WA Legislators to Up Dealers' "Doc Fees" From $50 to $150

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
wa legislators to up dealers doc fees from 50 to 150

Anyone remember the John Houseman ad for Smith Barney? “They make money the old-fashioned way. They UHN it.” Well, you can put that idea in an urn, at least when it comes to Washington State car dealers. Now that times are tough, the dealers have successfully lobbied (a euphemism if there ever was one) their state legislators to increase car dealers’ “document fees” from $50 to $150. Get ready to get ill, courtesy The News Tribune.

Such an increase could let auto dealers statewide pocket as much as $100 million to $150 million, money that would go straight to their bottom line. Those figures assume dealers will sell 1 million cars and trucks and that all dealers would charge the maximum fee allowed, as most do.

Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, said she sponsored Senate Bill 5816 at the request of the Washington State Auto Dealers Association and its 328 dealerships, and one of her former constituents, Mary Byrne, former owner of Nissan of Fife. Byrne now is a partner in Advantage Nissan in Bremerton.

It gets worse.

“They told me that Washington state sales are down by at least 30 percent and that they just want to be able to compete with Idaho and Oregon on our borders, which have lower sales taxes,” Eide said. “They came to me asking for help. Our local dealers are our livelihood in our communities, and they are going extinct. If they think this is going to be their lifeline, I’ll be there.”

Yes, you will. But don’t get to thinking that Elde doesn’t have Washington consumers’ best interests at heart, or that such a concept would be antithetical to this piece of pork pie legislation. Double negatives be damned, consumers still have the upper hand.

Eide said the fee is voluntary and that her bill would make it clear that it’s as much a negotiable item as the price of the vehicle itself. Sales and lease documents would have to disclose in boldface, italics, underlined type or in capital letters that the $150 fee is negotiable, she said.

So that’s alright, then.

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  • Mark45 Mark45 on Mar 04, 2009

    It's amazing how fast this country is going to socialism. This is the USA,home of free enterprise. There should not have been a cap on this in the first place and they are just increasing the cap. This is not a mandatory fee and the customer has the option to pay it or not. The internet is feeding people information about dealer cost of autos and their profit margins are most likely getting very slim. This is a way get some revenue to pay for the clerical work that they have to do. For every 1 sale there is problem 10 that they have to process paperwork on for a possible sale that does not happen because they change their mind, go somewhere else, or can't get finacing. All this paperwork takes time and as they say time is money.

  • Sammy Hagar Sammy Hagar on Mar 04, 2009

    Yes, this bill sucks ___ ...what's new? The governor and both houses of our state congress are Democratic locks; so as King & Pierce counties go, so does all the state. That said, there is some misinformation here. First, WA state sales tax is 8.0% + local tax; where I live (Spokompton), the total is 8.1%. Now you may think that's insane, but WA does not have an annual income tax...so while I get screwed at the time of purchase, I don't pay any income tax throughout the year. Plus, state sales tax paid is deductible on my federal taxes. Second, if you think WA is becoming more socialist inre this issue, you're wrong. Yes, Seattle is driving WA to be California Jr.; there is nothing anybody can do about that. However, in the "old" days, our car license tabs were based upon a percentage of the vehicle value. Thus, when your renewal came you'd find yourself cursing about the bill for $200, 250, 300, 350, etc. And that is for each vehicle...so if you owned 2 or 3 late-model cars, you could find yourself paying well over $1K a year to license them. That was crazy socialism...and luckily, it was fought via state-wide initiative and went buh-bye. Third, dealers are desperate and if they know you'll walk if this "fee" isn't negotiated, they'll negotiate. Plus, if you live near Portland or Idaho, you just threaten to go across the border. I like Washington: In one day I can go from vistas of wheat fields to desert scablands to 12K foot mountain ranges to untouched rain forests to the violent Pacific ocean. Sure, the sales tax is a bummer, but having lived in Pennsylvania...w/it's property taxes, school taxes, township taxes, borough taxes, state income tax AND sales tax...I'm quite fine w/my current situation.

  • Frank Wait until the gov't subsidies end, you aint seen nothing yet. Ive been "on the floor" when they pulled them for fuel efficient vehicles back during/after the recession and the sales of those cars stopped dead in their tracks
  • Vulpine The issue is really stupidly simple; both names can be taken the wrong way by those who enjoy abusing language. Implying a certain piece of anatomy is a sign of juvenile idiocy which is what triggered the original name-change. The problem was not caused by the company but rather by those who continuously ridiculed the original name for the purpose of VERY low-brow humor.
  • Sgeffe There's someone around where I live who has a recent WRX-STi, but the few times I've been behind this guy, he's always driving right at the underposted arbitrary numbers that some politician pulled out of their backside and slapped on a sign! With no gendarmes or schoolkids present! Haven't been behind this driver on the freeway, but my guess is that he does the left lane police thing with the best of 'em!What's the point of buying such a vehicle if you're never going to exceed a speed limit? (And I've pondered that whilst in line in the left lane at 63mph behind a couple of Accord V6s, as well as an AMG E-Klasse!)
  • Mebgardner I'm not the market for a malleable Tuner / Track model, so I dont know: If you are considering a purchase of one of these, do you consider the Insurance Cost Of Ownership aspect? Or just screw it, I'm gonna buy it no matter.The WRX is at the top of the Insurance Cost pole for tuner models, is why I ask.
  • Mebgardner Wishing for the day of open source software in EVs, including the OS. Lets have some transparency in the algorithms and controls. No Fair data hoovering my phone when connected.I'm also wondering at the level of CANBus components in this vehicle.