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A few dealers are probably doing what you say. More dealers simply don't use a waiting list at all. Generally when you read of someone paying $5,000 over MSRP, they're buying from a dealer who sells his cars cold, no waiting list. But I think most dealers play straight with their waiting list, and are up front about their price, with some charging MSRP and some charging more. You know this is true because you've also read all the posts from people who paid MSRP and were treated honestly by their dealers. It takes all kinds to make a world.

Part of the blame is Toyota's, selling the cars to the Regions, who sell them to the dealers, who can do what they like with them, rather than allowing customers to place a firm order.

We've had Euopeans explain their system to us (not sure if this was all of Europe, or just certain countries): A customer places an order which is a binding legal contract, and makes a non-refundable deposit. He gets a VIN and can track his car from before manufacture. The dealer cannot sell the car to anyone else unless the customer releases the contract. If the customer changes his mind, he forfeits his (large) deposit. And MSRP is roughly 50% higher than it is here!

We pay 2/3 the price, and we have to jump through hoops. Or, we pay a premium, making the prices a lot closer, and get a car much sooner.
 

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melgish said:
vegas1 said:
Dealer #2: "We've stopped taking additional orders on the first wait list, but we have a second list of people who are willing to pay $3000 over MSRP to get their car sooner".
Assuming people on the first waiting list put down a deposit, this is criminal behavior. You might want to remind them of this.
It's probably not criminal. Just vile, immoral, and disgusting. Most dishonest commercial activity is perfectly legal. Legal is not the same as right, and illegal is not the same as wrong. Examples abound.
 

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melgish said:
Daniel said:
It's probably not criminal. Just vile, immoral, and disgusting. Most dishonest commercial activity is perfectly legal. Legal is not the same as right, and illegal is not the same as wrong. Examples abound.
With the exchange of money (depost) it becomes an implied contract.

If the dealer takes your depost and later decides to sell *your* Prius to someone else for a higher profit, they are in breach of that contract, and can be held accountable in a civil court.

If the dealer takes your deposit with no intention of honoring a waiting list, then they are commiting fraud and the can be held accountable in a criminal court.

The difficulty in either example is proving to a court that the dealer actually sold *your* Prius to someone else. A slimy dealear can earn quite a profit sliding around behind the burden of proof.
What you say is true only if there is actually a contract. Does the dealer describe how his list works? If not, there is no contract. A list is just a list. Does he tell you, "The 27th Prius that comes in is yours."? Probably not, because maybe the 27th Prius is an AF and you wanted a BC. The mere fact that he accepted your refundable deposit is not a contract unless there is a clear understanding of what the dealer is promising you.

On the other hand, there's nothing stopping you from asking for a written agreement describing exactly how his list functions, and what rights you have according to your place on the list, and what price you will pay, either in absolute terms or in relation to the MSRP in effect when your car comes in, and what extras you have to accept and pay for. Then you have a contract that you can take to court if need be.

c00kie said:
I went to three dealerships, all of which said they would sell the Prius at MSRP. One of them did, however, try to get me to buy a Corolla or Matrix instead since they actually have those on the lot.
The dealer where I bought mine is now discouraging people from ordering a Prius, due to the long wait time. But I think they'll take orders if someone insists they want one.

I strongly recommend that everyone who is still shopping for a Prius ask dealers for very specific information: Do they charge over MSRP, and if so how much, and will they put that in writing at the time you place your deposit? Do they require you to buy any port or dealer add-ons? And very importantly, considering the complaints: How does their waiting list function? Do they scrupulously offer each car to each person on the list in order, until someone accepts it? Do they give people lower on the list the right to bid higher to jump the list? Do they have a separate list of high-bidders who get some of the allocated cars? Do they consider themselves free to auction a car to the highest bidder just because the first person on the list rejected it? Etc. The more you have in writing the less likely you are to be disappointed later.
 

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toyotrever: I believe you are the rule, not the exception. However, the sleazy dealers give you all a bad name.

Toyota could require its dealers to hold to certain standards. And Toyota USA could operate the way Toyota does in Europe, where you really do order a car. It's too bad that Toyota chooses to take such a hands-off attitude with its dealers, and make it so hard for customers.

Like CaPriusLover, I believed I was "ordering" a specific car. It was only when my car arrived a month earlier than expected, and I asked how this could be, and the salesman told me he had traded allocations with another dealer, that I began to understand the perverted distribution system. Of course I lucked out, getting a car so quickly, and getting the exact pkg & color I wanted. I paid MSRP plus a $159 "document handling" fee.
 
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