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CU Times Editor-in-Chief BATON ROUGE, La. – Jeff Gutierrez speaks from experience when he tells credit unions that the majority of car dealers, like any good businessman, want to make as much money as possible and will try every trick in the book to make a sale. “They have a formula from start to finish,” says the former new car dealer turned consumer advocate. “The objective of the dealer finance person is to wear members down.” Gutierrez has been involved with the automotive business world for most of his adult life. Even though he was once a new and used car dealer himself, he isn’t embarrassed to say of dealers that, “They use every trick in the book to make money. They are taught there’s a certain way for them to do business without the member knowing what’s happening.” Gutierrez has spoken to hundreds of credit union audiences over the last 10 years – most recently to the Louisiana Credit Union League – to make them aware of car dealers’ modus operandi and urging them to educate members about the car buying process including what to expect at the dealer site and how to deal with the situation effectively. He has also produced an audio tape, “How To Buy A Car & Not Get Taken For A Ride” on the subject. “Credit unions have no mechanism in place to know what happens to their members at the dealers’ sites. They promote their auto financing rates to their members and then send their members out to purchase their vehicles, often with pre-approved loans. Once the members get to the dealerships, they’re fair game,” said Gutierrez. Speaking from first-hand experience, Gutierrez said, “I’ve seen things done to consumers at the dealerships, and it’s still being done.” Among the dealer tactics he’s witnessed is a 100% markup on extended warranties “that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on,” he said. “If dealers aren’t going to make money on the back end of the deal, then they have to make it up in other areas,” Gutierrez said. “Thirty to 40% of the buying public are what are called `lay downs,’ people who are intimidated by dealers. These are the folks the dealers earmark. It’s easy for the dealers to play with the figures, and the buyer hasn’t a clue what the dealers are doing.” Of the auto financing companies’ 0% financing offers, Gutierrez describes them as “a sieve, designed to rid the dealerships’ lots of their excess inventory.” Gutierrez estimates that credit unions lose about 20% – one of six – of members’ auto purchases to dealer financing. “I’m not going to say everything goes on with every dealer. What I do know is that credit unions have no follow up system other than just finding out accidentally when members don’t get auto financing from the credit union. This has got to change,” Gutierrez stressed. -

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