No-haggle car dealerships? Good or bad?

In the "outdated customs thread, FairyChatMom wrote that “negotiating with a salesman when buying a car is stupid. Don’t waste my time - give me the bottom line,” with which I strongly agree. There have been some attempts to institute no-haggle dealerships, and I like to think they’re succeeding.

I don’t get why car salesmen exist at all. Seems to me that what dealers would lose in not fleecing some poor negotiators they’d make up in having (and paying) fewer salesmen. They’d probably make more sales, I’d guess, too, in making car-buying a less gut-wrenching experience. So: are these becoming more common, and will this be the trend in car-sales?

Tangentially relavant:

I used to sell motorcycles, ATV’s and watercraft. The asshole boss instituted a program to screw all us salesmen out of our commissions. So, as a result, when I would ‘talk figures’ with buyers, I’d escort them over to my desk, tell them what the asking price was, then tell them what to offer (way below, and less than could be sold for). I would tell them that The asshole boss would come back with another figure (the real bottom price).

In a sense, it was “No Haggle”, because I would tell the buyer the lowest they were going to pay, but we had to do the charade of the back and forth.

Did I mention the boss was an asshole? By fucking his salespeople, all he did was fuck himself. One time, a very nice rich person was ready to pay full price for a Sea-Doo. I told her, “No, offer this. He’ll take it”. Saved her a butt-load of money. Asshole boss. Fuck that guy.

Yes. It would be nice to walk into a car dealer, see a ‘real’ price and not have to do the Song and Dance number with a guy in a bad suit.

But why do (should) cars differ from other purchases? If I want to buy a suit or a new roof for my house, the price is the price. How is it to the advantage of the customer to know that he’s always getting screwed as much as he’ll allow, and that he has to work for a certain number of hours or days or weeks to get the price down a little bit (but not as much as someone else with more time or better negotiating skills)?

Sucks for me because I’ve successfully negotiated to get car prices knocked down on several cars I’ve bought over the years.

Everything is negotiable. You might be surprised at what price you can get if you just ask.

When my aunt moved to the US after living her whole life in Thailand, she had to make a lot of adjustments. One was that she had a hard time accepting that most purchases were a fixed non-negotiable price. When she’d go to the grocery store, she felt she should bargain with the cashier for the price of the groceries.

I agree, the car buying negotiation theater is ridiculous. For the last 20 or so years I’ve bought all my cars through an auto broker. I tell her what car I want and in a few days she calls me and tells me what the best price is and which dealer offers it. I accept and the car is delivered to my house. Yes, there’s a possibility she didn’t really get me the best price I could have gotten by negotiating myself, but I doubt it, and even if true, it’s worth a couple of hundred dollars to me to not have to spend an afternoon sitting in a dealership waiting for messages to go back and forth between me, the salesman and the mysterious “boss”.

More to my point: how are no-haggle dealerships doing? I think there have been some that started up in the past few years, but I don’t know if their business model is working out. Anyone dealt with them? Worked for them? Owned one?

My experience with one (CarMax) for used cars was pretty good. The price on my pickup was competitive with elsewhere, the sales process was indeed very easy and pressure-free, and the trade-in value on my 230k mile pickup that wouldn’t shift into first or third was amazingly high ($1400!). All in all a great transaction.

I have a feeling that they get you on the financing though, with the idea being that you walk in, pick a car, trade your old one in, and sign up for their financing right then and there, and drive the vehicle home. And they make up any money on the higher APR financing. The whole thing is based on making it quick and easy and a bit fun to just buy a car, without all the bullshit. More impulse-buy than extended negotiation, and they rely on having worse loan terms for that convenience.

But you can always get another better car loan to pay that off, and get the best of both worlds. That’s what I did.

Every time I have gone to the “no haggle” dealership the price they quoted was at least $1000 higher than the target price I had in mind and at least $1000 more than what I ended up paying.

I’m a terrible haggler, and I hate the exercise. The last four cars I bought (so covering the last 20 years) I emailed a number of dealers’ “Internet Sales Manager” or some such and managed to get a quote that was well below what the No Haggle places wanted.

Three out of four times they tried to tack on something when I went in to “complete the paperwork” but I’ve never paid it. I once walked out and went to the second lowest bidder and paid exactly what the email said.

The no haggle Subaru dealer is three miles from my house. I didn’t buy my car there, but I tried to take my car in for service there. Their prices were eye-watering. Over 50% higher than the dealer 15 miles closer to town.

The last time I bought a car was over ten years ago, but at the time, I started by looking online at the used car inventory that was posted online, and found a car I liked at a price I liked. I shopped around a little, to see if anyone could offer me a car and/or price I liked better, but no one could and so that was the car I ended up buying.

Make sure there are no pre/early payment penalties hidden in the loan contract first.

Oh, sure! It happened to work very much to my advantage when I did it, but that may not be the case at every no-haggle dealership/car sales place.

Really though, the big lesson from the experience was that CarMax at least, has a no-haggle sales value that they’ll give you. So you can drag your old beater and get a floor value for selling it. You KNOW that CarMax will buy it for $800, so that’s where you start pricing it for private sale. Or, if like in my case, they offer you 3x what you expected to get for it, you take the money and run!

(I remember the guy kind of hesitating and saying “Well, our price for your trade-in is $1400.” I looked at him, blinked, fought down the urge to ask “Are you sure you got the right truck?” and said “That’ll work.” At the time, it was a 10 year old Ford Ranger with 230k miles on it, jacked up brakes, a messed up manual transmission and severely messed up paint.

Early in our marriage, my husband visited a dealer without me, picked out the car he wanted, and sorta settled on the price - then he brought me in to finish the deal. At the time, he was a student and I was supporting us, so the sale wasn’t going to happen without me.

After the waiting/paperwork/crap while trying to control a restless toddler, all of a sudden the price had shot up. We probably could have made it work on our budget, but I’d already decided that we were only going to pay $X per month and their “deal” was $X + 15%. I stood up, said “No, we can’t do that” and turned to leave. Boy howdy, did that price come down fast! I wasn’t playing games, tho. I was on my way out. That was an eye-opening experience for someone whose father helped her buy her first car.

When we bought our last car 9 years ago, we’d done our research, including the value of our trade, and it was going to be a cash deal. The salesguy showed us a number. I said “Well, I don’t want to write a check for more than $8K.” He “talked to his manager” and when he came back, I wrote a check for $7999! :rofl: I’ve often wondered what would have happened had I said $7500 instead, but no biggie - we were happy with the deal we got, and I’m still driving that car 190K miles later.

When I bought my Saturn, 20+ years ago, it was a no haggle experience. It was one of the things that attracted me to the brand. The car was fine, but alas, Saturn was discontinued by GM. I don’t think it was because of the pricing model by itself, but the dealers weren’t all that thrilled with it.

I have several friends who were big fans of Saturn, and who bought several cars from them over the years. The straightforward sales process was definitely part of what they loved about the brand.

One of them still owns the last Saturn that he bought from them, a second-generation SL sedan, which he bought in the late '90s. He’s kept the car running, though it’s definitely showing its age now, and he regularly bemoans not being able to buy another one, as well as the inability to buy a new car without haggling.

But how do you know that if cars were flat price the flat prices wouldn’t be the same as the “knocked-down” prices you negotiated – or even less?

Because the cars were under blue book and NADA value, and having gone to places with no haggle prices that isn’t the case.

What does financing have to do with the price of the car? I know dealers would like you to connect the two (they love to hook you by offering low monthly payments on a car with a jacked-up price) but when you haggle over the car price the financing particulars should never enter into the car price considerations, should they?

ETA: The trade in value of your old car should similarly have zero influence on the actual car price.

Nothing to do with the price itself, but I think the point was that if they get you to use their in-house financing, without shopping around for other financing options, then (a) they (or their finance partner) is making the money on the loan, and (b) you may not get as attractive an interest rate as you might have gotten from another lender.

I don’t have a cite handy, but I have heard that “no haggle” dealerships do generally sell cars for higher average price than traditional dealerships. But I suppose some people are willing to pay a little more in exchange for a more straightforward car buying experience.