In a move to support its Lincoln brand, Ford Motor Co. has commenced using a bonus program that dealers say is “confusing” and “unfair.” The dealer-bonus programs -- called stair-step incentives that entail the carmaker paying dealers more as they pass certain sales levels – are now ongoing in New York and Washington, D.C., according to memos distributed to dealers.
The stair-step incentives, which offer up to $1,500 per sale, have received criticism from dealers. The incentive programs could result to steep discounts or generous trade-ins as well as in sales drop-off once they expire. Although Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, denies that Ford is not running stair-step programs, sales analyst Erich Merkle remarked that the carmaker is using them selectively for Lincoln.
Don Chalmers, the owner of Ford and Lincoln dealerships near Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico, told Bloomberg News in a telephone interview that there are “some inherently unfair aspects” of stair-step programs."
He said that the programs are confusing to the market and are “not necessarily good for customer satisfaction.” He remarked that while there is “a burst of sales” at the end of a stair-step program, there also is always a payback – sales drop right after the scheme. Ford’s programs in New York and Washington cover the Lincoln MKS full-size sedan and MKX and MKT utility vehicles.