Is This Hell? No, It’s A Car Buying Experience

True story…

A few years ago I walked into an auto dealership to test drive a new vehicle intending to lease. I was met by a gentleman who took me for the drive. When we got back to the dealership he spoke with me for a short time and when he realized we weren’t close on price he excused himself and within a few minutes an attractive young lady, (I’m being kind), approached me. She was wearing a short skin-tight dress that was cut much too low in the front. My guess is, she was the greaser. For the next few minutes she smiled, leaned over and explained to me the benefits of the vehicle I was thinking about leasing. When I didn’t move on the price, she excused herself and out came her sales manger, a rather slick-looking gentleman who was obviously in love with himself and wanted me to feel the same way. At this point I was somewhere between amused and feeling like I needed a shower. He tried to educate me on the car buying experience; what I should expect, how the money factor works, how little dealerships make on each car and how much I’m going to enjoy having my car serviced there because they’re all one big happy family.
The dealership was five minutes from my home. I ended up traveling forty minutes to get the car from another dealership because I didn’t want to feel like I was entering a brothel every time I walked in there to get my car serviced.

The process of buying or leasing a car is draining. Even when I try to have fun with it and smile at the sales people and their obvious attempts of insulting your intelligence, it’s usually a train wreck.

Used car

So last week I walked into a dealership to lease. I gave them my specs and they gave me a price but I usually shop around so I contacted an internet sales person  at another dealership who gave me a price that was less. The next day I went in expecting the bait and switch routine, however I underestimated their ranking on the sleazy meter. When they presented the price to me it was 165.00 a month more than what they quoted on the phone. I Just looked at them and asked if they were kidding. After only a two or three minutes of shaking my head and telling them how unprofessional I thought they were, the sales manager “recalculated” the numbers and dropped the price 120.00.

In just a few minutes.

Really?

How can I possibly take this place seriously?

I walked out, responded to a followup note the car salesman sent me and told them what I thought. It wasn’t pretty.

201407_2108_ccbeg_sm

Why does buying or leasing a car have to be some damn difficult? I learned a long time ago in business negotiation that you should never be the one to take the last dollar off the table. The best deals are when everyone wins and walks away happy. But car buying seems to fly in the face of that logic.

Some years ago Saturn decided that there would be no haggling over price. They developed a one price policy for their line of cars. When you walked in to the showroom, you knew what you were going to pay.  I didn’t like the styling of Saturn’s but for those who did, it seemed like a great idea.

Then they went out of business.

Don’t even say what you’re thinking.

51 thoughts on “Is This Hell? No, It’s A Car Buying Experience

    1. edgar62

      My car is also ten years old and I have decided to spent the money to have to fully serviced ( correct any faults and repair where necessary) then I will take it to the paint shop and have the bodywork fixed up and resprayed. Why all this trouble with a ten year old car? – it’s the best and most economical car I have ever owned and I intend to keep it around for a while yet

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  1. Kate Crimmins

    Sounds familiar. I heard the whole story about how little the dealer, and then the salespeople make. On my next trip I noticed that the salesman I was working with drove a BMW. It wasn’t a BMW dealership. Not even close.

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  2. vanbytheriver

    I’ve never leased a car, and we’ve been lucky with those new car dealers, except for the extras, service warranties, undercoating ? (Do they still sell that ? )

    Saturn did have a good idea with their sticker price. But, I never bought one either. No one should have to settle for sleaze tactics, George. Good call.

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  3. Dale

    First off… nice to see your mug, George! 😉
    I admit I am so not into haggling. The Ford dealership we deal with (well, I deal with now) is very nice and there are no “slick” sales tactics. Then again, it is not a used car lot so that makes a huge difference!

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    1. George Post author

      Lol…thank you, Dale. Nice to see you. It’s been a while…:) I’m glad you have a reputable dealership there. I hope your new vehicle (Escape, if I remember?) is treating you well…:)

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  4. Kim Gorman

    This is discouraging. My Mazda minivan has almost 170,000 miles (I’ve had it 12 years) and I know I need to start thinking about a new vehicle soon. I’m dreading everything about it- the payment, the higher car tax, and definitely the car buying experience, which you described so well. Though a coworker just bought a new Mazda at a dealer near me and loved the saleswoman. By the way, the coworker is also s woman😊

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    1. George Post author

      I think women are initially at a disadvantage when they walk into a dealership which is primarily staffed by men who think their testosterone is what it’s all about. Let’s hope you have a reputable dealership and salesperson there. If not, just let me know..:)

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  5. cordeliasmom2012

    I’m sorry you’ve had such bad experiences. Personally, I love buying new cars. It’s such fun! I lease, so every 2-3 years I go through the process again, and I actually look forward to it. In my case, however, I have a favorite salesperson I’ve been working with for years, and the dealership manager and service people have always been very accommodating to whatever I need. The proposed payments are never more than I can afford, and I generally don’t have to settle for a car that’s less than what I want. I never go home feeling like I’ve been manipulated or cheated. By now, they know better than to even offer those add-on services – the last time they tried that, I merely repeated word for word the canned speech and then refused everything. Between my husband, my daughter, and myself, we have bought or leased 13 vehicles from the same dealership, negotiating with the same salesperson.

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    1. George Post author

      I think it helps if you visit the same dealership and have a loyalty history with them. I’ve leased for the last twenty plus years also and occasionally the process goes easily enough but that’s usually the exception. But I usually move around with different models because I like something different. That doesn’t help.

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  6. dianasschwenk

    Most of them are trained and expected to behave that way. What a shame, because even the least of us can sense when someone is not authentic. I would walk out at the get-go. I seriously hate being treated that way. Poor you. Did you eventually get a car somewhere? ❤
    Diana xo

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  7. Ann Coleman

    I loved the line about feeling something between being amused and feeling as if you needed a shower! But seriously, I know exactly what you mean. I hate trying to buy or lease a car, and I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I have turned the process entirely over to my husband. He’s not a fan either, but he copes with the sleazy sales tactics, the bait and switches, and the endless negotiations much better than I do. The one and only time I enjoyed my experience in a car dealership was when I took along my then two year old daughter and let her do exactly as she pleased during the entire negotiating process. I thought, “why should I be the only one who is suffering?” Next time you go, see if you can borrow someone’s toddler to take along.

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  8. Sheila Moss

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that goes through this. What is about cars that you have to negotiate a price? Everything else in the US has a price that is the price. I put off buying one until the old bag of bolts will not run another foot. If I could look without being pressured and know the real price, I would shop much more often.

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  9. aginggracefullymyass

    I’m getting heart palpitations just thinking about buying another car… I have a 2008 and pray it lasts another 10 years. Then I can buy a golf cart to tool around the retirement community! You are a brave man…

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  10. jan

    Saturn had a lot of problems – I have a real horror story to tell about them and it has nothing to do with a fixed price! Thanks for the warning about leasing! I think I need a shower now too.

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    1. George Post author

      I’m not surprised. I think horror stories are pretty common with car buyers but Saturn had more than the norm, which is probably why they’re out of business. Sorry you had such a problem.

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  11. reocochran

    It took me a month to get the exact price I quoted my first visit at a small town’s (north of my town) dealership. Each time the same salesman would give me a quote a small bit below the one he started with (which I rejected). This went on, while I also mentioned my brother living in a big city of Cleveland and he would tell me what a local place there was listing cars I liked. Finally, I received one last bid, exactly the one I wanted with more options and I was happy to receive a year of Syrius. The thing was I didn’t have a time limit nor full interest in getting a new car. I am sure someone else’s better credit may have brought their car home the first day! 😀

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  12. candidkay

    Oh, I hear you! I bought my car instead of the one I was sure I was going to buy simply b/c of the difference in dealerships and salespeople. I knew within 5 mins. the slime was oozing out the door.

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  13. http://www.salpa58.wordpress.com

    I worked for several dealerships in my lifetime and learned plenty. I passed all of my knowledge on to my children. Knowing when to turn and walk away is key. Also asking to see the factory invoice with the hold back figure is also key. Dealers have to make a profit in order to stay in business but they will all take you over the coals if they can. You might also want to be careful of the service dept. They can be ruthless. :o)

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    1. George Post author

      It’s a process that should be fun and exciting but usually ends up being frustrating. You’re right about the service departments. I’ve always believed that a secret book with your name in it and if they gave you a good deal on the car they overcharged you on service. But that’s me being cynical..:)

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      1. http://www.salpa58.wordpress.com

        No it’s not. They at times will make a minor adjustment shall we say and then tell you your such and such has to be changed. It could be dangerous and so on. The more they sell the more they make. And, if they do any warranty work make sure you get a copy of the invoice. Lots of crap goes on in that dept. Happy Hunting. :o)

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  14. Global Auto Scene

    Good post. You are certainly not alone. I spent 20 years in the automotive world.
    I worked the parts and service side, not the sales side. But, believe me, I saw my share of utter astonishment, shaking my head. Saturn had a good thing going with the no haggle price….it’s a shame their cars weren’t worth a quarter of said price! I advise and help folks with this quite frequently. You did your homework going in George…..most people don’t. They try to fly blind. The key, is to educate yourself and I just about guarantee it will create a better experience.
    -E

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