How can we deal with dealers who try to change the price (after you've both agreed to it) by adding a "documentation fee?" They argue it's not part of the price, but I say it is! How do you avoid this rip-off?

You're correct when you say that the dealership's "documentation fee" is part of the total price of the vehicle. Its purpose, of course, is simply to increase the dealership's profit.

In some states, such as California, the "doc fee" is regulated and set at a fixed non-negotiable amount. However in other states, the "doc fee" is not regulated so the dealership can charge anything they like. In this case, you should certainly try to negotiate the fee if you feel it is too high. Ask the dealership (or your state's Attorney General's Office) if your state regulates its dealership's "doc fees."

Finally, whether the "doc fee" is regulated or not, you should always double-check the fee in the paperwork to be sure the dealership is not taking advantage of you.

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