By on February 8, 2018

Dartmouth Dodge tweets

Late last year, I selected Jeep’s JL Wrangler as an Ace of Base once pricing for the snazzy new off-road rig was freshly announced.

That was 43 days ago, at which point I theorized that Wrangler shoppers would likely need to be weary of dealer bait-and-switch tactics, as both the new JL and the old JK are 2018 models. Specifically, I said:

Readers can be assured, then, of hearing hyper-caffeinated sales staff blaring in radio ads about ZOMG GREAT DEALZ ON 2018 WRANGLERS – only for frustrated shoppers to discover they are actually talking about the lame-duck Jeep and not the shiny new off-roader.

Well, that didn’t take long.

I know Twitter can be an utter cesspool of opinionated blowhards yelling into oblivion. Firing the contents of a bedpan off the head of a wharf into gale force northeasterlies has about the same result as going on Twitter for an hour. One generally ends up sad, frustrated, feeling dirty, and annoyed that they were silly enough to even do it in the first place.

Yet, I log in daily. Yesterday afternoon, the above tweet from Dartmouth Dodge showed up in my feed.

Alarm bells went off in this former car salesman’s head. A new Unlimited JL Wrangler is pictured amongst two JKs in a tweet advertising a $199 biweekly lease deal, pretty much mirroring my dire December predictions of the games dealers might play when two distinct models are both labelled by the factory as the same model year.

So, in the spirit of social media, I replied to the tweet.

Typically polite Canadian, I know. But within a few minutes, I noticed they had deleted the original tweet and replaced it with another one mentioning different terms – 39 month lease instead of 36.

Fair enough. People make mistakes on Twitter all the time covfefe. It’s completely logical to delete and then re-issue a corrected message. But the same three images (two JKs and a JL) remained.

Dartmouth Dodge replied to my question with a question of their own, asking the following:

To which I replied:

Now, it’s their answer to this follow-up question, which was simply a clarification of my initial query, that irked me to no end.

Not an overly helpful reply, in my opinion. Yes, of course the three links match up to the three Jeeps posted. I’m not an idiot. It also wasn’t my question. Now, I simply feel like a student who’s been chastised by the teacher and Dartmouth Dodge is still no closer to answering my original query: does the “starting at $199 biweekly” deal apply to both the new and old Wranglers? Here is their link to a $55,000 Wrangler for you to peruse. Here are some more. Think you’ll get any those for the advertised $199 biweekly?

I feel their initial replies were vague, designed to draw a person in to the dealer where I could be four-squared. Or perhaps it was just the product of a harried employee who had the responsibilities of Twitter dumped in their lap on top of an already busy day. Neither is overly helpful to a customer.

After thanking them last night, they replied this morning with a cheerful invitation to call them.

Look, I’m not here to pillory dealers in general or to suggest Dartmouth Dodge is actively involved in nefarious trickery. It simply rankles me that a) my December assertions came to mind and b) the dealer did not fully clarify their ad when given a chance to do so.

There are plenty of great dealers out there. Truro Nissan right here in my town springs immediately to mind, as does the FCA shop here by the name of Blaikies Dodge. I’m sure there are many more examples, but I can definitively say the sales department in both of those stores go out of their way to accommodate customers, creatively market themselves, and steer clear of intentional obfuscation.

What do you think? Part of me is of the opinion that, with my age advancing and my hair receding, I’m just being contrary-minded. The other part – the part that abhors stupid games and opportunistic behavior – thinks any form of potentially confusing advertising should be quashed.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide. Mountain? Or molehill?

[Images via Twitter]

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42 Comments on “The Games We Play: Advertising Chicanery Begins on ‘2018 Jeep Wrangler’...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    I’ve noticed, at a variety of dealers in my area, that the person tasked with running ads is also taking pictures and doing other things as well. I’m sure some of it is deceitful, not giving you a straight answer reinforces that idea. Speaking of pictures, I saw a Challenger listed as a “fresh trade-in” last August…there was snow in the photos, lol.

  • avatar
    BoogerROTN

    Pardon my naivety, but is this biweekly payment scheme becoming common with new car dealers? I can’t say I’ve seen it here in the states, but I definitely could see it play at the local Kia/Hyundai/Mitsubishi dealerships…

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Pretty well industry standard now. Bi-weekly numbers better align to most people’s pay schedules so they don’t have to do any hard math to figure out what their monthly income is versus payment. Plus, smaller numbers look better.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      I’ve not noticed biweekly figures before.
      “For $15 a day, you too can drive home this shiny new XYZ!”

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Most credit unions will let you align payments to your own paycheck. I get paid twice a month, I make a car payment twice a month.

        Before my wife went back to teaching she was being paid once a week and was making 1/4 of a monthly car payment every week.

        Now would I take that deal from a dealer?

        Spell WAY and put an F in it.

        There ain’t no effin way.

        • 0 avatar
          Adam Tonge

          Where I work we do that.

          BUT

          All our auto loans are still monthly installments and are quoted as such. We quote monthly payments with term and APR. All docs have the monthly number on it. We can set up biweekly payments, but that’s only as a request by the member. Advertising that is shady.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        Canadian ads are down to weekly payments – $35 weekly for a Corolla.

    • 0 avatar
      cheezman88

      It still blows my mind to this day how much people focus on the payments rather than the total cost. And end up being fooled. You mean I can get into this brand new Lexus at the same monthly cost as my old one? Wow what a great deal, I don’t know how this dealership is able to give me a new car for free.

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        Most people are flat broke and live paycheck to paycheck. Many of them have carefully cultivated an aversion to good decision making. It’s almost a lifestyle. Making payments is something they understand.

        Quite a few of them however, don’t seem to understand that if you miss work you don’t get paid.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Dealerships gonna dealership. Also, places that scream about their bi-weekly payments are fun to laugh at. Wow, only $199 b/w(whatever bw means, probably “monthly”) for a Jeep when a C-Class is $399 per month, such a great deal!

  • avatar
    RHD

    The use of b/w is misleading, as well. I had to look it up, and it took a while to find that it means “biweekly”. Why not just write “biweekly”? For the customer, it’s an uphill battle through the intentional confusion.

    And it’s not 398 a month, because there are 26 payments to make each year, which comes to an average of 431.16 per month, plus taxes.
    That won’t catch anyone’s eye. And in that vein, “starting from” in real English means “more than”.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      This mortgage underwriter doffs his cap at you for the bi-weekly calculation comment. Well done, sir.

      • 0 avatar
        Rick T.

        Don’t get him started on the difference between bi-weekly and semi-monthly!

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        How do you think Rent-a-Center, Aaron’s and other such places make their money? They charge you a low, low weekly price that adds up to more than a typical monthly rate and then make you pay twice as long. They HATE people pre-paying their rentals off.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I didn’t even SEE the b/w in the ad. Forget about not knowing what it meant. I thought $199/mo was a fantastic deal, even for a JK.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “Starting from” does usually mean “exactly one on the lot when we wrote this that gets those terms and you don’t especially want to buy it and we REALLY don’t want to sell it to you”.

      Maybe not as much for $400-some a week for a last-model Wrangler Sport.

  • avatar
    Prado

    I saw a local popup/sidebar/whatever ad, within the past week that was done correctly, in that it had JK in the ad. Blame this one on Jeep, not the dealers. There is no excuse for having the old and new designated the exact same. Jeep should immediately start calling the JL’s 2019 or at least 2018.5

  • avatar
    quickson

    For just 70 cents an hour…

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, there’s a reason why car dealers are distrusted.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    If you’re that dumb that you cannot tell the difference, then you clearly don’t care enough to complain.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I wouldn’t even look at a NEW Wrangler until all the old ones are gone.

    Very polite of FCA to put a fender vent on the new model so you can easily tell at a glance which is which.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Mountain. This looks and sounds like intentional obfuscation. The key, believe it or not, is the words, “starting at.” They hook you with the photos but I can almost bet that JL ain’t going to be no $199. (Grammar and spelling intentional.)

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Stuff like this is why I have no sympathy for any moves designed to put car dealers out of business.

    FCA is also at fault for calling them both 2018 Wranglers.

    Call one the Wrangler Classic if you have to, or bring back the CJ moniker.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    I can’t help it, says the scorpion. It’s my nature.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    Relevant song (the chorus, at least is dead on here):

    https://youtu.be/GHyXUAKbq1M

  • avatar
    dwford

    My local Nissan dealers are pulling the same stunt advertising leases on the Rogue when they are really leasing the Rogue Sport. They say things like “You can get into a Rogue starting at only $199 a month for a Rogue Sport.” Of course, 99% of people have no idea there are 2 Rogue’s now.

  • avatar
    ItsBob

    Matthew, for a car guy you don’t seem to understand the lease concept?
    Sure if you BUY the new style it will cost more and if you LEASE the new model it will cost more if you exercise your buyout option at the end of the lease. However if you just look at monthly payments, its not uncommon for a new model to lease for lower than an old one (style)
    It happens also even when the models are unchanged but one is a model year newer. All to do with residual value. New one cheaper per month to lease but more to buy.
    That’s also why you can usually lease an XLT Supercab for less than a XL Reg cab as a for instance. All to do with future projected value eh…

  • avatar
    Testacles Megalos

    There’s no chicanery, there never was nor will there ever be.

    The problem is with the Amurkin naive who believe that dealers want to sell cars, insurance companies care about your health, and trial attorneys want what’s best for you.

    Message: They all exist primarily to earn money for the people who own the business. That’s it. One simply remembers that these kinds of businesses exist solely to transfer your money to the owners’ pockets. Cars, insurance, justice…..those are merely the preferred tool.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    To some folks money is a foreign film without subtitles. “Matchstick Men” (2003). Sorry I had to giggle at the thought of victims confused after getting the 2nd invoice in the mail just as they sent in the 1st B/W check.

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