By on November 13, 2015

fordfriends

If you happen to live somewhere in the United States where radio waves can be transmitted and/or received, you’ve no doubt heard of the “Friends and Neighbors” sale that is going on Now At Your Local Ford Dealer. It sounds like a pretty good deal, doesn’t it? Employee pricing for everybody!

Not so fast, my friends.

Like nearly everybody on God’s Green Earth, I qualify for X Plan pricing at Ford. It’s how I effortlessly purchased/leased my Flex and my Fiesta ST. X Plan is Ford’s code for supplier pricing, and it’s typically about four-percent higher than invoice. It also limits the documentation fees that dealers can charge, which can be insane in some states.

Can better deals be negotiated? Certainly. However, for a low-stress car buying experience, it’s hard to beat. You simply walk into a dealership, they print off the X Plan price, you give them your certificate, and you walk out half an hour later with a new set of keys.

Ford also has pricing for actual employees and their immediate families, called A Plan, which is a little bit better than X Plan but it follows essentially the same guidelines. All that’s required is proof of employment and a PIN code you generate from Ford’s employee site.

So wouldn’t you think that “an inside deal for everyone” would be A Plan, or at least X Plan? You’d be somewhat right, but you’d be mostly wrong. Here’s why.

The Friends and Neighbors pricing, according to some TTAC sources, is the same as X Plan. However, X Plan pricing has changed.

Ford has rolled back about $500 on average per vehicle on X Plan. So, for example, if you had been interested in a Fusion on October 30th, your X Plan price might have been $20,000. If you came back for that same price after Friends and Neighbors started, your new X Plan price would be $20,500. Several dealers had to “backdate” sales back to October for X Plan customers who were curious about what their price was going to be after Friends and Neighbors started.

In addition to increasing the X Plan prices, Ford also reduced or discontinued several rebates that were in place prior to the sale. In some cases, X Plan customers would have saved over $1,000 by buying prior to the sale. Not awesome. Also, the same rules that apply to X Plan apply to the Friends and Neighbors sale, which means no discounts for you on the Fords that you really want to buy, like the GT350 or the Focus RS.

However, there is an American car manufacturer that’s having somewhat of an unadvertised sale right now.

2016 Chevrolet Traverse

According to TTAC sources, General Motors is piloting some changes to their Standard for Excellence bonus (known by most dealers as SFE), which has historically been paid out on a quarterly basis to dealers based on new car sales targets. Some dealers are now being paid their SFE bonuses on a monthly basis, which is causing utter panic in some General Managers’ offices across America. They can’t make up for a slow month with a strong month now; if they miss the month, that money (which is significant) is gone forever.

If you’re interested in a Buick or a GMC, it is almost a certainty you’ll be able to start your negotiations at invoice pricing. The SFE bonuses are paid on a per-make basis, meaning that a Buick/GMC dealer might be doing fine on its GMC numbers, but if it falls short of its Buick goal, they’re not getting the loot. That might explain why your dealer is much more willing to make an attractive deal for you on an Enclave than an Acadia right now.

So, if you’re really looking to get a good deal between now and the end of the year on an American car, skip that Ford Friends and Neighbors sale and head directly to your local GM dealer. If you’re really smart, you might even want to wait until the last weekend of the month, when the difference between selling or not selling that last Encore could mean thousands of dollars for that dealer.

And when you get your rip-roaring deal, be sure to silently thank your friend, Bark, for giving you the heads up.

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52 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: When Is a Sale Not a Sale? When Is Not a Sale a Sale?...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So my local Chevy dealer, with no other GM brands in his store, may not be as desperate as my GMC/Buick dealer? Cause he’s sure selling many more GMCs than Buick anything (except Veranos) right now.

    The dealer base is going to love that. You will essentially be penalized for carrying multiple brands.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I’m not sure how they are being penalized for carrying multiple brands. I doubt that the number of Chevy, GMC or Buick vehicles a dealer has to move is the same across the board.

      I’d say that the multi brand dealer has the advantage. If you are at a single brand store and you miss your goal you get nothing. At a multi brand dealer you may make it with one brand and not the other so you still get money.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The SFE bonuses are paid on a per-make basis, meaning that a Buick/GMC dealer might be doing fine on its GMC numbers, but if it falls short of its Buick goal, they’re not getting the loot.

        Maybe it is poorly written but it sounds like they don’t get ANY of the money if they miss one of the sales targets in a multi brand dealership.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          To me it reads that if you meet the GMC goals you’ll get that money regardless of how you do on the Buick numbers. That is why it is broken down by brand and not just a total number per dealer.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Good practical piece, Bark.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Right now, Buick is offering a serious lease deal on leftover ’15 Encores.

    $175 down, $175/mo. for 24 months.

    So I went and drove one. Really not bad, and something I could see myself driving for 2 years.

    Then out came the numbers… and the qualifications, none of which I met.

    So instead of $175 * 25 (about $4100)… I wound up with $1000 down, $250/mo. Changes it from a $4100 deal to a $7000 deal and thus, no deal.

    If you somehow manage to meet all their qualifications, it’s not at all a bad deal on not at all a bad car.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      How soft was the ride over bad roads? This is very interesting to me and a lease would be a good way to risk a non-Japanese car.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        No…just risking a 79% Korean/18% Chinese car (more or less, IIRC the percentages right).

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        I can’t speak to the Encore, but I’ve driven the related Trax, and it’s not great. The wheelbase is too short and the centre of gravity is (relatively) too high, forcing a compromise of either a wallowy mess or stiff and jerky (since the Trax is going after a younger market, they went with the latter).

        I’d say an Equinox or Terrain would be worth your time (they’re a decent size, and don’t drive awfully), but the four-cylinder is severely overmatched (the little porkers weigh nearly two tons), and the V6 looks like it’ll run you at over $30k. I strongly doubt a Chevrolet Equinox is the best thing for anyone with $30k to spend.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @Rideheight

        Why don’t you just get yourself a ’58 Buick and be done with it. Nice and tall, wallows around like a pig in muck. You would love it.

    • 0 avatar
      DeeDub

      What kind of qualifications do you mean? Are you talking simple creditworthiness, or stacked discount category baloney where you have to be retired+military+a school teacher+a recent college grad to get the advertised deal?

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Your avatar is eating my brain.

      • 0 avatar
        eggsalad

        Most imperatively, you have to be currently leasing a car.

        So I ask the guy, “If I’m currently leasing a car, what would I need to lease another car for?” He had no real answer.

        So I guess this deal is really only a deal for people who have leases that expire in November 2015. And who want a Buick Encore.

        If 100 people manage to take this deal, I’d be surprised.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          And of course that is why they run promotions like this to get you in the door, they don’t expect many to meet the qualifications. Of course they think that people will still go for it when they don’t but I’m sure more walk out rather than pay significantly more than the advertised price.

          • 0 avatar
            eggsalad

            When the offered total lease cost is 175% of the advertised total least cost, only a moron would stick around.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    I’ll avoid al GM dealers. I’m still peeved about the three garbage cars
    I bought from them in the 80’s.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      I think GM has slightly better cars now , it has been 25 years you might wanna give them a try.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      ceipower, That’s what’s so great about America. We have a choice. I, too, suffered with vehicles I bought from GM and Ford, at a time when I could least afford it.

      In 2008 I thought I’d try a brand new 2008 Japan-Built Highlander…… and since then I have become a convert, a believer in the gospel of Toyota.

      All Toyota all the time for me these days: 2015 Sequoia, 2011 Tundra 5.7L. and a 1989 Camry V6 bought used for $100 earlier this year.

      Ain’t never going back to the rest since I found the best. Toyota!

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I feel like there are no deals to be had on cars from Ford or GM on cars from them worth buying though.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Since I’ve been seeing this for a few days now I was wondering when an article about it would pop up.

    It doesn’t surprise me that they adjusted things and that this is replacing some other incentives instead of supplementing them.

  • avatar
    deanst

    If you want a good deal on a new car, just go to your friendly neighborhood VW dealer. I’m sure you’ll get prompt service too.

  • avatar
    Zoom

    On the web site of a local Ford dealer, the discount on 2015 Fusion Titanium models was about $5,000 before the Friends & Family sale, and $1,800 to $2,000 after the “sale” started. I was surprised at the change, in the wrong direction.

  • avatar
    zip89105

    Sounds like Bark is trying to raise the price of his GM stock. Ford’s x-plan is a great deal, especially in Nevada where dealers rape a buyer for $500 doc fees.

    • 0 avatar
      SomeGuy

      We almost bought an FX35 from an Infiniti dealer in Pittsburgh… Fees were a whopping $1k+.

      We didn’t buy that SUV obviously.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I wonder how the X-plan thing works in Florida. Here, there is no limit on dealer fees (and apparently we have the highest avgerage in the nation) but there is a law that the same dealer fee must be applied to everyone.

    • 0 avatar
      RetroGrouch

      Why do people put up with ridiculous doc fees? After settling on the selling price of his new BMW, I watched my father negotiate a similarly ridiculous number down to $200 plus actual title and reg cost. After hearing a number many hundreds higher than that, he told the sales idiot “no thanks” and said he would go to the DMV office himself to title and register his new car. The sales idiot and his manager could not figure out how to prevent him and gave in after 15 minutes.

      • 0 avatar
        DeeDub

        Doc fees are a sort of IQ test, or maybe a tax on the dumb. The only people that pay them are those that can’t figure out that they don’t have to. And by paying them, they subsidize the rest of us who know better.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Maine has that law that a dealer can charge whatever they want for doc fees, but they have to charge the same amount on every single sale – so it is not coming off as a line item. Most dealers are in the $3-400 range. $299 at the local BMW store, for example. They also charge the state-mandated $29 title fee, and another $18 for the first inspection sticker. Which I think is BS given they do inspections for free annually after that… Dealers do not register the car for you in Maine.

          As far as I am concerned it is just part of the bottom line price, just like the delivery charge. All you can do is negotiate the best deal you can, if you can live with it, great, if not, walk away. Nice thing about new cars is that they are not generally unique flowers, you can buy the same car anywhere. Especially if you order them like I tend to.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaMaximaCulpa

      As a non American it seems strange to me that the advertised price doesn’t have to include all costs of getting the car delivered, registered and what not in the state of sale. The advertising seems a bit deceptive if the advertised price doesn’t include the added charges that the vast majority of buyers will Incurre. Destination charges seems extremely strange to me, who buys a car at a dealer and doesn’t want it delivered?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        MeaMaximaCulpa,
        The same goes for the State taxes on many items.

        The shop/stores advertise a price without the tax, then, wham, the price rises at the checkout.

        I do believe any advertised price is the price you pay at the checkout.

        But, there are the “believers” who state it’s so you know how much tax you are paying. But, then talk to one of those people regarding the amount of tax and they will tell you X%, so why not just have the advertised price, the actual price.

        We have in Australia what we call “Drive Away” pricing. That is the advertised price has all charges, taxes, fees, vehicle registraton, insurance, etc included.

        So, if a vehicle is advertised for $X, then that is what you pay. This is generally on discounted vehicles, though.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    then you show up and nobody knows anything.

    “x plan? great movie!”

    now whats the most you can afford a month? got this cool little piss yellow base model fiesta for only $300/mo, 84 short months!

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Imagine going to apple store in NYC and get iPhone for $300, go to apple store in Philly and get it for $250…

    Why can’t manufacturers just say, come to our dealer and buy our car for $xxxxx? so, we don’t have to deal with … dealers

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Elon?

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Because you would pay more, a lot more.

      Tell me about the trade in program at th Apple Store. Oh, that’s right, they don’t have one.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        IMHO, if you are trading in a car, in most cases you are getting ripped off. Even if it is “easy”, that ease comes with a very stiff pricetag. Selling my last car to CarMax was almost as easy as trading it in, and I came out $2.5K ahead. $12K offer from BMW, $14.5 from CarMax. I think I could have sold it privately for $15.5K, but I would have had to register it again for ~$500. So for $500 I took the easier route. But not for $2500.

        You should have a choice – buy it direct from the maker for whatever price, or buy it from a dealer for whatever price they want to charge. As I have mentioned before, I am in the enterprise computer hardware business. As an example, you can buy a $200K MSRP piece of equipment directly from Dell, or you can buy that same Dell hardware from my employer. One may be more or less than the other. You can choose Dell professional services to install it, or you can choose me. We compete with Dell, they compete with us – we both compete with other companies like my employer, and other vendors like EMC or HP. The customer WINS. There is no reason cars can’t be sold the same way, other than the dealer lobby.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I have 3 Mustang invoices in front of me. The average X-plan is 0.37% higher than invoice. The average A/Z-plan is 3.93% lower than invoice (and almost 10% below MSRP). That, plus you take off whatever rebates Ford is offering.

    Sucks though that they have to screw around with X-plan pricing to make things work for them. Are they doing the same to A/Z customers?

  • avatar
    April S

    I noticed one of the cars (2015 Ford Fiesta) that could be a possible replacement for my Mazda 2 went from less than $16,000 back up over $17K after this so-called special pricing went into effect.

    Thanks Ford, you knocked that car off my list.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I would expect them to give you an even better deal on a 2015 Fiesta now, than last month. If it’s not a 2016 Fiesta instead of a 2015 Fiesta, you might not see the same deal.

      If you know a dealership that has a 2015 Fiesta, and you have a price you are willing to pay (that is reasonable), offer it. They will probably sell the car to you.

      (Or find a 2015 Focus. There are more of them out there and some SEs are under $17K)

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Scion iA, that’s really a Mazda2? 16.5 before taxes.

  • avatar
    gasser

    This dawned on me also, just after the friends and family came here. I was looking at leasing a Ford Fusion SE Hybrid and equipped the way I wanted the payments were an enticing $169/ month, but the down was over $3600. I really wanted a lower down payment and, after the arrival of “friends and family” I could have it. The down was now only $2400!!!! Unfortunately the monthly was now upped to $269. Thus I could save $1K on the down by coughing up $3600 additional over the life of the lease.
    I decided to wait for the enemies and strangers lease program.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Part of the problem here with the Ford pricing is that people are comparing 2015s with 2016s. The 2015 Ford models were all good deals the last few months with larger incentives. They have been replaced by 2016 models with lower incentives.

    The dealer I go to still has both 2015 and 2016 C-Maxes. The 2016s only have $500 on the hood. The 2015s have at least $2500 in rebates. That $2500 is for anyone that walks through the doors and is the place to start. On a $27K C-Max, I would offer $23K, if I didn’t get A-plan.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Funny. Car dealerships aren’t allowed to use the word sale by law (at least in MD and VA. AS the prices during a sale aren’t actualy cheaper than normal. We had to use words like Sales Event.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      Those kinds of restrictions, such as not being able to call a sale a sale, always seem like governmental micromanaging to me.

      One dealer in Virginia is the only one who can advertise that they are the number 1 dealer in VA, and that is because they got the first (#1) dealer license issued by the DMV.

      Yet I will bet that 99% of the public believe that such a claim is based on some sort of sales volume or something else similar, and not on the mere historical fact that they were first in line the day the DMV began registering and licensing dealers.

      Dealers shouldn’t be allowed to publish statements that are false, but attempting to prevent them from using everyday words which are true, such as sale, is just juvenile nanny-think.

  • avatar
    olivebranch2006

    Nice article. I agree that better deals were previously available from Ford this summer and wanted to share our deal. Bought a new 2015 Lincoln Navigator L 4×4 with sunroof and upgraded wheels with adaptive shocks in June. Stockton,CA Lincoln is a decently large dealer and they had enough inventory to want to move vehicles at a fairly good clip. They also are on Lincolns newer (maybe two years old) kickback program. Lincoln moved to a dealer rebate system that change the kickback percentage based on the dealerships customer satisfaction scores. I think it was 2% to 4% range depending on performance. I was able to negotiate $4,100 off MSRP by asking three dealers total for their best and final price. 4100 off is below invoice and the salesman agreed to basically cut the kickback in half to earn our business. Then Lincoln qualified us for additional $2,000 off in rebates. Finally we also received 0.9% financing for 5 years. They even delivered the car to us two hours drive away one way and picked up our trade in from our house. They agreed to take the trade in sight unseen at full KBB trade in value. I was really happy with the whole deal and promised full score on the dealer surveys to seal the deal, which they received. Get this: the Wife was not totally sure about the purchase so the dealer promised in writing a 72 hour test drive period where we could return for a full refund… my 2 cents.

  • avatar
    rbg

    I HATE dealing with Ford dealers. I really like Ford trucks, but cannot stand the goofs that populate most of their dealerships. It has only gotten worse lately. We were looking to replace our 2007 Suburban with a Transit for our business. Three different dealerships, NONE of the salespeople knew jack about their product, or any competitors offerings. I told one of the dealerships staff that I didn’t want to trade the ‘burban, because their offer would likely be insulting. He insisted that they’d make us a fair offer, disappeared with the car and keys for about a half hour. When he returned, he offered me 5k for a rust free 2007 LT Suburban that was in very good shape, and was genuinely surprised when I asked for my keys and left. We have purchased a couple of certified Lexus vehicles, and the experience was first rate. Prices were fair, the staff was professional. same with Honda. Why can’t American automakers wake the hell up?

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “I HATE dealing with Ford dealers. I really like Ford trucks, but cannot stand the goofs that populate most of their dealerships”

      Allow me to recommend Ford dealers who are interested solely in cranking out Happy Campers and shoot you the price they need to sell a vehicle for, up front, plus tt&l, without muss or fuss, or a handjob.

      Shamaley Ford in El Paso, TX and any of the Ford dealers in Albuquerque, NM. You can find them on the Web. If you fly into either of those locations, they will pick you up at the airport for free.

      Two of my brothers bought F150 trucks that way. Both were Happy Campers. No haggling. No dancing around. Just wham, bam, thank you ma’am, and off they went.

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