Ford Motor Co., concerned about its reputation and customer complaints related to the upcoming launch of the F-150 Lightning, is warning dealers not to upsell reservations for the popular EV truck and also wants customers to sign a contract preventing them from reselling it within a year, according to a letter from the automaker to its dealers.
The warning letter, dated Friday and posted online by the F150gen14.com forum, is addressed to all dealer principals, the general manager and sales managers.
Written by Andrew Frick, Ford vice president of U.S. and Canada sales, the letter began: "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."
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 ..."
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.
"If it is determined that your dealership is engaging in such practices, Ford Motor Company reserves the right to redirect that dealerships allocation of the F-150 Lightning" for all of model year 2022, the letter said.
Blocking rapid resale
To help protect the interests of the dealer, however, Ford did write in the letter that it supports modifying the traditional vehicle purchase contract.