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Ford attempting to crack down on dealership shenanigans regarding the F-150 Lightning

The Ford F-150 Lighting is going to be an incredibly popular vehicle when it comes out later this spring. Dealerships know that, and some are doing less than savory things to try to drive up their revenue.

One of the things some places has attempted is by adding an additional reservation fee on top of what they’ve already paid. To reserve the truck, prospective buyers dropped a $100 refundable deposit. That deposit, per Ford’s own website, “does not guarantee a set price for the Vehicle.” Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Prices are just that; suggestions.

However, what some of these dealerships were doing is contacting deposit holders and demanding they pay thousands of dollars — before the order is even finalized — to keep their place in line. This is, to put it mildly, not a good look.

First reported on and later confirmed by the automaker, Vice President of Sales, Andrew Frick, sent out a letter to all dealerships warning them against this practice.

It has come to our attention that a limited number of dealerships are interacting with customers in a manner that is negatively impacting customer satisfaction and damaging to the Ford Motor Company brand and Dealer Body reputation.

No kidding.

Examples of these negative interactions include demanding that customers who are already on the reservation list for the 22 MY F-150 Lightning make additional deposits or payments. These actions are perceived as threatening to customers by withholding their opportunity to convert reservations to orders.

Yup, that’s exactly what that does.

The letter then cites the dealership agreement with Ford about conducting dealership operations in a way that reflects favorably toward the dealership, all other dealerships, and Ford itself.

This behavior certainly does not do that.

If it is determined that your dealership is engaging in such practices, Ford Motor Company reserves the right to redirect that dealership allocation of F-150 Lightning for the entirety of 2022 MY.

Ouch. That means if you participate in this practice, you’re losing all of your 2022 Lightning sales. You won’t get any trucks.

Additionally, Ford is attempting to prevent flippers from reserving a truck and then selling it immediately for profit. The letter goes on to tell dealerships that the company supports a “No-Sale Provision” to be signed by the customer at the time of purchase.

Purchaser hereby agrees that it will not sell, offer to sell, or otherwise transfer any ownership interest in the Vehicle prior to the first anniversary of the date hereof. Purchaser further agrees that Seller may seek injunctive relief to prevent the transfer of title of the Vehicle or demand payment from Purchaser of all value received as a consideration for the sale or transfer.

Agreements like these aren’t completely unheard of, especially on hot products. Something similar exists for two years for those who purchase a current-generation Ford GT, for example.

What is interesting is that a Lightning, starting at approximately $40,000, might be purchased by individuals who are not independently wealthy. If the owner falls on dire straits, what should they do with the truck? Selling it or trading it in to avoid a repossession is something someone might need to consider.

These scenarios will hopefully be cleared up before trucks start arriving on dealership lots.

Recently, Ford spokesperson Mike Levine tweeted out this advice when ordering a car:

This is good advice, regardless of what vehicle you’re ordering. Mike has been going to bat for individual reservation holders who have troublesome dealerships, and we applaud his efforts.

These new guidelines from the Blue Oval mother ship should, hopefully, reduce the need to him to tackle individual situations and improve the overall order experience for everyone.

Lightning is going to draw new people to be brand, and Ford obviously doesn’t want a couple of shady dealerships to sour everyone’s experience. It’s nice to see Ford taking action here.

Written by Chad Kirchner
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