I love cars, but I hate buying them. The car buying process can be a catfight or ripoff, and it’s never fun. That’s why I was pleased to hear that Ford offers “friends and family” (X plan) pricing to shareholders like me. But it’s been awfully difficult actually getting this benefit!
X Plan Pricing for Shareholders
Short answer: Yes! As of May 2012 Ford Investor Relations does offer “X-Plan” priviliges to shareholders, provided they own a minimum of 100 shares of Ford Motor Company stock (NYSE:F) for at least the past 6 months.
Most automakers offer special discounts for employees, suppliers, and other “friends and family”, and many people here in Northeast Ohio work for the company. The “A-Plan” is for current employees, the “Z-Plan” is for retirees, and the “X-Plan” is for other affiliates of the company. Along with the discount, these plans reduce the stress of car buying, since dealers are restricted from selling add-ons and gouging on fees.
X-Plan pricing is as follows:Dealer Invoice - (0.4% * Dealer Invoice) + $275 Administration Fee
- Most rebates and finance programs still apply after X-Plan pricing is calculated, though some may not. The dealer’s own fees are capped at $100 in addition to the Administration Fee. You still have to pay shipping/destination charges and, of course, taxes…
- The dealer can still try to sell undercoating, extended maintenance agreements, accessories, and other such nonsense. But these must be priced as separate line items and the customer does not have to buy any of it.
- Dealers cannot give any “free gifts” in excess of $50 to X-Plan purchasers, regardless of special offers to other customers.
While researching a new car, I stumbled across the fact that Ford offers the same pricing benefits to shareholders. Because I purchased 500 shares of Ford stock at the depths of the recession, plus more later on, I decided to reach out to the company to get this benefit.
May 14: Locating Ford Investor Relations
This benefit is poorly-documented and difficult to get. But as of today it is an active benefit and can be achieved. Here’s a chronicle of my X-Plan adventure. I’ll update it as I progress with the purchase!
My first encounter with Shareholder Services was through their “transfer agent”, Computershares. My e-mail request generated a defunct link at the Ford website for more information, so I decided to call the company instead. Unfortunately, no one at Computershares had ever heard of this benefit, and all they could do was consult “the Google” just like me.
While searching, I did find a copy of the official form at FordFlex.net. This includes a mailing address and fax number along with instructions on the documentation to include. I filled it out and faxed it in (to 313-845-6073). I included the form as well as printouts of my E*Trade account showing that I currently own 200 shares of Ford stock.
I also located a phone number (1-800-555-5259) for Ford’s internal Investor Relations department. I called this number and left a message asking about the benefit. And @FordService on Twitter gave me the same number to call.
May 21: Faxing Proper Documentation
As of today, May 21, my phone call got me precisely nothing: Ford Investor Relations neither called back nor emailed me as a result of my voice mail. So that doesn’t look like a helpful avenue.
However, I did receive an email from Ford’s Investor Relations Department as a result of my faxed documents: It requests additional documentation showing that I have owned the Ford stock for six months. I quickly printed out seven more months of statements (to be on the safe side) and faxed those back to the number on the form.
Happily, this email confirmed that this benefit is current and officially stated the requirements: “you must be a current Ford Motor Company shareholder who has held a minimum of one hundred (100) shares of Ford Motor Company stock (Ticker: F) for at least the past 6 months.” It also notes that “Ford Motor Company reserves the right to modify the program, remove or change eligibility, or cancel the program at any time without notice.”
May 21: Got My PIN!
Shortly after faxing in the updated packet showing 6 months+ of ownership, I received an email from Ford Investor Relations with my official X-Plan PIN! It appears to be “good” for one year from today, which gives us time to locate the perfect car for our family. I’m so glad Ford didn’t make us wait another week to get the PIN, since a local dealer apparently has an interesting car in stock!
How To Get This Benefit Yourself
If you would like X-Plan pricing and experience when purchasing a new Ford vehicle, here’s what you have to do:
- Be a Ford stockholder
- You must own at least 100 shares of Ford Motor Company stock (NYSE:F)
- You must hold this stock for “at least the past 6 months”
- Fill out the official form
- Print out statements showing your ownership of at least 100 shares for six months (I sent seven months of statements, plus a current position statement for today)
- Fax the whole pile to (313)845-6073
- Ford Investor Relations will email you an “X-Plan PIN”, apparently the following Friday or Monday
- The dealer will “use up” your PIN when you buy your car, and you will be required to verify it by providing the last 4 digits of your social security number.
- Locate a car you wish to buy and immediately inform the dealer you have an X-Plan PIN (note that certain vehicles are not eligible for X-Plan pricing)
- The dealer will give you your X-Plan price for that particular car, calculated according to the formula above
- This is your baseline price; don’t bother negotiating further. Most rebates still apply, and the dealer is restricted from “upselling” you on add-ons or fees in excess of $100.
I imagine a tough negotiator could beat X-Plan pricing on some purchases, but the average buyer won’t come close. And they dealer will likely make up the difference by gouging them on extras and fees. X-Plan purchasing should be much kinder, gentler, and cheaper for the majority of purchases. Honestly, it’s worth buying 100 shares of Ford stock today and holding them for six months just to get this benefit. Check back here over the next few weeks, and I’ll update you on my own car-buying progress!
Disclaimer: As should be patently obvious to anyone who has read this article, since that’s the topic, I own stock in Ford Motor Company.