Confessions of a Car Salesman

Our cyberoptic umbilical to our Internet mother may be on the fritz, so we can’t exactly tell you if Edmunds.com’s Confessions of a Car Salesman is an Internet classic. But it should be and it’s a must read for anyone looking to purchase a car, whether new or old. Know thy enemy.

Chandler Phillips was a Los Angeles journalist hired by Edmunds to work in two new car dealerships and one used car dealership for three months. His expose is shocking, hilarious and well indicative of a completely corrupt industry thriving by the tacky manipulations of cheaters, swindlers, wanna-be pimps and ex-cons.

There’s too much here to quote. From the inside, car salesman are exactly what they appear to be from the outside: dishonest career liars with penchants for tacky clothes and bullying. Oh, and they’re racists to boot. Spend the morning reading this one… it’s an invaluable resource to anyone who wants to know how to get through buying a car without getting flayed.

Confessions of a Car Salesman [Edmunds]

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  1. HawkWolf says:

    I bought a Scion xB for precisely this reason. If I’m going to get ripped off, I want to be ripped off the exact same amount as everyone else who buys the same car.

  2. Paul D says:

    I read the article a couple of years ago. The information is still relevant.

    The sales aspect of the automobile industry is lurching forward on a
    grossly outdated paradigm that will not change unless the consumers
    wise up and refuse to play the game by their rules.

    I too have been eyeballing the Scions for the same reason as HawkWolf.

  3. RandomHookup says:

    Check out the documentary “Slasher.” It will confirm everything you know about the sleaziness of the profession with an extra shot of poor taste to boot. Listen to the commentary track for even more fun.

  4. bambino says:

    I haven’t read the article yet, but I’m sure it’s great and I look forward to taking the time to read & digest it. With that said, anyone who gets ripped off when buying a new/used car has noone to blame but themselves. With the resources that we have today, it is extremely easy to determine what the dealer paid for the car, what the MSRP is, what other consumers in the area have paid for the exact same car, and what you should aim for when looking to buy. Most people who get ‘swindled’ either did not do their homework or were too giddy to buy & jumped at the initial offer. That’s why I dislike the Scion ‘you pay what the sticker says’ idea. Where’s the art of haggling?!

  5. TedSez says:


    I also read this article years ago. One of the most interesting things I learned is that salespeople themselves are treated much better in some dealerships than others. The ones that have little respect for the sales staff are also the ones that attract a-holes who would much rather rip you off in a single deal than build a customer relationship that keeps you coming back.

  6. thrillhouse says:

    excellent article. The ‘high-pressure’ car lot sounds a lot like the King of Cars show on A&E. Its disgusting to watch how many people walk out of that dealership with astronomical payments.

    the ‘no haggle’ lot is almost certainly Saturn. It works because they take less profit on the sale of the car. the idea is to really get you on the trade or terms. But what you see is a lower price on the window. As a consumer, it is a much better buying experience.

    I do have to say that I (and most consumer advocates) strongly disagree with how the author talks up leasing cars. Its never a good deal. I beleive it was consumer reports that described it as “the most expensive way to own and operate a vehicle”. Also, there’s no ‘truth in lending’ since it is not a loan, you are simply renting the car. Thats why they can screw you on the rate. Its better to pay in cash and, as the article suggested, negotiate on the total price.

  7. Mr. Black says:

    I just purchased my first new car last week…if it wasn’t for doing 6 months of research, reading 3-4 books (plus the above article), I would have truely been screwed over (and w/out vasoline).

    I went from a salesman saying the dealership will not sell the car for under MSRP and I was nuts for thinking so…to paying $100 over dealer invoice (which was a fair deal in the end). If it wasn’t for knowing their sleezy techniques (and being able to spot them a mile away) I would have really been misled. Just knowing to keep the three parts separate (car price, trade-in price, financing) is a big step.

    I had my number, I knew what the car was worth, I knew delivery dates of the ’07 models (so I made sure to mention I was buying a year old car), I had my trade-in amount, I had done my homework.

  8. One think I would recommend, given how often car dealers try to screw you with your trade-in, is to sell your old car to Carmax. I have had excellent experiences with them, always recieving more than I expected to for my used car.

  9. kurtdaniel says:

    Never trade in your car when buying a used car. thats d basic lesson of this article for Auto Parts Resources owners.