Over the years TTAC has witnessed many skirmishes in the war between those who support car dealers (mostly car salespeople) and those who oppose car dealers (the rest of the known sentient universe). It’s time to put this particular argument to rest. Car dealers suck. Here’s why: buyers never know what kind of deal they got.
It really is as simple as that. Sure, there’s anecdotal evidence up the wazoo about pushy, intimidating, lying, cheating, incompetent, scummy salespeople. But here’s a little secret: Mother Theresa could be the salesgal and Gautama Buddha could be the F&I guy for Allah’s Ford Lincoln Mercury dealership and I still wouldn’t trust that I got a good deal.
Between sticker price, invoice price, dealer add-ons, incentives, rebates, discounts, hold backs, various employee/college grad/military/loyalty/your mama cash backs, weekly/monthly/yearly manufacturer-to-dealer quota deals and the other probable dozen or so on-again, off-again programs of which I have no knowledge, trying to make a good deal with a car dealer is a bit like trying to make a good deal with the devil himself.
Even when I think I made out like a bandit there’s always that lingering smell of rotten eggs in the air. And if I think I got a good deal shouldn’t I just be happy? Aren’t dealers entitled to make a profit, too? Absolutely not. Given the choice between thinking I got a good deal and knowing I got a good deal, I’ll take the knowing each time.
Unfortunately, after hearing twenty different price quotes from half a dozen dealers, each one implying it was as good an offer as I could get (until the next one, evidently), the knowing is nigh impossible. And even if the dealer is absolutely, positively, completely, 100%, without-a-doubt losing their shirt on the deal, 1) I’m not going to believe it because over the last hour(s) of sales negotiations you’ve lowered your price more than once so I’m getting the sense that there’s wiggle room, and 2) my concern isn’t whether or not you lose money, but rather that I get a good deal.
Car dealers, are you getting the point here? I don’t care if you don’t make a single red cent. I don’t care if the new salesguy I’m working with hasn’t made his first sale yet or if you go out of business and can’t feed your kids because of that great deal I just got (okay, I actually do care about the kids, but not enough to buy rust-proofing). I want to know I didn’t get ripped of while buying my brand-spanking-new massively depreciating “asset.” That’s it.
And assuming for just one infinitesimally small moment I actually did care if you made a tidy profit, just why exactly would I trust you to determine for me what a fair share of my money in your pocket is? I don’t know what you paid for the car, what it costs you to keep the car on the lot, or what kind of money/bonus you’ll get from the manufacturer when you sell it to me.
I have zero knowledge of your financial situation—except for the fact that you want to maximize your profit on the car you are trying to sell me. Which is absolutely groovy and above board given this wonderful free market society we live in. But don’t expect me to like it when your profit comes from my (non-self imposed) ignorance.
Yes, ignorance. Despite the plethora of pricing information on vehicles available online, there’s absolutely no way for the buyer to be aware of what a car costs you, and thus, what a fair deal for you would be.
A quick aside: while we’re all busy celebrating and abiding by that wonderful capitalist free market system, let’s not look too far behind the curtain at all those laws you passed in your state legislature to make sure that you were the only way I could continue to get my fix on those shiny dollops of addiction we call new cars.
If I never know what kind of a deal I got then I don’t know if I can trust you and if I don’t know if I can trust you then I’m not going to feel comfortable in my dealings with you and if I’m not going to feel comfortable in my dealings with you you’re either going to have to learn to deal with all the negative backlash that’s thrown your way or find a better way to do business and I guarantee you the only thing longer and more painful than this run-on sentence is the truth of said same.
I’m tied to you for new car sales and warranty work and the only ones who want it that way are you. That sucks. You suck. I’m done. We’re done.