By on January 8, 2020

I’ve shared my experience in choosing a suitable replacement for my Subaru Outback recently. And while that mission was accomplished successfully at the end of December (story coming soon), I was left with a tale to share about a particular dealership and its “customer service.”

Time for a quick story about how not to treat the customer.

Having narrowed down the initial group of candidates to the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, I still wasn’t sure whether I wanted something new or used. The pricing wouldn’t be much different in either case, but the 2019s lacked the top-tier SEL trim of prior model years. Swaying the decision toward a new one was a certain very large Volkswagen dealer near a big city in Illinois. They had an appealing price on a new Golf SportWagen with a tan interior. I filled out the online contact form with my information, and was rewarded with a phone call a few minutes later.

And that’s where the sales experience started downhill.

I explained to the salesman that I was A) an out-of-town buyer several hours away, B) interested in making a cash transaction for a new Golf, and C) did not have a trade-in to complicate the deal. He replied with “Great, so when would you like to come in and talk about pricing?”

At that point, I reiterated I was several hours away, and would need to conduct this transaction over the phone and have the car shipped. “You want to have it shipped,” he said with some disbelief in his tone. After some reassurance that I’d done this before (more than once, actually), he said he’d get back to me with pricing. An email arrived a few minutes later with a copy of the sales ad from their website. After I asked if the price was negotiable, he sent the following message, pasted here verbatim:

“I apologize, but we just don’t conduct business that way over the phone/email.
We’d be happy to discuss pricing with you here at the dealership!
Did you have some time this weekend or next week to come in and go over those options?”

Apparently, the largest-volume Volkswagen dealer in the country does not use internet or a telephone to conduct business. Said largest dealer would also request that I drive from out of state to have a conversation about buying one of their cars. I asked to speak to someone who’d be able to help me, specifically his sales manager. A reply shortly thereafter assured he’d have his manager contact me “when someone was available.”

A day and a half later, Salesman Two (not a manager) phoned to talk about the deal. He questioned whether I was an out-of-town buyer, to which I replied I was. His tone changed then, to one of condescension. “You know the check will have to clear before we release the car onto the trailer, right?” Gritting my teeth, I responded affirmatively and asked if the dealership had any shipping companies they worked with regularly. Salesman Two replied they did indeed work with several shipping firms, and he’d get back to me with a quote.

Two days later there was no follow-up, though I did receive an Are You Satisfied text from whomever at the dealer. After a “No” answer, two more days passed and Salesman Three had his turn. At this point I had an opportunity to explain the situation from Salesmen One and Two, stating again my wish to see what we were talking about with regard to shipping. He took my address and promised to return my call later that day. You can see where this is going.

After zero follow-up from Three, I received another Are You Satisfied text five days later. I responded that nobody seemed interested in assisting me with a vehicle purchase, and that I was disappointed in my experience with the staff. No reply to that one, and in five more days I handed over a check to a Volkswagen dealer that was actually interested in my money. It was a terrible sales and customer service experience, but maybe I expected too much.

Perhaps once a dealership gets so large, twenty-something thousand dollars just isn’t worth the trouble.

[Image: U.J. Alexander/Shutterstock]

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99 Comments on “Where Your Author Has an Awful Dealership Experience...”


  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I would like to go on record as being opposed to all this picking on dealers. Dealers perform a valuable service and they are way out in front of any other consumer-facing organizations in 2019.

    Ruggles, can you back me up on this?

  • avatar
    threeer

    Ironically, the VW dealership here in Huntsville, AL has been just about the best car buying experience I have ever had. And that includes after the sale support. I’m flabbergasted at how well they have treated me (and I bought a used 2014 JSW from them…not even a new and more expensive vehicle). Of course, experiences will vary from dealership to dealership. Sorry your deal was so unpleasant. I think we’ve all had similar at any number of Brand “X” dealers. Funny how they still want to rope you into the showroom to pressure you into the sale. In this day and age, internet sales should be a relatively smooth and common occurrence.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      Used to be. Hiley has taken a turn for the worse in the last few years. I’ve not dealt with VW, but I have with Mazda for over 10 years. I took delivery of a brand new Mazda 6 which had scratches that were put on it from another dealer. They really never resolved the problem. The car never was brought in and actually put into service like the rest of their new cars were.

      Then the service department tore up the hood on our CX-5 which they finally fixed.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        I just bought my 2014 about four months ago. Still standing by my experience with them…not saying the Mazda side is the same caliber. The VW folks have gone out of their way to provide support after the sale and the deal/sale process was stress-free.

        Amazing that a dealership family can exhibit such differences when they sell different brands just feet apart from one another!

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Hey ToolGuy, the year is 2020 you dolt.

    And FYI to posters, the edit function is currently inoperative, so be sure of yourself before hitting “Post”.

    The little “Reply” button at the right doesn’t work either.

    2020 – Not What You Imagined™

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    It’s as if their entire strategy is to prevent a sale.
    Perhaps one in ten dealers employ a sales staff with good customer service.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    I don’t think that I’ve ever come away from any retail car related transaction (dealership, bodyshop, garage) saying “Wow, what amazing customer service!”. At best, it’s been “Well, I guess that could’ve gone worse!”.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Who’s surprised at this?

  • avatar
    jawolk

    So the truth here (as we ought to know) is that each dealership is an independent business. Many are part of larger groups that may enforce standards across their stores.

    Times they are a-changin’. Many shoppers/customers expect (demand?) price transparency and the ability to negotiate and finalize a purchase remotely… spending far less (if any) actual time within the dealership’s four walls – as opposed to the “traditional” car purchase experience.

    Some dealerships embrace changing consumer preferences, others are, well, sticking to their guns. Some consumers honestly still expect (or even want?) the old way of doing things. So be it.

    If you’re getting ready to buy and you are looking for a particular experience, check the dealership website or call ahead and ask about what they offer. Reward the dealer that conducts the transaction “your way” with your business. In the end, consumer preferences will ultimately win out.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Unfortunately, this kind of nonsense seems to be endemic to VW dealers. I went through a ton of this stupid old-skool crap when I leased my old Jetta back in 2016. The salespeson was an attractive young woman who seemed to think that she could charm me into getting rooked. After two days of back and forth, which included getting the sales manager involved, I finally got numbers that made sense, but it was a needlessly long and stupid process to get there.

    Last year, I decided I wanted a GTI. The first dealership gave me a lease quote that made zero sense – the payment they quoted was obtainable only by marking the car up past what they even had it advertised for online, or charging me an outrageous lease factor (or both). I told them as much, and they asked how I knew that. I took out my phone and showed them the lease calculator. The sales manager’s response to me – a 56-year-old guy with decent credit and a professional job, not some 21-year-old assistant manager at Best Buy who just wants to get bought – was “Those aren’t reliable, you know.” The second dealer played a similar game. I decided to buy something else instead.

    Based on this, and Corey’s experience, I think VW has a LONG way to go when it comes to delivering a car buying experience that 21st century car buyers expect. Shame, because I like the product a lot.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Sounds like the VW dealer “nailed” this particular car to the floor to be used solely as bait. No way they intended to sell it to anyone at that price.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    I was told once by a Toyota dealership in the Dallas area that they did not allow test drives of certain vehicles. I wanted to drive an FJ and was told they were very popular and they didn’t want them driven. That was my last visit.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Holy crap – don’t tell me the name, but what city was that? I’ve had variable experiences with Toyota dealers in the DFW area, buying both new Toyotas, and used cars (Kias).

  • avatar
    R Henry

    In 2019, I sold my 1968 Mustang. The car was advertised on both CL and FB.

    I was immediately inundated with texts “Will you take $XX,XXX” etc, etc. When you take time to respond, you quickly come to understand these people are simply virtual tire kickers, who are 1500 miles away, and really just curious about the market on a certain kind of car. As the seller, my policy has become “Come see the car, or send your inspector, then we can talk price.” I will talk about price seriously when I have a serious buyer in front of me.

    Granted, selling a new car might be a different kind of transaction, and I believe car dealers might consider developing systems to support such transactions, but I am fairly certain their dealer agreements include inducements to NOT sell into other dealer’s prime marketing zones.

    I bet this dealer views its marketing area as a 50 mile radius from their facility, and considers all other inquiries a waste of their time.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    It looks like the Powers That Be have turned off whatever comment plugin they were using, altogether, leaving us with the default WordPress commenting functionality.

    I would like to go on record as saying that ToolGuy’s comment is 100-percent, Grade-A bullsh*t. Dealerships help the manufacturers, who generally don’t want to have to deal with front-end sales. They do not particularly help the customer…not unless that dealership/salesman is committed to providing value by actually being knowledgeable and being a good interface between the manufacturer and the customer. When they aren’t interested, well…you get the type of experience Corey just had.

    I think I told you all about the local dealership that sold me a brand-new 2019 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL Premium 4MOTION in September. I had all kinds of issues with it, and it turned out that the general manager’s wife had been driving it and was rear-ended. They fixed it and put it back on the lot without saying a word. When I found that out—by deciding to run a CarFax against it—I made them refund me a substantial amount of money and ship in an identical replacement (but in a better exterior color).

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    While this is surprising, to some I think you should be grateful the experience worked out this way. You were saved considerable grief in the end. Imagine if salesman 1 made promises online or on the phone only to find out when you arrived that he/she was in fact not authorized make such concessions or this group routinely participates in shenanigans once you have arrived in person. Send them a thank you email with a photo of your new car purchased from somewhere else and move on. I believe I have done business with the dealer you are referring to…this is my shocked face you are not seeing.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    Sorry Corey, this sounds like most dealer experiences I have had.
    Actually, let me break it down a bit for the sake of fairness. My dealer experiences over the past 40 years have been mostly positive, IF: the sales/F+I department is factored out. Parts, bodyshop, detail, front end and upper management is generally good, or at least interested in helping/being in business.
    However, when I look at the sales and finance departments, all hell breaks loose. I have had good salespeople, but completely negated by the buffoons in the “closing” department. As in, who from beyond the gates of hell hired these folks, and are ok with the way they run the show and the negative impact on their business or the perceptions of the dealer experience in general.
    Finally, I generally take any ad online with a grain of salt, as online inventory at some local dealers here is likely 6 months out of date, and the vehicle is long gone, but nobody cares to update the website.
    On the other hand, I have had good experiences in both the Lexus and MB stores, although in both cases don’t employ the “you betcha!” mindset.
    Lastly, I have also bought from a distance, without problem, but it does seem that if a dealer will deal and negotiate the deal squarely from afar, its a good bet the whole experience will be ok, but for those that for example won’t even put a price in an online ad, rather its a “call for details” vagueness, then likely the whole shebang is a total crock up and need to be avoided like the plague.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Personally, I will pick on dealers that are so self-centered as the one described above. After all, I had a nearly identical experience trying to buy a 2018 Chevy Colorado in a specific color which was clearly in stock at a dealership about 100 miles away but who refused–flat refused–to even talk to my local dealership about a cross-swap so I could get the one I want. After more than a week of such lack of communications, I ended up buying a 2019 model and will very probably have it repainted to a more acceptable color later this year.

  • avatar
    NoID

    I wonder if the death of commission has anything to do with not one, not two, but THREE salespeople letting a solid lead go to waste.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    The worst dealership experiences that I have had in over 40 years of buying/leasing/service experience are with a) A VW dealership that no longer exists in the eastern GTA. Their arrogance was renowned. Never a problem with their German engineered/designed vehicles, it was always the fault of the stupid North American drivers. b) A longstanding Ford dealership in the eastern GTA. Good sales but terrible service experience. c) A no longer existing Chev dealership in the eastern GTA. The sales manager was a loud mouthed jerk. So much that he had the young sales woman in tears.

    The two best were: a) A longstanding sales rep at an east end GM dealership. We dealt solely with him for a period of over 15 years until he retired. His customers were so loyal that he worked Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 and never on the sales floor but from his office on the 2nd floor. b) A Kia dealership in the north-west GTA. Worked very hard to make the deal fit and followed up with excellent service.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    The sad truth is that car dealers make little to nothing on new car sales, and without the prospects of maintenance visits to get something out of you, they just aren’t interested in taking the time.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Why is this always repeated? They make plenty of money on new car sales. It might be with holdback and bonuses for meeting sales targets, but they make plenty of money on sales. Do you think dealers would actually sell cars if they didn’t make money on them?

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Tried to edit but this website stinks as far as functionality. Forget to mention regarding good experience c) a Nissan dealership in the North-east GTA. The sales rep has over 20 years there and even visits the service department when their vehicles are in to make sure they are taken care of, properly.

    Seems that like most everything else the 20/80 standard applies. 20% of car sales reps do 80% of the business. Probably because they are that much better than their competition.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Sorry to hear your experience was sub-par. As someone who helps 1-2 people monthly in the buying process, we are all too aware of the games some dealers wil play. I would send a detailed email to the top management or ownership just to make them aware of your experience. It’s water under the bridge, but they need to know (if they don’t already).

    Of course, the benefit to making you come to the dealership is that boxes you in as a near captive audience. The vast majority of my dealings are via email, where I have everything in writing. That way the visit to dealership is relatively quick though your mileage may vary. There are plenty of dealerships that do a great job at getting it right the first time. My vast experience has found the smaller dealerships tend to be more responsive; while they might not match the price of a mega-volume store, the customer service is usually superb.

    This Saturday I circled in on a specific vehicle for purchase; when I queried as to the exact incentives the internet price reflected I was told the car was sold Thursday. Meanwhile the car was readvertised today with a $2000 price increase. I’ve reached out to the dealership owner for clarification. Oy vey these people with their games…

  • avatar
    dwford

    Most dealers still operate on the premise that they only want to deal with customers in person, so that they can dazzle you with salesman speak and get you to fall in love with a car and make poor decisions. They HATE the internet because it allows the customer to keep the dealership at arms length. Any time you contact a dealer through their website, you go into the CRM software, which has an automated schedule to send you pre-written emails and texts, hence the “are you satisfied?” texts. That they chose not to promptly respond to requests for information just shows that this dealer doesn’t want to do business over the internet, they just view the internet as a lead generator from which to coerce customers into the showroom. You can spot these types of dealers within the first couple responses they send you, and if you aren’t getting direct answers to your questions, move on.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    There’s that old saw, “When you owe the bank $50,000 and can’t pay, you have a problem. When you owe the bank $50 billion and can’t pay, the bank has a problem.”

    This is just the reverse of that.

    On the one hand, it’s clear they’ve been burned by people who have jerked them around in the past. On the other hand, there’s a way to handle this that doesn’t make you a net detractor (no pun intended).

  • avatar
    dal20402

    For a new car, I start my car buying process by emailing several dealers that have a car close to what I want in stock, and asking for a price quote. The first round of responses tells me who I want to do business with and who I don’t. Typically a third to half of them are like the one in this story, not wanting to negotiate until I’m in their showroom (and presumably they have the keys to my trade to “do an inspection”). I just walk away from those.

    For a used car, it’s much harder because typically I’m having to zero in on a small number of cars that are both equipped the way I want and in good shape, and if I want one of those cars I have to work with the dealer I have. All of my worst car-buying stories involve used cars, although there are some decent ones too (Lexus of Tacoma, which sold me my current Highlander Hybrid, was very good to work with).

  • avatar
    lstanley

    I’ve had mostly good dealer experiences, but I’m also not sure I wasn’t suckered in some way I didn’t really recognize. But my philosophy is along the lines of if I am spending $40,000 on a car and I get taken for grand, well, OK.

    But sometimes things work in your favor. I actually negotiated a car purchase via a local dealer for a car that was located two states away. The local dealer had no problem working with me and shipping the car, and when the car was delivered it had a bunch of extra accessories no one was expecting. The saleswomen said, verbatim, “Looks like a bank error in your favor” and we drove away.

    Again, I’m not sure if I’m smart enough to know if I got hosed but I felt good about the whole transaction and the final sales price. That’s the end goal, right?

    And considering I work for a small business I am in no way in favor of companies doing work for free or making sales with no profit.

  • avatar
    GoNavy99

    Mr. Lewis, you hit the nail on the head when you said “Perhaps once a dealership gets so large, twenty-something thousand dollars just isn’t worth the trouble.”

    My only contention is this: There’s nothing wrong with that.

    I’m in business over here. We routinely turn down business where we’d earn money from a fee-paying customer. It simply isn’t worth it to pursue low-margin business.

    What’s funny is that there are a lot of people out there – you included – who seem to think that simply paying a fee entitles you to the businesses’ time. It doesn’t.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If they aren’t interested in the transaction then they should state that up front. It isn’t necessary to hem and haw and jerk someone around for two weeks.

  • avatar

    This has been the usual story for most dealerships for years.

    When we bought my wife’s expedition a few years ago I gave the closest Ford dealership the first shot. They tried the whole “I have to check with my manager on that price” game and I ended up walking away. Then I tried doing it by email knowing exactly what trim and options we wanted.

    In Houston there are probably 20 Ford dealers within reasonable distance. I was only able to get 1 to agree to terms by email. That’s the state of how online car sales are handled. Most dealers are terrible at it.

    That being said it was the best buying experience of my life. They agreed to price for one they had in stock and even sent me the breakdown of pricing and fees as well as an offer on my trade in. I went in one evening after work, they had the car cleaned gassed and ready and there weren’t any games with fees or financing or extras. Walked in with my check from the credit union and was done in an hour. It was a good experience, but I’m lucky there were so many dealers in my area. If you only had one or two options you would probably be screwed.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Anatomy of new car dealer sales:

    “I explained to the salesman that I was A) an out-of-town buyer several hours away”

    SALESMAN’S THOUGHTS: So there’s a real chance you’re just gathering information and I’ll never see you. Great.

    “B) interested in making a cash transaction for a new Golf,”

    SALESMAN’S THOUGHTS: Oh so I/we won’t get the financing bonus from the bank. Even better.

    “and C) did not have a trade-in to complicate the deal.”

    SALESMAN’S THOUGHTS: So now we won’t make any money on trade. This gets better and better.

    ““You want to have it shipped,” he said with some disbelief in his tone.”

    SALESMAN’S THOUGHTS: Great, now I have to go through the bullsh!t of shipping it too?

    “You know the check will have to clear before we release the car onto the trailer, right?” Gritting my teeth,

    SALESMAN’S THOUGHTS: Dude, are you sure? I’ve stopped caring about this.

    “At this point I had an opportunity to explain the situation from Salesmen One and Two, stating again my wish to see what we were talking about with regard to shipping. ”

    SALESMAN’S THOUGHTS: Oh, this guy again. Ugh.

  • avatar
    deanst

    The problem is that the dealers do not provide a valuable service – they exist because of outdated and arcane laws. Let’s open it up to manufacturers dealing directly with the consumer and may the better party win.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Why would manufacturers want to put up with this hassle? And with 50 different sets of rules, too?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      As someone who works in an industry where you DO have the ability to buy expensive things direct from the manufacturer OR from a reseller, chances are you would want to buy from the reseller.

      Be careful what you wish for.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        As a consumer who has bought many expensive things in my lifetime (well, expensive for me, anyway,) I’ve found that buying direct from the manufacturer usually gives me fewer problems and an overall better deal–even with cars (when I was forced to bypass a specific dealership.)

        To make it clear; when I buy an Apple product from the Apple Store, I am assured that I get the best support from Apple itself, not some third-party ‘Authorized Reseller’ who tends to ignore Apple’s warranties and charge a troubleshooting fee even before laying hands on the device. (I put up with that prior to the Apple Stores and is a direct reason WHY Apple opened their Apple Stores.) With other brands, I have too often had similar issues … more than once having to directly contact the OEM to get a repair or service performed correctly. This has even happened with more than one of my cars over the decades as a dealer would only address a single symptom out of a string of symptoms and never address the root cause of all the combined symptoms (and is one reason why I will never own another Daimler product.)

        Again, I would far rather buy direct from the OEM than I would a third party, because that third party doesn’t want to do the job right if by doing it wrong they get more profits. In the auto industry, the consumer currently has no choice when all the dealerships think the same way. And clearly members of the NADA think the same as they do everything in their power to PREVENT OEM-owned dealerships.

  • avatar
    TCowner

    That’s why you gotta like Carmax.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      F*** Carmax.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Sure, if you like no-haggle pricing. When I’m searching for used cars (usually for my daughters), their cars are consistently in the “HIGH” or “OVERPRICED” category on Cars.com and CarGurus. For example, asking $8,995 for the same year Kia Forte with similar options and miles, that’s selling for $5,500 to $6,000 everywhere else.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That’s partially why I hate the bastards. The other reason is in some states they operate as an auction and siphon off good trades from general circulation by operating in both the auction/wholesale end *and* retail end (not sure how that’s legal). Cox Automotive, who owns Manheim, does not operate car dealer chains.

        “CarMax Auctions sites are located on the properties of its used-car stores.”

        https://www.autoremarketing.com/retail/carmaxs-wholesale-auction-arm-extends-its-reach-mulls-online-sales

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Not only that Carmax cars aren’t even very well kept, from what I’ve seen. Plus, they put that Carmax sticker on the trunk, which translates to “I’m a sucker.”

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    What annoys me about the whole process, is that even NEW dealerships operate this way. As in, we have no tenure, or loyalty, or folks that have been buying from us for decades. And right out of the gate, they still operate this way, like its 1975.
    I don’t have a problem with them making money on the transaction, the process exhausts me and pisses me off in roughly equal proportions.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    I typically don’t defend dealers.

    Putting my devil’s advocate hat on for a second, though, one has to ask.

    How does a dealer know, without seeing an individual in person, that the person on the other end of an email or phone call doesn’t work for another dealer? I’d honestly have a hard time giving pricing out like that, especially when margins are thin.

    I remember when Frys, Adorama, and bhphotovideo required phone calls to get prices because bots where scouring the web for prices. They even got as smart as adding to a cart to see the “in cart pricing”. And then even in some cases prices were only for “in store customers only”.

  • avatar
    AA610

    I find Carmax prices to be outrageous. To each his or her own, but I won’t pay their markup.

  • avatar
    The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

    Major dealership. Low $20k range car. Out of state buyer.

    You’re not worth their time. Simple as that.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with you, and given the situation this is the sort of behavior I would expect out of most mainline (Chevy, Ford, Dodge, Hyundai/KIA, Nissan) and certain niche brands (Mazda, VW, maybe Volvo).

  • avatar
    saturnotaku

    @Imagefont – this happens more often than you think. I was in the market and wanted to check out a WRX. I got no end of grief from the salesman and his manager about test driving one they had on the lot. I could understand if I was 25 or younger, but I’m nearing 40 and had my wife and son with me at the time. They ultimately relented, but it was completely stupid. I ended up hating the car anyway, but even if it was one I intended to purchase, it certainly would not have been from that store.

  • avatar
    incautious

    I have to say that in this day and age, I really can’t fault the dealer too much now a days. I’ve purchase at least a dozen cars in different states over the years even did a few overseas deals in my lifetime. The main issue is counterfeit certified checks. In the old days I would just send my driver down with a cert check, pay and go. Now all you hear is horror stories about bogus checks. now a days cash is king. The dealer may balk about the $10,000 threshold, but other than wire transfer, or 3 party escrow there really is on easy way.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    It’s too bad that you got such a run-around from Autobarn… whoops, I mean the #1 volume VW dealer in the suburbs of a “large” city in Illinois.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    I would no more buy a car sight unseen nor with a test drive than I would to date a dog. I’m old fashioned, but I think this whole thing is foolish. I understand you are a few hours away but routinely dealers transfer cars to other dealers without you being obligated PERIOD> I bought a used car from CARMAX a year ago and the car I wanted was a free transfer from one state to another and I had 3 days once it arrived to test drive it and to affirm or negate my desire.

    Personally this sounds lazy and foolish. I don’t care how the dealer treated you. The car could be transferred between dealers and then you’d deal with a local dealer where you should test drive and see the car.

    • 0 avatar

      ” understand you are a few hours away but routinely dealers transfer cars to other dealers without you being obligated PERIOD>”

      No they don’t. You have to agree to a price first. The local dealer *couldn’t get to* the price of the Illinois dealer.

      I already drove a new one to know what I want. These are mass-produced goods, not unique artisan items. They’re all the same.

      “I don’t care how the dealer treated you.”

      You sound like a kind person.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    It wasn’t Autobarn. Think more north.

    I almost purchased a vehicle from that dealership and I had a good experience. It didn’t happen for reasons unrelated to the dealership. They actually wanted to sell a car.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Perhaps once a dealership gets so large, twenty-something thousand dollars just isn’t worth the trouble.”

    More precisely, the thin profit on this car isn’t worth the trouble.

    I ran into this in 2005 when trying to order a new Scion xB. The local dealer offered me X dollars on my trade, and then said they would call once they found a green one with manual transmission. Several days passed, and no call. So when I called them, they said there was no such car available “anywhere in the country”.

    Shortly, I found 4 or 5 cars like I wanted within 2 hours’ drive, so they were obviously lying. Upon presenting the dealer with a printed copy of my findings, I told them I would buy the Cleveland car (I’m in Pittsburgh) if they brought it to Pittsburgh. They said no thanks, go get it yourself.

    So I collected my downpayment from them, drove to Cleveland, re-negotiated my trade, and drove the new car home. Dopes – I won’t go back there.

    So I suspect either: a) they had second thoughts about my trade value, or b) they simply didn’t want to pay for transport for a fixed-price $15k car.

    The dealer’s best friend is an uneducated consumer.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    I worked in sales for a number of years, though not in a car dealer. I saw plenty of salesmen that would not work for a sale if they figured there was an easier score around the corner.

    The Golf wagon is out of production, 2019 was the last year. So, the salesman is figuring he has a rare commodity and wants to maximize his take on it. As another poster said, no financing to get a kickback on, and no trade-in to steal, then doing the legwork of arranging the shipping. There is no percentage in it to motivate the salesman.

    I went to an Acura dealer, on a sunny Saturday in Feb of 07, who still had a new 06 RSX on the lot, with exactly the color and equipment I wanted. He had a tag on it that was discounted about $3,000 from the sticker. First, I had to go looking for a salesman. Found them all in the back watching TV. I drove the car around, and made an offer, of some $500 or $1000 less than the tag on the windshield, showing them I had my checkbook with me. No financing, no trade. They refused to budge a nickel. Their only sales pitch was “you have had a Honda for years and been happy with it”. I replied “before that, I had a Mazda that I was real happy with and I can get a Mazda3 hatchback for what I offered for the RSX”. Impasse. I walked out the door empty handed.

    Another dealer that left me with a sneer was a Hyundai store, last week. They were advertising a new Elantra GT on Autotrader at a very, very, attractive price. I went in for a look-see. I mentioned the ad on Autotrader, and, before I even described the pricing, the salesman disavowed anything and everything the dealer offered on Autotrader.

    I bought a 2014 Jetta wagon new. The dealer staff was so obsequious it gave me the creeps. There were a couple bumps in the negotiations, but I got pretty much the price I wanted, eventually. I take the car to a different dealer for service. Service has been excellent, and the staff at that dealer know me well enough now to leave me alone.

  • avatar

    Comments are so screwed up it seems so I guess here in one post.

    As several has said without a trade, finance markup or hope of future service the dealer really does not care. Those are the bigger profit centers in most dealers. There are a few dealers out there (names escape me but I know there is a massive FCA dealer out west that does this) that run on selling new cars at low margin all over the country. I worked for a boat dealer many years ago that worked on the same model. High volume, big factory rebates, low overhead, high levels of capital and it’s a good business model but your profit percentage will be lower then most dealers. We used to get calls from the manufacturer rep with inventory they had trouble moving and we would negotiate off the books rebates, other dealers couldn’t get, curious if the automakers do the same.

    I will slightly defend dealers, they provide huge service and warranty networks for OEM’s that would be much slimmer if manufacturer run. They also do compete against each other something you can’t do with a OEM only distribution system. Of course lots of stupidity on their part makes the other parts invisible to the public.

  • avatar
    usmutts

    I have a 2017 GTI S DSG. In 2019 I received a copy of an email sent from the general manager to the VW sales manager. It instructed the sales manager to contact all GTI owners, offer them a good trade-in allowance and see if they would like to trade up. A sticky note was attached with the sales manager’s name and phone number, information I already had anyway.

    I was indeed interested in a new one, an SE or Rabbit Edition, so I called the sales manager. He didn’t take my call so I left a voicemail. Several days went by without a returned call so I called him again and again didn’t take my call and again I left a voicemail. Several more days went by with no returned call. I called him for the third time, but he didn’t take my call and I left another voicemail. All this was six months ago and I’ve never received a call from him.

    A few weeks ago I was in the dealership getting a regularly scheduled service when I happened to see him walking through. I asked about the letter and the phone calls and about trading up. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about and turned and walked away.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    Not sure where this comment is going because the feature is acting up – to Vulpine: think long and hard about repainting that brand new truck, and then don’t do it. A proper paint job will cost 8 grand easily, and an improper less expensive paint job will ruin the value. You may plan on keeping the truck for a very long time but still………..think about it.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @whynotaztec:

      So you would recommend having it ‘skinned’ instead? Cheaper and ‘changeable’ without necessarily destroying the paint (or maybe doing even worse.)

      One point is that I received three pretty major “parking lot dings” within the first three months of ownership, meaning I already need bodywork up to and including repainting the affected areas. I have since received a fourth… but still within the first year of ownership and on the opposite side of the truck. Either way I go, I’m looking at spending thousands for the fix plus paint. And I doubt my insurance will cover much of the cost even though the driver’s side door and front fender may need to come off to hammer out the creases. I’m using the repair as an opportunity to re-color the truck to something more appealing to me than the dark, Pacific Blue or any of the other, monochromatic, factory colors from the many OEMs. Factory colors tend to either be boringly dark or glaringly bright and even when some brands (like Ford) offer bunches of hues, most of them are so dark as to appear black in all but the brightest light.

      So what if the value of the truck to somebody else is destroyed? I also know that there are many people with the same gripe I have about these boring monochromatic colors forced on us by the dealerships (who complained they couldn’t move more than a limited number of certain tints and hues.)

      Personally, I don’t give a hoot what a dealership thinks; if I want a certain color, I want THAT color, not hear something like, “Oh, that color isn’t available.” If a dealership really cared about its customers, it would go out of its way to make that customer happy so they could have repeat business from that customer.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    Dealers are terrible, I recently drove a Mustang and gave the dealer my wants, which they did not find, and then ask for a quote on ordering one to my specs to which, after a month, I have heard nothing.

  • avatar

    I get inquires at work for legal services all the time asking for a price by email. They don’t want to discuss the case, the facts, or give YOU any information about the arrest/transaction/services you REALLY need, not what you think is needed….just “what do you charge”. Getting a copy of the Summons from these guys is a chore, they don’t want you to know anything at all. There are some clients for whom “Pass” is the correct response.

    I can’t get too pissed at the dealer. You absolutely never close a sale with a previously unknown party by email, and rarely by phone.

    You need the person with the pen in the room to make a deal, especially for a big ticket item. Otherwise, it’s a race to the bottom, and that is just bad business…no one wants to deal with bottom feeders, no matter the business, and you are needed, with pen, to put finality to any offer.

    Dealers suck mostly, I’ve stories too, but for sales, you gotta go. When I shop, I know I’m spending a fair amount of time waiting around by their design. I bring my phone and occasionally take calls in the showroom models with the doors closed for privacy. Once they realize you aren’t in the “gotta get this done” mode and they see you will be there all day without rancor, that’s a weapon pulled. I also go mid week, end of month if I can.

    I probably have a very different experience, I’ve found that they don’t screw with attorneys – I tend to get fair deals with some rote dickering, but nothing scammy.

    A price shopping enthusiast with no trade and probably self financed ? I’ll wait for the guy with two crumpled pay stubs and a wife nagging him for “a bigger truck” while their bratty kids jump in and out of all the cars on the sales floor-and who will buy the extended warranty because “her old truck” (the trade in) “is a piece of crap”-and you have a shot at getting them into a bigger car based on payments….This couple and the brats (hey, I have some candy here !) are getting my undivided attention.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    We purchased two Volkswagens on separate dates from Crown VW in Lawrence Kansas over the phone. We live in Arizona.

    Both transactions were excellent with the dealer answering all questions and no games with sales or F&I.

  • avatar

    I get inquires at work for legal services all the time asking for a price by email. They don’t want to discuss the case, the facts, or give YOU any information about the arrest/transaction/services you REALLY need, not what you think is needed….just “what do you charge”. Getting a copy of the Summons from these guys is a chore, they don’t want you to know anything at all. There are some clients for whom “Pass” is the correct response.

    I can’t get too mad at the dealer. You absolutely never close a sale with a previously unknown party by email, and rarely by phone.

    You need the person with the pen in the room to make a deal, especially for a big ticket item. Otherwise, it’s a race to the bottom, and that is just bad business…no one wants to deal with bottom feeders, no matter the business, and you are needed, with pen, to put finality to any offer.

    Dealers aren’t great, mostly, I’ve stories too, but for sales, you gotta go. When I shop, I know I’m spending a fair amount of time waiting around by their design. I bring my phone and occasionally take calls in the showroom models with the doors closed for privacy. Once they realize you aren’t in the “gotta get this done” mode and they see you will be there all day without rancor, that’s a weapon pulled. I also go mid week, end of month if I can.

    I probably have a very different experience, I’ve found that they don’t screw with attorneys – I tend to get fair deals with some rote dickering, but nothing scammy.

    A price shopping enthusiast with no trade and probably self financed ? I’ll wait for the guy with two crumpled pay stubs and a wife nagging him for “a bigger truck” while their bratty kids jump in and out of all the cars on the sales floor-and who will buy the extended warranty because “her old truck” (the trade in) “is a piece of crap”-and you have a shot at getting them into a bigger car based on payments….This couple and the brats (hey, I have some candy here !) are getting my undivided attention.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    I’ve had the same issue with Toyota dealers. Opposite of my Toyota experience is Subaru. We negotiated a price via text and email, purchasing two Subaru’s in four years from the same dealer in American Fork, Utah. Seriously great buying experience. Service department at this same dealer is a different story. Wouldn’t trust them to check the oil let alone change the oil.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Unfortunately- we all have terrible stories. In 2017 the wife and I bought a brand new Hyundai Santa Fe AWD Limited. 30ish thousand dollars. We agreed to a price and in to the finance office (to get the factory rebates had to use Hyundai finance). I am ready to sign and my wife (ex-school teacher) notices the math doesn’t add up. With out our knowledge the finance guy tried to add $650.00 for “key fob insurance” and $200.00 for “nitrogen”. We had him take those numbers off-I slammed them on Yelp. We are well qualified borrowers and their tricks created a 0% chance of us buying from them again.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    Cory,

    A long time ago, my boss at the auto body supply place was lamenting how sleazy dealerships are. “You know, it could be a nice business like most others, but for some reason, they all think that they have to be slimy.”

    Why do you think this is? Was it always this way? Were carriage salesmen just as bad? Did blacksmiths try to sell you the undercoating with new horseshoes? There must be some history on this.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Well on the other hand, I bought my new 2015 Golf R long distance, entirely by phone, email and FedEx.

    These cars were hard to get at the time, and the only place I could find one was at Hewlett VW in San Antonio, 1200 miles away from home. I emailed them and arranged a phone call to discuss with their internet sales person. We did all the paperwork ahead of time, including the cashier’s check in the full amount I sent them. I expected to pay MSRP and did, so they were definitely making some money on the transaction. They were professional, helpful and responsive.

    I bought a one way airline ticket, their shuttle picked me up at the airport, they brought in a nice lunch (Texas brisket, mmmm) at the dealership, and by 2 pm I was on my way home in a new car. If the occasion arose I’d buy another car from Hewlett in an instant.

  • avatar
    namstrap

    Not sure about sales, because almost all of my working life was in parts.
    One problem with getting a dealer to buy from another one is that they hate each other.
    There was one dealer 20 or 30 miles away that we could call, and say “We see you have part number xxxxxxxxx in stock. Can we buy it?” After a short wait, it was always “Sorry. It’s held for a special order customer.” Or “Our inventory must be out. Can’t find it.”
    So I imaging stuff like that happens in sales departments as well.

  • avatar
    z9

    Living in Northern CA I have learned the best way buy a car is to call a lot of dealers in LA and Orange County. This has saved me quite a bit of anguish and money and everyone I’ve dealt with has been really helpful and happy to have me as a customer. Maybe they enjoy the novelty and if you were a local in the LA area you wouldn’t get the same treatment, I don’t know. It could just be the size of the market dictates better behavior? If both parties know there are a dozen other dealers in the same market and it’s all the same to you coming from up north, “come in and we’ll give you a price” doesn’t work.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Screwed up comment system, fix it guys.

    I’m sorry but to add to what 28 cars said up there, when you add up that “out of town buyer” I’m paying cash and I want the car shipped adds up to possible scammer.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    @28 cars Car Max has just cut out the middle man to make their buying cars directly from the public or trade ins more profitable. They don’t have to move the cars to the auction site and they get the fees that would be paid at the auction house. Yeah, like any dealer, they are keeping the good ones for themselves and only auction off the cars that don’t meet their standards, they have too many of, or just isn’t a good fit for their customer base.

    So no difference in the cars that they retail and wholesale just because they are wholesaling directly.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    deanst: “The problem is that the dealers do not provide a valuable service – they exist because of outdated and arcane laws.”

    Ding Ding Ding! This is the correct answer.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    CarMax. My understanding is that the people who like CarMax, like CarMax because it is a relatively ‘known quantity.’ You overpay by X at CarMax. If you go elsewhere as a typical consumer with typical information asymmetry, you’re looking at X +/- Y and Y might be huge and you got taken advantage of and many people like to avoid that possibility.

    The amount of ‘overpricing’ at CarMax is a good proxy for how much many people dislike dealing with mainstream car dealers.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Can you explain why you are shopping at the busiest dealership out of town and not shopping price like most people do?

  • avatar
    Vanillasludge

    Never offer written quotes to remote buyers, they will only use that number to cross shop their local dealer. Page 1 stuff in big ticket selling.

  • avatar
    SSJeep

    Corey, let me tell ya that you are absolutely in the right here. Any dealer that wont give me an out the door price via phone or email will not get my business. I am in the market for two cars/trucks, and the shenanigans I have experienced are nothing short of ridiculous.

    Dealer #1 – went in for test drive, I asked about their best OTD price as I was shopping around. In order to provide the OTD price, they wanted to evaluate my trade first (red flag #1). I told them that I was treating the trade as a separate transaction and I already had offers on my existing car. Dealer refused to provide OTD price at that point.

    Dealer #2 – Phone solicitation using Costco discount as a starting point. Asked for best OTD price from Internet manager. Told her that I would come in that weekend to buy if pricing was right. She asked me to come in and review the pricing. I said no, I dont have time to drive 1.5 hours each way just to find out if their price is right. She said she would check with her manager and get back to me. I received the same message you did, “we dont discuss this type of pricing via email or phone”.

    Dealer #3 – Test drove vehicle, liked it, told rep I would call them to get pricing as it was busy. Called rep for OTD price the next day. They provided me sticker + all taxes and fees. Which was more than a similarly optioned new model would cost (the one I drove was certified). Havent heard a thing since.

  • avatar

    To Mbella. The numbers I have seen in various trade publications and from my time and family time in dealerships, yes they make money but not a whole lot. New Cars are usually 50-70% of revenue but 16-28% (including hold backs etc) of profit versus say F and I which is less then 5% of revenue but can be as much as 15% of profit. Service which tends to be like 20% of revenue tends to be the bulk of profits (more than 50%) the rest is used cars. This varies alot by dealer and I gather has become much more profitable in the last 10 years.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Lot’s wrong with your comment. How is F&I not part of sales? Using your numbers, a good dealer will be at 43% of profit for new car sales. I can assuer you used cars is more than 7%, so it doesn’t add up. Depending on how good dealers are at fixed ops, (service and parts) this can be the bulk of their profits, but it’s usually more rare. Ever notice that sales managers are the ones that get promoted to general managers? Why do you think that is? Sales runs the show at most dealers. In my current position with a manufacturer, I get to see the numbers, and I can assure you, they do much better than you think on sales. GMs and dealer principles don’t show you all the real earnings and bonuses that sales generates.

      • 0 avatar

        Sales run the show, I agree because they need new sales to get the used sales and service. I have seen numbers for a couple of small single point family owned dealers both of which (15 year’s ago) ran 50-60% of profit thru service. On F and I in my experience you make more money financing used cars then new.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    “The dealer’s best friend is an uneducated consumer.”

    _THIS_ .

    In the 1970’s I worked for Jeep & GM dealers and ALL the new car salesmen were uppity assholes, period .

    I read all the details, tricks and tips to $ave on a new vehicle purchase here and I still don’t grasp most of it, I’ll prolly die driving some old used beater .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    https://www.rt.com/uk/474225-meghan-markle-uppity-banned-itv/

    Bad -Nate.

  • avatar
    quattro574

    I did the exact thing you tried to do with Shearer VW in Burlington VT about 200 miles from my home. They had the color and options I wanted, red 4Motion Sportwagen with a stick. My salesman Laz was awesome and offered me a price over the phone that was lower than I thought possible. He even made me a personalized video tour of the car I intended to purchase. A few days later I drove up to get the car with cash (cashier’s check)in hand. The deal couldn’t have gone better. Sorry to hear you experience was the opposite of this.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Guilty as charged and not a bit sorry .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    nrd515

    When I bought my 2003 Ram, the deal was done mostly by email, and finalized by phone, “I’ll take the maroon one for the same price!”, and only the paperwork signing took place at the dealership. It was great, by far the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had buying a car/truck. In Dec 2007, I was in the hospital fter having emergency knee surgery, and I called and asked for the same guy as before, and of course, he was gone, moved to “another store”, which turned out to be over 100 miles away. So I asked for the sales manager, and he got on the phone and I explained I wanted to finalize the deal over the phone or with emails, like I was able to do almost 5 years earlier. “Nope”, they didn’t do that anymore. I asked why not, and he said, “We just don’t”. I explained I was not going to be able to get out of rehab for another 2 weeks and needed the car when I got out, not a day later. I told him I would go invoice, less rebates, which I think was $3500. He said he would get back to me, and never did. At this point, I had bought a car and a truck from them, lived a couple of miles away, but they ignored me. I finally fund a nice guy who bought cars as a sideline. I got the car for exactly what I had offered the dealer in the first place, but I had to pay his commission of $400. It was worth it not to have to sit and play games the day I got out of knee rehab to have the car when I walked(badly) out the door.

    Fast forward to 2018. I went and played the game with the local dealer who did a trade for the car I bought with a dealer 86 miles away. It was pleasant enough, but I wish the car buyer guy was still alive, as I think he would have wound up saving me a little money, even with his commission. And I would have avoided the who F&I game. I had fun with him/it, but I would rather have skipped the whole dealer experience, from the test drive I was hounded to take(I had driven a friend’s almost identical car all the way to Chicago and back twice), to the negotiations, to the F&I BS, I would have parted with $400 to avoid it all.

    After I had my car a couple of days, a dealer in the Columbus area called me and told me he had a car equipped the way I wanted and he would give me an OTD price on the phone. I told him it was too late, but about a year later, a friend called him and negotiated a great price on a 2019 Ram Rebel from them and we drove down and picked it up, and got lunch on them at a pretty great Chinese place while they cleaned it up after a surprise storm blew through. I don’t have the card from him with me, but next time, I will give him a call first.

  • avatar
    Sceptic

    28, Certainly any business can refuse a transaction. Not necessarily directly. Don’t be naive. What you refer to as “Cake thing” was about religious freedom, freedom of association and nonacceptance of homosexuality in modern society. That bakery could have easily avoided baking the stupid cake if it wanted without any fuss. That was a statement of lesbian “marriage” being wrong. And homosexual couple wanted others to “accept” their choice.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    @Sceptic

    I worked for a law firm, and given the political state of our failing society I have no doubt a competent attorney could find some basis for suit for anyone not white and male over anything which could be deemed discriminatory. This is a feature, not a bug.

    I’ll also point out at the time and in years past, the narrative was always one of tolerance toward pretty much anyone different. Today I note your use of the word “nonacceptance”, which is implying the need to accept homosexuality in modern society, not simply to tolerate it. There is a difference between peaceful toleration and acceptance of legitimacy, so at some point someone moved the goalposts. I point this out as evidence of the true power of mass media and explain the desire to control it.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    Buying a new car with cash, no trade-in and involve shipping is a problem for a car dealer. It represent slim profits since you not financing the car from them, cannot take away any trade-in profits and can only markup shipping expense a couple hundred dollars, no dealer add on accessories, etc…

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