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Sky's the Limit on this Saturn Some dealers add surcharge, options onto no-dicker sticker By JAMIE LAREAU | AUTOMOTIVE NEWS
8:06 am, September 18, 2006


Saturn is famous for its no-dicker sticker strategy. But some dealers are ignoring that approach when it comes to the hot new Sky roadster.

While most Saturn stores play by the division's one-price rules, a few are tacking on surcharges of several thousand dollars.

Other Saturn retailers are ladling on expensive dealer options that boost the transaction price by up to $8,000.

The base-model Sky stickers for $25,195, including shipping.

Saturn is taking issue with dealerships that slap surcharges on the Sky.

"We've made it a point to go out where we've heard that's happening and try to counsel with them and explain the bigger picture," says Saturn spokesman Brian Brockman. "Our reputation is based on customer service and satisfaction, and we want to keep that. We don't condone any kind of practice like that."

When an incognito Automotive News reporter visited one Saturn store in the Los Angeles area recently, a salesman offered to sell a Sky for $3,000 over sticker "with dealer surcharge."

"That's what the dealer charges for a car that's hot," said the salesman, adding that "every Saturn dealer is doing it."

Indeed, some are.

Jon Bresson, sales manager of Saturn of the Valley in Los Angeles, says: "A customer called and said there is one dealer north of us who is putting a $5,000 premium on it. We don't do that." Bresson declined to name the dealership in question.

A letter to the editor in the September issue of Car & Driver complained that many Saturn dealerships in Los Angeles and Orange County were selling Skys for $2,995 over sticker. The writer said other retailers required buyers to pay for dealer options that totaled $2,995.

The reader claimed to have contacted Saturn corporate offices and was told that dealerships were free to charge what they wanted. Saturn's Brockman says that's not so. He adds: "There are things we can do to encourage them to strongly follow the rules."

Those measures include limiting a dealer's allotment of the popular car if the store does not comply with Saturn's pricing policies, Brockman says.

Optional equipment

A more common practice is for dealers to add options that make the car more expensive. Saturn doesn't quibble with that approach.

At Saturn of the Valley and Saturn of Santa Clarita (Calif.), both owned by Galpin Motors, every Sky received from the factory is "Galpinized." That means the dealership adds several expensive options. Those stores won't take customer orders for cars that come straight from the factory, a salesman said.

Galpin's customizing packages -- which raise the price $6,000 to $8,000 above sticker -- have been added to nearly all of the 30 Skys it has sold this year, Bresson says.

Galpin's Web site last week listed a Sky in stock priced at $26,779. But a salesman contacted by phone said the car has $7,000 worth of dealer-added options on it, bringing the total price tag to $33,779.

Among the options Bresson's store adds are Chip Foose 20-inch wheels, which cost $2,000 to $3,000 a set; tires specially designed for the Sky; a cold-air intake system; a LoJack security system; window tinting; and a Garmin navigation system. Sometimes the suspension system is modified.

"People love it," Bresson says. "Though they might be paying more than the retail value, they're getting real, retail-value items."

The Sky went on sale last spring. Through August, 4,774 units had been sold.

The Pontiac Solstice, built alongside the Sky in Wilmington, Del., is also hot. The Solstice is priced at $21,995, including shipping. But the average transaction price this year is $26,086, according to the Power Information Network. A new Solstice sold on eBay last week for $27,599.

A manager at one Saturn dealership says many customers offer to pay above sticker for the Sky. But he won't take their extra money.

"We had one in stock that was about $26,000 sticker, and a woman offered me $32,000," says Bill Shotwell, executive general manager of Saturn of Raleigh and Saturn of Cary in Raleigh, N.C. "I said no."

Shotwell says dealers who do sell for above the sticker price hurt themselves in the long run.

"I've been with Saturn for almost 15 years," he says.

"We started with the one-price selling. And when you tell the customer here's the price of the car, it's hard to go back and say 'because it's hot, we're going to add $4,000 to the price tag."
 

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So what's next?

It would be nice to see something actually come out of this article from corporate.
 

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That information is OLD. I was in Santa Clarita a few weeks ago and stopped by Saturn of Santa Clarita. Nearly $10K over sticker for a Sky, and the addendum sticker "options" were NOT on the cars. F#$Kem. List in Missouri.
 
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