Discuss your opinion of car salesmen tactics.

I’ve had at least one unsavory experience with car salesmen. I’m not talking about your average joe trying to get rid of an old car he used to drive, I mean professional salesmen. In my case, when I was researching deals for new cars, I found a make and model with my specs that was reasonably priced, and they were offering 0% apr and 0 down. Awesome, I thought.

I call around to a few dealerships and I find one that is offering the deal. They say they have a few of these models around and I schedule an appointment to come in.

So I get my used car detailed and go into the dealership. First thing I am told is that the guy that I talked to on the phone isn’t there. Ok. Then I’m sitting down with another salesman and I tell him about the deal I found (0/0), he says, “Well, that’s not happening.” Hmm. I say, “Sure it is, it’s already been arranged.” He proceeds to go check out my used car and offer me a price on it. The price is reasonable. I go pick out a car and we are almost done.

The deal does happen, by the way, but this isn’t the end.

Now I’m sitting in the finance guy’s office. My credit is good, so the (0/0) deal is kosher. But a bit of chicanery is about to take place. He enters the contract into the system as if I were including a service contract into the deal. Only because I happen to be looking at his computer screen do I notice that a small amount of interest is being included. I say, “Hey, why is there interest there?” He explains about the service contract, and I say, “I want THIS deal.” Pointing to the scrap paper on which the salesman scribbled down his “terms”. So the finance guy changes the contract to (0/0) with no service contract.

Next thing I notice is that the price I was quoted for the new car is nowhere to be seen on the contract, and, being an engineer, am a bit dismayed by the fact that I can’t figure out how the math on this contract corresponds to any conversations I’ve had so far. Turns out, they were including the used car in the price of the new car, which would have shorted me about 4000$. By this I mean, when I talked to the first guy on the phone, he tells me 20,000$ for the cost of the new car and the discussion about how much I will get for the trade will take place later. When they write up the contract, they list the price of the new car at 24,000$ and then give me 4000$ for the used car.

My opinion thus far about car salesman is that they cheat. They will try to screw the customer for the most money possible. And my experience is only one out of many, so I wanted to get some people to share their horror stories.

And wasn’t there a company that didn’t give its salesmen commissions? What was that, Saturn? What happened to those guys?

They went out of business. Pity, too. The one and only car I have ever bought in my life was from them. Lasted 10 years (only sold it because I moved to NY where a car is impractical) and got north of 40mpg routinely.

A $ 4,000 difference is pretty big disconnect and for a salesman dependent on commission not to be there at the time of the appt with a hot prospect is pretty damned odd. Was it arranged that the guy would meet you or you would just come in and talk to anyone?

No, he was supposed to be there, and later apologized for having had to go to his daughters play, or something.

So were you able to get the deal at your price or not?

first time buying a car then?

Part of the problem is that because buyers have so much information these days, the traditional “ask high, haggle down” price negotiations are mostly a thing of the past with new car sales. What it’s been replaced with are these kinds of shell games over financing, trade-ins and additional-dealer-profit service plans. Haggling was always pretty aggravating, but some of the crap they pull now really does feel like you’re watching a skilled con-man at work.

“Daughters play” is code for the local strip club.

I really hate the games.

The first time my husband and I bought a new car, he had picked one out and talked to the guy before taking me to see it. I am the family money manager, and I knew what we could afford, and what the sales guy was pushing wasn’t even close. I told him flat out what our bottom line was, and he kept up with “Well, could you afford <this much>?” I stood up and was about to walk out, when suddenly, the price came down.

The last car we bought was another game. We’d done the research and we knew what the car we wanted was worth and what our trade-in was worth. We had cash, so financing wasn’t part of the game. But I knew that I didn’t want to write the check for more than $X and I also knew they were waaaaay lowballing our trade-in value. I didn’t feel like sitting there all night and I told him “I want our out-of-pocket to be less than $X.” He “talked to his manager” and came back exactly $1 less than I’d told him. Made me wish I’d gone a little bit lower. But we got the car we wanted at what we considered to be a fair price, so I was happy.

The easiest purchase was my Scion xA. I had no trade-in and the dealership did no-haggle - I think that might have been the Scion policy at the time. Anyway, I found the one I wanted, asked them to put cruise control on it, and 3 days later we picked it up. Easy-peasy. And by far my favorite car. I almost wept when I agreed to sell it to my sister, but as retirees, we didn’t need 3 vehicles.

After buying my last car I’m vowing never again to buy new. Until I can go online and buy a car at an exact price, no way.

You’re never stuck with one salesman. If you don’t like the cut of his jib, ask to talk to somebody else. If you don’t like that one, ask to talk to the sales manager and tell him you’re sick of dealing with people who won’t listen to you and tell him they’ve got one more chance to make you happy or you’re going someplace else. Then do it.

All sales people need to sell to make a living, but they don’t have to be assholes to do it. The ones that grind you the most are usually the ones with the poorest sales records, IME. I never lied to any customer; I told them when a product sucked or when they were in way over their heads; and I was always in contention for salesman of the month.

My own poorest experience was when I went to buy a new Jeep Wrangler. I walked in the door, which was right next to a new Cherokee. A guy wearing a suit and slicked back hair slithered up to me and actually asked: “What would it take to put you behind the wheel of this Cherokee?” I looked at him for a few beats, then replied: “A better salesman than you.” I ended up buying from one of the sales managers and told him that if his staff was still trying to use if-I-could-then-would-you tactics, his sales were going to suffer.

With all of the numbers available on the Internet, I do think there are fewer games played with the price and the trade-in, leaving lots of room for games played with service contracts, financing, etc.

I recently bought a used car, and I was able to look online and find the details about what that car for that year in that condition should cost, and what my car should bring in trade. When they first told me what they wanted for the car, I was able to say, “That’s higher than prices I see online” and they dropped the price a couple of grand on the spot. Then they looked at my trade-in and offered me about what it should have been - a little less than I wanted, but not unreasonable for its age and condition.

Eventually I had all the information in a spreadsheet, and I told them I needed another couple of grand out of the deal, and within a half hour they came down fifteen hundred. Just like FairyChatMom, I wondered if I should have asked for more, but the deal was reasonable, and I accepted.

One of the things that made this process less painful was that most of our negotiations were done via email, where it is easier to be outrageous. I doubt I could have asked for a couple of grand like that in a face-to-face negotiation.