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Games Dealers Play: Invisible VIN Etching

Thumbnail image for Car Window.jpgVIN Etching may be the most profitable add-on that a car dealership offers. Consumers may spend perhaps $100 or more for a service that costs the dealership perhaps $10 - $20 to perform. And, because Connecticut state law permits the dealer to preprint the charge directly on the contract, many consumers do not even notice that they have been charged for this service.

Lately, we have noticed a disturbing trend of dealerships not even performing the etching. It is bad enough that many dealerships simply add this optional cost without the consumer's knowledge. At the very least, the dealership should perform the etching before delivering the car!

We recommend that consumers skip the VIN Etching. Although there is evidence that etching the vehicle identification number on the auto glass is an effective deterrent to car thiefs, there are kits that enable a consumer to do the etching at home for a fraction of what the delaership might charge.

Any consumer who has paid for VIN Etching but later realizes that the service was not performed should demand that the dealership refund the cost of the VIN Etching. The dealership is likely to offer to perform the etching, but the consumer should be entitled to a refund if the service was not performed prior to delivery. If a dealershp refuses, then the consumer should file a complaint with the Department of Motor Vehicles and should also consider a small claims suit. No consumer should have to pay for services that were not performed and that are not desired.

Consumer Law Group is collecting data on dealerships that charge for VIN Etching but have not done the work. If you believe you are a victim of this scam and if you bought your car from a Connecticut car dealership, you can also contact us.

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