Bark's Bites: When Is a Sale Not a Sale? When Is Not a Sale a Sale?

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth
barks bites when is a sale not a sale when is not a sale a sale

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.

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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  • Olivebranch2006 Olivebranch2006 on Nov 13, 2015

    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 4x4 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.

  • Rbg Rbg on Nov 19, 2015

    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?

    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Nov 19, 2015

      "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.

  • Cprescott Ford killed the TRANSit because it identified itself as a station wagon.
  • Crtfour I live in East Tennessee where most of the time driving is pretty low stress. But for work I have the misfortune of passing through Atlanta every 3-4 months. And passing through downtown you have to change lanes and merge so many times I still can't seem to keep it straight. On my last trip I ended up in an exit only lane ; the lane next to me where I had to get into was stopped so I was blocking the exit lane with this guy behind me blowing his horn and flashing his lights. I finally managed to get over finally allowing this guy to floor it and be on it's way. I consider myself a good driver with the exception of passing through there.
  • Pishta Those 80 B2000's were very Ford Courier like but the 81's had a completely new for Mazda dash. Less pods, more integration in one window. These didn't get the F motor until 84(?) only with the B2200 option. Single wall beds had lost of rust through issues. The 80 Quad headlamp grill was very rare, I dont rememeer seeing but one growing up.
  • FreedMike So it has transited out of existence here...
  • TheEndlessEnigma Self fulfilling prophesy. Ford spends virtually nothing on sales and marketing for the Transit....then scratches their collective heads not understand why it doesn't sell to their assumed objectives. If you do not market the vehicle, it will not sell. Pretty simple to understand really. Ford sure is working hard to make itself a niche automobile company, trucks and SUV's only. But that's OK, Kia/Hyundai/Toyota/Honda and yes even Volkswagen & Nissan are more than happy to sell to those customers Ford is apparently happy to walk away from.