Read the UPDATE after this article below.
In November of '99 Midway Auto Team ran an ad for a 2000 Sierra Regular Cab pickup with a 5.3 litre V-8 engine (stock no. 508249) at a price of $15,495 on 11-10-99. I called that evening and the salesperson told me that the ad was a mistake and that it was a V-6. However, she checked with a sales manager to see if it was still available and informed me that it was and that her sales manager said it had the SLE package (upgraded interior and trim package). I told her I would be in the next day to look at it and discuss the matter further.
I went in the next day and found out that the stock number was available, but had the V-6 engine with automatic transmission, and did not have the SLE package. I asked the salesperson to to tell the sales manager that I would be willing to purchase the vehicle that I had see in the ad (i.e. the one with the 5.3 litre V-8). The sales manager refused to honor the ad, saying that it was a mistake. He wouldn't even talk to me directly. The salesperson said they had received many calls and had many people come into the showroom as a result of that ad. If this were all that happenend, I probably would have just gone away as an unhappy consumer, as I feel that anyone is entitled to make a mistake.
However, now comes the interesting part. That same unit was advertised TWICE more for a total of THREE ads in an eight day period!!! It (same stock number)was advertised again on Friday 11-12-99 in a different ad, at the same price, with the 5.3 litre V-8 engine. It was advertised again on Wednesday 11-17-99 in yet a third different ad. This third ad showed the truck (same stock number) as a 4X4 with the 5.3 litre V-8 engine at the same price point. With each ad, I called and offered to buy the truck and each time I was told that it was a "mistake".
The concern I have is that if the ads were "mistakes", then why wasn't the "mistake" corrected the first time? The "mistake" was identified by the dealership on 11-10-99 and could have easily been corrected by caling the newspaper that day so the second ad of 11-12 would have never come out. By no means should there have ever been a THIRD "mistake" on 11-17-99!
I talked to the General Manager in an attempt to get him to honor the ad. Since it had run three times in an eight day period, I felt that he was obligated to sell the truck as equipped in the ad. He simply blamed it on the newspaper. He did tell me that he personally reviews all advertising, so I asked him why there were three mistakes over the eight day period. He again blamed it on the newspaper and told me to call them. I explained that he had run the ads and if he felt it was the newspaper's fault then he should sell me the truck and get them to pay the difference. Since he verified that they had gotten numerous calls and visits on the ads, I also emphasized that the dealership must have benefitted by having extra sales due to this "mistake". I also told him that it appeared to be a case of false and deceptive advertising and/or bait-and-switch tactics.
I did call the newspaper and Midway's advertising salesman told me that he thought they (Midway) should honor the ad. I asked him if the newspaper would give Midway some sort of advertising credit to make up for what they say they would lose in selling me the truck at the advertised price. He didn't specifically say they would, but he implied they would and said he would be meeting with the General Manager the next day. Nothing came of this.
In summary, considering the fact that this ad was run three different times over an eight day period, I think it's right to expect Midway to sell me a 2000 Sierra 4X4 with an automatic transmission, the 5.3 litre V-8, and the SLE package for the advertised price of $15,495. I know this would be below their cost, but If they're going to advertise something (three times) then they must be prepared to sell what they advertised. Otherwise, both Midway and the newspaper make their money on this ad and the consumer loses, as usual. In fact, the additional traffic and sales would easily make up for any loss associated with selling one vehicle as advertised.
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