It's Wrong To Ask for a Test-Driving Fee

I’ve recently stumbled upon discussions revolving around customers that ask to test drive more cars than just the one they initially asked about, and they don’t go through with purchasing a vehicle off the dealership’s lot. Some agreed that a test-driving fee should be set in place. This is wrong, and it shouldn’t happen.
Aerial View of a Car DealershipAbandoned Car DealershipCar at a DealershipAgreeing on a BuyService at a Dealership
In a world where cars have become scarce, and people are willing to pay more just to own the vehicle of their choice, dealerships and other relevant people from the car selling business are mad at those that don’t sign a contract and agree on a lease or a full payment after they have driven several models on different occasions. Selling parties want a new fee to be added. It’s a terrible idea.

For starters, let’s remember something important. Dealers exist for buyers. They act as middlemen and have the sole purpose of representing a car brand in the eyes of the person that’s looking to acquire a certain car. After-sale services are another thing. We’re also going to disregard entirely the fact that some dealers took advantage of the current market conditions and tried to make as much money as possible by adding even more than $10,000 over the sticker price. Markups are still a thing, unfortunately.

A good dealer must have cars on the lot that are for prospective customers only. They must be insured, cleaned regularly, and maintained properly. It’s a cost that any dealership in almost every country on Earth, not just the U.S., should account for. Next, those cars should run for 5,000-10,000 miles (8,040-16,093 kilometers) before they can be deemed worthy of selling at a lower price as a certified pre-owned (CPO) unit.

It’s important to show everyone what a certain model can do. You never know what business that person can bring to you. Even if you suspect something’s wrong, you should still be kind and welcoming as a dealer. Because – let’s be real for a second – that’s why you’re in this business. You act as a bridge between the buyer and the manufacturer.

Yes, some people will waste your time or your employee’s hours of work, gas, electricity, and other stuff that can be considered normal wear and tear. That’s a risk you’ve assumed from the very beginning. But it’s way better to treat everyone fairly and assume they’ll hand over what money is necessary for any kind of car.

Now, looking at what’s been a topic discussed on platforms like Facebook, Reddit, and even other lesser-known social media platforms or forums, I’ve learned that some people in the car selling business are looking out for ideas and solutions to implement a test-driving fee. They say that organizing driving events for individuals is tiring and carries more costs today than it did in the past. While this is true in our today’s economic climate, making people pay to drive a car for a couple of miles is guaranteed to turn into a mess.

Before saying anything regarding this topic, has anyone from the dealership business thought about what Tesla, Rivian, or Lucid are doing? Selling directly to the customers and having mobile service teams renders dealerships useless. Even Ford’s planning on splitting its business to make this a reality for the brand.

A test-driving fee should be used only as a deterrence method for those people that come every single day into the dealership and ask for different cars. It should never become a reality. You can’t make someone that’s genuinely curious pay for a short experience around the block or for a weekend adventure that’s been agreed to happen for a limited number of miles. Then, what’s left from your role as a dealer? Configurators are online and are easy to use. Ordering a car is nowadays almost as easy as buying groceries, and the delivery can be arranged to happen anywhere in the country.

Nothing’s stopping the brand from giving up on you!

So, why make life hard for yourself as a dealer? Why add an unnecessary fee? It’s not going to make you exclusive, and people won’t rush to buy from you. Customers might just never cross your doorstep again. You also risk severing ties with the represented brands, and that may very well take you out of business.

At the end of the day, no matter if you’re a dealership or another type of private party selling cars, the idea of making someone pay for a test drive is a horrible idea. Don’t ever do it. It's not worth it.


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