissan New Jersey dealer, Haldeman Nissan is now offering customers auto deals from $89 a month and with the release of their new auto deal site they are meeting the needs of frugal shoppers worldwide. For a limited time car shoppers can also take advantage of private sale offers. Nissan New Jersey dealer, Haldeman Nissan is now offering customers auto deals from $89 a month and with the release of their new auto deal site they are meeting the needs of frugal shoppers worldwide.” The $89 deal [for the Nissan Sentra] on the site has fine print aplenty– but I can’t read it. Or click on it. I’d kinda hoped the downturn would inspire dealers to clean-up their act. If anything, they’re getting worse.

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27 Comments on “A Nissan Sentra for $89 a Month! Fine Print Not Included...”

  • avatar

    Reminds me of a not-so-bright-acquaintance-of-a-friend that joined us for lunch a couple of years ago. He needed a new car, and he stated that after lunch he was going to travel 50 miles or so to a dealership that was advertising $20,000 vehicles (MSRP) at “ZERO down!!! $99 per month!!!”

    As a finance guy, I asked, “So is it a lease, balloon, increasing payment or what?” He looked confused, so I added, “What I’m asking is, how is the dealer going to get the extra $14,000 for you to drive the car off the lot when you’re only making $6,000 in payments?”

    He got REALLY defensive, rattling off that it MUST be true and that I must be mistaken. I later learned from my friend that Bright Boy couldn’t qualify for the deal because of his horrible credit, and that he was still convinced that I was just being “a negative @$$hole.”

    The scary thing is, this guy votes…

  • avatar

    You repeated a paragraph twice in the entry.

  • avatar
    Point Given

    It’s just the usual nonsense. Payment is before taxes, take out frieght and PDI. Lease with some money down, discount from the dealer, blah blah blah. A example of advertising designed to confuse.

    Each states/provinces motor vehicle association needs to drop the hammer about certain sized certain type of font in the ads for the fine print. 2nd would be declaring that the prices quoted in the paper must clearly show any money down, and third be payment/price plus nothing but taxes. (ie. no doc fee or any of that nonsense). And once the dealers find a new way to confuse, close those holes.

    We’ve got no shortage of $99 a month deals arond these parts even with our higher canadian pricing.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Wow. That was hard to read. This is what I got for the text of the Sentra ad, and I could be wrong even though I got out grandpa’s magnifying glass.

    4 dr, 4 cyl, ps, pb, a/c, l/gles [?],pw, keyls ent, int wps, r/del, pcl, pmi, am/fm, cd, tilt, cruise, Stk#80883, VIN#8L73070, MSRP $17,005, 2008 Sentra 2.0 CVT, Lease Discount, $1,129, College Grad $500, CCR $2,008, TDAS $3,504, TOP $2,150, LEV $11,221.30 for 24 mos.

    I think this means that the lease principal is the MSRP ($17,005) less the Lease Discount, College Grad Discount, and CCR (total $3,645) $13,360. The TDAS (total down at signing?) deposit, first month, and last month is $3,504, of which $3,346 is deposit. These numbers probably do not include sales tax. I don’t know what TOP is, but my guess is that it is something you have to pay. I assume that the LEV is the value after 24 months.

    No word on the mileage allowance. The 24 month condition inspection will be down by Klaus.

    Oh, yes if you are a recent college grad you will not pass the credit check, but if you aren’t you don’t qualify for the deal and will pay retail.

  • avatar

    Small world. I got my 350ZR from Haldeman. I liked my salesman but the rest of the experience was a typical dealership experience. Take that for what its worth.

  • avatar

    Yeah, Robert Schwartz explains it well. You’re leasing a 2008 that would normally cost you about $12K before taxes after all those rebates if you bought it. Nissan is still giving bonus incentives for buyers who lease. But you need to fork over a large portion of the car’s value the day you leave with the car – and it really isn’t a good deal since you have to pony up so much cash when you enter the lease.

    And the best part is the dealer is still making about $500 to $1500 on this car based on the variable incentives, holdback, and any other juice they get from Nissan.

    I believe the only deceptive portion of this advertisement is that it doesn’t state the annual mileage. I don’t think there’s a legal requirement to avoid crossing any threshold on advertised payments. But from a “best for the customer” standpoint they haven’t actually presented any good deal at all. You always get what you pay for. As for using stupid acronyms that really have no meaning to the regular buyer (TOP is time of purchase), I think there could be a push to force the fine print to be less ambiguous.

    But really, how many people get screwed by the “interest free” cards at Best Buy or the “no payments” financing through the local furniture marts? The government seems content in assuming intelligence of the general public. Which is probably a fallacy in thinking.

  • avatar

    TOP = total of payments.

  • avatar

    There was a Nissan dealer up here in NH that was offering a new Sentra for free with the purchase of a Nissan SUV. I wish I had looked up the fine print on that baby when it was running…

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Folks, I hate to break this to you. The purchase and lease of vehicles is pretty much a zero sum game.

    With all the paying of paul, to get to mary, that requires an X,Y,Z customer (who frequently doesn’t even exist), the modus operandi behind the whole marketing process is to just get small numbers on the proverbial newspaper and radio ad. None of it equates to reality.

    The only real opportunities in this business are…

    1) The cash price teaser specials
    2) The demos (which often come with a longer warranty)
    3) The dead inventory

    As an auto auctioneer and owner of a buying service in Atlanta, I can tell you that everything else is pretty much smoke and mirrors. As for the three opportunities I mentioned, it usually takes me several days of negotiation and waiting during the end of the month to nail down the final price. The folks who view cars as workhorses (some consumers, most corporations) are easy to work with while those who want specific colors, option packages, and yearn for a ‘showhorse’ tend to be rarely worth the effort.

  • avatar

    Advertising such horse manure antagonizes the real buyers and ruins the dealer’s reputation.Just ask the world’s largest ex-Chevrolet dealer.

  • avatar

    If you put down a $3000 deposit but the company is broke when the lease is up, do you get your deposit back? Do you get to keep the car if they don’t give you the deposit? (I’m guessing not, since they still have the pink slip.) Also, if they go C11 during the lease period could you lose both the deposit and the car?

  • avatar

    If a dealer actually advertised a vehicle for a fair price and/or reasonable payment, no one would respond to the ad.

    We live in a society that seems to think you can get something for nothing. Ergo, tell them exactly what they want to hear.

    Yes, dealers (and just about every other retailer of goods and services) perpetuate this myth but oh, how the consumer wants to believe its true.

  • avatar

    BlueBrat :

    You repeated a paragraph twice in the entry.

    Check the link. Exactly as quoted here.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    SunnyvaleCA: Generally, speaking, the lessee is an unsecured creditor of the lessor for the deposit, although if state law requires it to be held in a separate account, the lessee maybe able to reclaim it. The lessee can keep the car as security for the lessor’s obligation to pay the deposit, but if the plates expire in the interim you may not be able to get the papers from the lessor to renew them. The real problem is that no simple analysis will capture all of the messed up facts in any given situation.

  • avatar

    It always makes me laugh inside when customers come to me and offer some ridiculous price for a car and say “I am paying cash, I want the cash price.” Most customers don’t understand that dealers don’t want to sell to cash customers, because typically the cash customer wants the lowest out the door price (no front end gross) and isn’t buying the financing the dealer is selling (no back end gross). What the dealer’s motivation to sell for cash?

    These are the type of ads that get people in the door. No one reads the fine print. Yes, some people storm out when the fine print is explained to them (too dumb to read, and too dumb to realize that the real price is a great deal anyway), but others buy at the real price once they realize they don’t qualify for the college, military, ladies’ auxiliary rebates. The only numbers to pay attention to in those ads are the dealer discount and the regular rebate. If you do your research ahead of time, you will know if the dealer discount is good enough to take advantage of.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “What the dealer’s motivation to sell for cash?”

    It is very useful in certain situations.

  • avatar

    People should know what a car costs before they go to the dealer. There’s plenty of places to find out what kind of “deal” you can get too.

  • avatar

    dwford: Maybe people should read the fine print. No one should even begin thinking of signing a contract without doing their research. But when car dealers (usually sellers of the 2nd most complicated – and expensive – purchase contracts behind houses) disingenuously put up ads like this, then claim that the REAL DEAL (re: the truth) is “still a great price,” it makes the average consumer want to throw up. I realize your excuse for everything is “caveat emptor” but it’s laughable that you wonder why some people want to pay in cash when normal sales tactics are full of these slimeball clauses. Of course the dealer doesn’t want to sell for cash. That’s the reason I, the consumer, do want to, and especially in times like these, it’s easy enough to find a dealer who will take it.

  • avatar

    dwford, your explanation is why I go into the dealership every 2 years loaded for bear. I should be thinking about the salesman, his kids, and the fact that he needs to make a living too. But I dont. Want to know why you guys scratch your heads and wonder why we try to cut you to the bone? Do I have to spell it out for you? I personally get tired of lies and deception. “Test marketing experiment”,or “we have so many trade ins were selling for half off”. Double what your trade ins worth. Then you get there and are blatantly lied to, then the finance guy sees what he can pull over on you. My last lease buyout in feb. I caught an odometer “typo”, a dealer prep charge on my lease which I bought out ( why would they charge $395 to wash and prep a car that was 3 years old and only changing hands on paper? nice try) and a $500 “mandatory” charge for nothing which they literally begged me to split with them when I caught it. I am tired of having to be on my guard every minute im under your roof. I dont have to do this at Lowes, my local drug store, my independent mechanic, or the seafood store. I am tired of having to watch the fine print like a hawk. Similar to mail in rebates where they count on you forgetting, or losing the receipt, the dealer counts on you not finding where you left your reading glasses, or not finding the the ad. This is why I am so hard on you guys. Be respectful of me and I will return the favor, and you will make some commission off of me. Simple enough.

  • avatar

    Since Nissan’s vehicles are about on par with the domestics in every other way, it should be no surprise that they’re right down there with them in dealership sales tactics, too.

    That’s not to say that the other foreign marques have their share of sleazeball dealers, too. It’s just that the big 2.8 (plus Nissan) seem to be the most consistantly sleazy in the way they try to blatantly deceive and hoodwink customers.

    One of my favorite telltale signs that a dealership is to be avoided is the dealer-added options stickers, namely the ‘protection package’ scams of ‘fabric protector’ and ‘paint sealant’. The moment I see those damn things (and they slap one on absolutely every vehicle), I know there’s no way in hell I’m ever going to buy a vehicle from that stealership.

  • avatar

    When I went to buy my last(only) new car, I called about 30 places and lied (usually by $200-$500) my current “best offer” on a car of any color with the options I wanted. When dealerships lie in their print ads, why should I be honest with them & not try to cut them down?

    Even worse is to have to go INTO the dealership before talking numbers. Those places are automatically excluded.

    For pretty much everything else I buy, there is a set price that is variable by authorized reseller. Why should a car be any different?

    If I see a laptop on sale @ best buy, I can count on the laptop (if available) being the price printed + tax. I can even phone ahead & see if they have any in stock, or purchase online & schedule local pickup.

    No tax, title, license doc, prep, paint, protection…blah blah BS in buying pretty much anything except a car.

    It makes me want to deal with the whole process as little, and as cheaply as possible.

  • avatar


    What the dealer’s motivation to sell for cash?

    Uhh…that I’m waving a check for x-amount of money in front of them. And from my experience, they’ll start talking when they see it.

    Recently went car shopping with my uncle. He had a check for $12g and wanted to buy a car that was more expensive by $3g. After the salesman told him the final offer was $13.5g plus taxes and such, he pulled out the check.

    Never seen a salesman crack so fast. Even had the car washed and detailed free of charge.

  • avatar

    The Mitsubishi dealer in Normal, IL, is offering the same thing. $89 a month for a Galant and $189 a month for an Endeavor. That goes for the first year of payments. Starting with year 2 the payments jump to $500-$600/month. 72 months financing. You’d have to be dumb to buy into that kind of deal.

  • avatar


    It’s worse than you think.

    I was an aircraft broker. We didn’t play that game either. The price is the price. We add the taxes based on where you live, and you are done.

    You can buy a new plane from about $25k to over $60MM (that’s a kite wing on the bottom to twin engine jet at the top). The process includes paper work for both the state AND federal governments. And yet, no dealer I worked with played that game.

    And they wonder why they are going broke.

  • avatar

    Anyone think we will see “interest only” auto loans for the first 3 years and then start paying the principal years 4-6 or 4-7?

  • avatar

    The Mitsubishi dealer in Normal, IL, is offering the same thing. $89 a month for a Galant and $189 a month for an Endeavor. That goes for the first year of payments. Starting with year 2 the payments jump to $500-$600/month. 72 months financing. You’d have to be dumb to buy into that kind of deal.

    Subprime. Mortgage.

    There’s a lot of dumb to go around.

  • avatar

    I agree that such advertising just hurts the business in the long run as those that respond probably do not read the fine print and therefore they’ll get ticked off for not getting that deal. The dealer is just looking it to get people into their showroom to work a deal on them. Of course the people that respond are just asking for it, as mean as that is to say.

    P.S. I was shopping for used XJ’s recently, and I stopped by several small town used car dealers. I’ve never bought a car from one, and I never will! The people that use such places… good luck! Once place had pictures of Jesus on the walls (like I could trust them). They started off by asking me how much I could afford a month. I responded to saying I’d pay cash. Then I caught the manager in a lie about the vehicle’s maintenance, and so I said good-bye!

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