By on November 5, 2011

I remember the look on my father’s face when I explained to him that I would be selling cars. It was the look any of someone who has just heard the details of a grisly murder; a bit of curiosity, quickly overtaken by disdain. He sank into his chair. “It’s a job,” he grunted, and I realized that was as strong an endorsement for my new job as I was going to get. Truth be told, I felt about the same.

It’s no surprise that the car salesman has been painted as a snake-oil pusher; a charlatan peddling his wares to people in an unethical manner. Like all stereotypes it’s a vast overgeneralization, but I had the same perceptions of car salesmen as anyone going into my first day at work. I wondered: how accurate were the portrayals in popular culture? Would I have to get white shoes and slick back my hair? Would I have to wear a pinky ring?!

My fears were assuaged as I was let in on the trade secrets. Here’s the dirty, sordid summation of car salesmanship: guide, but don’t push. That’s it in a nutshell. Sure, we accentuate the positive attributes of a car and explain why the car fits the needs you, the buyer, have laid out for us, but it does neither you nor us any service to try and push you into a car you don’t want.

The nature of the business is a strange one; both sides, neither friends nor foes, feigning small-talk while each wanting to retain money that is up for grabs. As my contempt for my new profession faded and I discovered that a few bad apples had soiled the reputation of all car salesmen, I began to observe the odd interactions between buyers and salesmen. Certain unexpected truths quickly revealed themselves.

Truth #1: Everybody Wants to Buy, but Nobody Wants to be Sold

On my second day at the job, a veteran salesman summed up every buyer: everybody wants to buy, but nobody wants to be sold. He was right.

Instead of pushing anything, I began to familiarize myself with cars and whenever I talked to an “up” (an on-the-lot customer), I started by asking buyers what were “musts” and what were “preferences”. The process started with them narrowing in on what they envisioned for their ride. If people envision driving down the freeway in a luxury SUV, no matter what kind of sedan you show them, they will feel conned if you push them towards a sedan. Then, you will have lost their trust and most likely, their business. So, we always take the buyer’s lead. “You want a ½ ton Chevy with an extended cab? Great, we have several of them. You mentioned you would like it black. If the price was right, would you consider a different color?” Every preference has its price.

Despite the shady reputation, car salesmen really do listen and care what car you want. The problem is that most buyers aren’t sure of what they want themselves. We have to guide you to the sale, but make sure it’s your idea. Honestly, it’s exhausting. Our persuasive skills mainly come into play in the negotiation process. So, before you step on the lot, write out your “musts” and be prepared to articulate them to your salesman and you’ll make it easier to find that for which you are looking.

Truth #2: Buyers are (Most Likely) Not Professional Negotiators

As we walk amongst the rows of cars, buyers are wary of salesmen. They’re fearful we will pull some voodoo magic mixed with a Jedi mind-trick and force them into buying a car against their will. Once they’re in the office, a façade of skepticism and unearned bravado washes over them and anxiety dissipates like a Xanax in full effect. Husbands will swagger as if to say, “I’ve got this. I know how to haggle.” It’s an odd phenomenon because this is where buyers should feel the least confident.

We know the buyer likes the car. The average person goes through the car buying process a handful of times in their lives. Yet, while the salesman deals in car sales frequently, the buyer often puts forth a confident front. It’s reminiscent of the stereotypical tourist who saddles up to the blackjack table in Vegas insisting that he has a “system” after having read a book about gambling on the plane. Remember: they didn’t build Caesar’s palace by losing to tourists, and we don’t sustain a living by being bested by buyers. Does it happen? Sure, but not often.

It’s weird to witness; the theatrics people pull to show they won’t be pushed around. They will stomp out in a huff and hope we chase after them. They will low-ball us and claim that they saw the exact same car down the road for that price. If they had, they would be down there buying it.

The best way to get a killer deal is to approach the negotiation from a prepared standpoint. Do your research! Know, realistically, how much the car is worth (not according to Kelley Blue Book, but local market value), and understand that the dealership needs to make a profit, too. If they offer you a ludicrous deal, showing them that you know your stuff goes a long way to getting them to knock off the high-balling. If you come prepared with a reasonable offer, based on facts and not wishful thinking, things will go a lot smoother for everybody and you won’t appear foolish. While bravado is often a sign of unsure footing, preparedness illustrates to us someone who is not easy fooled and will often yield a better deal.

Truth #3: The Real Savings are in the Trade-in Allowance, not the Price

People do whatever they can to not pay sticker price. Paying full sticker can feel like a moral defeat. However, where salesmen often have the most wiggle room is in the trade-in allowance.

We get a commission based on the profit the dealership made. We also give you the littlest amount for your trade-in so that when we sell it, we make the most money. Furthermore, we need to allow as much room as possible in case your trade-in (that you swore “runs like a top”), needs costly repairs.

When you come into our office and demand we lower the asking price, we are hesitant to do so because it eats away at the profit margin as well as our commission. A better tactic is to ask for a better price on your trade.

This is tricky. Don’t be defensive. Everybody is defensive when that jewel of a car is appraised for two-thirds its actual value. Instead, insist that the sticker price is a bit high, but that you are more concerned with the trade-in allowance. Getting a thousand dollars more for your trade-in is the same as getting a thousand dollars off the selling price. But it can be easier to get the trade-in number to budge.

Of course, every dealership is different and may have different policies as to how they figure commission. So it won’t necessarily work at every dealership. But if raising the trade-in allowance doesn’t affect the salesman’s commission, then you will likely get less resistance from him.

It’s a strange business, alright. However, people need cars and as my dad said: it’s a job.

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107 Comments on “How To Sell New Cars (Without Hating Yourself)...”


  • avatar
    Zackman

    The issue is that so much money is at stake. You’re not buying a record, underwear or even a TV, you’re buying something that will take a significant chunk of your income for years and you want to feel secure enough that you didn’t get taken to the cleaners.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      This is perception, not reality.

      With dealer margins being as little as 4-6% these days, getting “taken to the cleaners” on a simple new-car purchase is virtually impossible. Unless of course you buy the $900 Stem Lube package or sign up for a 13% car loan, in which case you were never meant to have money in the first place and might as well let somebody else enjoy it.

      Trade-in values, as the author states, are a much bigger question mark. But this is a separate business transaction, in which the dealer takes all the risk and therefore is entitled to a healthy profit. Anyone who disagrees can sell their old sled with the slipping transmission and the bondo-filled quarter panel themselves.

      • 0 avatar
        aspade

        Haggling over any specific new vehicle, no you can’t be screwed out of too much. If 5% one way or the other hurts anything except your ego you probably shouldn’t be shopping a new car in the first place.

        Being haggled into a different new vehicle can hit 5 figures easy.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      Just use True car or carsdirect.com and avoid all that high pressure dealership crap,I’ve seen so many people ripped off that it borders on criminal anyway, most of these guys don’t even know the product they sell well enough, you’re better off getting all the details online and get the best price there and then just go pick up the vehicle and say NO to anything extra they want to sell you, cause it ain’t worth it.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        I’ve bought & sold over two dozen cars in my lifetime but one new car. Over a period of a couple months I visited about 7-8 dealers and every single one except the last one tried some “trick” – they ran my credit without my permission, a bugged office, high drama twice, bait and switch, oh you won’t notice the 14% interest rate on the loan will ya? etc.

        I walked into the final dealer and told him what I wanted to buy, how much I’d pay (a reasonable price) and he had twenty minutes to make it happen. He countered with a price $200 higher and it was done. I got my own financing ahead of time and sold my own used car.

        The process to buy a new car is ridiculous unless you have the last type of salesman to deal with. I know what I want before I step on the lot – all I need is a car to test drive. I’d be MUCH happier buying my car at a fixed price 5% over cost straight from the factory door.

        I know some folks want a salesman to pet them and stroke them and tell them it’s going to be okay and that the salesman knows how scary buying a new car can be…. He’s there to make money and if you are unlucky enough to find a liar, there is a fair chance he’s going to do you in. That might not represent most salesmen to my fellow readers but it’s represented MOST car salesman (new and used) I’ve dealt with in my life. Seriously, I know I have boyish good looks but that doesn’t mean I’m there to let them wipe out my finances… LOL!

      • 0 avatar

        Bugging an office is a serious criminal offense, so I’d be surprised if anyone still does it. The dealer where I sold cars during the summer of 1986 had stopped bugging offices even then because of the potential legal trouble, and they used every trick in the book.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        MK – the dealer in question was the Knoxville Honda dealer. He’d leave the office to go “consult” with the manager. I’d talk to my wife about angles and prices and he’d return and use information I had told her but not him, against us. That was 1999.

        Went to the local Kia dealer to price a van for a friend (at the time you couldn’t give me a Kia). When he went to see the manager right there on his bookshelf aimed at us was a microphone and webcam. This was 2008.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I’ve only bought a car from a dealer once, and it was a used car, but I think it was a nice experience. Now, I might be a bit more experienced than many car buyers, considering I’ve bought and sold around 30 old near scrap projects and used cars in the last 15 years, but it was my first time with a dealer.
    He first of all took me serious even if me and my family didn’t dress up for the occasion (seriously, if you don’t look like you have loads of money, many dealers will walk right past you, driving a 20 year old scrapheap doesn’t help, even if this is what made us afford a newer car in the first place), and he helped me find the right car, with some guidance. We had some very specific needs, but not many set preferences. We needed a rear seat wide enough for two rear facing seats and a tall girl, or adult, and we didn’t want any seats in the trunk. And we hate leather seats. And I can’t have a diesel because of all the short distance driving. Color or equipment was not important at all, and I prefer cars with as few ‘gadgets’ as possible) After finding the right car (it took us a few test drives, and a few dealers, but we ended up with a 2003 CR-V) we also found out that the dealer was on his fourth CR-V (+one that he got as a insurance replacement after a nasty crash), which didn’t exactly make it hard for him to tell us how good it was. And having a dealer that is set on the same car again and again is good PR in my book,(especially considering he has access to a lot of different new cars all the time) And seeing the prices of other older cars of the same type assured me that depreciation is not going to be a big problem compared to the financing.
    And strangely enough it helped that they don’t take in any car as part-financing. (The dealer next door had both a Land Rover Freelander and a non-running Ford Galaxy on the lot, and that makes them seem a lot less professional somehow…)
    The only time I was even close to being hard on him was during the negotiation, because I read a buying tip somewhere, that you can just ask him how low he can go, and let him argue the price ( I don’t know, but as a dealer, is that a good tip ?). And it worked like a charm, and I think we we’re both satisfied with the deal.
    And I don’t recommend going to a dealer at all if you don’t know what you want in the first place. Not to mention just going to one dealer. I’m not a very ‘brand-commited’ guy (altohugh I seem to end up with Honda’s and Fords quite often, and if possible I try to avoid premium German junk) And that makes it easier to actually test drive and look at almost any car.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      BTW I see nothing wrong with buying directly from the manufacturer and just use the dealership for delivery and service, if they want to make more $$ they can start charging reasonable prices and not the exorbitant hourly rates most of them do, but this seems to be a forbidden subject and everyone says it just would not work. I don’t understand why? You buy a new house from a developer, or builder you don’t go to a house store.

      • 0 avatar
        ihatetrees

        BTW I see nothing wrong with buying directly from the manufacturer and just use the dealership for delivery and service,

        That would be an ideal option. However, car dealers have, via many states’ legislatures, made such an option illegal. And truth be told, car sales are complex transactions. A human element is often necessary.

        Having said that, manufacturer’s have little control over how their brand is sold. Many effectively give up and let the whores in the business trash their brand (GM and Bill Heard come to mind).

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        But you don’t buy a new house from a developer. You buy it from the real estate agent that may/may not work for the developer but they are still a salesman.

        There’s a reason cars salemen/women exist. And its exactly the reason Greg pointed out in his blog. A good car salesman is like any other person who sells, be it pants, hardware, or houses; they are there to help you through a world you more than likely are not familiar with and you’re not sure what you want, but you know you want to buy.

        I dig car shopping. It’s fun for me, I go with whoever asks me too because most people hate the experience. It’s usually a friend or relative, but I’ve gone car shopping with my Soldiers and their families when they ask; especially used car shopping. If they are going to have a car for trade, I thoroughly inspect and give them pointers on cleanliness and mechanical soundness. Fix the oil leak, clean off the seats from all the french fries and baby toys, and take it to the car wash for a professional wax and dry if you don’t do it yourself. Always test drive everything you are going to buy first. If you aren’t sure about it, ask if you can have an independant mechanic give it a once-over. It costs between $50-$150 and is well-worth the effort if it seems dodgy to you. Worst the dealer can says is No. And always hold on to whether you have a car for trade until you have agreed on the price first. If the salesman is firm on the price as is, then agree and start working on trade value and possibly other perks, like free oil changes for a year.

        Good for you Greg. Appreciate the thought that you maintain the honest broker without being Caveat Emptor.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nd5WGLWNllA

        That’s how I want to do it but substitute a more modest vehicle like a Jetta TDI wagon.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    The most prevelant “con” I see is significantly pricing used cars over book value and then when the customer is able to get the dealership to lower the price by say $1500, the customer feels like they’re getting a deal and the dealership still makes profit. And if the customer is dumb enough to pay the price on the window, then BIG profit!

    A good example would be the 1999 Town Car sitting on the GMC/Buick dealer’s lot a few blocks from my home; 68,000 miles, Signature Limited with memory seats but no heated seat option, though oddly enough it does have heated mirrors, tan with tan leather interior, very clean but a small rip in the passenger side leather, and the paint is scratced in a few places were it looks like an old lady would rest her purse while opening the door and then draaaaaaaaaaaggggg it off the trunk instead of lifting it. Price in the window… $9,500. Book value closer to $7000 for an “excellent” example. I would feel comfortable paying $6,000 for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      I kinda disagree. I think if the buyers feels well about the price, then it is the right price for him. But off course, if he/she knows nothing about cars, and didn’t do the research before buying, then the price can still be completely wrong, but the buyer should blame themselves.
      Any time I sell a car I put a certain margin in the asking price to make sure we’re both happy. (but then again, I’m much to honest, and I only sell cars when I’m tired of them, so I always let them go too cheap anyways…)
      One thing I do wonder is why would anyone sell their car to a dealer. If the dealer is going to make any profit on the car (which he will also have to get detailed and maybe fix up), he will have to buy it for much less than it’s realistic resale price.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Perhaps I’m jaded by the fact that the one local New/Used car dealer with a stellar reputation (the aforementioned GMC/Buick dealer) wildly overprices their used cars. I can look up any given car on their used lot on Auto Trader (same make, model, miles, and options) within 300 miles of where I am and find it around $1500 cheaper. Now I know one of the head salesmen (taught his son) and if I call him on his BS he’ll drop the price, but I know their are others getting the shaft.

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        At least in Ontario, the biggest reason to ‘sell’ your vehicle to the dealer is that you ‘save’ the equivalent of the combined 13% sales tax on the net difference between the trade-in price and the price of the new(er) vehicle you just bought. For example, if your buggy is worth $7,000 to the dealer, you’d have to be able to get $7,910 privately just to match the price. Then there is the reconditioning costs. Even when 10 identical vehicles are bought at a used car auction, the cost to recondition and ‘safety’ them can be wildly different. The service department can do one vehicle for a couple hundred dollars, while the next might need all new brakes and 2 tires.
        Do not think all dealers are equal. While one may let the brakes go because they are within ‘tolerance,’ another might order all new rotors and pads installed.
        When I was in the ‘biz, I hated selling used vehicles. The buyers were crankier (either the price whores who were just too cheap to go new and thought the word CASH should make us drop to our knees and bow down in their presence),they were often flakier (bad credit) and they certainly were no less demanding!
        The last customer I served before getting out was looking at a 2007 Camry ‘daily rental.’ After pouring over every square inch of the car for about an hour, nitpicking over every single nick or scratch,demanding more money off for every perceived deficiency, I finally slammed the hood and declared that they obviously wanted a new vehicle and there was a Toyota store just up the street.
        Nope. Ten years in the ‘biz, each year more aggravation than the previous. I don’t miss it one bit.

    • 0 avatar
      Rob Finfrock

      Shame on that dealer for not paying the minimal cost to repair that seat tear, and having those scratches removed (or at least minimized.) A couple hundred bucks would greatly improve the dealer’s chances of getting that $9500.

      As for being conned, the entire burden to avoid that is on the buyer. A car salesman isn’t there to provide an educational seminar on correct buying processes; he’e there to make money, pure and simple. There wouldn’t be so many snake oil salesmen around if there weren’t so many Cruze buyers ignorant saps out there who don’t know any better.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        @Rob Finfrock, but honestly you’ve got to know your buyer. Steve Lang could come on here and tell us literally how cheap it would be to fix those things, detail the car, put new tires on it, (cause I’m pretty sure the Michilen whitewalls on it are orginal) and then he’d make $10,000 on it. (Which he would IMHO deserve at that point.) But where I live in New Mexico is one of the poorest counties in the country, but paradoxically is also a place where if you’re Native American and live on the thousands of square miles of reservation land around here, even your kids get a monthly check. Many families allow the kids to use that money as the kids own income. So if you haven’t blown that money on video games and trashy clothes by the time you’re 16 many of them will walk onto that same dealers lot and plunk down cash for a car like that Lincoln, not giving two shakes what sort of condition it’s in or if the price should be negotiated or not. If you can make money with NO effort, I can’t say I blame the dealer that much.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …As for being conned, the entire burden to avoid that is on the buyer. A car salesman isn’t there to provide an educational seminar on correct buying processes; he’s there to make money, pure and simple…

        Well, yes and no. An educated customer is going to get the better deal and I see no problem with that. However, is someone does not know much, if anything, about buying a car does that give the salesperson the right to screw the purchaser? Before you say
        “hell yes, ignorance costs” let’s consider when your car is ready for repair. The mechanic senses you know nothing about cars and screws you for a repair by replacing way more than needed just to make more (short term IMHO) profit. Is it your fault for not knowing about A/F ratios, injector pulse timing, vacuum fuel regulators, etc? The vast majority of people have no choice but to trust their mechanics not to rip them off. Most would agree that is is wrong to take advantage like that. Why is buying a car different?

      • 0 avatar
        SuperACG

        Buying a car is NOT different than getting it repaired. When you go to the mechanic, you must perform your own due diligence by getting more than one repair estimate! If you get screwed, tough! The B&B have mentioned to talk to the actual mechanic, and not the service advisor, and in some cases, the advisor will not let me speak to the mechanic. That’s when I decline the suggestions and go to another shop.

        I know in this economy everyone is hurting, which is why I change my own oil, and service my own brakes. If I don’t have the tools or the time, I go to the shop.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Remember those words when you are 400 miles from home and AAA drops off you dead car in front of a shop that knows they will never see you again. Sorry I do not accept that “Wild West” mentality.

    • 0 avatar
      22_RE_Speedwagon

      I agree. Dealer asking prices on used cars are offensively high. Here’s a case in point. In early 2009 I bought a brand new 2008 G35 with premium package for 29K. Today, 2.5 years later on Craigslist in my area there is the same car for sale at two different dealerships. Example 1, a CPO with 15K miles for 28.5K and a another second non-CPO example with 39K miles for 28K asking. Do you think if I brought in my car for a trade this week their offer would even start with a 2?

  • avatar
    redliner

    I typically shop online. I do extensive research. Then I rent the car I’m thinking of buying for a few days. I know exactly what I want right down to the interior trim and option packages. I find out who has what I want in stock, call them and arrange a total out-the-door price over the phone. I let the salesman know that I am serious about buying the car, but I will not pay any more than the agreed price. When I arrive at the dealer, most of the paperwork is already done, and the car is ready. All I have to do is sign in a few places and pay up. The whole process usually takes only a few hours. Easy for me and for the salesman.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I had a pretty pleasurable experience back in 2003 by emails and phone calls when buying my Ram, but for some reason since then, the last two deals, at the same place, haven’t gone nearly as smoothly and hassle free. They just don’t seem to want to deal by email anymore, since the original internet sales guy left. On my present car, a 2010 Challenger, somehow the guy I talked to thought I wanted a different car than I did, and when I got to the dealership, the car I wanted was sitting on “Challenger Row”, and the one I didn’t want was parked in front of the entrance. Before I even got out of my car, I knew that he had fouled up. The Deepwater Blue car was out of the picture pretty early on, as it had a sunroof, something I will never ever buy again on a car. I went in, and I said, “Um, you know I wanted the Hemi Orange car, right?”. He looked like his dog died. It took forever to redo the entire deal, as the HO car stickered for $2000+ more.

      On the car before that, somehow the price went up $700 from the last email I got until I walked into the dealership. All the paperwork had to be redone, so I sat there for about an hour, twiddling my thumbs. I don’t know if they were trying to pull something, or it was just a mistake, as the $700 increase matched their initial counter offer, after I made my first offer on it.

  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    I visited a few dealers when it was last time for a new car, thinking I might give the old financing thing a try. The ones I talked with were all either incredibly slimy or knew seemingly nothing about the product. And nobody stocked anything with a stick shift. I went back to my happy place after that… craigslist.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      See the post above: the days of salespeople making a good living are long gone. The old timers are either gone or getting out of the business.
      You want professionalism? Sorry, you aren’t going to get it when the guy/gal is working 6 days a week and making $35k a year.
      Pay list price and you might actually get service.

      • 0 avatar
        SuperACG

        +1

        Not just cars, it’s with ANYTHING now!

        I was making $2900 a month as a finance director working 60-70 hours a week. This was before the economy took a dump. I make even less now but I work half the hours.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    There is no doubt that car sales people have a bad rep, and that even includes my brothers who were in the new-car retail business for more than 30 years.

    The job of a salesperson and the dealership is to part as much money from the buyer as they possibly can. Nobody can sell cars at a loss and stay in business for very long. Prime examples are GM and Chrysler. They tried selling at a loss for awhile and that resulted in bankruptcies.

    What has worked for me is to tell the salesmanager that I need to know what the dealership needs to sell the car for. If it is a price I am willing to meet, I’ll buy it. If not, I’ll walk away.

    Haggling is not helpful to either the buyer or the seller. It wastes time for all involved. Different dealerships have different levels of profit they need to make depending on their overhead and efficiency in the market place. Move on to another dealership even if you have to travel. You might find a lower price for the same vehicle elsewhere.

    Buying a used car is just buying other people’s problems and should be avoided since there are decent new cars available that come with a government mandated warranty that protects the buyer from getting stuck with a lemon.

    Ultimately it is up to the buyer. It’s their money even if they have to finance their purchase. That’s why there is such a thing as buyers’ remorse. A lot of people are infected by that dreaded affliction after the sale with only 72 more payments to go.

    There is an old saying best adhered to in all cases: Caveat Emptor. Buyer Beware!

  • avatar
    Joss

    Greg don’t confuse car-buying customers with your father. Who cares what both think – get on with your life.
    Over the years I’ve dealt or been dealt with several reps. Most of them were fine and I can’t really recall them now. Save one, I clearly remember from the 80′s. I can still recall his first & last name 23 years later and I haven’t seen him since. Why? Because he was such an egotistical snot.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I found the car I wanted. I told the salesman “$9k + my trade”. He came back and said “$10k+ my trade”.

    I said, “Perhaps you misunderstood me. My offer is $9k+ my trade. Do you want my offer or not?”

    The manager came back with an offer of $9200+my trade. Close enough for me; I took it.

    When the paperwork was done, it came to $9142 + my trade. The end.

  • avatar
    eldard

    In my case I really hate buying anything new low end be it cars, phones, electronics, computers, etc. You really get what you pay for. I’d much rather hunt for used high end goods. It’s fun and you usually get more than your money’s worth.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Elderd,

      That’s true, but up to a point, many small cars last as long as their more expensive brethren but generally, it IS true that with most everything else, what you pay is proportional to what features you get, it’s ease of use, its flexibility and the overall build quality and reliability, which is especially true of electronics these days.

      Now, I don’t go for the elstrippo car as that’s not going to be much fun, but a small car that’s well equipped and such would be a much better deal. That said, paying more for a VW does NOT guarantee it’ll be reliable for the long haul even if new.

      • 0 avatar
        eldard

        I really don’t give a shit about features. Ride comfort is what matters most to me since I don’t want to feel tired after every time I drive since roads here are rough (and I just turned 31). A new Civic rides just as harsh as the 1996 one, if not more so since the latter has a longer wheelbase. So no. I’d much rather get a used Accord or a 90s S-class for half the price.

      • 0 avatar
        eldard

        I really don’t give a $hit about features. Ride comfort is what matters most to me since I don’t want to feel tired after every time I drive since roads here are rough (and I just turned 31). A new Civic rides just as harsh as the 1996 one, if not more so since the latter has a longer wheelbase. So no. I’d much rather get a used Accord or a 90s S-class for half the price.

    • 0 avatar

      How can you stand to be in the same room as someone as wonderful as yourself?

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Seems like the internet has immensely leveled the playing field.

    When I ordered my BMW last winter, I went to the various sites and found what seemed like a fair target price. Was about $400 over invoice (though we know invoice is a slippery concept).

    Went to my local BMW store with all my ducks in a row – I want to order THIS car with THESE options for delivery in Munich on Date X. No trade. Easy transaction. They initially came in at ~$1000 over my target price, I said thank you for your time, and went home. They called back the next day within $200 of my price, close enough, done deal. Not going to quibble about $200 on a $42K car, and not worth my time to go farther afield for it than literally down the street from my house.

    They probably made $1000 by the time the silly “doc fees” and the financing kick-back was done, for about 30 minutes of actual work and few faxes to Germany. No money tied up on thier part, since with BMW you pay for the car before they actually build it for you. Yes, for about a week I owned a $42K piece of paper with a VIN on it. Had I wanted to, I could have registered a car that did not exist yet. I saved ~2.5K off list, and European Delivery list price was about $2.5K less than regular US list. Plus a nice rebate from the BMW Club after the fact. And a GREAT European vacation.

    I also sold my ’08 Saab 9-3 Sportcombi for ~$6K more than they offered me in trade on the BMW. THAT was certainly a no-brainer. Boggles my mind when folks with an easily saleable car just trade it in for a pittance. Selling cars is not hard, if you have something worth buying. Trading in is “easy”, but you sure do pay for it that ease.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      … and therein lies the rub: people honestly believe it is perfectly reasonable for a dealer to make 1.4% markup on a $42k item, then sniff that they can’t get any service.
      The same person will then drive to Starbucks and spend $5 on a coffee that cost Starbucks thirty cents!
      (And before you make the assertion that a coffee is not the same equivalency as a car, multiply 300 coffees a year times the $2 you could have bought a better coffee somewhere else, and -voila! you have your $600 out the window.)
      In your case, since you were ‘ordering’ the vehicle, the dealer probably didn’t care either way for an ‘in-and-out’ order, but for an inventoried piece, depending on the floor planning options, $400 over invoice may already be ‘under cost.’

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Ah, but what service did I require?

        I think making roughly $2000hr is a pretty good paycheck. I knew exactly what I wanted, the sales dude was frankly just in the way. If he did not make any commission on my low-margin sale, well boo-hoo for him, he did not do any work for it either. If dealers are not happy with 2% margins, they should get out of the business, and car makers should just sell direct. I need that $2500 a heck of a lot more than the guy who owns this and about 25 other car dealerships in the area does.

        Realistically, the money makers are the service department and used cars. Had I taken thier $12K offer on my ’08 Saab, they would have made twice as much on the Saab as they would have made had I paid list for the BMW. And they will get 50K miles worth of servicing work on the car paid for by the mothership. After which it will most likely never see the inside of thier service bays again. *I* need niether a loaner car nor capaccino machine while waiting, so I see no need to finance such with my service bills.

      • 0 avatar
        ihatetrees

        @carbiz:
        Starbucks’ price is more than the coffee. It’s the service, the store, and not having to rub elbows with the donut shop demographic. Those extras are well worth the $2/cup price.

        And with a free refill, the price is halved…

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Hah, given the choice I’ll go to Dunkin Doughnuts any day, but then all I want is coffee, not carmel-machiato-pumpkin spice-mocah-frapa-chino-supreme.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Let’s not forget the $hit tons of advertising and the marketing, which make up quite a bit of the price. Usually far more than the employee salary/benefits.

        Still love Starbucks. Hate corporate food, but SBKs makes a consistantly good cup of regular coffee.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      What did they offer you for the Saab? I had a friend with a 37K(+or-1K)mile, 2006 9-3 convertible that she tried selling about 2 years ago. It sold this summer too, which was a pleasant surprise. $6,000 less than her asking price would have been…very little money. I suppose the Sport Kombis aren’t the car’s decomposing on new Saab dealers’ lots, but the cheapest man I know of bought one as a lightly used car in the past 15 months. He thinks of it as a German alternative for 50 cents on the Canadian dollar, so he didn’t pay much for it. There are a bunch of Saab dealers(and Saab employees) who’ll be happy to hear that they have something worth buying to offer!

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        They offered $12K. 30K miles on it, immaculate condition. Admittedly wierd spec, white on parchment, 6spd stick, no factory seat heat but aftermarket that I installed. Sunroof, Bose stereo.

        I sold it in a week for $18K. I bought it as a leftover ’08 in March ’09 for $23.9K, so I think I made out OK on keeping it such a short time. Great car, but the BMW is simply in an entirely different universe. Problem is, the MSRPs of the two cars are way, way, way too close together. Which is why Saab is where they are now, of course.

        Note that I would have really liked to have kept the Saab for a few more years. BUT, I saw the writing on the wall regarding Saab being in business, and BMW has been making noises about not selling wagons in the US anymore. So I got while the getting was possible. I sold the Saab in May and picked up a cheap Volvo to tied me over until the BMW showed up in October. I have no illusions that would get $18K for the 9-3 NOW.

    • 0 avatar
      SuperACG

      Not what service you require, but service you WILL require in the FUTURE!

      Will you go back to that dealership for service? The cars which the dealer made no money on seem to wait longer in the service bay. I saw it all the time.

      Do you strongly believe the $2000 the dealer “made” was all profit? It’s not cheap to keep people employed, the lights lit, and coffee for everyone. If you think the manufacturer should sell the cars directly, good luck with that. There’s not enough manpower for distribution. It’s not like you can send them through the mail.

      Fitting you got a BMW. You seem worse than the guy in OC who bought two new Subies…

      • 0 avatar
        eldard

        It’s at Dunkin Donuts that I’ve tasted the crappiest coffee. Too strong with lots of sugar. Never again.

      • 0 avatar
        Hildy Johnson

        @ ACG
        Not what service you require, but service you WILL require in the FUTURE!

        Will you go back to that dealership for service? The cars which the dealer made no money on seem to wait longer in the service bay. I saw it all the time.

        That difference would still exist if the dealer had made $1,000 more on each single car. People whose repeat business promises to be more profitable will get preferential treatment.

        The service departments should be able to pay for themselves, what with all the gimmicks, unneeded repairs and ripping off the not so well informed clients. Where I live it is rare to find any dealers or garages that do not use tricks to inflate your bill.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        My cars only go to the dealership when the manufacturer is paying. As I mentioned, I have no need for loaner cars and capaccino and wifi in the luxurious waiting room. Thus I see no need to pay thier extortionate servicing prices. I have two excellent BMW specialists independent mechanics in my area for anything I cannot handle myself, which is not much at this point.

        But in any event, I find it extremely difficult to believe that I will get any different service on my car than I would have had I paid full MSRP. After all, they DO have a vested interest in my return business. And so far I am VERY happy with this dealership. I think the price I paid was “good enough”, and they still made something on the car, and the 50K of servicing that BMW will pay for. And whatever kickback they get from the financing. Was it all profit? Of course not – there is no profit in new car sales generally. The profit comes from the used car sales and the service department.

        And actually, there is no reason you couldn’t “send it through the mail”. That is pretty much what I did – picked the car up at the factory, they shipped it. Could have dropped it at my house just as easily as at the dealership. I could have ordered directly from BMWNA – why is there a dealership involved at all other than antiquated franchise laws require it?

        And what does it being a BMW have to do with anything? I would approach buying any car the same way.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Back in 1990 or so, I was car shopping and I was thinking about trading in two vehicles at once. The dealer offer was so pitiful, I bailed on the whole deal. I put one of the two on a friend’s parking lot, at one of the busiest intersections in the area. That night, about 7PM, I was taking $200 to hold it from someone who drove by and saw it. I got more for the one car than the dealer offered for two. After I bought the new car, from another dealer, I put the other old one on the same lot, and sold it the next morning, again, for more than the original dealer offered for both of them. Since then, I’ve only traded in one car, and that was because they offered me just about as much as I could have gotten for it anyway. The rest go on that lot, and most of the time, are gone in three days or less.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        I agree. The Oak Ridge Honda dealer tried to get me to sell him our A+ Accord for $1500 back when we were shopping for our CR-V and then laughed at me when I said no. They got WEIRD all of a sudden and we left with them heckling us all the way to the car. WTF was that about? Hotel CA anyone? They ran our credit without our permission we found out when we bought our first house. I sold the Accord for twice that much via a local ad. A couple years later we drove by the dealer when we were up that way and the dealer was out of business.

        Maybe it was all a dream… ;)

  • avatar

    the keys to success in sales are knowing your product, believing in your product, and being professional. I’ve often said that it’s not that I’m so great, it’s that most other car salespeople suck.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    I’ve only bought one new car. The OTD price, taxes and fees inclusive, was something like $2000 less than invoice. This is what I did:

    - Devoted a day to test-driving at local dealerships. Tried everything I’d read about, from Fusions to BMWs. Chose a car model.

    - The next day, e-mailed all the dealerships in a 50-mile radius with the car I wanted, features, packages, and colors specified. Asked for their best price, OTD.

    - Still by e-mail, asked each dealer to match or best whatever the best quote was.

    - Settled on one dealer. Called them, began negotiating over the phone. This lasted about two hours. Ultimately settled on a price for the right car in the wrong color, around $750 less than the lowest quote, but couldn’t stand the salesman. A truly unpleasant person. I might still have bought from him, but decided the color was important.

    - Called up another dealership with the right car, told them I’d buy from them immediately if they could match the guy I just spoke to. They agreed. I came in the next day, test-drove it, and bought by check. Paperwork took two hours.

    This is very much a bottom-line approach to car buying. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. Dealers don’t like to be treated like commodities and the experience was less congenial than it could have been. However, the negotiations I overheard while in the dealership suggested that they make up the difference with unsophisticated buyers. If this is the case, then I’ve no qualms about putting up a good offense.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Not that I’m dissing your method, but what is the point of going to the last dealer to match the previous? Is that match coupled with another reduction in price (like Home Depot saying they’ll match the price of a competitor and give an extra 10%) or is dealer Z giving the exact same price as dealer Y? Isn’t this a superfluous step?

  • avatar
    Prado

    My car buying wisdom from experience:
    1) Trading in your old car is like flushing money down the toilet. You are paying the dealer to dispose of your old car. Sell it yourself.
    2) Pay and negotiate in cash only. If you don’t have the cash, have a loan already lined up to get the cash.
    3) Only negotiate OTD (out the door) bottom line price. This is the area in which most dealers try to rip you off, by padding the negotiated price with bogus fees and prep packages. They try to bury these in with the legitimate fees like tax and registration.
    4) Walk away if you do not get the price you want. Sometimes the dealer will call you back and do the deal at your price, and sometimes they wont. If they wont, you can always decide later if you are willing to pay more.
    Bonus Wisdom: I don’t care how much money the dealer or salesperson makes. The only thing that matters is if we can agree on a price.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      3) Only negotiate OTD (out the door) bottom line price. This is the area in which most dealers try to rip you off, by padding the negotiated price with bogus fees and prep packages. They try to bury these in with the legitimate fees like tax and registration.

      +1.

      I’ve learned this the hard way a few times.

    • 0 avatar
      SuperACG

      I agree and disagree with you on your steps, but definitely know the value of OTD price.

      I bought my Explorer 4×4 used from a Ford dealer. The exact package I wanted and it sat on their lot for more than 60 days. After a 24-hour BCA (borrowed car agreement) I made them a low-ball offer, and they told me to get lost. After me and the salesman laughed about it, we got down to business and after a half-hour of negotiation I simply told them that I *COULD* write them a check for that amount, but it would bounce. If I wrote them a check for *THIS* amount, it would clear. We were 41 dollars apart, and I just wanted to sign the docs, so I agreed but saw I did have to wait awhile for the papers because the Finance Dept. took their sweet time. I knew why…because they weren’t making any money on me!

      When I signed the contract for the truck, I saw the actual price for the vehicle was below current wholesale! My buddy said I stole that truck! I enjoyed playing with that truck…

      Wish I could afford to still drive it :(

    • 0 avatar
      22_RE_Speedwagon

      I agree with number 1. The only car I ever traded in was an 1996 integra with a hyperactive ABS problem that both an acura dealership and independent shop couldn’t track down to my satisfaction. I didn’t feel right selling a car that was dangerous to drive even with full disclosure. I had private party offers (mostly kids) at over 3K, but I chose to take a bath on the trade (2200 w/full disclosure to the dealer) so I could sleep at night. It was advertised on CL for $5995 a week later (NOT by the mazda dealership I traded it at). I hope someone figured out the problem before they flipped it.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    With the internet there is no reason for the consumer not the markup on what they are buying and what their trade is worth.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    Selling your car yourself seems like a good idea unless it is your only car and you live in a small market. I tried 2 times to sell a car myself and never got more than a tiny nibble. When you only have one car, what are you supposed to do when you want to buy a new one but need to sell the old one first? Then you have to deal with borrowing or renting cars until you find the car you want to buy. That PITA can be worth a couple thousand dollars or less.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Exactly. The only thing I hate more than dealing with salesmen is dealing with random bums who want to buy my car.

      Between prepping the car, paying to list it, fielding emails and phone calls from creeps who try to lowball me and deadbeats who need financing on a $5,000 car, I don’t want to be bothered.

      And I’ll never forget the time my dad sold a piece of crap Delta 88 we’d inherited to some thug for $500. Five hundred bucks, which is like the baseline for “runs,” even twenty years ago. The thug calls up a few weeks later claiming the block is cracked and is threatening to sue. My dad ended up giving him $400 back, just so he’d go away. Afterward, I saw that stinking Olds bombing around town for years…block cracked, my foot.

      I sold a car to Carmax a few months ago. Maybe I could have gotten another $1500 if I sold it myself, but it was worth it to not put up with other people’s crap.

      EDIT: Also, when buying new, your trade in value is credited towards the sales tax you pay on the new car in most states. Depending on the value of the trade, this can negate a lot of difference between trading and selling it yourself.

      • 0 avatar
        zenith

        I hear ya. Living in a suburb with a street system undecipherable by most Omahans (the one with the same name as the New York mental hospital), there is no way that I would spend 15 minutes giving detailed instructions to someone who’ll probably just punk out of coming, anyway.
        And if that someone should actually show up, he/she would probably waste time for both of us trying to get me to take a personal check or give credit despite my repeated cash-onlies over the phone.
        I generally keep my vehicles way too long and end up giving them to charity-case relatives, friends/relatives of friends, friends of relatives,etc., anyway. But if I had an extra still-worth-a-few-grand vehicle, I’d let some dealer give me 1/2 to 2/3 of book for it and not look back.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    I feel sorry for all the buyers that have been lied to by motor city automakers. A moral person would only sell brands ranked highly in consumer reports. Motor city brands all rank poorly. I don’t know how someone could sleep at night selling low income people motor city cars by telling the buyers the quality is as good as the Japanese. I feel sorry for low income people getting stuck with motor city cars that break all to often and have poor resale. Shame on the car sales people responsible for this.l

    • 0 avatar
      bikephil

      Aren’t you generalizing a bit much Jimmy? The last car we bought based on Consumer Reports’ advice (a 2000 Saab 9-5) was the worst car we ever owned. I’ve found that American cars are better built and more reliable than almost any Japanese car I’ve owned and certainly better than any European car.

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      @jimmy
      After 25 years of driving Toyotas, I’ve been driving a Ford for almost 6 years and 130K miles.

      I am more likely than not to buy a second Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      The record’s stuck, the record’s stuck, the record’s stuck….

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      Oh my goodness, where do “the evil Detroit 3″ even enter into this?

      “A moral person would only sell brands ranked highly in consumer reports.”…I don’t even know what to say, except:

      For crying out loud, GIVE IT A REST.

    • 0 avatar
      Loser

      jimmyy jj99, a moral person would only post under one user name, not two. Shame on the troll responsible for this.

    • 0 avatar
      SuperACG

      My mom’s 1991 Explorer had 333,xxx miles before driving to Florida from California. Its on its way back too.

      My 2000 Explorer 4×4 was driven hard in the dirt by me and had no problem driving 20,000 miles in a year. Only needed regular maintenance.

      My 2002 Focus has gone 40,000 miles in 2 years and only needed regular maintenance. It’s my daily driver, and gets used as a commuter and a pick-up truck. I’m helping someone move in a few weeks, and I’m fully confident of its abilities despite the bad rear shocks.

      My next car will likely be another Ford.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Here’s the thing: I hate dealing with salesmen, period. I don’t care if they’re a nice guy or a total jerk and it doesn’t matter if I’m shopping for a new car, a sofa, a TV or a pair of slacks. I just want to be able to go into the store, find the item I want, buy it and leave. No “help,” no extended warranties, no fabric protection packages, nothing. In and out.

    Obviously, there’s the added complication of financing and trade ins when buying a car, but nevertheless. Some dealerships have figured it out, while a lot of them are still a bunch of pushy grease balls. It frustrates me to no end that in the age of the internet new cars are still sold through a ridiculous, balkanized system of middlemen. And it’s never gonna change, because the dealer lobbies are too strong for the consumer-unfriendly franchise laws to ever change.

    I’m just glad I’m not in the market for another vehicle for a few more years.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      I’ve got to agree. The whole idea that I have to haggle with a middleman, no matter how reasonable they are, just seems counter-intuitive to me. Maybe it’s because I’m pretty introverted but I’d prefer to pay sticker if it meant I could remove human interaction from the whole equation.

      • 0 avatar
        don1967

        I’ve got to agree. The whole idea that I have to haggle with a middleman, no matter how reasonable they are, just seems counter-intuitive to me. Maybe it’s because I’m pretty introverted but I’d prefer to pay sticker if it meant I could remove human interaction from the whole equation.

        How do you propose test-driving the car? What about warranty repairs? Are you willing to ship it back to the factory at your expense, like a mobile phone, each time waiting 6-8 weeks?

        I’ll take the middleman, thank you. Even I have to pay the full 5% markup because I don’t like haggling, plus the cost of psychotherapy to overcome my fear of talking to people. It’ll be cheaper and better in the long run than the alternative.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      If you know exactly what you want and have a reasonable price in mind I’m happy to factory order a car for you at invoice or bring one in from another dealer at invoice plus a fair transportation fee if you’re in a rush.

      I’m also happy to spend hours, or days, of my time showing you every vehicle you may be interested in, explaining the details strengths/weaknesses of each as they apply to your wants/needs plus do any research you might need regarding anything from if it will fit in your garage to what pullbar you need to tow it behind your motorhome, but I’ll also ask for a profit on that deal. I don’t work for free, or for minimum wage, and I expect to be compensated for the time I’ve taken to educate myself, and by proxy you the customer, as well as doing the legwork so that you can make the purchase that works best for you.

      There are very few things that are actually bought factory direct. Your TV, the pair of Dockers you have on, and most likely the beer you’re sipping all go through one or several middle-men before you take them home. It always seems to come up in these discussions, but the average car buyer is not a car enthusiast. They do not necessarily know what they want or what they need, and many of them appreciate some knowledgeable help and guidance in such a large purchase.

    • 0 avatar
      SuperACG

      I guess you can buy your next car on Amazon. How much would the shipping cost?

      The delivery charge you see on the Monroney label would seem like a better deal, right?

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        If it’s over $25 the shipping is free. Right???

        I’ll buy my next car through my insurance company’s car buying service if their pricing is still reasonable next time. Everything done online or over the phone, drive to the dealer and pick it up.

  • avatar
    DJTragicMike

    Bad dealer story ahead.

    I hadn’t had an experience with a dealer, new or used, for like 5 years until the other day. Walked into a Mazda dealership where new and used was combined and wanted to talk about miatas. They had a couple used units on the lot and a newish 2011 in the showroom. We talked about the used cars for a bit but I was looking for a retractable hard top. Only his 2011 had that option and he was asking quite a bit for it, considering the 2012s were about to come out. I mentioned this to him and he straight up LIED to my face. He said they wouldn’t be available until March 2012. And that’s why I hate new and use car dealers. They can rot in hell.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Actually, I’m not sure he lied to you. I was on a Mazda lot a couple of years ago with a friend looking a 3s. I think it was around March and they had screaming deals on the previous year’s MX-5s. Salesman claimed the new model year cars were just then coming out.

      I’ve found nothing on the web to confirm this, but it’s a story I’ve heard before.

    • 0 avatar
      SuperACG

      I don’t think he lied to you. He likely just didn’t know, and probably repeated what others have said.

      My co-workers do the same thing. They tend to say the same things I say…and I haven’t even been there that long!

      Even though I don’t sell cars now; I used to, and I sell other things now. I’ll admit to telling a few fibs to close a sale on a higher paying item. When you’re 100% commission, you do what it takes.

      Many car salesmen nowadays are also 100% and if they “go in draw” in a month, they’re done.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      And in 1999 CR-Vs couldn’t be had with a five speed so I was supposed to buy what they had on the lot. I got mad and challenged them to prove it and they capitulated. Then he made up some sort of story about how he was going to come pick up my car to demo a five speed for a customer and return it washed or something. Didn’t ASK, he TOLD me. I walked soon after and bought one from a dealer 125 miles away. Made sure I stopped by the local dealer for something or another so the salesman could see it.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    That was a good read, Greg.

    I must confess that, unlike some, I actually enjoy shopping for cars. I like taking my time, spreading my search far and wide to get a feel for the market. I don’t mind searching for many months for a vehicle I like, and will keep in contact with sales people in my local city as well as neighboring cities up to two or so hours away. I’m always up-front with the sales people about what I’m doing and why, and most are usually very courteous and helpful (though there are always a few who try to sell me something instead of letting me buy what I want partly because they find it hard to believe that I actually like searching for a vehicle).

    While I try to get as reasonable a deal as I can (based on the current market conditions), I also appreciate that the sales person has to make some money on the deal as well (it’s their source of income after all). So while I do take my time to learn the current market conditions (the going price of new and used vehicles in varying models), I also try to keep things realistic.

    When I push it’s almost always with the trade-in. I make sure I get a good sense of the fair market value of my vehicle and will sell the car myself if I don’t get a reasonable trade-in offer, but I will also trade it in if the sales person makes me a reasonable offer (and again, I’m always up front about this). I appreciate that the dealership will also need to make at least some money on the trade-in, so I will usually trade it for a reasonable loss if they make me a decent offer (because while I do like searching for vehicles, I generally don’t like the hassle of selling them myself).

    In general I find that if I take my time and extend my search to many dealerships across a wide area, then I will usually find someone who will make me a fair offer on my trade-in while allowing me to get the vehicle that I want at the price-point I’ve targeted. All it takes is patience, courtesy, honesty, and a little due diligence.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    GM didn’t go bankrupt because they were selling cars at a loss, they went bankrupt because they sold their loyal customers badly designed cars and breakdown-prone rustbuckets. Like Oldsmobile diesels to compete with Mercedes Benzes, and Vegas to compete with Nissans and Toyotas. No wonder they went from 50% share to 18%.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I guess you missed the days of “$10,500 off MSRP with many to choose from”. Considering that the UAW kickback was $2500 – $5000 depending on make and model, at that time, the remaining money had to come out of somewhere. My guess would be profit margin.

      Badly designed cars and breakdown-prone rustbuckets were not limited to just GM and Chrysler. Ford at one time stood for “fix or repair daily”, or “found on road dead”. A richly deserved reputation, I might add, having owned several Ford products. But Ford managed to muddle through somehow, without declaring bankruptcy.

      The only way the Detroit 3 could move iron was to sell it for less than it cost to make them. GM and Chrysler were the worst of the bunch and it came as no surprise to most of us that they went belly up.

      What was a surprise was that we would be the proud owners of these two losers, and how much it cost the US tax payers to bribe Fiat to take Chrysler’s carcass off our hands.

      It’s not too late to bribe China to take GM off our hands.

  • avatar
    ChevyIIfan

    “It’s weird to witness; the theatrics people pull to show they won’t be pushed around. They will stomp out in a huff and hope we chase after them. They will low-ball us and claim that they saw the exact same car down the road for that price. If they had, they would be down there buying it.”

    I tend to quibble a bit here… My grandfather wanted to support the local dealer, so had priced around and the dealer out of town (20 miles or so) gave him a price. The local dealer’s price was like $1000 higher for the exact same vehicle, with the same trade in price quoted. He claimed he could get it lower out of town, but like you, the dealer rolled their eyes. My grandfather then went to the out of town dealership, got the better deal, then came back and showed them he got the better deal and said “I wanted to support you but you ignored me”. So yes, he did go down there and buy it. So that truth is not always true.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    As my contempt for my new profession faded and I discovered that a few bad apples had soiled the reputation of all car salesmen, I began to observe the odd interactions between buyers and salesmen.

    No, it’s not a few bad apples. It’s the majority of them.

    I sold cars for about 6 months. We were told by the manager to lie. We started out by padding every deal with DIC (dealer incurred cost) – it was just an extra $300. Sometimes we got it, sometimes not. There is nothing honest about that. If we’d just raised the price by $300 that might be different, but we stuck DIC on then lied about what it was.

    The salesmen would brag when they were able to screw someone big time. One salesman told me, prophetically, that I wouldn’t last long in the business because I wasn’t enough of a prick.

    Sorry, but it’s not a few bad apples. It’s 85% bad apples.

    Most people go into sales because they are lazy -don’t be defensive. Ask Buickman. Most car salespeople (most of all types of salespeople) are lazy or “too good” to work with their hands. Most think they’ll make a killing living by their wit and with their gift of gab. But most of them have little wit and their gift of gab consists of lying.

    As a buyer I don’t really care if the money comes off the sticker or is added to the trade allowance. I’m looking for an out the door number that includes all the variables. I won’t necessarily walk from a deal if I don’t get my number, but they have to come close.

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    …….not a lot new in this thread, just the age-old battle between the carmaker (represented by sometimes ill-chosen dealers) and consumers. Dealers are easy to figure out, they’ve gambled (or inherited) a stake in a changing enterprise, and sink or swim according to their ability to adapt to, or misread, a shifting marketplace. Their motivation is simple……thinly disguised greed.
    Consumers are a more diverse breed, as this thread amply demonstrates. Among them are:
    … smug, web savvy deal wizards,
    … wily veterans selling their whipped out “trade-ins” privately at top book prices,
    … naive buyers confused by rebates,incentives, employee pricing, credit rating bs, etc,
    …normal “shop around and get the best deal” customers
    …and my own personally observed favorites, people who swear by their loathing of “haggling”, but are, in reality, ball-busting, relentless negotiators when it comes to cars (nothing wrong with that, any retailer prefers a haggler to someone who never comes out and makes an offer).
    The one thing missing from all the comments is anyone honestly admitting to having run into a really powerful salesperson……….as if that never happens!

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      LOL, a friend of mine is the “ball-busting, relentless negotiator”, and I went with him to buy cars a couple of times and it was insane. He would sit there from opening, until closing time, messing with the poor salesmen. The one time, he was buying a Ford F-150, and we went in about 815AM on a Thursday morning, and 12 hours later, we drove off in his new truck. One of the oddest things about it was he took the salesman and the sales manager to dinner about 5PM. We all sat there eating, not talking about the truck at all, everyone was nice and friendly. When we got back to the dealership though, my friend went into his “make me go away so you can relax again!” mode, and for about an hour and a half, I cringed as they went back and forth. Finally, the salesman, who was totally worn out at this point, said, “This is our final offer, take it or leave it!”. It was, as usual, the exact amount my friend had written down before we went in there that morning. He wrote them a check (He has way too much money from a huge lawsuit settlement after nearly dying and suffering mild, but permanent neurological damage from a product defect, as in a few million $$$! He is nearing the end of the annual payouts though, they stop on 1/1/14, right after he hits 60, when he gets the principal, and the company doesn’t have to deal with him again) for the entire amount. I think that pissed the dealership off, as they no doubt expected him to finance it. He just bought a new F-150 at the same place and it only took 8 hours! Either they cracked early, or he’s getting better from all the practice he’s had messing with them. The look on their faces when they saw him years ago was priceless. I bet they gave him to the newest salesperson as a kind of hazing.

      • 0 avatar
        dvp cars

        ….nrd……your friend sounds like quite a character, but you may be wrong about the dealer assigning a novice to handle him. He may be a grinder and a lowballer, but he has one redeeming factor…..he’s a buyer, with a capital B. Since he seems to enjoy the process, you should let him handle your next purchase…..but that might take the fun out of it for you.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      “run into a really powerful salesmen”

      You know what, you are right. Although given the internet etc… I’d say that a powerful car salseman has to show a different side than they would have a few years ago. I’ve met a whole heap of really good sales staff, guys who know when to just throw you the keys and when to walk around the lot with you just talking about your various options. The chances that you’ll run into one of those are solely dictated by the quality of the sales manager. I’ve been to great Honda, VW and GM dealers in the last month or so, and that was the only common thread between them. They all had more than one “powerful salesman.”

      Hell I went into one Infinite dealer and saw the new sales guy be told that he had to get a full customer datacapture on every person walking through the door, a tactic sure to send a huge majority running. He was a nice guy, and clearly operating against his own better judgement doing this, and guess what…I didn’t work for him (with us, or the customer who left right before us). He had everything else going for him, age, personality, knowledge, a love of the product, but he’ll never be good under that leadership, his sales managers “strategy” is aimed only at a very specific percentage of buyers, with no room for him to operate at his own discretion.

      • 0 avatar
        dvp cars

        …..ted…..it sure sounds like that young man should try his luck elsewhere, but don’t blame this absurd new policy on the manager just yet. More than likely there’s an owner responsible for this nonsense. Probably never sold a car in his life (or wants to}, bean counting is his game. The fact that any Infinity prospects would subject themselves to such an invasive qualification process is proof of something, but I can’t think what!

  • avatar
    threeer

    Went to buy my (used) 2004 Lancer Sportback Ralliart about two years ago. After several test drives and a small checklist of issues that needed to be resolved (like the brakes needing to be replaced), I went in to sing the paperwork. Buried in the itemized “add-ons” was the famous “enhanced security vehicle identification” also known as window etching. This was something like a $200 mark-up, which I told the dealer I had zero interest in. So, being the good-natured guy he was, he told me they wouldn’t do the etching and would pull the fee off of the form. When I got home with the car and started to take a much closer look (yeah, I admit to not catching this earlier at the dealership) I came to discover that the car already had the etching on it and said dealership was attempting to upcharge me for something they hadn’t even done.

    And when a dealer starts into the “what’ll it take to put you into XYZ-mobile today” mode, I usually start heading for the exit. I’ve only had one dealer experience where I felt completely at ease with the guy I bought the car from…and he became the family’s “go to” dealer when it came time to buy cars (before moving out of state, the family bought four cars from him). He didn’t run back and forth to his manager, he didn’t blanket me with BS…took his time to allow me to sample the cars with real test drives (not the “around the block” variety) and didn’t push me with all of the nonsense (if I had it in royal purple, with the crushed velour steering wheel and diamond-plated air vents…would ya buy it today?). And this was way before the advent of the internet and the plethora of information now available to the consumer.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    “It’s weird to witness; the theatrics people pull to show they won’t be pushed around. They will stomp out in a huff and hope we chase after them.”

    Funny, this is usually the behavior of the salesmen that I get stuck with. One time, I wasn’t happy with the trade offer on my car, so I told the salesman I was going to go home and think about it. He immediately stood up and yelled at me and told me I had wasted his time and how could I not take this offer. Another time, the same scenario, I didn’t like the trade offer, so I asked to get back the keys to my car and I was going to go. Salesman told me that he couldn’t do that because they already had the car in the shop and were detailing it to put on their lot. That time I just about came across the desk and strangled the guy. I raised holy hell, and he handed me my keys. Car was out in front where I parked it. I’ve never had a salesperson know more about the vehicle than me. Heck, they usually don’t even know enough to sit down and deal with me. Always have to “talk this over with their manager”, which usually takes 15-20 minutes. I now tell them if they’re not back in 5 minutes, I won’t be here. They look shocked.

    Car salespeople are the lowest form of bottomfeeding scum in my opinion. I’d love to have one experience to change that perception.

    • 0 avatar

      call me when you’re ready (586) 914 BUICK (2842). you’ll find out why I’ve retailed 25,000 vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        dvp cars

        ….Bman….I’m curious about your obviously successful closing skills, but I can’t use a new car right now. What I’d love to know, though, is the number of calls you’ve received from ambitious principals lusting to add a superstar to their dealership “family”.
        However, I would suspect they’re having a pipedream, as, judging by the numbers, you must be at or near retirement age (unless you started VERY young indeed). It’s equally probable that you are more than happy with your present employer……he/she must be a “good guy” dealer, part of a disappearing breed.

      • 0 avatar

        have no employer except my clients. yes been recruited as you surmised. funny tho as I outsold most dealers. it’s a long story (thx to Joe Girard for his book and guidance). started at age 9 believe it or not in NY. moved to MI at 24 and led the USA by age 32. not really retired but work from home these days as being “dad” trumps the rest. should write a book one day…

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I’ve dealt with three of those kinds of guys (on one purchase at multiple locations). NEVER again. If I can’t get a normal well adjusted salesman when I go in, then I’ll leave.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    I’ve bought a lot of cars, I’ve learned the system from experience and know when to walk. The last deal I walked on so pissed me off that I’m still mad and it’s been over a year. I have a 2008 GTI, was thinking about getting a Fusion for more room, cheaper to run and maintain. I went to a local Ford dealer (Crossroads in wake Forest) and he wouldn’t get to the numbers I wanted and the longer I sat there the more I loved my GTI and the more I realized I was wrong thinking about getting that Fusion. OK, the polite way would be if he (sales manager by now) had just said, “well, here’s our best offer, go home and think about it and call me tomorrow” no, what I got was something like you must be stupid not to see how great this is and it’s a shame your wife won’t let you get the car…….. ok, I’m a redneck, a proud southern gentleman of middle class values, and it was all I could do NOT to tear his head off and sh1t down his neck before I left. I took the high rode and smiled, said goodby and left. A few days later his boss called and asked if I would be interested in getting that car – this time I unloaded and told him exactly why I wouldn’t be buying a car from them and what a douch bag he had working for him, he asked if I would buy from him and he’d be sure the other guy wasn’t in the dealership…wtf? No asswipe, I wouldn’t get a car from ya’ll if it was free and I got to keep my GTI too.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Buickman, please write the book. It would be very interesting.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    The numerous comments and sordid tales in the comments to this post are evidence of the needless complexity of buying new cars from haggle dealers.

    But for that bad franchise laws, most new cars should be sold direct from manufacturer to customer.

    New cars are mass manufactured objects made with precise JIT control methods. They are akin (and yet less complex) to desktop PCs which are easily configured and ordered via a step-by-step wizard online.

    Test drives would be about $12 for a 30-40 minute drive. Anyone seriously looking to spend $15K-$35K on a new car would see this as a reasonable cost of research.

    The purchased cars would be picked up at a Sears/Walmart type of depot and then you’d get all your maintenance at any auto service shop like you do now anyway.

    The internet killed off most of the home visitation insurance salesman selling term life insurance. A simple product made needlessly complex in the pre web days.

    It is time for the ranks of car salesman to focus on three areas:
    1) Work independently as personal car buying agent for very low knowledge or anxiety-ridden(yeah, more commission!) clueless buyers.

    2) Work independtly as personal car buying agent for very high end buyers who want a ‘car butler’ to fetch their new cars from the depot.

    3) Work used car lots so they can revel in vagaries of used cars where each is unique-as-a-snowflake.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I’m all for being able to buy a car through a Big Box store. I have ordered new cars though the military BX system while overseas and have had great luck with it while saving a ton of money that otherwise I would have had to pay to a dealer.

      While in Viet Nam I ordered a ’67 Cougar directly from Mercury for delivery in Los Angeles. While in Europe I ordered a Toronado directly from Olds for delivery in Antwerp. And when I came back from Europe 8 years later I had a Volvo 745 delivered to Bayonne, NJ. Saved a ton of money doing it that way. Really great experience!

      My brothers were in the new-car retail business for more than 30 years and they would do whatever it took to make a sale. That’s the nature of the business: to part as much money from the buyer as you can get away with. Dealers pretend to be your friend but they won’t know you from Adam after the sale is completed.

      They’ve got to make a profit in order to stay in business. And they’ll do it any which way they can.


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