Don’t even think about it, or we’ll literally pull the plug.
That’s the very clear message Ford (F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report is giving U.S. and Canadian dealers who might be thinking about cutting a side-deal with customers clamoring to be at the front of the line for a hot new F-150 all-electric pickup -- and more than willing to pay a premium for it.
In a note to dealers Friday, Ford made clear that any Ford-authorized dealer that tries sell an F-150 Lightning at anything higher than the sticker price in advance or when the hot new trucks hit showroom floors will face very strict consequences.
That means no side deals, no selling of “early delivery” slots at a premium, and, most importantly, no added dealership markups, or so-called ADMs, that give one customer an F-150 Lightning over another because they’re willing to pay a markup.
Not that anyone would dream of doing that, of course.
"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," Andrew Frick, Ford vice president of U.S. and Canada sales, wrote in a note.
Examples of these negative interactions include demanding that customers who are already on the reservation list for the 2022 model year F-150 Lightning make additional deposits or payments, the letter said.
"These actions are perceived as threatening customers by withholding their opportunity to convert reservations to orders," the letter said. "This behavior is not allowable ..."
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Ford then cites dealer sales and service contract language that requires dealers to conduct their operations in a manner that reflects favorably on dealers, the company and its products.
"The Dealer shall avoid in every way any 'bait,' deceptive, misleading, confusing or illegal advertising or business practices," the letter said.
As nice as it would seem that Ford is trying to make it fair and equitable for anyone interested in an F-150 Lightning to get one, that is not entirely the case. Automakers by law aren’t allowed to meddle in dealer / customer affairs – unless the manufacturer feels the activity is a violation of its sales and service agreement.
"If it is determined that your dealership is engaging in such practices, Ford Motor Company reserves the right to redirect that dealership's allocation of the F-150 Lightning for the entirety of MY 2022."
As a punishment, Ford’s letter states that "if it is determined that your dealership is engaging in such practices, Ford Motor Company reserves the right to redirect that dealership's allocation of the F-150 Lightning for the entirety of MY 2022."
If dealers can’t mark up, then neither can consumers.
To prevent people from buying and immediately reselling the pickup truck for a profit, Ford is "offering support for a No-Sale Provision to be signed by the customer at the time of purchase. Dealers may add this language to existing closing forms or create a new standalone document,” Ford said.
Ford in November said it had to stop taking reservations for the F-150 because interest in the vehicle was so great.