I was driving through a parking lot the other day when I noticed a Honda with the factory window sticker still on it. What gave me pause was that the car was at least a couple of years old. It had license plates on it, bugs on the front bumper, and the sticker was well into the process of fading away.
“Oh, one of those,” I thought. You see them every once in a while, a nut whose idea of keeping a new car new is keeping the window sticker on it long after the new car smell has faded into history.
This got me thinking about window stickers or Monroneys as they are called. They’re named after the Oklahoma congressman, A.S. Mike Monroney, who sponsored the law requiring them in the late 50’s. Before the advent of the Monroney sticker, car dealers could ask whatever the hell they wanted for a new car just as they do with used cars today. Somehow the government decided that wasn’t a good idea, and thus began the era of the new car window sticker.
When I got into the business in 1970, Monroneys weren’t required on trucks. They had a listing of equipment but no prices. I don’t remember what they were marked up, but 20 to 30 percent sounds about right. Later, the manufactures voluntarily started adding prices to the stickers, but the dealers generally ripped them off. It wasn’t until sometime in the mid-70s before trucks finally came under the Monroney law too.
Today Monroney stickers are easily removed and given to the customer upon delivery; a simple razor blade and window cleaner will do the trick. But when I first started selling cars there was no way you could save the sticker for the customer. It was as if they used the same glue they would later use to attach the tiles to the Space Shuttle on those suckers, and getting them off was a real bitch.
The best way of getting the job done was to let the sticker soak in window cleaner for a few minutes before you attempted to remove them. The process would sometimes take the entire time the customer was in F&I signing up. (No going to fill the cars up with gas in those days!) You couldn’t use a razor blade alone. You had to have one of those scrappers used for removing paint in order to make sure it wasn’t going to be an all day job.
My brother had a little side business selling those scrapers to the salesman for $5.00 a piece, and he would occasionally pull a little surprise inspection to make sure you had one in your office. Why? It wasn’t a moneymaking thing; he wanted to make sure the customer didn’t go off the lot with the sticker still on the car. It wasn’t safe, and he didn’t want the customer to show the sticker to friends and family who might suggest he paid too much money for that Ford LTD.
Later, it was the pack sticker he was worried about. By the late 70’s we were selling Datsuns. The cars hardly any had any mark up in them at all. Every dealer packed the price, and everyone was using a pack sticker. We didn’t want the customer to later come out of the ether and realize he paid over Monroney for the car.
What you had was an automotive conundrum. Glue technology had advanced to the point where with a little finesse you could save the Monroney, so what do you do? Do you give the customer the Monroney? Do you give him the Monroney plus the pack sticker and hope it didn’t come back to bite you on the ass?
Fortunately it wasn’t a big deal not to save the stickers because in those days people hadn’t yet gotten in the habit of expecting them. You had to be a little sly about it though. The best technique was when you took the customer to finance you’d introduce them to the F&I manager and just as you left you’d casually mention that you were going to get the car ready for delivery and remove all the stickers. Then you scooted out of there before they could think about asking you to save the Monroney. Worked like a charm.
Today the customers expect to have the stickers. That’s not a bad thing. If I were buying a new car I’d want it too. But it’s now a different world. For the most part pack stickers have fallen by the wayside and it isn’t very often that you sell a new car for over sticker. So there is no conflict there. It’s a shame though. I wish the days when trying to hide the stickers because you made a nice pop were still here.
Talk to you later,
P.S. Any of you remember the pack stickers that were designed to look just like the Monroneys? A great Car Man idea while it lasted. Unfortunately the government didn’t agree.