Business: Packing the Price

For thousands of U.S. car buyers, the secret best kept by dealers is the list price suggested by Detroit. The reason is "price packing," the skilled and corrupt art by which some dealers boost the cost of accessories—from map lights to automatic transmissions—until the car's price is several hundred dollars over list. The dealer then generously offers a hefty "discount," or an inflated trade-in price, giving the customer the illusion that the deal is fantastically good. Last week in Washington, the Justice Department opened an investigation of price packing aimed at indictments under the Sherman Antitrust Act.

A federal grand jury began...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!