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Zag.com - AMEX auto buying service is not what you think
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After using the American Express Network’s Auto Purchasing Program, which is administered by www.zag.com, it didn’t take long to discover that the participating dealers which provide quotes with “Price Protection Certificates” for your configured vehicle have no intention of honoring those prices. They merely use the service as a source of sales leads.

FYI, other buying services that go through Zag.com include USAA, Consumer Reports, Overstock, Bank of America, Sallie Mae, NEA, and others.

Dealers not honoring their price certificate allegedly violates their contract with Zag, but when I called Customer Service to inform them of this nonsense, they told me there’s no guarantee if it’s on a non-inventoried vehicle, as if it’s my fault. Unfortunately, there is no such language in the disclosure statement. Not that it matters, either. Because I then changed my vehicle to one that was in a dealer’s inventory, and they still declined to honor their quote.

So, Zag’s business model is bogus. Which is really of no surprise. The only use the service has is to guide you in your negotiations with dealers. I took my price certificate to numerous dealers until I found one to beat the lowest quote, making them think that so and so dealer was honoring their quote to begin with. All’s fair in war, love and car buying negotiations.

     
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User Replies:
Alain on 03/02/2011:
I'd just use Edmunds.com, kbb.com (Kelley Blue Book) and a couple of others to give me an idea of a good price and go from there. Like you, I think the 'price certificate' business is useless.
bmwlovers on 03/30/2011:
I have the same bad experience with zag.com through Amex/Costco.

They linked me to the local car dealer at BMW of Salem Oregon. The car sales promised me a price that was similar to what zag.com showed (which was good initially to have our conversation started) and told me that the car would be ready for pick up in 1 or 2 days. I placed my order and only to receive an email notice (no even a phone call !) that the car might only be ready in 2 more days because they could not get a hold of the establishment manager who had the car. In the end, the car never showed up.

This is my complaint to zag.com. Don't waste your time with the dealer zag comes up for you. They are not reliable, they do not respect your time, they have plenty of time to play with you and shoot you off in the end when you run out of time, and they think that is the moment they can rip you off.
Travis on 06/08/2012:
Zag has gone away from the price certificate thing and shows only the price ranges for the car that you have optioned out. In other words, the numbers shown are only as good as a dealer willing to sell you a car at that price. It is an internet version of the full page ad showing a heavily discounted car with a stock number. All other inventory. let the haggling begin!
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