By on December 16, 2016

2016 Ford Focus RS Long-Term Test, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

In my nearly 25 years of car buying, I’ve walked into a dealership and walked out with a brand new car more times than most people would in several lifetimes. 14 times, to be exact. I’ve bought Volkswagens, Infinitis, Pontiacs, Mazdas, Fords, Chevrolets, Hyundais, and Toyotas, representing nearly every mainstream brand. And yet, only two of those 14 instances was anything resembling positive.

When I leased a Mazda CX-7 in 2008, I drove to the store in my 2005 Scion tC with two numbers in my head: $279 a month with zero down (the advertised CX-7 lease price) and $9,000 (the amount of money I believed my tC to be worth). The lease was already a strong offer, so I didn’t feel the need to negotiate further, and my trade valuation was based on one thing only — as with most shoppers, it was exactly the amount of money I needed to pay off my loan. The dealer quickly agreed to my terms, as he knew he would be able to sell the tC for $10,500 within 30 days.

The second time? We’ll get to that. But the other 12 times? As Dr. Dre once said, it was like muthaf–kin’ Vietnam. And in all honesty, I have nobody to blame for that but myself.

As car buyers, we expect everything to go our way, don’t we? We want the most money for our trade, but we also want to pay the least amount of money possible for our new car. We want our salesperson to know more about the car than its engineers, but we don’t want them to make any money at all for selling us the car. We want the F&I manager to fight like hell to get us the best rates, but we’d prefer that he get us in and out of his office in two minutes flat without asking us to buy gap insurance or extended warranties.

In other words, we’re awful people. We treat buying a car differently than we treat any other purchase experience. We transform from normal, rational people to sellers in the markets of Mumbai. And it’s because of us that the dealership model is the way it is. We want everything to go our way, we want the experience to be top-notch, but we aren’t willing to pay one extra dime to make it that way. So we deal with terrible salespeople, dirty stores, F&I offices that feel like saunas, and we all walk away feeling dirty.

Now, hold on, you might say, we only behave the way we do because of the broken franchise model. And you might have a point. It’s a chicken-or-the-egg sort of situation. If the dealers would just be honest and forthright, as was suggested in this space only a week ago, we wouldn’t have to treat them like our mortal enemies. But the replies in the comments last week indicated to me that the dealer could show you his financial statements, drop his pants, and bend over directly in front of you, and you’d still think that you were the one getting screwed.

But you’ll gladly go to the Apple Store and pay $750 for a phone that cost $25 to make and walk out completely happy. Scratch that — you’ll wait in line for the opportunity to do it! And you don’t even care because you know that anybody who bought that phone paid exactly the same amount as you did. Nobody got screwed.

Wrong. Everybody’s getting screwed. And that’s exactly what would happen in a direct-selling environment, too.

Oh, were you thinking that the OEMs wouldn’t take every opportunity to pocket cash? Or that owning and operating thousands of factory-owned stores would somehow cost less money for an OEM than selling cars to franchisees and walking away, scot-free? There’s a reason that franchises exist, and it’s not because of laws. It’s because the OEMs don’t want the risk of operating their own locations. They sure as hell aren’t going to want to own a twenty-unit-a-month store in Silver Lake, Indiana; Rapid City, South Dakota; Belleville, Illinois.

And OEMs wouldn’t be satisfied to make zero dollars selling new cars, like franchisees often are, just so they can funnel more traffic to their service departments and get trades for the used car side. No, they’re gonna want to make straight cash, homie. So all of you who are hoping and praying for the end of the franchise model — be careful what you wish for.

But there is a solution to all this madness. We could all pay sticker.

Hear me out for a second. As anybody with an internet connection and an Instagram account knows, I bought a Focus RS not too long ago. You know how I did it? I called a dealer that had one, and offered to pay him the price on the window. He happily accepted.

I walked into the store later that night and shook the hand of a gentleman who was thrilled to be making around $4,000 on the sale of a new car. He instructed the sales rep to go fill my new car with premium gas, and walked me into the F&I office, where all the documents were ready for my signature, pre-filled out with “NO” checked on every warranty and insurance product. Moments later, I drove home in my new Focus RS, the process taking less than 30 minutes.

I returned the next day with the family to pick up my Fiesta ST I had left overnight, and the dealer had been kind enough to wash and detail it for me. Just because. He then offered to wash my Focus for me any time I happened to be around the dealership, and gave me coupons for three free oil changes.

Did I pay too much? Yes, of course I did. But, gosh, it was such a nice experience. And I couldn’t help but think most of it had nothing to do with the price I paid, but rather the lack of an adversarial contest between myself and the dealer. In fact, even if there had only been $1,500 baked into the sale (which is about the average front end gross profit on a new car), I think it would have been just as nice.

So couldn’t we agree with our frienemies, the dealership? Couldn’t we agree to pay just a bit more so that they could hire knowledgeable salespeople instead of overweight tech school rejects? Couldn’t we sacrifice a dollar or two so that we wouldn’t be locked in a hot, sweaty F&I office for hours on end? Couldn’t we agree to maintain our cars a little better so that the dealer could make us a fair offer on our trades the first time?

In other words, can’t we all just get along? I think we can. But who’s going to offer the olive branch first?

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139 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: Are We Getting The Dealer Experience We Deserve?...”


  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    When I was young and single I used to change cars nearly the same way that Jerry Lewis changed his sox.

    After marriage, until this decade we still purchased at least one new vehicle every 2 years. And I was responsible for negotiating the purchases of most of my family members vehicles and those for a business.

    I have had dealer owners and Sales Managers through pencils, picture frames and curse me. I have tipped over the desk of one dealer. I have had sales people in at least 2 occasions break down into tears. I have had yelling matches in the middle of a showroom with a Sales Manager. I have sat in the office negotiating until after midnight. I had one sales person hug me after finalizing a deal with his dealership owner. Of course there were a few who were a pleasure to deal with. The best one got at least 2 new car leases or sales from us, every year for 15 years.

    As George Costanza said “there are no rules, it is like Thunderdome in there”.

    There has to be a better way. And that is just regarding sales, the service experience is a whole other chapter.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      Why all the drama? Most brands have multiple dealers within a reasonable distance. Talk to each one, letting them know that you are visiting all their competitors and that the one with the best deal will get the sale. Most will understand that they need to be competitive. You don’t want to do business with the others.

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        “Most will understand that they need to be competitive. You don’t want to do business with the others.”

        Talking with sales managers and sales people in other forums, their response to this is usually indifference. If there a 3-4 dealers in the area then they’ve got about 33% chance at best of being the lowest bid, unless they’re willing to bid something absurdly low. And most of the time they expect that whatever the lowest bid is will then be shopped around against the same dealers to see if there isn’t more of a discount to be had. Consequently, most of them seem not to take these types of leads very seriously. Nobody wants to sign on to a week’s worth of cross-shopping and games just for the “privilege” of selling a car with no margin.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @kendahl, a number of reasons, personality, family dynamics, distance to travel, having to find specific models/options.

        The best I have ever dealt with were a Pontiac/Buick/Cadillac dealer closed by GM, a small Kia dealer in the Woodbridge area and an independent leasing firm.

        The worst were a famous Chev dealership now closed, a VW dealership now closed, a Ford dealership that has been around for over 5 decades and a Hyundai dealership where the dealer/principal owner is no longer present.

        At one the dealer principal actually took a framed picture from his desk and threw it across his office because I would not budge on him including a ‘stick’ of touch up paint in the deal that he kept refusing to include. How much profit was he making that he could not afford to throw in one of those?

      • 0 avatar
        StarAZ

        A friend who just bought a C300 told me that all MB dealers are part of one group within 100 miles where she lives.
        The sales she spoke told her to just accept the offer since she won’t get a lower one unless she was willing to travel even further.

  • avatar

    dear lord flying spaghetti monster in volcano beer heaven above this is an absolutely scrumptious troll to begin a friday.

    i tip my sweat- and dorito-stained fedora to you. m’bark.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    >> So all of you who are hoping and praying for the end of the franchise model — be careful what you wish for.

    I’m not wishing for the end of it. I’m wishing for those dealer protectionist laws to get dumped so the free market can gravitate toward the right balance of direct sales vs. franchise dealers (whatever it may be). Then we can all stop have academic arguments about whether direct sales will work, or how much the franchise system is broken. We’d find out.

    But I’ll bet the balance sure isn’t 99.99% franchise dealers. I’ll bet dealers think that too.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      this is a good way to look at it. There’s nothing wrong with the dealer franchise model. it just shouldn’t be enshrined into law.

      the franchise model has upsides and downsides for car makers.

      upsides:

      – it adds a layer of separation between you and the end car buyer. You can let someone else handle your customer service.
      – it maintains a relatively stable and predictable sales chain.

      downsides:
      – dealers are the “face” of your company to car owners, and a bad dealer can ruin your reputation.
      – franchises being legally mandated means you have to move heaven and earth to try to get rid of a bad dealer.

      just my personal opinion.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Trying to edit my first comment above but was unable to. I would like to add that the experience has improved since the 1970’s largely due to the internet.

    By making more information available to the consumers, the playing field has been largely leveled. An informed consumer is much less suspicious. Less suspicion should lead to less antagonism.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    “There’s a reason that franchises exist, and it’s not because of laws.”

    Really? Then why do we HAVE such laws, and why do dealer organizations fight tooth and nail (and spend lobbying dollars) to keep them on the books?

    “And OEMs wouldn’t be satisfied to make zero dollars selling new cars, like franchisees often are, just so they can funnel more traffic to their service departments and get trades for the used car side.”

    I’m pretty sure OEM’s understand the value of service departments just as well as local dealers. Why wouldn’t they?

    “We want our salesperson to know more about the car than its engineers, but we don’t want them to make any money at all for selling us the car. We want the F&I manager to fight like hell to get us the best rates, but we’d prefer that he get us in and out of his office in two minutes flat without asking us to buy gap insurance or extended warranties.”

    I honestly don’t care how much the dealer does or doesn’t make on the car. What I want is to be able to call them up, (or point to a car) and say “How much for ‘X’, and how much will you pay for my ‘Y\'”?, and get a straight answer.

    None of this, “Well, the car is X but we think you are enough of a sucker to pay us $500 in ‘doc fees’, and we’ll give you ‘half off’ this worthless “paint protection”, because it’s ‘already on the car’, oh, and the price isn’t valid at all if you don’t accept our stupid low-ball price for your trade-in.”

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      Did “European Deliver” (available for a wide array of Euro models for the US over a wide period of time. And appear to go to this day) always require a dealer, and why?

      They seem to still exist (and require dealer assistance) has anyone tried to use this as an end around dealers (I’m guessing “American” makes might avoid wanting to make Mexican and Canadian delivery of Mexican and Canadian cars available)? I’m sure people might be interested in Japan/Korea delivery, although driving cars made for US roads there might be tricky (certainly true in Europe, but I’m assuming you wouldn’t be going to Italian walled cities).

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    ” Everybody’s getting screwed. And that’s exactly what would happen in a direct-selling environment, too.”

    I completely disagree. Here’s the problem with your theory: Direct sellers will be in intense competition with other brands. Maybe you can’t get a better deal on your new X-Mobile, but you most certainly can get a better deal on a direct competitor’s Z-Mobile. Only brand loyalists would be potentially getting screwed. Everyone else could easily choose that Camry over the Accord because they saved $XXX and have basically the same car with a different badge on it. Buying a new car vs buying a new iPhone is very much oranges & Apple (pun intended.)

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      So you are better off limiting competition for your money to a dozen or so brands rather than a dozen or so dealers for each brand.

      An Accord isn’t necessarily a Camry with a different nameplate. Try buying a 6-cylinder Camry with a 6-speed manual transmission.

      In the phone business, Apple has competitors like Samsung. My wife’s phone is an HTC which is a Samsung clone. She bought it from Best Buy which also sells the iPhone and the Galaxy. Had she wanted an iPhone, she wouldn’t have been limited to the Apple store.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        “An Accord isn’t necessarily a Camry with a different nameplate. Try buying a 6-cylinder Camry with a 6-speed manual transmission.”

        Camry 4 door vs Accord 4 door? What Accord 4 door V-6 offers a manual? By the Honda website, none do.

        • 0 avatar
          Kendahl

          “What Accord 4 door V-6 offers a manual?” I was thinking of Baruth’s Accord coupe as I wrote that. Toyota used to offer a 2-door Camry called the Solara but doesn’t any more.

      • 0 avatar
        healthy skeptic

        @Kendahl

        As consumers, we are better off when the free market provides us what we want. Beyond that, the reason you can’t get your dream Camry is because not enough people favor that configuration for more than one vendor to make it. Since you value that configuration so highly, you’re going to pay a premium for it, regardless of direct vs franchise.

        Speaking of which, wouldn’t it be nice if you could go to Toyota’s website, custom spec your Camry with 6-cyl and 6-speed MT, and have it brought out to you? Then Toyota might actually be willing to make such a beast, knowing for sure that someone’s gonna want it in the end. That might be a side-benefit of direct sales. They’ll build your unicorn.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          A “free market” means that consumer buying patterns affect the availability or type of product on the market. That is true for the most part. Jack covered this in a story a while back.

          The problem is this; we are NOT the manufacturers clients. The dealerships are!

          They buy what sells quickly and easily. That is why we don’t see brown manual transmission diesel wagons.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      So, you can’t buy a competing Android phone instead of an iPhone? Its all the same- just a different badge, just like Camry and Accord, right?

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      There’s no reason that direct sales would have to be a car manufacturer’s only outlet. Dealers could still exist, just like VARs exist today for electronics.

      I recently bought a Mac from a VAR, not Apple, because the price from the VAR was significantly lower.

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        Valid point. And while no manufacturer is going to want to own a “20 unit per month store in Silver Lake, Indiana”, I bet that they could find a franchisee who would be willing to run a multi-brand store that has 3-4 brands that each sell 20+ units a month.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I’ve often thought that a big part of GMs problems with duplicate models and cannibalizing its own sales could be solved with a “single store” model where each dealer must sell Chevy, Buick, GMC, & Cadillac. Of course that would necessitate another dealer cull in those places were you have a small town with a Chevy/Cadillac dealer on one end of town and a GMC/Buick dealer on the other end.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            PrincipalDan – that model works well in the hinterlands. My local GM dealer carries everything under the GM banner.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            When you compare platform sales vs other GM leads the way, ie Theta of the Equinox/Terrain selling more than the CR-V and the Lambda triplets ruling the 3-row crossovers.

            Many of those top sellers don’t have competition within coming from belownor above

        • 0 avatar

          I wonder how many people in Silver Lake, Indiana would be willing to forgo having a dealership if they could order their car online and have it delivered to them, the same way they can buy a laptop from Dell/Lenovo/Apple?

          And yes, it would mean not being able to test drive, but there is a pretty significant number of people who either don’t test drive or only test drive the car they were planning on buying anyway.

          I like it less for the dealer experience or possibility of lower prices and more for the fantasy of being able to order from a wider variety of colors and options instead of picking from 10 different shades of beige with grey interior and a couple standard option packages that have been designed to be inoffensive and uninteresting because no dealer wants to stock a unicorn that nobody buys.

          • 0 avatar
            notwhoithink

            “there is a pretty significant number of people who either don’t test drive or only test drive the car they were planning on buying anyway.”

            I still can’t get my head around that. Granted, I have a 45 minute commute on days that I go to the office, so I put more importance on how much I like the test drive than most do.

            And as I side note, I was personally 100% sold on the Mazda6 until I took one for a test drive. Not test driving a car before buying it will eventually bite the buyer in the ass, and then 6 months later that person will be trying to trade in the car that they don’t like with $8k in negative equity to get something that they do like.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I would truly love to walk in to a dealership, offer sticker price (less rebates) plus tax, and leave with a new car.

    Unfortunately, that’s not how it works, at least around Las Vegas.

    First, there’s a $400 DOC fee. The dealer will tell you it’s required by law. That’s not the case; it’s *allowed* by law, but certainly not required.

    Next, there’s the modern version of Tru-Coat, the “Desert Protection Package”. $40 worth of chemicals, applied buy a guy making $10/hr leads to an ADM sticker between $1200-$4000.

    Finally, there’s all the BS in the F&I department.

    On top of all that, there’s the attitude. “I don’t care if you’re willing to pay full sticker. The next guy to come along will pay full sticker plus all the crap we shove down their throats, including a nice 13% loan with a fat spiff for us.”

    I double dog dare you to buy a car in Las Vegas for MSRP less rebates plus tax. Can’t be done.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      It’s not much more than $1000 to ship a car anywhere in the country. If you can’t get the deal you want in your market, shop in other markets.

      Many commenters here over the years have testified to the terribleness of dealers in Las Vegas.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “I would truly love to walk in to a dealership, offer sticker price (less rebates) plus tax, and leave with a new car.”

      That’s almost what I did. I test drove a Fusion at a dealer that I was getting along with pretty well. Told them that I was interested but that they didn’t have the configuration that I wanted. They said they’d trade with another dealer to get it for me if they had to. I told them that I get X plan pricing and wanted to see if all of these rebates and incentives that I found online stacked with it. They offered to punch it up in their system and see, and when they confirmed the incentives available I said “let me think on it overnight”. The next day I came back in, signed the credit app and order slip, and two days later they had my car for me. Easy peasy, no negotiation or hassles.

      Yup, I could have probably gotten a little better price if I’d played the cross shop and haggle till you drop game, but this was a much more pleasant experience.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Since you didn’t have to do all that legwork but make a few calls around the country that accept Ford discount, and would have had it delivered for hundreds and you could have possible saved $1000’s more.

  • avatar
    e30gator

    Screw that noise! I wouldn’t pay $800 for a phone either. I can’t help but think of all the better things I could be doing with $4k than pissing it down the toilet so I can turn an awkward 3 hours into a 30 min session that I’ll regret as soon as I want to buy those cruise tickets but can’t because I bought the sales department at the Honda dealership a better Christmas party instead. Let the people who don’t do their research, shop around, or fight for the best deal get bent over by the dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Nor would I buy 14 new cars. Just the transportation fees only is a staggering number. I purchased almost one car per year for the last 20, only new car purchases are low priced lease deals.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Amen.

    OK, I’ve got a bias in this argument: The fact that I’m 66, happily retired, definitely not just living off of my monthly Social Security stipend, and looking forward to 2017 to being a reasonably flush year (yes, I spreadsheet my bank accounts a year in advance) is due to the realization that a lot of it comes from my father being a Chevrolet dealer between the years 1950-1965.

    Which means, when I’m out shopping for a car, I don’t begrudge the idea that the dealership needs to make a profit from my transaction. Once I get to the point that I’m willing to limit my paranoia to ensuring that the bad players don’t pull something that screws me over (and I probably watch for that on a level that matches the biggest nickel-squeezers on this site), I find it rather easy to work towards a deal that I can walk off the property smiling, and enjoy my newest purchase.

    The dealership is not my mortal enemy. He’s just someone who needs to be watched in his transactions.

    Case in point: During the period 1982-1998, I bought, and drove, virtually nothing but Dodges. Why? The local Dodge dealership was owned by the guy who was previously my father’s used car manager and his two sons. When I’d walk in, they knew what I knew, and the negotiations would take about five minutes. No attempt at clear coat, package add ons, and the initial offered price was about one notch above what they’d accept. My counter would immediately cut that notch, and we shook hands.

    And it was a running joke between us that the opening remark from the seller would be one of the classic, hackneyed lines from some bad car salesman.

    I was really sorry to see them lose the franchise in the ’08 bankruptcy. If they hadn’t, I’d be driving the 250 miles each way to buy cars from them today.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    (RANT ON)

    Jesus tap dancing Christ the problem with the current model of sales is just as you hit upon TRANSPARENCY.

    Sure I’ll just walk in and offer to pay MSRP and everything will be hunky-dory. Then the next MF’er will walk in and negotiate $5K off the sticker and I’ll feel like a dumba$$.

    The problem with the current system is that you have no idea how low the dealer is willing to go and what he’s willing to sell for. Let’s hypothetically say that there’s a brand new CUV sitting on the lot with an MSRP of $30,000. It’s a 2016 and is quickly being surrounded by the 2017s as the new model year starts. There’s no substantial difference between the 2016 and 2017 models.

    Manufacturer has $1200 incentives on the hood, your trade is worth $3,000. Your budget (already have credit union financing) is $20,000. Can I get you to sell that CUV for $24,000 use the $4,200 as a down payment and come in under budget?

    I’ve got NO F)*)*#)(*# idea because I don’t know what the actual cost of the vehicle was to you the dealer and I don’t know how desperate you are to move the metal.

    What is amount is reasonable/unreasonable to take up as a negotiating point? How about the guys getting $10K knocked off of various vehicles? Good negotiators – poorly managed dealerships – desperate manufacturers?

    (RANT OFF)

    (BTW amounts above were all for chosen for illustration, any resemblance to those living or dead is merely coincidental)

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I agree with this, there is so much sponginess in the apparent lowest price a dealer will agree to. There are a lot of factors. Some vehicles have little negotiating room, others are advertised to the world for $10K off sticker in the paper. Is the manufacturer desperate to move metal this month? Are you negotiating on the last weekend of the month when the dealership is struggling to hit a sales goal? Are you shopping for the vehicle you want rather than what is cheapest in class? Do you have multiple dealers to pit against each other?

      I just bought a 4Runner. You will not get $10K off on those. I requested e-prices from six regional dealerships and by doing so got a sense of which would be good to work with and how soft the price floor for the vehicle felt. I took the best quote, which was inline with the TrueCar distribution (heavens knows if that is worth anything) and the status of the 4Runner as a near-niche vehicle experiencing a resurgence in popularity. I asked the closest dealer to match that price so I could reward them for the very nice job they did allowing my family and I to bomb in and test drive it two weeks prior. F&I was full of baloney but very low pressure about it so it wasn’t a fight.

      I doubt I found the price floor. But I doubt I was far above it and it was largely a good experience.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        There’s a point of diminishing returns when negotiating price, and in my experience it shows up if you try to get significantly below the lowest quote you get from multiple dealers.

        Congrats on the truck!

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Thanks much. I am glad to see you write that about diminishing returns. It naturally feels like you didn’t do well enough when the negotiating process goes smoothly and you didn’t fight them tooth and nail to get a rock bottom price.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      It doesn’t seem difficult to go to a brand specific forum and research what people actually paid for cars. That should give you an idea of what reasonable is. I’ve done this with my last three new car purchases and been very happy with the prices I have paid. But I try to be reasonable – the dealer does, in fact, need to make a living. And I don’t care about the unicorns, yeah, you can get lucky with that one leftover oddball that the dealer just wanted to get rid of to make a quota that day. I generally shoot for $~500 over invoice and call it good on the cars I have bought. Did better than that on the Abarth, just about exactly that on both BMWs. And in all three cases, about matched the lowest reported prices on the forums for the overall deal. A few people got lower prices on their cars, but paid much higher fees. I have yet to trade in a car, so that was not a factor.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Invoice and work your way downward. Especially if you have multiple dealerships in your area.

        The 2016 Buick Envision is $43k car, now $31K or 28% off MSRP. New car partially introduced in year one but in a competitive segment

    • 0 avatar
      mtmmo

      “Jesus tap dancing Christ…”. WOW what’s next ‘Allah magic carpet rider’!? And to think you work in the public school system. Stay classy!

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      Why should we know what the dealer cost is? Do you know what best buy or Amazons cost is for a Samsung Tv? No. So why would buying a car be any different?

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    >> But you’ll gladly go to the Apple Store and pay $750 for a phone that cost $25 to make and walk out completely happy

    Because personally, I find their expensive products worth the money, and a pleasure to use (well, 98% of the time).. Others disagree, and we all have a choice. Apple hasn’t lobbied intensely to get laws passed forcing me to buy from them.

    Can’t say the same for America’s car dealers.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      “But you’ll gladly go to the Apple Store and pay $750 for a phone that cost $25 to make and walk out completely happy’

      hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Apple hasn’t lobbied intensely to get laws passed forcing me to buy from them.

      Can’t say the same for America’s car dealers.”

      bad analogy. Apple owning their own stores doesn’t prevent you from buying a phone or laptop/PC from a plethora of other companies.

      just like the dealer model doesn’t mean Ford can prevent you from buying a Toyota.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    As long as I get a good rate, I’m not too crazy about grinding out every last dime from a dealer.

    I feel like people who go into buying a car like a death match are just looking for an opportunity to unload their misery onto somebody.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “I feel like people who go into buying a car like a death match are just looking for an opportunity to unload their misery onto somebody.”

      ***Exactly*** this. Other than Internet message boards, where else do you get to act like a complete jackhole without ending up in a fistfight?

  • avatar
    dal20402

    For the record, the BOM cost on a base-model $650 iPhone 7 is $225, not $25.

    (And that doesn’t include any overhead, R&D, engineering, or marketing expense. It’s just the cost of buying and assembling the components.)

    http://news.ihsmarkit.com/press-release/technology/iphone-7-materials-costs-higher-previous-versions-ihs-markit-teardown-revea

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Last time I checked if I want to buy a iPhone 7 I have plenty of places that will sell them and the apple store will not say the price is $750 but we are adding a extra grand in store mark up and we pinstriped the phone for you for a extra 50 bucks, was in a VW dealer and they added $5,000 dealer markup over sticker on a VW bug, some special addition w funky paint and plaid seats, the last three cars I bought new have not been bad experiences but it is much much easier buying from the apple store than a car dealership.

  • avatar
    Boff

    “But there is a solution to all this madness. We could all pay sticker.”

    The issue there is that many, if not most, new cars are worth less than sticker. Unless you believe that the street price and sticker price would magically converge.

    Or do you mean that sticker is a no-haggle BestPrice ™ rather than MSRP?

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    Kudos to the selling dealer on your Focus RS for not merely taking your money, but then adding value and selling the experience at their store. That should ensure they’ll at least get first crack on your next Ford purchase.

    When I sold Chevys in the late 90s, I had a customer return two days after buying her Cavalier RS at full sticker (I still don’t know how I managed to do that) to yell at me after a competing store had – correctly – pointed out to her that she’d paid too much.

    “I’m glad you came in, XXXXX,” I told her, wary of seeing my CSI survey average plummet. “This gives me the chance to run your new Cavalier through our complimentary car wash, one of the additional benefits we offer to all of our customers as part of their purchase.

    “I also understand how it feels to be told that you spent too much,” I continued, “although I remember that you came to me after that dealer didn’t have the exact model you wanted, but we did. Regardless, I’ll tell you what: every Friday for the next two months, come by after getting off work and I’ll fill up your gas tank. Make sure the tank’s almost empty.”

    With spiffs, I’d made almost $900 on that Cavalier. Eight weeks of fillups came to less than a quarter of that (I don’t think I ever spent more than $20 at a time) and it gave me an excuse to get away from the dealership for a few minutes. She gave me top marks on the survey.

    Regardless of whether a customer is completely happy with the deal they got as they drive over the curb, they’re still the dealership’s customer. There are countless ways to treat ’em like royalty that don’t cost very much, and all of them revolve around selling the experience, not a car.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      A voice of reason! I don’t think anyone begrudges a dealer adding value and capturing that value – or at least no reasonable person should.

      Slick move to. I think the issue is it’s not really transparent what the dealer’s value proposition is and there isn’t an easy way for that to go on the chopping block.

      My last dealer offered free car washes, but the salesguy didn’t have a way to void the offer and drop $10/$100 off the price of the car.

      The process would be better if people were honest. But dealers aren’t honest and buyers aren’t much better.

    • 0 avatar
      TDIandThen....

      Exactly! I think a lot of us would love to pay fair market value, support a local dealer business etc, if there were any way of knowing what ‘fair’ really meant, and if great service were an option. I’m seriously considering a new Volvo partly because the sales guy seems legit and has put up with me taking my time etc. In my heart though I know I have to prepare to stick a bayonet in his belly.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I’ll pay sticker when the sticker is a reasonable reflection of the car’s market value. Sometimes that’s the case, as when I paid sticker for one of the first Acura TSXes off the boat in 2003. Sometimes it’s clearly, absurdly not, as with “popularly configured” Silverados that list for around $50,000 and sell for around $40,000 with minimal negotiation.

    In other retail businesses where haggling isn’t accepted, there is much more leverage on the seller to price right the first time. If Apple had a “list price” of $1000 instead of $650 on the base iPhone 7, they wouldn’t get hagglers; they’d just sell very few phones.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Just be happy you guys didn’t shop in the era before the Monroney sticker. My BIL sold the same Dodges for $2700 or $4000, depending upon how dumb you looked.
    At least now with the internet you have a fighting chance.

  • avatar
    Importamation

    The last two new car purchases I made, 2011 and 2016: my wife and I spec’d out exactly what we wanted make, model and equipment wise. We emailed a handful of dealers that we could see had identical models on the lot and said “here’s what we want, color not especially important, I see you have one, whoever has the biggest discount wins. I’m asking several dealers to reply to this email”. A couple didn’t reply, a couple replied with the typical “come in and we’ll talk”…..and each time a couple said “if you come here today, take XYZ off” and it was good money. We got 13% off MSRP on her Cayenne in 2016 by driving three hours each way, when our local dealer simply sniffed “we don’t discount these”. Of course they called a week later wanting to talk and I told them to stick it. But it was all above board, and pleasant. They knew they were bidding against others and they either were willing to play ball via email or they weren’t.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’d be willing to pay MSRP on the following conditions:

    1. I can custom order the vehicle without the dealer acting like I’m requesting they dig a coal mine with a baby spoon.

    2. No dealer fees. The dealer fees in Florida are really high (like $600 – $1000). So if I buy with zero negotiation I’m actually paying *over* sticker.

    3. No dealer ad plaques on the car, no nitrogen tires, pinstripes, or other add-on crap I don’t want. Shouldn’t be an issue on a custom order, but who knows.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “dig a coal mine with a baby spoon” Hilarious. And accurate.

      “MSRP” to me means that I’m paying MSRP for everything but tax/title/license. If the dealer is going to charge silly doc and prep fees then the price needs to be discounted by the amount of the fees.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      BUT FOR truly rare, special-order, exotic, limited, extremely-in-demand vehicles, anyone who pays MSRP or anywhere near MSRP are those that we who get massive discounts off MSRP thank, for you subsidize us (it helps to know how to negotiate and not need financing, also).

      And most of us who get deep discounts never even after to step inside a scumbag dealership; we call b/c we know make/model/trim/color we want, and if salesperson or internet manager can’t meet our bid with magic, SIGNED paperwork faxed or scanned and emailed to us with VIN and equipment clearly listed, along with OTD price, we move on to next dealer.

      Very efficient!

      One more thing, vehicles (but for rare, future collectibles, etc.) are depreciating money pits that can easily suck $8000 (budget vehicles) to $12000 (moderate vehicles) to $16000 (premium vehicles) to $20000 (luxury & genuine sports cars) rand out of the wallet ANNUALLY (depreciation, maintenance, insurance, etc.) – so that’s a true $80,000 to $200,000 every decade in constant dollars to be in the new car every 3 to 5 year cycle.

      Buying vehicles used, or even new, and maintaining them extremely well, holding o to them for the 5th through 10th (or longer) years, when depreciation runs 1/3 to 1/4 or less than it does through years 1 through 5, can be financially AND emotionally rewarding.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      @aija

      Sounds likes you want direct sales from the manufacturer. That’s basically just what you described.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    BTW this thread is sounding like the state of the American Car Dealership is a fusion of Fargo, Used Cars, and Cadillac Man.

  • avatar
    ACCvsBig10

    a better solution would be taking the F&I out of the dealership and just have people pay cash for the car like pretty much every other country. Then cars would be priced to move.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Voyd

      “In 2006, about 45% of new cars in Britain were bought on “finance” (loans, leases and PCP). In 2013 so far, 74% have been brought on finance, according to the Finance and Leasing Association”, according to the Guardian.

  • avatar
    S1L1SC

    I just ordered a new car – basically told the dealer ” I can get it through the costco program at $1,000 below invoice + incentives or through X-Plan through work”.

    My local non-costco dealer agreed to match the Costco price. (Admittedly they messed up and forgot to order navigation, so I am waiting on the second custom order, but it took all of 30 minutes in the showroom to finalize that deal.)

  • avatar
    thunderjet

    When we bought or 2017 Accord V6 several weeks ago the process was pretty easy. I emailed 10 dealers and told them whoever had the lowest OTD price won. In the end:

    3 dealers said come in and we’ll talk. I did not reply to them.

    2 dealers gave me an offer but wouldn’t match the lowest offer I got.

    4 dealers tried to match the offer of the lowest dealer but couldn’t.

    1 dealer matched the lowest offer and had the color I really wanted in stock. That dealer won.

    I was in and out of said dealer in an hour and 15 minutes. Most of that time was spent waiting for the car to be detailed. Signing paperwork and the FI office took 35 minuets total.

    Best car buying experience ever. Next time I buy a car I’m using the same internet/email route.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      Did you get the 6-speed MT?

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Boom.

      Easy-Peasy.

      Informed & no-B.S. customers are dealerships kryptonite.

      Bark just muddies the waters and complicates everything with his entire series of overly dramatic, needlessly complex, irrelevant facts/sputum filled essays on vehicle purchasing.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yep, this, thunderjet.

      I made the mistake of working figures out on the cars I wanted up front before I went into the dealership…with the exception of the one I ended up with.

      Dumb. But it worked out OK.

      The only reason I put up with their shenanigans was that this was the car I liked best.

      • 0 avatar
        thunderjet

        My wife and I figured out what we wanted about 6 months before we bought our Accord. We looked at all the available midsized sedans at the Chicago Auto Show and decided we liked the Accord and Fusion the best.

        About two months before we wanted to buy a car we drove an Accord EX-L I4 & V6 as well as the Fusion Titanium and Fusion Sport. We liked the V6 version of both cars best. The Fusion Sport was a bit impractical (mpg, premium fuel required for full power, maintenance over 10 years of ownership, insurance cost) so we went with the Accord V6, which was just a fun just a bit slower.

        We bought the car when we didn’t need it, allowing us to walk without issue. There was no trade involved either which made matters even simpler.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Seems like a lot of work. For my most recent BMW order, I just spent 30 minutes online figuring out what a reasonable price was on the forums. Then I sent an e-mail to my sales gal at the local BMW store saying I was ready to order my next car, give me your Euro Delivery price on an M235i configured such an so. She came back with a price. I countered with something less than what my research suggested. They came back with about what I was willing to pay. Done deal. 20 minutes to do the Euro Delivery paperwork and put down the deposit. Had my own financing but they were able to match it, so they got it. At actual order time, 5 minutes to sign the financing and the order. When time to pickup the car in the US, paperwork took all of 10 minutes.

      Only wrinkle was the date I wanted to pickup the car meant I had to wait to actually order it due to model year changeover – worked in my favor, BMW changed the option packages such that I paid $1500 less and got the car closer to my ideal configuration. In theory, I paid $500 more than the lowest prices reported on the forums. But I made it up with lower dealer fees and a discount program at the dealership I had completely forgotten about – they give repeat customers an additional 1% back on every dollar they ever spent at the dealership on anything. So between my previous car, some parts purchases, and some gift shop stuff I got almost another $500 off the top of the deal we negotiated. Then another $500 rebate from BMWCCA.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Bark says you’re a dinosaur.

        Apparently, you should’ve gone to a dealership and spent 1/2 the day listening to a bunch of bullish!t and then paid MSRP for that vehicle, because Bark’s Bites…or something.

        (Congrats on the new car and easy, good deal)

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      I did the same thing, though I contacted fewer dealerships. I don’t think I could shop for a new car any other way.

      On the other hand, we’re probably an unusual case because we have a car in mind already. The salesperson at the Ford dealership told me that most people are cross-shopping against other makes and models, so that probably takes a bit more salesmanship to convince someone to buy, say a Ford Escape over a Honda CRV.

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    Bark,

    You’re just making a judgement call on where you think the profits should go. The manufacturers profit either way, because they control the price they charge to the dealers. You make it sound like if the dealers were removed, only THEN would manufacturers have a profit margin, when that’s clearly not the case (or we’re heading to bankruptcy-city again).

    If you ask me if I want the profits from my sale to go to the manufacturer or the sales side of a dealer network, I’ll choose the manufacturer every time. iMHO People don’t want the dealers to get any profit because *people don’t see any inherent value from the dealer sales model, to begin with*.

    Trying to say “Well, I do the noble thing and pay more so the dealers can eat” is just propping up the model for the model’s sake. Why wouldn’t you be just as happy paying to allow the manufacturers to profit instead? You’re making a choice on what *you* consider valuable in the transaction, and if anything, comments here from many suggest that they just don’t share your values on that front.

    I mean you’re essentially buying a “Fair trade automobile” because you believe everyone involved should profit for their efforts. Sure, I buy fair-trade coffee for the same reason. But if I could buy direct from the Colombian farmers or whomever is picking and roasting the beans, I sure would.

    Lastly, to be fair, I don’t negotiate my vehicle purchase price down below what I’m willing to pay a month and trade-in costs either, in part because I *do* value my particular dealership and I have no other choice in the matter. But if the sales side of my dealership went away and instead their repair centre was all that remained (as it was before they became a dealership), I’d happily go to them for maintenance and buy my vehicles direct instead.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    For what it’s worth, some observations from my recent car search.

    1) One of the losers in the game was a Honda. I worked two deals – a fairly standard “haggle” place and a “one price” store (if you’re in Denver, you know who I’m talking about). The service and professionalism at the “one price” store were absolutely top notch. Their price was within a couple of hundred bucks of the other store, but honestly, based on how I was treated, the one-price store would have gotten the deal.

    2) There was another Honda place that played the old foursquare game. If you’re from Denver, think of sunny Cuba and you’ll figure out what street it’s on. The moron I worked with there didn’t even know a Civic had four cylinders. I am not kidding about this.

    2) My bet is that the one-price idea Bark talks about works better with folks with money – they’d rather not waste time on negotiation nonsense.

    4) You can do a lot worse than AutoNation.

    5) Learn how leasing works if you choose to do it. There are a million ways to hide gross in those numbers. Make sure the cap cost, fees and lease factors are all disclosed up front. There are lease calculators out there (and even apps) to make sure they’re not gaming you (assuming, of course, they aren’t gaming the apps…but now I’m really going just-smoked-a-bowl paranoid).

    6) None of the Hyundai places I shopped would give me figures on email. Oh well…didn’t want to buy an Elantra that badly anyway, I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      6)

      I had a few of those, from dealerships with “get your E-price!” emblazoned on a big green button on their webpage. Within 5 minutes of submitting the online quote request, I got a call from a salesman who wanted to get me in the door before talking numbers and became a bit short when he couldn’t answer why the online sale price was above the MSRP on the manufacturer build & price given the listed equipment. Nope.

      Another high pressure salesman from a different dealership lied to me about changes in the upcoming 2017 models to motivate me into a 2016 that very evening. As if no one has an internet connection to verify this stuff.

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    Starting my first car buying experience in 13 years and first one financed ever. Got my eye on one of two leftover 2016 Golf Sportwagens red over sand which were part of a fleet that a buyer backed out of. Dealer first offer is $4,500 off and zero financing.

    I think they can do better by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

    • 0 avatar
      MAGICGTI

      Not really, it’s not worth losing the car. If anything, they’ll want to sell one when they have the duplicate.

      It’s a slow time and you can get a great deal at this time in the month.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I was told when I first started in the car business that the happiest customers are the ones who paid the most. I thought they were crazy at the time, but after a little while selling cars, I can tell you that it is true. The buyer who scrapes for every nickel is NEVER happy, and probably will complain after the sale and give a bad survey, but the customer who just got shoved into the base model at over sticker with a 12% interest rate drives away happy as a clam and sends referrals.

    Yes, we could all pay sticker. We pay sticker for nearly everything else we buy except a house (sometimes we end up paying more!)

    But every car buyer could save themselves the stress by doing real research, and by being realistic about the numbers.

    I’ve bought 12 new cars and one used car in the last 27 years. I only have every felt I overpaid on one of those cars. Every other car I negotiated the price, sometimes played dealers against each other, sometimes just persisted with one dealer until I got what I wanted. But there was never any deal where I was angry, had to yell, felt cheated. People make it into a bad situation.

    The #1 piece of advice I could give for car shoppers is that if you don’t like the sales person, LEAVE. There is no point in trying to deal with someone you don’t like or don’t trust. Why would you want to give that person your money anyway??

    There are plenty of straightforward dealers out there. The easiest way to find them is to email them. The straight shooters will email back with a real email (not a prewritten form email) and will actually answer your questions in the email rather that try to drag you into the showroom to get answers.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      ” was told when I first started in the car business that the happiest customers are the ones who paid the most. I thought they were crazy at the time, but after a little while selling cars, I can tell you that it is true.”

      Spoken like a true car salesman, one mitochondria evolved from a virii or bacterium.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Christ, who cares? How often do most people buy a new car?

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    I buy from private party. Let the others deal with the dealership BS (and depreciation).

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I have a hard time with “depreciation” when it comes to cars. What you are paying for when you buy a new car are the very best years of a cars life, and getting EXACTLY what you want. I’ve bough the same number of new and used cars in the past 6 years, three of each, and I think I got very good values each way. But one thing is for sure – the new cars are a LOT less work to own. But I only buy used vehicles well used, nearly new used cars cost too much compared to what you can buy actually new cars for. The value proposition is not there for me. So it is new BMWs and 20+ year old Land Rovers for me.

      But I have also never had a bad new car dealer experience. Bad used car dealer experience – oh yes. Same one twice, in fact. But when you want a unique flower, you deal with the unique flower seller.

      • 0 avatar
        thunderjet

        I agree. My daily drivers are bought new. I get what I want and 5+ years of driving with nothing but basic maintenance. My “toys” are old. I don’t need them to be dead reliable so the age doesn’t matter. To me the reliability factor and getting what I want is worth the extra cost.

  • avatar
    ajla

    So Bark, does this mean you got your Boss 302 for under MSRP? What was it about buying the Mustang that made it a bad experience?

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    My recent experience in buying a new Fiesta ST was vastly different than I was expecting. I contacted two dealerships through their internet departments. The test drives were stress free, negotiation consisted of emailing both of them an ad from a third dealership an hour away, advertising an additional $800 discount on top of incentives. Both dealerships matched it within $100. The F&I guy had me in and out of his office in about 20 minutes, roughly the time it took to print the paperwork and have me sign it.

    Looking back, I might’ve been pretty easy. I knew what I wanted, had no trade-in and wasn’t financing. It’ll probably take a while, but I hope more dealerships move towards this kind of service. It’s certainly better than having someone sit you down and four-square you for 6 hours.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      Your experience matches my own when I bought a Subaru in 2011.

      A recent attempt to by a Fiesta ST using the same method didn’t go well at all. Every Ford dealer within reasonable driving distance replied with one of the following:
      -“Come on in to talk price”
      -Form letter congratulating me on me great choice of a “FORD FIESTA ST”
      -Crickets

      I tried to give them my money but they seem to not want it. I just bought an old Corvette instead.

      • 0 avatar
        hgrunt

        That’s unfortunate to hear, though not too surprising. When I got bombarded with calls and emails from various Ford dealerships (thanks, TrueCar) I got the impression that most dealerships aren’t familiar with the Fiesta ST as an enthusiast’s car. One dealership asked me if I’d be interested in a Fusion SE.

        The dealership I ended up buying from, did the “we have great news, come in” thing. I decided to play their game since they were 5 minutes away. They didn’t match or beat Dealer 1, so I wrote Dealer 1’s price on a piece of paper and slid it towards them.

        They ended up going below that so I was satisfied.

        What Corvette did you end up with? I had a C5 Z06 for about 18 months, a couple years ago.

        • 0 avatar
          bikegoesbaa

          1996 LT4; I’ve always been partial to C4s and that’s the pick of the litter.

          The C5 is a better car hands-down, but for a toy car for me the C4 wins on price and pure Miami Vice silliness.

  • avatar
    fireballs76

    I bought a brand new Ram 1500 Big Horn 4×4 in March 2010, last weekend of the month during auto show bonus time. My truck had a sticker of $38.9k if I remember correctly & got it OTD for $28.4k.

    I know auto show time helped with a rebate & I assume end of the month helped as well, in the end no intense haggling & I was happy & still am with the price & the truck. Oh & I was turning in an 07 leased Ram about four months early, under miles but with a large crease & dent in the drivers door that was way beyond normal wear & tear that was squashed as part of the deal too

  • avatar
    fireballs76

    Since then I’ve leased 3 Altimas, a ’10, ’13, & ’16 that have been intense negotiations at times because I never want to put more than $500 down to lease

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    I don’t think people understand the disadvantage that they are at at the dealership. It’s psychological warfare.

    Those guys are highly trained. Also experienced.

    I somewhat disagree with Principal Dan’s assessment that it’s all a matter of transparency. That’s what I thought.

    The purchase of my no option pickup truck is about as close as you could get to the transparent ideal. No trade in, no financing. My goal was to pay the price from The Big City dealer quoted me by the car buying service plus half the transportation cost. Low margin, sure, but very doable.

    No matter. They put me through the wringer anyway. Why? Well they might wear me down and chisel an extra $300 out of me, right? Besides, if nothing else, they wanted to practice their chops for the weekend coming up. (It was a mid-week transaction).

    After the deal was inked, they practically threw me out of there for not being a sap I guess.

  • avatar

    This will probably get me labeled as a rube, but my last 2 dealer vehicle purchases have been from no-haggle dealerships – a new 2012 Pathfinder from a Carmax that used to have a Nissan franchise, and a used 2012 Ram C/V from an Enterprise Car Sales.

    Both were vehicles that I couldn’t find anywhere else – the Pathfinder was a leftover with a ton of rebates and discounts – most other dealers had already cleared theirs out-, and the Ram was shipped from halfway across the country.

    Both dealers seem to do a brisk business, so there are plenty of people who are willing to leave a couple bucks on the table for a good experience.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    I recently replaced my DD VW beetle. Drove a Fiesta SE for a bit that I bought private party. I reconditioned it, drove it 5k miles then sold at a profit cause it was boring. Just the other day I bought a used 2013 Sobic RS from a used car dealer. Cash deal, no trade. They had the car heavily marked down due to being in stock for 3 months. Managed to pull another 1100 off the price by reminding them nobody wanted it. Very happy with this purchase, very underrated little car if you ask me. I don’t know why these don’t get more praise. It’s screwed together very well and has great dynamics. I looked at it as more of a curiosity than anything. The dealer experience was actually good. Low pressure and quick delivery. Paperwork literally took 10 minutes. Had to pay dealer conveyance fee which is bs, but it was still a good deal.

  • avatar
    Rochester

    You’re an interesting guy, Bark. But a consumer proud about being a chump is a con-man’s wet dream.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      then we’re all “chumps.” I know some guys like to fancy themselves hard-nosed negotiators, but the simple fact is if you’re driving out of the dealership with a signed sales agreement, they got what they wanted out of you.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Volume dealerships can and do sell vehicles at deep losses at certain times (which can be frequent throughout the year) because they, depending on which manufacturer’s franchise agreement they’re operating under, have to meet specific sales volume goals monthly, quarterly or yearly.

        These incentives they earn by meeting sales volume goals can equal $350 to as much as $1,200 per vehicle -‘BUT MULTIPLY THAT PER UNIT $350 to $1,200 BY 50 OR 500 UNITS and revisit the aggregate incentives they risk losing by not closing those 4, 20 or 90 additional sales at month’s, quarter end’s, or year’s end, to see how desperate the push is (rationally) to move additional units.

        In many cases, it’s more intelligent for dealers to sell a vehicle for $4,000 less than their true invoice than not close the deal, because they risk missing the juicy incentive quota cash in the aggregate.

        Dealers even sell vehicles to dealership employees, their family members, the owner’s wife, etc., in a pinch, where the vehicles are maybe driven for a week to a month before going to used CPO lot (or trying to be hawked as new, in rarer cases – see BMW scandalP.

        If anyone, especially Bark, tells you this is untrue, take that as defensive denial by sell-side (who don’t want consumers knowing the inside dirt because it would benefit them greatly).

        Here’s a pop media piece on this: https://m.thisamericanlife.org/at-the-car-lot/

        And a more industry-technical oriented one:

        http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20121105/FREE/121109941/gm-dealer-upgrades-fuel-a-2-tiered-price-war

        • 0 avatar

          I wouldn’t tell anybody that it’s untrue. I wrote an article about it. Wanna hear it, here it go:

          https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/03/barks-bites-new-car-dealers-make-money/

          Careful, DW. You’re getting borderline obsessed with me again. Nobody wants to see you take another self-imposed holiday.

  • avatar
    ericb91

    Just so you know, there’s only about $1,800 in markup between MSRP and invoice on the Focus RS, and roughly $1,200 in holdback. So, $3,000 total.

    Anyway. I’ve been selling cars for 3.5 years and I agree with a lot of your points in this article. The people who come in and don’t negotiate are ALWAYS the happiest, hands-down. Maybe others would think they’re “stupid” to leave money on the table, but I’ve never met ONE customer who bought at MSRP who was unhappy with the deal they got, or who thought they overpaid.

    The people (if you can call them that) who come to me intent on taking out every possible cent of profit are dreadful, never-satisfied and just awful to deal with. That’s just my experience having worked at three dealerships for three different manufacturers.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Car salesmen attrition rate is 64%m the highest of any “occupation.”

      You blame the consumer for this, ostensibly.

      Have you ever considered that it’s actually the dealership vehicle sales model/structure in current use that’s actually more responsible for this high attrition rate (and miserably low career satisfaction rates)?

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      Well of course the sap is happy.

      I’m sure the salesmen were very kind. By definition the sap doesn’t know any better or he has a pathological need to please total strangers.

      That’s not an argument against haggling.

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t bought many new cars. The last couple were lot orphans that the dealers wanted gone six months ago and their advertised prices were already great deals so there really was no negotiation. They were already losing money on those cars.

      The two new cars that I bought or leased before that were bought from older salesmen at well established dealers. I’ve found that people who stay in the business long enough to hang around to get repeat customers generally treat their customers fairly. I tell them that I’m not interested in wasting their time or mine and that they should give me their best no-bullsh!t price.

      The last time it was a lease and the guy even figured out, because of the projected residuals, that a nicer equipped vehicle was actually cheaper.

      It’s always nice when you find a professional salesperson. I don’t shop there but I hear that’s one reason for Nordstrom’s success.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Putting aside Bark’s novel (ficticious body of text) the title is what I’ll respond to.

    My personal experience in reaching a satisfactory outcome when purchasing a vehicle is to do research, plenty of it.

    Another good idea is learn how to manage people (personalities). You have the ability to set the tone. Don’t be emotive, salespeople read your emotions and play on them.

    First and foremost remember the dealer is out to make a buck to keep the doors open.

    If you are going in for a trade be realistic about the value of your trade-in and the new vehicle you want.

    Only worry about the change over transaction price.

    If you want to buy a new vehicle outright know your vehicle prices. Be aware when dealing with many dealers as they can be owned by the one company. So, when you furnish your personal info they have it at their finger tips.

  • avatar
    rcx141

    I have bought five cars in the 15 years I’ve been in the USA and each time the experience was great.

    However, I come from the UK so my expectations were super low. In the UK workers are not happy to be distracted from their hobbies to do a job, and do not have any problem letting customers know that fact!

    Most recent car I bought was a 2015 Mustang (late 2014). I arrived at the dealer, plunked down a deposit, and took delivery in 2 months. A most excellent car!

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    The sales process with car dealerships will always be adversarial.The objective of the business is to make as close to infinite profit as possible per sale. The objective of the consumer is to pay as close to $0 as possible.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I have bought more cars in my short time driving than I care to admit and have only gone to dealers who pay a flat commission regardless of price on the car. They all pit the price straight on the window after factoring in rebates and dealer incentives. These prices generally come it at less than comparable models on the web.

    I have set foot in a haggling dealer and walked out right away.

  • avatar
    badhobz

    I think this is idiotic. how often do you buy a car? why would a good experience even matter? get the most amount of money off the car that you want and then prosper.

    unless you do this everyday (i pity you) then a good experience should not even come into play. Your goals are to get the most amount of money off and walk out of there with a product you want not the product they want to sell you.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Your dream scenario sounds a lot like Saturn’s sales experience. I still wonder what could have happened if they had product to match their dealer experience.

    I personally have no issue with laws that protect franchisees. What I don’t understand is how these have been allowed to mutate to REQUIRE franchised dealerships by manufacturers who have no franchisees to protect. I mean, I understand how the dealer groups paid off their lawmakers, I just don’t know why there isn’t more outrage about it… and the irony that the “free market” republican legislators are the ones suddenly willing to kill that market in exchange for campaign funds. I could rant on forever.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Buying my Impalas was never much of a chore.

    My first, a 2004 base model w/sport appearance package was purchased because my company at the time got a supplier discount of 7.5%. On top of that, a $3,000 rebate. Sticker was around 25K. Out the door: $19,050. Owned the car for over 8 years.

    My current 2012 Impala? LTZ, different company, but supplier discount plus factory rebate. Sticker around $32,500. Out the door $25,600. The Chevy dealer where I bought those cars from I felt was pretty straight forward and the service department treats me very fairly and their prices are pretty close to local repair shops.

    Maybe I could have weaseled a better deal, but I don’t want to turn the experience into a war zone, and I felt better because of it. No regrets, either.

    Initially, on my current ride, they did try to sell me a $500.00 paint sealant package and something else. I said no, but did want my car pinstriped. They charged me $100 for the striping and paint sealant, adding that extra to the initial price of $25,500. I felt that was a good deal, for I haven’t had to wax my car yet, and the finish is still glass-smooth.

    For oil changes I still go to my dealer, perhaps for some serious work if it becomes necessary that I don’t feel confident in a local shop. At that time, I may consider other options.

    So, after all this, don’t beat me up too badly!

  • avatar
    pktojd

    Pretty much THIS. None of us is really forced to play this game.

    I don’t buy new cars often, and I’m fortunate that when I have, it has been more of an indulgence than a necessity. So the strategy is, walk into any dealer that sells what I’m interested in and ask “what’s the best price you can give me on X?” I know there are holdbacks and incentives that he knows of that I’ll never find out about, and that they are in a for-profit business, so just figure out what he wants me to pay.

    I know my financing options between bank, credit union, and a good enough score to qualify for incentive financing, and have a fair idea of what a trade is worth (though last two purchases were without trade –even better). If I can afford it, I’ll buy it. If I can’t, I keep driving what I’ve got.

    Two dealerships have made a repeat customer out of me for this. I don’t get follow up phone calls to negotiate $100 at a time. Any dealership that does that didn’t answer the question honestly in the first place.

    My time and mental energy is also worth something in this process. So though spending 4-5 hours in a dealer and doing several phone calls over two weeks may save me $2500 on the purchase price, but it has also cost me something.

    When you stop to think that a new car purchase is often a $30k-plus WANT (versus need), it’s easier to adopt a sense of reason that can avert a lot of headaches. Then you’re only playing their game if you choose to.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I’ve also had luck with the email multiple dealers technique. I email as many as I can within a distance I’m willing to go with the specifics of what I’m looking for. Last time I did this, half of them never emailed me back, two said to come in and talk, and two gave me prices and confirmed they had what I wanted. One was $1,500 cheaper than the next price (this was a VW Golf, so it was a huge price difference) but he was 45 minutes away. I gave the closest guy (where I had test-driven the car and wanted to give him the chance to match the price) the quote and he said he couldn’t match it, he didn’t have the exact color/options, either.

    I drove to pick up the car. It was washed and parked in front of the showroom when I got there. I had done the credit app in advance, so the paperwork was all done and waiting for my signature. I was in and out in less than 45 minutes.

    I don’t know why the price was so drastically different… maybe the cheapest guy had some huge sales bonus to hit from VW that month?

    Unfortunately, I now live in a pretty rural area and the only other dealers are 2.5 hours away and are mostly owned by the same schmuck (who’s wife was recently nominated for Sec. of Education by Trump), so I’ll have to figure out a new option when it comes to buy another car. Probably will just focus on something used from a private party.

  • avatar
    raph

    I’d dig direct sales since I think MSRP is fair and I don’t go in for anything other than gap if I can’t provide a big enough down payment to beat depreciation.

    I’m also not big on dealer service for basic maintenence and simple mechanical work like swapping worn parts so the extras like free oil changes and basic tune-ups or what-have-you don’t factor into the buying experience.

    I also tend to keep my cars until they are paid off before getting another so I don’t stick around long enough to develop a relationship with a salesman or dealership.

    I’d much rather go to Ford.com and select my car with the options I want then fill out the necessary paperwork and either finance through Ford or someplace else and have the car delivered to a prep shop and drive off.

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