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I've now started serious Prius shopping in my area (Central Texas) since my first post on this site two days ago. (Thanks again for the helpful replies.)

None of the dealers I've talked to have the car I want on the ground. The shortest wait I've heard about is 3-4 weeks. Two of the dealers who sound good (no premium above MSRP, relatively short wait) want a $500 deposit to put me on the waiting list.

Since the $500 is supposed to be returned (or the check not cashed) unless I actually buy from that dealer, I can't see much downside to this other than having to scratch several $500 checks and distribute them.

Is this a standard practice among dealers?

Any thoughts about whether to do it or not?
 

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$500 Deposit? Lucky You.

I'd thank my lucky stars. When my husband and I ordered our Salsa Red Prius, we had to leave a $1000 downpayment - that's right - downpayment - NO $$ BACK if we decided not to buy it...

Fortunately for us, we had really done our homework and knew what we wanted. Also fortunately our wait was only 6 weeks, compared to many who had to wait 6 months or more just a short time ago.
 

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probably okay

When we bought we had to put $500 "on a car" which they then used to trade for the car we wanted. We put $500 on a car coming in next week, but got one later that day. The $500 became part of our down payment. Your situation sounds similar.

Good Luck,

Rob
 

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When I purchased, I had $500 deposits at two Toyota dealers and I told them "whoever gets me the car first." I had a car in a week and I had no problem getting one dealer to refund the $500.
 

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How about a cheap one way ticket to Washington, DC and a few days drive back home. 2005 Prius with package C (#6) are being advertised at $1k below MSRP.

Cheers,
Jeff
 

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$500 deposit

I have heard that many dealers do require the deposit. It is based on the right to refuse shipment and will be reimbursed if they do not take a scheduled car. When special ordering it is pretty customary to place a deposit for almost anything but it is often partially or entirely refunded if the vehicle can be sold. That may be dealer issue. I went to test drive and came home with mine the same day because the people who had "dibs" on the salsa red #6 there lost their loan.
 

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DC Prius

$1k below msrp in DC? Nice! I thought I was doing good at $500 below. Bought mine about 3 weeks ago - dealer had about 15 on the lot. Only $100 deposit. Much better than last year at this time, when you couldn't even get a loaded Prius unless you were on a waiting list.
 

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I only had to put $250 down (fully refundable) to get on the wait list. I wanted a very specific color and package combo, so I had to wait 3 months. They told me it would probably only be a few weeks, so I almost went and got my deposit back a few times, but now I am SOOO glad I was patient. I went to pick up the car when it finally came in, and I tried to put it on my VISA card. The dealer just laughed at me because he said they would have to pay 3 points for a charge. No way would he do it. So, they said I had extremely high credit rating, they actually let me walk with the car that day wihout paying for it on a promise to pay within one week. Blew me away! I was back the next day with bank check.
 

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The first dealer we went to required us to put down a $1,000 non-refundable deposit. When the Prius arrived five months later, and we refused to pay a jacked-up price for it, they promptly refunded our money. The dealer's customer service rep subsequently told us that, in Colorado, there is no such thing as a non-refundable deposit on a car: It's an unenforceable contract. Dealers figure you don't know this, and call a deposit "non-refundable" simply to discourage people from shopping around once they've put one down.

Might be the same in Texas - but might not.
 

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My local dealer required $500, however they gave me different stories about refundability, and I didn't like how they dealt with me, so I went to a dealer out of town, who I worked with exclusively on the phone until I took delivery. There was no request for any deposit, he just went out there and found what I wanted. I had my car in less than 3 weeks, was treated with respect and courtesy on the phone and at the dealership and I got my extended warranty for almost the same price as on Priuschat.

I was basically totally satisfied.

I firmly don't believe that deposits need to be taken on any car order. All cars are saleable. This is just a tactic used by dealerships to boost their cash float. Consider, these large metro dealerships that are requesting $500 deposits for a customer to be placed on a waiting list are holding that money and using that money while you are waiting for your vehicle. So, if you have 30 people on your waiting list that is $15,000 of extra cash that you wouldn't have otherwise.

There is no Prius shortage, therefore there should be no more deposits.
 

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it's a gimmic

The $500 deposit is a gimmick to make you feel obligated to go with them. It is by no means required. I started shopping for a prius in June, and none of the Orlando dealers would give me a deal. The dealer who had 3 on the lot still wanted $2500 over sticker. Another dealer said they'd sell at MSRP, but I had to come in and put down a deposit to be on the waiting list.

I finally found my car through a dealer two hours away in Pinellas Park. $400 below sticker, and they delivered the car to my work. My only complaint was that the car already had 100 miles on it the first time I drove it! Oh well, I'm still very pleased. I mostly went with this dealer because they didn't require me to come in, and were willing to negotiate over the phone.

-Suzanne
 

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We paid $1000 deposit and had the car in 5 weeks, and we were hppy to pay MSRP, many places in the SF bay area are jacking their prices up. You would think these dealers would just keep a bunch on order in the more popular configurations and then we could all have instsant gratification. :)
 

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Re: it's a gimmic

suzanny said:
The $500 deposit is a gimmick to make you feel obligated to go with them. It is by no means required. I started shopping for a prius in June, and none of the Orlando dealers would give me a deal. The dealer who had 3 on the lot still wanted $2500 over sticker. Another dealer said they'd sell at MSRP, but I had to come in and put down a deposit to be on the waiting list.

I finally found my car through a dealer two hours away in Pinellas Park. $400 below sticker, and they delivered the car to my work. My only complaint was that the car already had 100 miles on it the first time I drove it! Oh well, I'm still very pleased. I mostly went with this dealer because they didn't require me to come in, and were willing to negotiate over the phone.

-Suzanne
That's weird. Most people here in the Tampa Bay area reported over MSRP, yet someone reported Central Toyota in the Orlando area was at or below MSRP, no hassles.

What dealer in Pinellas Park? Might try them for services, and say Adios to Sun Toyota.
 

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We had to leave a $500 check with each of the 2 dealers we worked with. Neither check was ever cashed - just held until our car arrived (or we refused it).

BTW, the Toyota dealer in Lincoln, NE routinely charges $3000 over MSRP - no negotiating. Kinda rude, too.
 

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I wanted to put a hold on a Prius arriving in 2 weeks from Beck Toyota (Indianapolis) and they required $1000 deposit. (I would have thought $500 would have been more than enough).

I put in on my credit card. After waiting 10 days I received a call from another dealer letting me know he had a Prius in stock with my package (#4) if I wanted it.

I went down to the second dealer and purchased the Prius for $600 less than the first dealer.

I then went back to Beck Toyota to get my $1000 back. They didn't really hassle me on the refund, but made me wait nearly an hour just to get a credit on my credit card. :roll:
 

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Re: it's a gimmic

DanMan32 said:
suzanny said:
The $500 deposit is a gimmick to make you feel obligated to go with them. It is by no means required. I started shopping for a prius in June, and none of the Orlando dealers would give me a deal. The dealer who had 3 on the lot still wanted $2500 over sticker. Another dealer said they'd sell at MSRP, but I had to come in and put down a deposit to be on the waiting list.

I finally found my car through a dealer two hours away in Pinellas Park. $400 below sticker, and they delivered the car to my work. My only complaint was that the car already had 100 miles on it the first time I drove it! Oh well, I'm still very pleased. I mostly went with this dealer because they didn't require me to come in, and were willing to negotiate over the phone.

-Suzanne
That's great that you got a Prius below sticker. I tried many dealers in Florida, From Jacksonville to Miami. All quoted me over sticker. The most outrageous was $9000 over sticker. I went out of state to get mine to avoid the premiums. I found an honest dealer in West Virgina. Drove my leased Mercedes up there and left it with them on the end of lease. Drove my Prius home. It had 47 miles on it when I left the lot. I've had my Prius now for a Year with no problems and am enjoying it. Getting 54 mpg.
 

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I think the comment above about the cash is right on...

I ordered my Prius, Salsa w/pkg #6, on May 14, 2005 made $500 dep at Courtesy Toyota in Brandon FL (near Tampa), with a knowledgeable young salesman Named Will Dyer. Put down another $500 with Stadium Toyota the same day. Got my Prius in 14 days... only took a week or so longer to get my $500 back from Stadium. Worked out good for me.
 

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Is this a standard practice among dealers? Any thoughts about whether to do it or not?
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The varied replies here indicate that a refundable deposit is NOT standard but not unusual. I see no risk in doing it. Paying over MSRP is not necessary. If a dealer wants more, go elsewhere.
 
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