I got the bright idea to begin car shopping so as to maximize the amount of trade-in value I could get for my car. This began a series of interactions that I 1) thought I had learned from already and 2) assumed were antiquated and therefore no longer in play.
My first interaction was with Car Max for a purchase price for my car. I must say, Car Max has a very efficient and easy system in place and I was in and out of there in about 20 minutes with a top book value offer on my car. Though this would seem like a good thing, it made me venture further into the jungle that is the car dealership world.
My second stop was at a hardcore dealership. This scenario never changes apparently. You’re browsing at the cars and the salesman sidles up quietly. Seems friendly enough outside, all smiles and jokes. But not unlike guys at a bar around closing time, they turn on you becoming very serious once you go inside the showroom. They want something from you and they really don’t care what’s in it for you! “How much do you want your monthly payments to be?”
You said that if I came in we could go over all the numbers to see what was possible. Can you tell me what your best price would be? How close to invoice can I get?
“Are you looking to trade in?” Yes. “I don’t think you’ll get that much for it.” I already checked Kelly Blue Book and NADA and Car Max offered me book value, sigh. When I told him what the offer was he said there was no way he could match it.
“I’ll be right back” Ugh the dreaded visit to the manager already? As if this guy doesn’t know what the car I’m looking at costs after dealing with hundreds of customers a week. He returns.
“Good news! What if I can put you in to [this] model?’
Um, I thought we were talking numbers first. Plus, I wanted that model and that engine.
“But if I can put you into this for this much a month?”
But what is the price? No answer. He leaves again.
“Ok we’re going below invoice on this now. I can’t go any lower. If I can get you into [this] model for this payment would you take it?”
Ok! What you are not hearing is that I don’t want that car. I want the other model with the bigger engine. I don’t want to ride a $25,000 lawnmower, thank you very much. You are also not discussing figures as you said you would. Now, I’m pissed. This was all a waste of time and he just wanted to get me in here to play his little game.
“Well I know I can get you a good price on this car, I don’t know how much I can help you with that car. Do me a favor, take the car home tonight. Try it out, see what you think.”
I don’t want to take it home.
“Just take it home and see what you think, then just bring it back tomorrow.”
You just want me to take it home, knowing I don’t like it, to get me back in here tomorrow.
“Well, I’d like to get your business.” So, again, just wasting my time then.
And for kicks, you like manipulating people, is that it? I said to myself.
Then get me the car I want at the price I want? How about that?
I left this dealership never knowing what the actual price of the car I wanted was. There was no way he was going to tell me what the invoice price was, what the APR actually was or what credit score he had pulled up. What I did know was that he wanted me to help him reduce the stock he had on hand and was not interested in anything else. Why would I want to give my money to him?
The next day I got 2 calls in a row from him. I didn’t answer as I was at work and didn’t have time to BS with him. I listened to the voicemail message.
“Dana, I have great news for you, give me a call.”
I called back.
“So if I can get you the car you want for this price ($40 over the monthly payment I was willing to pay) would you want it?” Oh! He had heard me. He wasn’t deaf after all.
I thought you said you had good news. What was it?
“Well I’d have to call the bank and talk to the manager but if I can get it for you at the monthly payment, would you take it?”
What’s the price? And again, you called me saying YOU had good news. What was it? $40 over my limit was not “good news” air-quoting as if he could see me.
Obviously there was no communication going on here and I fell for the “good news” bs! This guy did not have the ability to take in information, process it and give feedback based on said information. I kept presenting him with my reality and he stayed in his own cloak and dagger world of smoke and mirrors.
I’ll think about it, I lied. And why does it feel so right to lie to a car salesman?
Next dealership, same situation. Can you do better than the MSRP? Again the answer that comes back is a question, “what do you want your monthly payments to be?” I don’t know! I’m not making any decisions about anything until I know the best price I can get, here or someplace else. What happened to the days of getting $2,000 to $4,000 off MSRP? I need to feel that I’m getting something out of this transaction.
Is it because I’m a woman? Do they not realize that there are more women than men out there? That even when men are present, a woman’s opinion weighs heavily in the transaction? Don’t they have wives or girlfriends they must interact with on a daily basis? Are they stupid? Because they really seem stupid. But I know they are not stupid. They are dumb as fox. They are playing the same game they played when I bought my first car. The day they mugged me right there in the dealership when I fell for every trick in the book. I know better now. I know I’m not going to fall for inflated APRs or for higher prices. The problem is, I did want a car and could not get past the manipulation to get one! Why was it so difficult to get straight answers? And, car dealers seem to enjoy dragging it all out with phone calls for days. Sorry! I’m done. I don’t have the patience for all that.
I went back to Car Max which reminds me of a restaurant. You sit in an office with the menu displayed on the computer in front of you and you choose what you want and go outside and test drive it. I know they build in cushion on trade-ins and the price of the car is probably $1-2,000 more than one has to pay but you don’t have to sit through hours of mind numbing double-talk and they are nice and they don’t have to speak with their managers. The figures are right there in front of you and the application is done on the computer you are facing. If I’m going to pay more than I should either way, I’ll take my car sunny-side up with a side order of satisfaction, and you can hold the crazy bullshit!