Car Salespeople: Evolve, Dammit! (Mini Rant)

S.O. and I went to look at five different cars today. We have all the research done, our own financing in place, and made it verrrrrrrrrrrrry clear that we were at the dealerships ONLY to test drive our five “finalists” and repeated this over and over.

We really tried to be polite, but without fail all five salespersons applied the pressure the moment we got in the car and moved into intense pressure mode when we finished the test drive and simply said “thank you” and asked for a business card in case we decided to pursue their car further:

“C’mon in, let’s run the numbers” (“no thanks, I don’t need numbers”)
“The Honda Fit takes four months to get, you better act today!” (“bullshit”)
“My sales manager would like to meet you” (“no, no, and no”)
“We can get you a better finance deal if you’ll just fill out some paperwork” (“no, you can’t”)

I understand that these guys (and gal) work on commission and car sales are tough now, but with the Power of the Intarwebs don’t most customer know what things should cost and what and how to finance, etc? The pressure just seems archaic and cartoonish and I dislike having to be downright rude to extract myself from a car lot.

I bought a Scion a year ago. Scion has a fixed price…there’s no negotiation.

As I wandered around the lot (most Scion dealerships are also Toyota dealerships), I noticed the stereotypical salesmen that you describe. (Is a mustache mandatory??)

But the salesman who approached me was sooooooo cool. He was laid back. He was knowledgeable. He was professional. He didn’t make fun of me when I kept stalling (it was a manual) :slight_smile:

Scion makes money on “upgrades.” He sat down with me inside and went over every available option. As I said no to each one, his answer, every time, was, “O.K.”

I was in and out in an hour.


I imagine the answer to the question “Why do they still do the high pressure, slimy sales technique?” is probably “Because most of the time it works and makes them lots of money.”

It’s annoying, but it’s never going to change. Sales people try to sell things. As a business, you can’t replace them with anything less obnoxious and maintain the same kind of profits. meek, polite salespersons are just not - on average - very effective salespersons, except perhaps in a situation where the sale is already guaranteed when the customer walks in the door.

But I’ve yet to run into a realtor who’s half as obnoxious, or salespeople in other industries who are so pushy. I understand the need to be assertive in order to make money, but I won’t buy a car from an aggressive, disrespectful salesperson. In fact, I don’t even need a salesperson, just someone to hand me the keys and let me drive the car a few miles.

BTW, the worst experience of the day was at a Scion dealership :frowning:

Good grief! I’ve been test-driving cars locally for replacing my father’s current car. He’s not able to drive himself at the moment, so I have been doing his chauffeuring when he’s been feeling better. As such I’m the one doing the test drives. And I’ve had no problem with getting the test drives I want without being pressed to buy before I leave the place. I haven’t had any experiences like the ones you’ve mentioned.

Crikey, I have. You must just be lucky.

Understood, but for everyone like you, there are ten customers for whom pressure will make a difference to the immediacy of their purchase. That’s why the phenomenon is not going to go away.

Two cars ago I bought from a dealership which specialises in ex-company leases. I’d done a bit of research into what I wanted and how much it would cost, so I just walked up to the salesman and said “I want a four door family saloon, manual, between about 1500 and 2000cc: no boy racer cars or FWDs, and I can spend between 5 and 8 grand.” Guy was great: he took me straight to the four or five cars on the lot that fit the bill, gave me the keys and said “Here ya go; take 'em for a drive and let me know if one of 'em suits ya”. Took one for a drive, had it AA checked and it was fine: went back to the yard. Sticker price was $8000, so I asked if he’d take $6000 for cash: he said 7000, I said 6500, and we settled on $6750. Whole deal took me about three hours: no pressure, no bullshit. I’ve always bought from them since, and I steer other people there too. I like being treated like a customer in a business transaction and not a mark in a shell game.

I should probably stay out of this thread…

We bought a new Toyota on Thursday, and it could have gone the way of the OP, but luckily we had a fleet manager who got the message immediately that (a) we ARE going to buy a car, and (b) the less bullshit we have to deal with, the more likely it will be one of his!

Trevor was bend-over-backwards helpful and found us the car we wanted over 100 miles away, and made it appear the next day.

I was car shopping a few months ago, and I was pleasantly surprised:

Even though I look like a freak, all but one salesman (Honda) treated me with complete respect and acted like I would be a valued customer. Only one salesman (Honda) tried to talk to my boyfriend, who was coming along for the ride, after we had made it clear that I was the buyer. Only one salesman (Nissan) was pushy about not leaving the lot. I was clear that I was a first-time car buyer, I would be trying out a number of cars, and they were there to let me test drive the cars - they had no hope of making a sale today. They were pretty much all okay with that.

OTOH, the Honda dealer was a complete twat. It was abundantly clear that they had no interest in selling any of their smaller, cheaper cars - if you weren’t looking for something expensive, they had no interest in you. I asked to test drive the Fit - the dealer rolled his eyes and walked away, offhandedly directing an underling to get me keys. When I got back, everyone had dissappeared - I ended up just leaving the keys on a table. Hated the car, too.

The Toyota dealer was very nice in person, but he called me at home three times in the next 48 hours, plus had the corporate office call twice to ask about “my experience”. Hello, I told you I wasn’t buying for at least a month.

I ended up going with a no-negotiation car dealership - they post their prices (on the cars and online) and there’s no haggling nonsense - which was offering a better price on the Hyundai that I wanted than the Hundai dealership would*. And they got the car I wanted delivered to my doorstep from 40 miles away the same day, and apologised profusely that the drive had run up the odometer so much (to 77 miles, IIRC). And they offered me every other oil change free at their service station, and guaranteed loaner car if I had did any service there, ever.

  • The guy at the Hyundai dealership kept trying to convince me that the other guy’s posted prices weren’t real prices, and that he would match a “real price”. When I pointed out that the other dealership publically posted firm prices, he refused to beleive that these were real.

This is the experience I’m hoping for, but early signs are not encouraging. I, like Jennshark, am in the early stages of “just looking, not buying.” But I don’t enjoy having smoke blown up my ass nor do I appreciate male salespeople making assumptions about me based on my gender.

“What do you do?”
“I’m a lawyer.”
“Wow! You must have just graduated from law school, because you don’t look old enough to be a lawyer!”

I’m 39. On a good day, I might look 35. And of course my profession and age are irrelevant anyway.

“What kind of car to you want to see?”
“The Accord Coupe.”
“What color do you want?”

I kind of doubt the second question they ask a man is what color he wants.

This (YouTube clip) is of course overdone for humor, and it is very funny, but there’s still more than a grain of truth to it.

I love owning a new car but I hate shopping for one.

Last car I bought - a Nissan - I first did a lot of online research to see if that was the car I wanted. Test drove a few different cars too. Then I went to some website where I put all the options I wanted in, and waited for dealerships to contact me with their prices. (No, I don’t remember the website, but it’s probably easy to find, it may even have been the Nissan USA site)

I specified that I’d only take dealer financing if I qualified for nothing down and the .9% they were offering.

Two hours later I had quotes from two dealers within 20 miles. Happily the closer of the two was $1200 less, so there I went. They had three just like what I wanted, one navy, one black and one some godawful shade of monkeyshit green. I test drove again, just as the finance guy came back and said “no money down, .9% for 5 years”.

Forty five minutes later I drove the black one off the lot.

We bought a new Element a week ago, and the experience was nothing but good. We’d done two years worth of research before buying, so we knew exactly what we wanted and how much we wanted to pay for it. We were in and out in an hour and never once felt pressured to buy.

The internet is such a boon for car buyers: gone are the days of traipsing from yard to yard in the desperate hope that someone somewhere has a car you want at a price you can afford: now you can just punch up a list of the cars you want, and go in armed with the knowledge of exactly what people are paying for them.

We bought our Corolla (very lightly used) three years ago after about a year of looking, and we ran into every salesperson in the spectrum. One got very frustrated with me when I said I heard the car making a bad noise while test driving it (the updated version of the Dodge Neon - my husband had one, and we are well aware of what kind of pieces of crap they are). Some tried to talk to my husband instead of me (I’d ask a question, they’d answer my husband). Those ones were pure entertainment - he doesn’t play that game, and neither do I. :slight_smile: Some were hard sell, and some were not. Some were big fat liars (probably most of them). I agree with the OP; I’ve dealt with many salespeople in my life, and the car ones are still the biggest assholes around.

ETA: Very happy with the Corolla so far, by the way.

I do suspect that some of the crap we’re encountering is gender-based (we’re a female couple). I’ve tried very hard not to tell any of the yahoos we’ve encountered that I’m a college prof; I can only imagine the responses.

We’ve been playing “good cop/bad cop.” S.O. listens semi-nicely and I cut the crap short when we’re done.

Previous poster makes my point exactly: with the power of the internet and knowing how much the car should be, why do (some) salespeople still try the old “this car only comes with $3,000 worth of undercoating” shit?

Because there are a lot of people that will work on.

There is still a significant number of people who do not have a computer at all. Of those that do, many are unfamiliar with how the internet works and how to extract information from it. Of those that are, some will still be weak-minded and agreeable to pushy sales tactics. The body of people that are intelligent enough to research prices and assertive enough to shut down salespeople is pretty darn small, relatively speaking.

Gah. I am breaking out in hives about going over to the Toyota dealership so that #1 son can LOOK at the gray Corolla they obtained so that he could look at it. My husband and he went there on Friday to check them out. The car is for #1 son.

I hate car shopping so much, I can’t tell you. I have never been treated like I have a brain or my own money in any dealership–even when my husband has deferred to me in front of the salesmen! I loathe them all–I don’t care what color it is; I want to know about gas mileage and performance. (of course, the last time I researched a car was back in 1998).

I am not about to make the purchase with #1 son tomorrow(because I have no faith that I will get the best price-female, blonde, cars are not an interest–I’m their monthly bonus walking in); but I dread the whole process. Shut up, give him the keys, let him test drive it, answer HIS questions. Do not sell me on anything. Especially don’t call me the next day and tell me about a deal involving FREE car mats like the Mazda guy did back in the day. And here’s a tip for all you salesmen: take NO for an answer. You’ll get more business from the shock value alone.

My old and dying Volvo needs to be replaced and I dread that even more. I swear it would almost be worth it to me to pay someone a commission to buy the damned thing for me. I know I sound ridiculous, but there it is.

I bought my darling Honda Civic at CarMax, and I will definitely use them again. No pressure, lots of variety to choose from, and no haggling needed. The process was very smooth from beginning to end, and the fact that I was paying for the car in full meant no silliness with the finance department.

I will never have a car payment again.

Heh. I was on a service call to a used car dealership, installing a new power supply in one of their office computers. So I’ve got the PC all opened up, trying make sure I disconnect everything correctly, and this salesman comes up and says, "I noticed you have a lot of stuff in the back of your car, I can put you in an SUV that would give you a lot more room…

I just looked at him, and said, “You’re joking, right?” Nope, he just launched into his sales spiel, oblivious to the fact that I was there to do a job, not pad his commission. I think they must spawn them in the same slime pit that Saruman bred his orcs in.