By on July 22, 2009

I’m working on a piece entitled “Five Reasons Why Car Buyers Will Avoid the Cash for Clunkers Program Like the Plague.” Sneak peak: people trust car dealers about as far as they can throw an M1 Abrams tank. I know that several of our Best and Brightest are living la vida locomota by selling cars to suspecting punters. But I can honestly say that I have never met an honest car salesman face-to-face. Charming? Yes. Knowledgeable? Absolutely. But every last man Jack of them oozed obfuscation. The best of the breed, who shall remain nameless, avoids issuing outright lies with a simple yet effective technique: he ignores any question that requires a negative reply. Seriously. He says nothing. Unlike Mr. Piven, whose latest cinematic effort seems carefully designed to lower public opinion of a profession that couldn’t go any lower (both the opinion and the profession itself). But truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Have you ever met an honest car salesman? And if you have, are you sure he wasn’t playing you for a fool?

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62 Comments on “Ask the Best and Brightest: Have You Ever Met an Honest Car Salesman?...”

  • avatar

    Yes. Two of them.

    #1: When my GF was buying her VW Cabrio at a local used place, she test drove it, all was well. We had agreed of price, pickup date, etc. On the day of safety, ABS light came on. They discover that the ABS pump has failed. They located a replacement part, fixed it, car was perfect, and they took the hit on cost all on their own.

    #2: Buying my new car. Ordered car. Was advised 6 weeks. Salesperson kept on top of it, and secured a vehicle from the factory that had not been allocated yet. It had extra options. They did not charge me for the extra options, and the car ended up in my hands 3 weeks earlier than I was told. They also gave me extra warranty for no extra cost. This guy has since left that dealership, but is at another one nearby, as their Sales Manager. No doubt my next new car will more than likely be from him.

  • avatar

    Actually, I have met more than one. Three of the last 5 cars/trucks that I have purchased came from two of them. There are probably more than you would think. Such salesmen (who are successful) tend to sell from a list of previous customers who buy from them precisely to avoid dealing with the genre in general. Others, sadly, don’t last at all in the business. (Two of the last three honest car salesmen/women that I have dealt with are no longer in the business.)


  • avatar

    Yes, several. They were at successful businesses selling easy-to-sell cars (Acura, BMW, Mini). Selling something that’s easy to sell takes a lot of the ‘selling’ out of the process.

    On the other hand, I dealt with a Jeep dealer where the service department was a bunch of liars. Never went there a second time.

  • avatar

    Yup – sent an e-mail asking why kind of deal I could get on a 08 GTI. Salesmen responded 0.9%, 1000 under invoice plus 1000 cash back owner loyalty. Sold! picked it up three days later.

    Bought my first car out of college a new 98 passat. No money down, no payments for 3 months, invoice plus $500 college grad rebate from VW. Oh and there was a mistake on the contract for $500 in my favor – the dealer just ate it rather than look like they were trying to screw me.

    All in all – I’ve had great luck.

  • avatar

    I have met a few. One was at a used dealership in my area called Car Sense. The other was at an Audi dealership. Well, I don’t know if she was honest, but she was hot, so that made up for it.

  • avatar

    Two kinds of honest:

    1. Answer any question I ask truthfully.
    Yes, the guy I bought my pickup from. Will go back in a couple years when Ford refreshes the Ranger. If I don’t ask a key question, it’s not the salesperson’s fault. Most people, IMO, fall into this category.

    2. Go beyond the question I ask, or volunteer info that could sink the deal. So rare as to be urban legend. I think the salesperson I bought my Saturn from in the early 90s probably fit this mold.

  • avatar

    Couple of points it’s the system and not the people. It rewards dishonest unethical anything goes behavior and punishes honest ethical behavior.

    Cars should be sold by national independent non exclusive retailers just like every other mass produced manufactured products. I don’t have to buy Samsung flats screens at the Samsung store. If the current franchised dealer system is so great why aren’t all things sold that way? Imagine the nightmare of having to buy everything the same way we do with new cars.

    I hate dealers and I hate car salesmen yet I think it is painting with a broad brush that the people are dishonest its the system.

  • avatar

    various car forums have great salespersons as active members…..these salespersons know that you know about invoice prices, the four squares, spec, etc.

    IMHO, if you’re looking for a no-hassle deal go to the owners’ forum for your car and contact the active salesperson (or ask for one) nearest you even if they’re in a different state.

    Most likely, the deal/no-hassle factor will outweigh any travel cost.

  • avatar

    @Sherman: if you’re talking about commission-based compensation, then it’s the norm for a sales position in just about any industry, including electronics sales.

    And as for the Samsung flat-screen comparison, if your local Best Buy sold cars, too, how many of each manufacturer and model do you think they would keep in inventory? And would you be happy with them shipping your car back to the manufacturer for warranty repairs?

    It’s not quite the same thing as selling TVs, which is part of the rationale for EU extending their antitrust block exemption for car sales.

  • avatar

    same a jmo, except in person. We couldn’t agree on the price of the trade-in, so he simply dropped it (I’m getting a better price by selling the old car myself anyway). And the finance department only proposed useful insurance and didn’t push for any useless stuff.
    That’s honest in my book.

  • avatar

    Yes – mainly with the Internet sales people from a local BMW and Audi dealership. The deal was mostly done by email – they agreed to what I wanted and the deal was done with zero reptilian sales slime.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    i’ve only had honest experiences thru a few things that tip it in your favour:

    1. driveaway pricing – there’s nowhere for the sales guy to move

    2. bring your own financing – there’s nowhere for the sales guy to move

    3. only get options you really – there’s nowhere for the sales guy to move

  • avatar

    Yes, I was one, selling Audis 10 years ago before they were uber cool. I never lied to anyone, in fact, several of my old customers are still close friends of mine. I started every deal by saying here’s the Blue Book (or use Edmunds, NADA, whatev), look up the numbers and we’ll go with it says. NO one ever did that in almost 3 years. Car dealers going out of business get exactly what they deserve and should not get a bailout, but the system, however wretched, is an interesting window into the American capitalistic psyche.

    Now ask me how many dishonest customers I had, not the majority, but certainly a LOT. Everybody wants to haggle, and then try to grossly inflate the value of their piece of crap trade-in leaking fluid all over my parking lot. My used car manager almost got killed on countless trade-in test drives. That’s where it starts.

    Ask someone if they’re honest, they’ll say “always”. Then ask them if they lie on their taxes, “yes”. Then ask if they would lie to a car dealer, “of course, those bastards”. Karma’s a bitch people.

    BTW, can’t wait for this movie, Jeremy Piven will be perfect! As for me, I went back to IT, where I make more money and every IT vendor lies every day.

  • avatar

    Rubes maybe but despite the broad painting and stereotyping of car salespeople, tell me where you can find honest people? Why is it that Big Box Store #1 has your TV at one price, stating it is the lowest price, and BBS #2 has the identical one lower? Why does giant hardware store #1 price match guarantee but don’t sell at that price? Why does NBC and Fox, broadcasting the identical news, say it differently? There are no honest people when they are trying to pitch their idea/service/product.

    While you’re at it, write a piece about the top 5 reasons car dealers will run like the wind from cash for clunkers? Good luck finding the top 5 out of hundreds.

    I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help.

  • avatar

    YES, but with three strong caveats:
    1) He is my friend and neighbor
    2) It’s a very small town
    3) He owns the dealership

  • avatar

    Yes. July 2006 I went for a test drive in a Honda Fit. Gas was on its way to $4 and this dealership was keeping a car available for test drives, but nothing in stock to buy.

    We ordered the car. I was asked to sign no paperwork and was uneasy, but what do you do. I put down a deposit of $1000, IIRC. Was told about 3 months. Due to a particular color combination (tan interior was available only with a white car) there were no area cars to trade for. I was told that sale price would be at sticker, which I did not find unreasonable for a car in such short supply.

    Over the next few months, my salesman called 2 or 3 times with pre-ordered cars that had become available because people in line ahead of us got tired of waiting. If we would have traded off on color and trim choices, we would have had a car sooner. We held out.

    Time stretched out to about 4 months, but demand kept going up too. We were informed when the car was built, when it was shipped and when it would arrive. We got the call a day or two sooner than expected, and went in to buy.

    We were not charged for any add-ons that we did not decide to purchase. The dealership etched a code number in the glass and put stickers on all the panels as some sort of anti theft system that they put on their cars. When I asked why they did that because we had not agreed to buy that system, he apologized for the mistake and said that we would not be charged for it because he had already committed to sticker price.

    That salesman passed up multiple opportunities to gouge me on a hot model, spending 4 months dealing with me on perhaps their lowest margin car. I was and remain a happy customer.

  • avatar

    This topic simply reinforces the fact that the delivery and sales pipeline for cars in this country is FUBRed. People hate buying cars precisely because of the process. The Cash For Clunkers program has nothing to do with this so it’s always interesting to see how the dots are connected here to trash something, anything, involving the gubmint.

  • avatar
    Anna Mac

    My experience indicates many car salesman are honest while we may not like everything they have to say.

    Case in point are a couple of local GM dealerships, both really quite superb in terms of knowledge and service. We’ve bought four cars from one and none from the other. When the salesmen at these family-owned dealerships say they can’t do any better on the price, they’re not playing games, they’re following internal policy. We’ve ended up going out of town for the last three purchases as a result. We’d like nothing better than to support local commerce but have to walk when thousands of $$$ are in the wind.

  • avatar

    Sure they do.Car salesmen lie. I expect them to.
    Do buyers lie? Dam right they do. Thats what makes the world go around.

  • avatar

    Dealt with the internet/fleet guy, negotiated on out-the-door price (no trade-in). Transaction was completed in less than 2 hours at actual dealership. It took 4 hours to prep once I got there, but no big deal for me.

    I don’t think I got the best deal, but according to forums, I got pretty much the going deal at the time (15% off MSRP). So yes, at a Lexus dealership.

    I also had a terrible experience at a Subaru dealership in 2003 – the salesman actually physically blocked my car by standing behind it because I didn’t want to hear about how the $5K markup was a “market adjustment” instead of “wallet gouging.”

  • avatar

    Maybe I’m the exception here, but I have *never* run into a single car salesman that was anything less than slimy and borderline sociopathic.

    Every cliche line you can imagine has been thrown my way, “This price is just for you, just for right now if you sign this moment” (at a Subaru dealer); “I can’t let you test drive unless you put down a deposit” (This was on a Pontiac G8), “I won’t make any money on this deal, but I’m doing it for you anyway” (at a Honda dealer.)

    Drive them to the edge of a cliff and push them off like in the lovely film “300”.

  • avatar

    Yep, over the past few years I’ve bought two Toyotas from Greg at Traverse Motors, and he has been straight up in every dealing; I’ve also bought (or leased) three Hyundai Sonatas from Bill Marsh, also in Traverse City, and all of those guys were above board and easy to work with.

  • avatar

    I have had a car dealer, when asked about a particular option (that they had cars on the lot with the option installed), volunteer that it wasn’t worth the money you paid for it. An admission against interest like that counts for something with me.

  • avatar

    This topic simply reinforces the fact that the delivery and sales pipeline for cars in this country is FUBRed. People hate buying cars precisely because of the process. The Cash For Clunkers program has nothing to do with this so it’s always interesting to see how the dots are connected here to trash something, anything, involving the gubmint.

    Well, you do realize that the reason that it’s illegal to buy cars direct from the manufacturer (and the reason that multistate dealerships for new cars are difficult to run) is because of state government regulation, right?

    I don’t know if the process would be any better if the government didn’t mandate it, and I don’t know that that many people would want to buy a car direct. I do know that Europe doesn’t have similar laws, and I do know that I’d prefer to buy a car direct, since I’m picky about what I want.

  • avatar

    If you act like prey…

  • avatar

    My best experience was at Phillips Motors in Newport Beach. High end stuff. It helped that I knew exactly what I wanted, they knew it, and I wasn’t going to haggle on the price. A little debate about my trade-in, but that was it. Next best was Mossy Scion. Low key, no debate. Still got the treatment from the finance guy, though, despite a cash purchase. John Hine Mazda was okay, as was Cunningham BMW. Poor from BMW of San Diego, Carl Burger Dodge (although that’s going back a long way), Balboa C/P (defunct a long time ago). Avoid Kearney Mesa Toyota at all costs! All the usual tricks were on display.

  • avatar

    Yeah, and I bought a car from him. Found out he was out the door a few days later. Oh well.

  • avatar

    Even harder to find are honest used car salesmen. I bought a Mazda3 from a private seller at almost $5,000 less than the dealers were asking for the same car with similar mileage and options. If the private seller lies to me (which he did but it was fairly inconsequential) I’ve still got $5,000 leftover in my pocket. Nothing is more satisfying than getting call backs from dealers and telling them I bought from someone else for 30% less and got more options.

  • avatar

    I sold cars one summer during school.

    The top salesperson was brutally, effectively honest – he didn’t sugarcoat anything – all he’d do is overcome objections and redirect to a different car if the one he was showing wasn’t appropriate.

    He’d also blatantly tell the customers what they wanted.

    CUSTOMER – “I want a red car” (he only has a black car with their options).

    SALESMAN – “You no want red. Black is best color. You buy black.”

    CUSTOMER – “You know what, Black looks good.”

  • avatar

    The dealer/salesmen tells me “were not making squat from these deals”. The deals he was refering
    to were part of the GM employee hourly retirement
    incentive plan.

    Odd that every GM dealer within a 25 mile radius
    has called me. First they wish me a happy retirement.[must have got a hold of a copy of the union paper]. The next statement goes something
    like “if we can be of assistance on your new car purchase keep us in mind”…..Right, cause after
    all thier not making any money on it eh?

  • avatar

    Yes. Buying my old Mini Cooper S in 2005 from Dave at Morristown Mini was a pleasure. As one poster pointed out, this is an easy car to sell, all Dave had to do was get my details right. On every subsequent visit to the dealership (unfortunately there were a few too many) he always knew my name.

    Buying my 07 Rav4 from Tom at Fitzmall was very straightforward. All done by phone, no pressure, lots of phone and email verification of requirements (mine were specific) and I got a tremendous deal too (well under invoice). The only ‘tactics’ came from the aftermarket salesperson. They were easily dismissed, but slightly irritating.

    Buying my WRX in late 2001 however, was an exercise in swimming with sharks (Bloomfield Subaru).

    I had fun this February beating down the salesguy at Crystal Automall when I bought my Mazdaspeed 3, but he tried all the tricks -I think I dodged them all and I was happy with the deal I got in the end.

  • avatar

    Yes. There’s a guy at the local Ford/Merc/Lincoln/Mazda store who I’ve dealt with several times and always gone away happy. I have every confidence he’s honest and forthright. He’s the reason I’d prefer to buy again from him if the store ever gets something in stock my wife likes. Would he like to sell me something more profitable? Sure, but I don’t mind that. What I mind is salespeople and their henchmen that will lasso you to keep you from leaving the lot.

    And I suspect the old adage, “buyers are liars” is very often true.

  • avatar

    I used to be an honest car salesman in my younger years. Trust me, it ain’t easy.

    Honest car salesmen work 12-hour days, sweeping snow off cars so people can test drive them. They research their own product as well as the competition, so they can answer questions intelligently and accurately. They expose your lies about the condition of your trade tactfully, to spare you the embarrassment. They spend their entire afternoon with you for no pay, knowing full well that your plan is to take whatever price they quote and hand it to the greaseball across town. Ninety percent of the time, the honest car salesman goes home empty-handed, while you brag about your shrewd negotiating tactics.

    The car business brought this toxic environment on itself for sure, but consumers are often the ones who perpetuate it. Let me ask TTAC readers: How did YOU reward the last honest car salesman you met?

  • avatar

    Yes, Uncle Stanley ‘Stash’ Zavislak, god rest his soul. He didn’t sell to me, he sold used GM vehicles to his little bro, my dad. And I always wondered why they talked about the little old lady who only drove the car to church on Sundays… But I ended up driving the ’63 Olds Dynamic 88 and ’69 Chevy Bel Air sedan (cracked that manifold gasket when it overheated waiting in line for an Indy 500; I told dad I had no idea what happened) and they seemed like mighty fine cars to me.

    Last year Tom Kalmata in Southfield, MI sold me a 2008 Saab 9-3 Convertible (top operates while driving under 10 mph and at 25 degrees F) and he knew I had the GM employee discount and I had a check in hand, but told me to wait a week for the Presidents Day sales incentives. Good guy.

    BTW, per terms of my employment, I must say I am still at GM.

  • avatar

    you can claim that Robert, being you and I have never met face to face.

    btw I’ve often said that it’s not that I’m so great but so many others suck.

  • avatar


    “How did YOU reward the last honest car salesman you met?”

    I sent a friend to buy a car from him in July 2008 and I complimented him by name here.

    My husband bought from him the year before, and so I went to him last year.

  • avatar


    Glad to hear it. If enough people do this, the honest salespeople will eventually take over.

  • avatar

    If I can count myself, I knew Three.

    I sold cars, new and used, for about 6 months, which is about as long as an honest person can stand being in that business.

    I averaged one sale per day.

    I’ll have to admit to one dishonesty – though in my defense, I was trying to do what the manager told me. We had a thing called Dealer Incurred Cost (DIC). The manager would say “Be sure you DIC ’em.” The piece of paper I showed the sales manager had to have DIC on it. I never could remember the made up bullshit we were supposed to use to explain DIC. Of course, it was just $360 added to the price of the car. Pure profit.

    My first sale, I was trying to do everything right and I put the DIC on the sheet. I flubbed the explanation of DIC (because it was all a lie) and I felt like a royal asshole. After that, I simply explained to my customer that while I had to put DIC on the sheet, his counter-offer should remove the DIC right off the top. To my astonishment, about a third of the time the customer would simply take my number, subtract $360, and that would be his counter-offer. Needless to say, we had a deal that would be approved by the manager.

    The two others I know of worked for the local Honda dealer. Straight answers, straight negotiation w/o any baloney.

    I always arrange financing through my credit union, so the time I have to spend with the F/I guy is about 3 minutes.

  • avatar

    We’ve got a dealership family in the Twin Cities metro area, Walser, that I’ve been very happy with. They seem pretty honest so far. They’ve got one of those no commission deals compensation deals (though I’m sure they’ve got quotas and such). For the most part, everyone I’ve met there has dealt with me in good faith.

  • avatar

    No, never.

    However, I will admit that I’ve lied a ton to car salesmen in my life so maybe it’s just karma.

  • avatar

    I bought a car from a private party. 88 Mr2 supercharged it was awesome. I moved about the same time I bought the car and somewhere in the move I lost the title. Long story short the guy I bought the car from went out of his way to get a duplicate title and sent it to me. (I paid all expenses for this).
    Turns out this guy sold cars for a living at Vern Eide Honda. I was looking at some of the CPO cars a couple of years after buying the MR2 and he came up to me and asked if he could help me find something. I remembered him and got a good deal on a nice Honda from him.
    That was about 5 years ago and he is still at the dealership. My dad died earlier this year and he sent me a sympathy card. I don’t know how he knew it was me, but if anybody in Sioux Falls needs a car look up Steve Gerlach. He’s one of the good guys.

  • avatar

    Salesman OR Dealership?

    Salesman Yes, Dealership, Maybe
    But, I don’t have the time or personality to try and squeeze every last penny out of the price. I use TrueDelta, Edmunds and others to decide what I want and what the reasonable price is. So far, I’m about 5 of 5 for going in with this info and walking out with what I wanted for a price I feel is reasonable.
    NOW, when the Finance Guy and the Extended Warranty guy wanted to talk, I just politely said “No thanks. I had financing arranged and I never bet against the house”.

  • avatar

    To expect car dealers to be “honest” is dishonest.

    Often, cars are crap when new. They seldom get any better when used. Same is true for almost any merchandise.

    So, what do you expect from a dealer? To tell you, that he has an overpriced POS for sale that will make you unhappy and will cost you dear? To tell you, that although this might be sad, it will be cheaper and less stressful than a marriage? Highly unrealistic, isnt’t it?

    What do the Best & Brightest do, if they have bought some POS and want to get rid of it? Scrap it? Repair everything at high costs and then make someone happy by asking a price that will bareöy cover a quarter of his expenses? Unrealistic scenarios, too. More probable: Ask a dealer to sell it. Then the car dealer has another chance to work on his reputation.

    But why should car dealers be better than real estate dealers, or dealers in other crap? I simply do not understand this double standards.

  • avatar

    Yes. Once (I’m 60 yars old).
    I bought two new Corvettes off of him. Takes a lot for me to go back to the same man. I’d love to mention his name but that’s a no-no here, I’m sure. The thing that is amazing is that Corvette hucksters are the sleaziest of the breed.
    The dozens of others? They can all go rot in hell….

  • avatar
    George B

    I don’t know if the not obviously dishonest car salesmen were just more skilled at deception and that’s part of the problem. Discovering roughly where the price is going to settle out to takes lots of time and effort. I expect price negotiations to be inherently adversarial, but dealing with car salesmen ranks up there with prostate exam on the unpleasant experiences list.

    I suspect that there is a good deal of ignorance mixed in with the deception in the car sales process. I frequently catch car salesmen that appear to make stuff up when they don’t know the answer vs. making the effort to get the answer. It’s insulting when the salesman doesn’t know the products he’s selling.

  • avatar

    Actually, the question you should have asked was,

    “Have you ever met a customer who wasn’t mathematically impaired, a habitual liar, a terminal mooch, or just stupid beyond recognition?”

    But I digress…

  • avatar

    I really haven’t dealt with a “dishonest” car salesman but I am bothered that when I am ready to buy a car I usually know more about the car, its’ model variants, option packages and immediate competition than the salesman does.

    I don’t trade in or dealer finance. I research invoice, hold-back, customer incentives and manufacturer to dealer incentives before I go in. I never have to have the car or buy a hot model. Deal with Internet or fleet department if they have one. I identify the car I want and tell them I will pay $500 over invoice minus hold-back and incentives and am firm about the offer. They usually quickly say yes or no. Little time wasted by either party.

    The “paperwork” manager (finance?) is another story. I always find it unpleasant. I go in with a check for the sale amount already written and politely decline all of the numerous after sale options they offer.

  • avatar

    Yes. Me.

    But maybe that’s why I didn’t sell many cars or last very long before I couldn’t stand it anymore.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Most of my car buying experiences have been positive.

    Flexibility, honesty and mutual respect lubricate a successful negotiation. I leave at the first sign of mistreatment and permanently strike that make from consideration. I haven’t had to do it often, and have never regretted it. The car market offers too many excellent alternatives to reward reprehensible corporate conduct.

    Successful deal making is about information, timing, technique and confidence. I am under no illusion I can hoodwink a sales pro on his own turf. He does his schtick daily, me not so much.

  • avatar

    Just finished the buying process on a new Mustang, and I could tell the vast difference in dealers since I shopped about 7-8 different cars. Mini was the best. Guy let me drive the car on my own, never tried to sell excess accessories, really seemed he wanted me to get the car I wanted. The rest of the dealers were a mixed bag, ranging from awful to okay, but since I am paying with cash, at least didn’t deal with any financial issues. The weirdest dealership was Frederick Motor. Guy didn’t know any of the rebates or even the basic packages. I assume he was with Subaru actually, which the dealer also sold, but that’s an awful way to sell a car. The dealer I did buy from was okay, actually haggled on the car (helped it was on the lot), and I’m picking up the Mustang from him on Friday.

  • avatar

    I bought a sport bike recently(A still new `08 model none the less. They still have `07’s too..). I told the guy my objections. I said the situation is this: The buyer knows the best price is the price you paid for it. The unknowns are the price you paid, and also the markup/profit margin. $100? $1000? Can the price come down? A lot of deception/deceitfulness. He agreed with the situation.

  • avatar

    I’ve met two, one was working at a Dodge dealer, who a friend sent me to. I was
    looking at an ’87 Daytona, he said you don’t want that POS, unless you like to
    replace head gaskets when you turn up the boost…
    He sold me a ’84 Mustang instead…

    The other was a cool “kid” who sold me a ’94 Taurus SHO, mainly for SWMBO to shuttle
    back and forth to work. At 150K miles we traded it in on another Ford, from the same
    “kid”. He knew his product, and steered us away from another Taurus because of the
    tranny issues…


  • avatar

    I have only bought one car and it was a generally positive experience. The salesman was brutally honest about what other people who had bought this model had thought and even tried to talk us out of a fairly expensive option that some of his other customers had not been particularly happy with (not that we listened).

    The dealership was decent too. They asked us whether we wanted to wait for a brand new car or if we would be willing to take a dealer trade if they could engineer it. We took the trade and the car we got had some special interior trim that would have cost us $400 if we had requested it. The dealer said that if we were ok with it we could have it for free as it was cheaper for him to give it to us than bring in the trim specialist for an afternoon to remove it.

    For any of you in Toronto I’m talking about Lakeshore Honda and the salesguy was John Leonard – highly recommended.

  • avatar

    To those who mentioned state laws effectively making the car salesman captive to a corrupt system, +1.

    However, there are salesman & dealers who rise above their state-protected degenerate business model.

    I’ve found many dealers’ used & internet sales guys much more solid than new. The used market is much more competitive.
    Also, negotiating is much easier if you have your own financing (and let them know it). Patience also helps – along with knowing the value of walking away and not communicating.

    I feel for some sales guys. Customers can be a weird bunch and are hardly rational – many are willing to drive to a half dozen dealers in order to save a couple hundred bucks.

  • avatar

    Confessions of a Car Salesman

  • avatar

    Last experience was surprisingly good. A couple of years ago we went to buy the loss-leader, significantly below invoice Altima XE advertised in the newspaper. They actually had several in stock. When I sort of thought out loud about adding alloy wheels, the salesmen chimed up and said they’d sell us the GXE for the loss-leader ad price plus the retail price of the GXE package (several hundred bucks to add alloys, bigger tires, better stereo, strut brace). Since there wasn’t a huge markup on the GXE package we got it. We went in with pre-arranged credit union financing; the finance guy asked if we’d let him run our credit to see what they could do, and we ended up getting cheaper financing through Nissan than the credit union. The whole process was painless.

  • avatar

    I will admit that I’ve lied a ton to car salesmen in my life so maybe it’s just karma.

    Finally, an honest car buyer!

  • avatar

    With all due respects to Mr. Lang et. al…


    That includes my “prior self”.

  • avatar

    Yes…and then I woke up.

    Seriously though, I have only dealt with one honest car salesman. I bought my nissan from a close family friend who got all of the profit knocked of and got the car for me as close to wholesale as he could. He had the service guys fix any issues that came about soon afterward. If I know he isn’t always honest because he showed paperwork on similar cars he sold to customers for a comparison on price.

  • avatar

    I have a statement, then a question;

    I find it intensely fascinating that many people associate a good salesperson exclusively with price.

    “who got all of the profit knocked of and got the car for me as close to wholesale as he could”

    “the salesmen chimed up and said they’d sell us the GXE for the loss-leader ad price plus the retail price of the GXE package (several hundred bucks to add alloys, bigger tires, better stereo, strut brace).”

    “special interior trim that would have cost us $400 if we had requested it. The dealer said that if we were ok with it we could have it for free”

    “The buyer knows the best price is the price you paid for it. The unknowns are the price you paid, and also the markup/profit margin. $100? $1000? Can the price come down?”

    “I research invoice, hold-back, customer incentives and manufacturer to dealer incentives before I go in. I never have to have the car or buy a hot model. Deal with Internet or fleet department if they have one. I identify the car I want and tell them I will pay $500 over invoice minus hold-back and incentives and am firm about the offer.”

    I find that there is a disconnect here. It would seem that our market (US/Canada) has become so price conscious and competitive, that we’re squeezing each other for every last penny. Is this sustainable? I’m curious as to how new manufacturers (TVs, cars, whatever) view our market. Sure there’s volume to be had here, but if you make $0.05 on a product, you have to do some serious volume.

    Interestingly, I’ve noticed that car dealers make on average about 10% profit on a new car. Sometimes less. So, on a $30,000 car, this is $3,000. Discount the car $1,000 and the average salesperson will make 25%, so $500. Dealer makes $1,500.

    Have you ever looked at the markup in furniture, eyewear, appliances? sometime 50% – 75% is not uncommon … yeah, we shop those too now because of the internet. They will all come down eventually.

    Can our retail market handle this kind of battering all the time? This is why Wal-Mart rules and small town business fails. Did you know that Costco isn’t allowed in Europe? Think about it. Again, from an economics standpoint, is this sustainable? I dunno…

  • avatar

    In reply to kornjd

    I guess after reading your thoughtful comments I have come to the conclusion that I really don’t need the salesman. The dealership could have an order and service department and manufactures could have a local site that might serve a 10 mile radius or 100,000 people where you could test drive their models. The car could be delivered to the local service department prepped and then picked up.

    I am the one who commented

    “I research invoice, hold-back, customer incentives and manufacturer to dealer incentives before I go in. I never have to have the car or buy a hot model. Deal with Internet or fleet department if they have one. I identify the car I want and tell them I will pay $500 over invoice minus hold-back and incentives and am firm about the offer.”

    In retrospect any energy I expend is basically to go around the salesman to the person who can approve a sale at a given price.

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