Florida has a number of laws to protect consumers. The principle law relating to the automobile dealer consumer relationship is Part VI of ch. 501, F.S. This section of law describes prohibited dealer actions under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), and provides guidelines regarding motor vehicle pricing and notice to consumers. The state law supplements federal law in this area.
At some point in the sale’s process, the dealer completes a “Buyer’s Order” or similar document listing the costs to the consumer of the vehicle selected. If imposed, the dealer’s pre-delivery service fee is required to be specified on this document. The pre-delivery service fee is also referred to as a documentation or documentary fee (DOC Fee), dealer fee, dealership services fee, dealer service fee, dealer preparation fee, delivery or handling fee, or processing fee.
Our research indicates most dealers in Florida impose this fee, which is intended to either increase their profit or offset costs they have incurred in preparing the vehicle and associated documents for the customer. The statutes recognize this industry practice and require the following statement be included on all documents that include a line item for the fee:
“This charge represents costs and profit to the dealer for items such as inspecting, cleaning, and adjusting vehicles and preparing documents related to the sale.”