The Real Deal: Never Knowingly Undermisrepresented

John Clay Wolfe
by John Clay Wolfe

I just drove by a Tractor Supply Store. The owner festooned the store with a huge banner: “NEVER UNDERSOLD.” In certain states, the price claim must include the word “knowingly.” Which is another way of saying “We say we’ve got the lowest price but it’s your job to find out. If YOU can show us a lower price for an item, we’ll reduce our price to match it. Oh, do you have a written price quote? And you do realize that you’re not comparing apples to apples here. Our price includes our personal guarantee and . . . ” When it comes to this kind of malodorous marketing, car dealers rule. Here are some other examples.

TODAY ONLY! When it comes to factory rebates, there is such a thing as an expiry date. Never mind that. Ninety-nine-point-nine times out of a hundred, the claim that a deal is only good for 24 hours is as meaningless as a politician’s promise to balance the budget. That deal the car dealer just offered you? It’ll be there in the morning. In fact, car deals only get better over time. Just like your car, the store’s vehicle is a depreciating asset. The longer you wait, the less it’s worth, the less you should have to pay. Of course, there is a bottom line, under which they can’t/won’t sell. Your job: find it! If the dealer ends-up selling the car or truck to someone else, well, you’re out of luck. Unless the dealer can somehow find another one just like it. What are the odds?

WE’RE NUMBER ONE! Ricky Bobby’s Daddy was right; second place is the first loser. And no one wants to be a loser. Or buy from a loser, now that car dealers are cratering. When a car dealer says it’s number one, it’s implying that it offers the best possible deal. Bigger is better is cheaper is better. So car dealers create their own awards. “Number one Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram-Fiat-Alfa-Mahindra dealer in the tri-state area.” It’s nearly as confusing as the Championship game in the BCS series. Actually, lose the C. It’s pure BS that doesn’t mean a thing. Chances are the store in question simply have the most aggressive and deceitful salesman in your area.

FREE! Free anything is a lie. Love is not free, so why in the hell would an oil change or tires be any different?

WE’LL PAY YOUR CAR OFF NO MATTER WHAT YOU OWE! At best, the plain truth is that the total cost of the deal is the total cost of the deal. In other words, a car dealer may pay off your car even though it’s so far underwater its bumping along the bottom of the Mariana Trench, but he’ll just roll the cost into the price of the new car. At worst, it’s a flat-out lie.

WE GUARANTEE YOU A LOAN! For the financially challenged, a car “loan” equals a monthly payment. Period. The lower your credit, the lower of the morals of your car salesman, the higher the payment OR the longer you have to pay it. Why wouldn’t a car dealer offer a deadbeat buyer a “loan” on a shitbox? Chances are he’ll recoup his “investment” in less than a year. After that, it’s all gravy. He might get the car back to sell to the next sucker AND continue collecting money from the defaulted customer.

ZERO PERCENT INTEREST FREE LOANS! Would zero percent financing would pack the same punch if it was pitched something like this? ”This model sells for $35,000, but if you pay $5,000 more, we’ll set your interest payments up at zero percent?” Could it be that the $5,000 rebate is actually prepaid interest in sheep’s clothing? You got THAT right.

OUR COSTS ARE LESS, SO WE CHARGE YOU LESS! Car dealers know that a claim is more believable if it’s justified. So they tell you why they charge less for the same car you can buy somewhere else. [see: We’re Number One!”] Common sense tells you that all car dealers run the exact same sort of business; their basic costs are roughly identical. Besides, the price of a car is determined entirely by what people are willing to pay for it. Common sense tells us that a car dealer will charge a customer as much as they can for any given car. End of story.


John Clay Wolfe
John Clay Wolfe

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  • JuniorMint JuniorMint on Nov 06, 2009

    I bought two cars from Carmax - even after the first one turned out to be crap - because of the no-haggle pricing system. I'm sure I paid a little more for them. But I'd rather know I paid a little more (they do have to keep the lights on, after all) than worry I'd paid a LOT more. Next I bought a Scion. Noticing a theme here? I have never bought from a "conventional" dealer, and I never intend to. I like to think they're slowly going extinct - it's really a miracle this relic of the barter system has made it this far.

  • Ohsnapback Ohsnapback on Nov 06, 2009

    Auto dealership ads are, without exception/bar none, the most sleazy, misleading and fraudulent ads of all. Some of these ads would be absolutely great fodder for comedic sketches. "***Only one available. Stock Number AO6396. Must qualify for owner loyalty, conquest, college graduate, military service, AARP, NRA, ACLU, Mensa, Lance Armstrong Foundation. Must have black hair, green eyes and be blood type A only. Must be a smoker and non-drinker. All rebates to dealer. Promotion ended two weeks ago, but dealership still kept the ad alive.***

  • ED I don't know what GM is thinking.I have a 2020 one nice vehicle.Got rid of Camaro and was going to buy one.Probably won't buy another GM product.Get rid of all the head honchos at GM.This company is a bunch of cheapskates building junk that no one wants.
  • Lostjr Sedans have been made less practical, with low rooflines and steeply raked A pillars. It makes them harder to get in and out of. Probably harder to put a kid in a child seat. Sedans used to be more family oriented.
  • Bob Funny how Oldsmobile was offering a GPS system to help if you were lost, yet GM as a company was very lost. Not really sure that they are not still lost. They make hideous looking trucks, Cadillac is a crappy Chevy pretending to be fancy. To be honest, I would never step in a GM show room now or ever. Boring, cheap ugly and bad resale why bother. I get enough of GM when i rent on trips from airports. I have to say, does anybody at GM ever drive what everyone else drives? Do they ever then look at what crap they put out in style fit and finish? Come on, for real, do they? Cadillac updated slogan should be " sub standard of the 3rd world", or " almost as good as Tata motors". Enough said.
  • Sam Jacobs I want a sedan. When a buy a car or even rent one, I don’t want to ride up high. I don’t want a 5-door. I want a trunk to keep my stuff out of sight. It’s quieter, cars handle better, I don’t need to be at the same height as a truck. I have a 2022 Subaru Legacy Touring XT, best car ever, equipped as a luxury sedan, so quick and quiet. I don’t understand automakers’ decisions to take away sedans or simply stop updating them — giving up the competition. The Camry and Accord should not be our only choices. Impala and Fusion were beautiful when they were axed.
  • Spamvw I think you need to remember WHY the big 2 and 1/2 got out of the car business. Without going political, the CAFE standards signed into law meant unless you had a higher gas mileage fleet, you couldn't meet the standards.The Irony is that, the law made sedans so small with low roof lines, that normal people migrated to SUV's and Trucks. Now we get worse mileage than before.