Consumerist Confessions: Tell Us About Cars…

The Consumerist is interested in hearing from car salespeople and customer service representatives in the automotive field. We’re looking for tips related to buying a new or used car. If you are or once were a car salesperson or worked in a car dealership and would like to confess, write to us at tips [at] consumerist [dot] com.

We’re interested in negotiations, compensation, car brands, used cars, new cars, financing, customer satisfaction surveys…you name it.

Please organize your tips by the make of car you work with. Toyota, Ford, Chevy…etc. We can’t wait to hear from you! Remember, helpful tips! Here are some good examples:

9 Confessions From A Former Enterprise Rental Salesman
8 Confessions of An Alltel Sales Rep
11 Confessions of a T-Mobile Sales Rep
6 Confessions Of A Former Sprint Sales Rep
MORE CONFESSIONS….

(Photo: morsteen)

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  1. Motor_Head says:

    WTF, consumerist…no Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep in the “Read More”? Okay, here are my tips.

    Number 1:
    Dealers are willing to lose money to sell you a car at the end of the month. That’s right, because they often can get a $1,000 bonus for every car they sold that month if they meet a certain quota. So, they take a hit of 5 grand, but because that is one step closer to their 300 sales (or whatever number), they will more than make up for it with a $300,000 windfall.

    Of course, I am using hypothetical numbers. Last time I talked with a friend in Dealer Operations, he was throwing out much larger numbers. Some dealers have such volume, their targets are higher, etc.

    The one underlying fact is that you will have a better chance buying or leasing a new car at the end of the month.

    Number 2:
    Your only power is the ability to walk away. People don’t do this enough. Just walk away, tell them you will think about it…tell them the price isn’t where you want it to be.

    Number 3:
    Some dealers are sleazeballs. If you get the feeling you are dealing with one, go to a different dealer. If this is just not possible, never sign the paperwork they first give you. Take it home and read through it. You’ll find a lot of slime will add back on to the cost in line items for special deals they’ve given you (especially if you are doing a trade in).

    Number 4:
    If you are part of an employee (or friends and family) purchase plan, that “employee price” is only the starting point for negotiation. You can still deal them down further.

    Number 5 (and by far the most important):
    Have a problem with the car, the dealer, etc, call the 800 number in the back of your owner’s manual! Seriously, they will document you called, they will call the dealer, they will do whatever it takes to fix whatever f*ckup happened. They have the power to use corporate dollars to pay the dealer to fix whatever is wrong (assuming the issue is genuine).

    Notice #5 is not necessarily for buying a car, but not enough people know about the magic of that 800 number. They think they are stuck with what the dealer tells them. You are never stuck with what a dealer tells you…always call the 800 number. I’ve had friends get entire bills wiped away, and my parents got a dealership to lose their certification because of the way they were treated.

  2. ColoradoShark says:

    My favorite book on the car business is “Don’t get taken every time” by Remar Sutton. I’ve loaned it to friends and they enjoy it also.

    It is pretty funny when you go into the dealership and you can see them doing everything he said they would. I could barely stop myself from laughing. It radically reduced my stress at the dealership.

  3. iMike says:

    a) don’t buy a new car
    b) don’t buy a used car from a dealer

    Basically, opt out of dealing with dealers, who are 99% scumbags.

  4. The Gigante says:

    And never – ever -never get the stupid service plan. I mistakenly did that and found it to be utterly worthless. Never take your car to the dealer to get fixed. Thats the biggest scam of all.

  5. Hexum2600 says:

    I have luckily been blessed by having an older brother who went to school and was very close friends (group of best friends close) with a guy who inherited several dealerships, and stands to inherit a few more when another of his family members passed away. You know how some cities have one family owning a ton of dealerships? Hes one of those guys.

    So I really don’t know about buying a car. I went in when i turned 18, talked to him about cars, he handed me one of his salesmans “crib sheets” and said to come back when i picked something out. I went out, found a few, came back and spoke to him. He pulled out his ledger and told me where he got each one, and then i narrowed it down to one i really wanted. He looked at the crib sheet, said he actually paid 1500 less for it (1500 less!) and then said he would give it to me for the price he paid plus a couple hundred for the new brakes and the cleaning. At this point it was just shy of 4 grand less than blue book value, so i said i’d take it.

    A month and a half later transmission went out on it. Called him up, he said to not worry about the fact they only full warrenty for 30 days, he towed it in, replaced the transmission himself (he was the kid in the family who actually likes cars, which is why his dad left him the dealerships, his dad was the same way) and dropped it off to me where i was at and took a taxi back to the dealership (20 mins away).

    5 years, 100k miles later, and all i’ve had to do was change the oil and brakes once.

    2002 bought a ’98 with 40k miles on it for 6500. Still feel it was a great purchase. Everyone else in my family bought their cars from him.

    Definitly not typical.

  6. TheACM says:

    Edmunds had a fascinating read on this when they send an reporter undercover to audition as a salesperson located here:

    http://www.edmunds.com/advice/buying/articles/42962/articl

  7. DoubleScorpion says:

    I work in the parts department at a Honda dealer.
    Here are my new car/ used car related tips

    1. If you have purchased a new or used car and have been promised something (an extra key, a new cigarette lighter or flashy illuminated spoiler kit)do not leave the dealership without the item or something on paper, normally a due bill, saying they will get it for you. I can’t give you anything without some kind of verification.

    2. Take care of your keys. All new Honda keys have a transponder in the base. Most now have keyless entry buttons on the keys as well. These keys are pretty expensive to replace and require programing from the service department which is another separate charge. People are always surprised to hear the price of a replacement key. This is one thing I don’t believe salespeople stress enough.

    3. CSI numbers and surveys are very important. It is a powerful bargaining chip. I have seen the sales department bend over backward and replace a part on a new car that had nothing wrong with it. Just to make that customer turned in a positive survey

  8. number9ine says:

    I was in new car sales for over three years, at import dealerships (VW, Mazda, Nissan). Just as a commenter above suggested that the buyer’s only advantage is to walk away, the dealer’s only advantage is misinformation. I’m an avid Consumerist reader, and the Comments section of every car-buying post here looks like a “who’s who” of misinformed consumers. So, on with the gritty:

    -Profit is the last word. Unlike your average electronics retailer or call center, dealership employees don’t even get the “customer is #1 at Conglomo” 30 min. intro video when hired. That goes for all departments–sales, service, and parts, but especially sales. Profit motivates all actions, and salespeople work hardest to get it. Your car will need service. It will need parts. But, you don’t need to buy that model car from their dealership. Salespersons are trained to make you feel indebted to them for their time, and to use your guilt to steer you into a new car, the sooner the better. As you move up in price the game and players stay the same, only the language and clothing change. From Lada to Lexus, it’s all the same pitch.

    -You have no friend at the dealer. Your friends don’t have friends at the dealer. Your uncle, brother, in-law, or poker buddy who works in any department of the dealership you’re looking to buy from has absolutely no leverage to get you the “deal of a lifetime.” Exceptions to the rule? Sure. But it’s still a rule. Why? Because if you trust someone else to negotiate for you, you’re making an assumption that their motive is aligned with yours. Your Naiveté will earn you a slot on your salesman’s “Ben Dover of the month” plaque.

    -The truth is out there. Thanks to teh internets, what was once opaque is now crystal-clear. It’s easy to find out what a car costs the dealer within $100 or so. Here’s what costs you money on your car purchase: invoice price (holdback, nat’l ad subsidies, destination fee, emissions fee, etc.), markup (quoted price over invoice), documentation fees, taxes, title fees, accessory charges, finance charges, and lease/finance fees. Every single one of these is subject to negotiation with the exception of the invoice price (some argue that holdback is negotiable, but you’ll be hard presssed to find a dealer who agrees to go under their invoice on any model in recent inventory). Some info follows on how to negotiate specific parts of your purchase, but you should study up at websites like kbb.com, edmunds.com, and the dozens of other car sites to educate yourself before you make a trip to the dealer.

    -You’re the boss, but not the tyrant. Walk into a dealership with your nice hat on. A polite person wouldn’t walk into someone else’s house and insult their wife, or demand the remote. Your tone and language say a lot about your character, but more importantly, about your strengths and weaknesses. Anger often masks discomfort or confusion, and salespeople are trained to use that to their advantage. Being friendly while enforcing your expectations will make the job a lot easier for you and the dealer. Like mom says, treat people as you want to be treated, which (I’d assume) is nicely. Being nice doesn’t mean you have to be foolish, though. It’s never impolite to say “thank you for your time, we’ll be in touch, bye.”

    -The art of the test drive. Test drive everything you like before you negotiate. Take a day off during the week. Everyone’s at work, so you’ll get more time and attention. Wear some comfy clothes, and good shoes for driving. Bring along a CD of music you like. Don’t bring printouts from the internet, don’t bring your checkbook, but do bring a small pad and pen. Call ahead, make an appointment. Get the salesperson’s name, and give yours. Leave a callback number. Let the salesperson know the model of car you want, the number of doors, trim level, engine and transmission, and verify that a model with at least the engine and transmission you want is available to drive. At the dealer, let them know upfront that you’re only test driving today. If they refuse your appointment, speak to the sales manager. Pick a local dealer if you can, and have a reasonable route (5-8 miles roundtrip) planned out. Otherwise, you’ll go on their favorite route. Be sure to leave a stretch of highway in there, but never more than the distance between two exits. Salespeople hear horror stories about hostages, stolen cars, etc. Wouldn’t you be nervous? Take your pad and write down the things you like and dislike about the car. If you really like the car you drove, get the stock number (usually on a sticker in the upper corner of the windshield). That way, even if that car is gone when you go back, you’ll be able to reference it so the manager can find another one like it. Let the salesperson follow up–this is closely tracked by their manager as part of their job performance. If they’re pushing too hard, politely ask them not to call anymore.

    -I found my car, now what? It’s great to know just what you want. Hop on the internet, and configure the car with the options you want. Remember, new model year cars usually come late summer, so your ’07 model might soon be an ’08 with new packages, pricing, or even a new body style. There can be pros and cons to buying “last year’s” model, but an absolute reason NOT to buy the ’07 is your dealer’s willingness to “deal” on the leftovers in stock. Remember, YOU get to choose how much you pay. However, there are usually manufacturer incentives to move the old models, so consider that when choosing. Know your budget. Before you get too attached to that chilled cupholder and leather package, can you afford it? Figure out the incentives, invoice price, price you’re willing to pay (fair market values are estimated at sites like edmunds.com and are usually on target), trade-in value of your car, your cash on hand, and hit a payment calculator like http://www.bankrate.com/brm/auto-loan-calculator.asp. Call your bank or credit union and see what their rates are for different credit tiers, so you can figure your payments as accurately as possible. Check out the amortization table! Most people never look hard at how much their money is costing them. Think in 5 year increments, not just “can I make the payment each month?” Be confident that you can afford everything you’re paying, including taxes. After sorting out the details, call and make another appointment at the dealership with the same salesperson if you liked them. If not, make your appointment with the sales manager.

    -Avoid the maven. Some dealers call the person who comes with you for moral support the “maven,” and is typically seen by your salesperson as a bad cop, giving them incentive to pull out the big-gun shady tactics. Unless it’s someone directly financially impacted by the transaction, leave them at home when you negotiate. Bring them for the test drive instead. You can handle it yourself.

    -Dollars and sense. Negotiating is the biggest fear for any car buyer. Cars cost money. A lot of money. For some people, it’s the largest single expenditure they’ll ever make outside of a home purchase. Why not be careful about it? It’s easy to do and will make you feel a lot more confident if you plan in advance. Fools rush in.

    -Negotiate price. Car dealers LOVE when you say, “I’ll take it home today if you can give it to me for $299 per mo.” How many months? How much down? What interest rate? How much is your trade-in worth? These are the ingredients that factor in to how much that magic number will be. You should know a rough monthly payment before you walk in the door (see above). Dealers typically use what they call the four-square, which is a worksheet with boxes for selling price, trade-in, down payment and monthly payment. The sales manager only wants to fill in the last one. You should know exactly what you want the number to be in each box. If they can’t match those numbers, thank them and leave. Always consider the possibility that your numbers are infeasible if you’re not getting what you want.

    -Your time is valuable. Making dealers compete is a waste of your time if you walk in the door knowing what you want to pay. If Dealer #1 won’t match them, you only have a slight probability of matching them with dealer #2. I know this is contrary to a lot of what you might read out there, but it’s the honest truth. People who shop around are looking for a specific price: Invoice (or invoice less holdback). They aim to use the quote from one dealer as leverage at the next dealer to drive the price down as low as the manupulation will take them. Time is money–shoot for a few hundred over invoice and call it a day. Think about how many hours you’ll spend at three dealers, multiply that by your hourly wage, and plug it into your gut’s cost-benefit ratio.

    -Take financing off the table. Even if you plan on asking the dealer to finance, you can always say “I’m financing through my credit union.” CUs typically offer lower rates than the finance manager can provide, with the exception of factory financing deals. You’ve just cut the four-square down to a three-square if you can get your bank or CU to loan you money instead. Fix the other three numbers, plug in your bank’s rate, and your monthly payment will be fact, not fiction.

    -F%&k the bump sticker. The price and options label on the window of every new car is called a Monroney label, and is required by law to be visible at all times. Dealers will often place an official-looking addendum sticker (“bump sticker”) next to this label with items like dealer-installed options, or even a markup above MSRP. If the item is dealer-installed and isn’t easily removable, go to the Parts department and get the actual price of the item. It’s a guarantee that every item on the bump sticker will be marked up somewhere between 300-5000%. Case in point: CD changers that sell for $250 at the parts counter and install with two screws are included with your car at a price of $700 on the bump sticker. As for that MSRP markup, the dealer will never see that money coming from YOUR pocket. Laugh it off, just like they do when someone actually pays it.

    -Don’t overvalue your trade. The dealer is pessimistic about your trade. At best, it’s a servicable car they can sell on their used lot. At worst, it’s a car they have to resell to someone else to sell. Buyers consistently make the mistake of being optimistic about their trade value, which leads to the dealer packing money on to that value and finding a way to make it back elsewhere in the deal, sometimes twice over if they’re feeling cocky. Go to kbb.com and look up your car’s trade-in value. Be accurate on mileage and options, and reasonable on condition. Everyone wants to think their car is “excellent,” but your dealer sees the overspray on that fender job from the deer you hit, smells the smoke in your upolstery, and sees the stripped bumper paint from that Kerry/Edwards sticker you finally decided to peel off last month. Print the KBB value and bring it to the dealer. If they offer under the printed value, get specific reasons why. If their quote is too low for you, sell it private party if you want the maximum money for the car. Generally, dealerships will wholesale cars over 6 years old, with more than 80k miles, and/or in poor condition. This means that they don’t have the chance to make money again on reselling your car, so they aren’t likely to be flexible on their quote. Dealers typically quote trade-in values from their own guide, like NADA, Galves, Black Book, etc. These guides typically come in between 200-1000 lower than KBB or Edmunds. Fight for that difference if you think it’s worth it, but don’t waste too much time tilting at windmills.

    -Sniff out the trunk money. “Trunk money” is dealer slang for customer or dealer incentives. The former is usually disclosed, the latter almost never. Customer incentives are advertised (see commercials for “cash back”) and may be accompanied by or offered in lieu of a low APR deal. Information about the dealer incentives is out there on the internet. All of this money should come off your bottom line, including unadvertised cash. Never let the dealer have a penny of it.

    -Availability. Try not to shop in a hurry for a popular car model. Dealerships will often be more willing to negotiate with “on-the-lot” cars instead of those on a truck or boat, or worse yet, unbuilt. Being the savvy consumer you are, the onsite, on-boat, on-truck, or nascent car should all cost you the same, but be prepared to wait for in-demand cars.

    -Swap cars. If you’re in a hurry or it will take months to order the car with the options you want, an exchange between your dealer and another for the car of your dreams can take place. Just keep in mind that unless you’re buying something from a luxury or exotic car maker, your car will usually be driven back to the dealer by a local retiree looking to turn a buck or a friendly young man with greasy hair and a smoking habit. There are so many things that can go wrong from A to B that you might think twice about having your car swapped in. You can ask for a flatbed instead, or order your car from the factory.

    -Make a refundable deposit. Once you have your price, you’ll have to fill out an order and leave a deposit to get your car. Every purchase agreement, order form or sales order has legalese on the back of it. Read it thoroughly. They’ll all say your deposit is non-refundable. Have the manager cross this out and initial it. Make them note your deposit on the order form, and explicitly write “refundable” next to it. Your deposit amount should be $200-500 for most car purchases, and should never exceed your cash downpayment. Most dealerships don’t bother cashing your check if the car is delivered within the same day or week. Don’t leave a credit card deposit; it costs the dealer money, so they’d rather have your check.

    -Finance Orifice. Once you’ve signed an order for the car, they’ll gently escort you to the finance office, where a nice man or woman will try to sell you a loan, extended warranty, undercoating, LoJack, remote starter, or fuzzy dice if you request them. This is another chance to upsell, and a place where even savvy car buyers are led astray. The loan products are at unfavorable rates to begin with, but the finance manager can add up to 3% to your “buy rate” from the bank at their leisure in most cases. The poorer your credit, the more cavalier they’ll be with this rate bump. Most finance folk will try to make at least one percentage point on non-APR-special loans, which is yet another reason to knock on your bank’s door first. Pull your credit report and know where you stand. Warranties are also marked up, usually between 20-50%. Be candid, ask the manager to show you what the warranty costs them, and offer to split the difference. Most will accept the offer. It’s a sin to purchase and install aftermarket items through the finance office for the same reason you don’t want them on your bump sticker: Horrendous markup. If you really want that “Dixie” horn installed, go to the local shop and pay them to do it. As a rule of thumb, if an item comes as part of a package on your car, never retrofit that item to the car (e.g., sunroofs). The items you add won’t carry the full factory warranty, and will typically be lower in quality than OEM (original equip. manufacturer). And if you do buy those accessories, know how they’ll be installed and interact with your car. For instance, on cars with an immobilizer anti-theft device (most new cars), adding an aftermarket security system means the shop will stuff an actual car key with your car’s transponder code inside the dashboard to disable it in favor of the security system… Talk about a hack.

    -Always be prepared to walk. At ANY stage prior to paying for the car in full and driving it off the lot, you can walk away without remorse or financial loss. Make sure you’re comfortable with the car, the price, and yourself in the situation. If you’re feeling unsure or shaky, call it a day and say you’ll be back in the morning. You’re in control of the situation at all times, so there’s no need to be nervous.

    -Delivery. Walk the car alone. For both new and used cars, check for scratches, new paint (yes, new cars occasionally are nicked or scratched on the lot and sent off to have the paint repaired), dirt, etc. Check the mileage; if it’s more than 250 miles ask for an explanation, unless you already have one. Make sure the mileage on the odometer is the same on your paperwork, because it marks the start of your warranty. Check for upholstery flaws, options, switches, badges, hub caps, manuals, keys, accessories. Be a stickler, because once you leave the lot and find that your ashtray is missing, you’ll have a hell of a time getting a free replacement once the deal has closed.

    -CSI Surveys. Unless your dealership really pissed you off (it usually takes two, remember), Give them 5, 10, yes, “excellent,” or whatever the highest answer is for these idiotic phone interviews. Why do I suggest you waste your time, or lie when it’s an 8? Because you’re an educated consumer who already got what you want from the dealer. What the dealership wants is money, so let ‘em have it. The score they get from your survey (CSI, or “customer satisfaction index”) determines bonuses and perks from the manufacturer and dealership to the sales and service staff. The CSI process is broken and manipulated anyway; if you drive away unhappy they’ll just enter an RDR (Retail Delivery Record) with someone else’s phone number and address on it. No kidding.

    -Alternatives. Have a look at “new used” cars. I bought a 2005 with 15,000 miles on it for 2/3 of the price it cost new, and a full $5000 less than the KBB value. It was a steal, and the car looks, feels, smells, and is new. There are deals like this all over the place, and all it takes is a little patience and savvy internet searching to find them. Check out craigslist, cars.com, autotrader, etc. for cars less than 2 years old and less than 1/2 of the warranty used. You might just find something more useful, luxurious, practical or sporty and save some $ in the process. Avoid dealers, it’s best to find a private seller who’s motivated to sell. My car’s previous owner bought a house, and needed to lower their monthly bills.

    -Intimidation. Many of my female friends and family members tell me that they’d never go to a car dealer alone. If you follow the advice in this lengthy tome, being a member of the fairer sex should put you at no disadvantage. It’s true that car sales is a “boy’s club” at many dealerships, filled with chauvinistic, bigoted berks. Be nice, know just what you want, know the facts, and be ready to walk if you don’t get it. How can anyone give you a hard time about that? And if they do, aim for the groin. It’s where we keep all our darkest secrets.

    -Love your car. Once you get your car, treat it like you would yourself. Wash regularly, feed it the recommended diet, and schedule regular checkups. You’ll be thankful when you decide to run the trade-in gauntlet a few years later, or even if you drive it ’til it drops. Follow maintenance schedules, pay for the maintenance items, and question every estimate you get from your service department. The money you saved on buying your car pales in comparison to the cost savings from fixing things before they go wrong. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    -Exceptions. There are always exceptions to the rule. This is not canon. Use at your own risk. Don’t be surprised if people exceed your expectations, or woefully fail to meet them.

    -Dealership coffee. Eewww. Really, get your caffiene fix before you stop in. And be sure to stay properly hydrated throughout the day.

    Full disclosure: I sucked at selling cars. I hated the idea of pushing product. I’d rather help someone get what they want than tell them what to want. So know what you want! Life is easier that way.

  9. scorched03 says:

    http://www.edmunds.com/advice/buying/articles/42962/articl
    here’s one journalist that switched into being a carsalesman for 3m.

    carbuyingtips.com is a tip site that has greatly irritated a few dealerships

  10. wyldhoney says:

    @number9ine: Wow, that was excellent. I’m just getting ready to buy my first car, and this was exactly the confidence-booster I needed. Thank you!

  11. Toof_75_75 says:

    @number9ine

    Thanks a lot for the advice! I decided it was good enough to save it to a Word document, which turned out to be 6 pages long. It was actually so good, that I even came out of my blog skulking to become a “Long time reader, first time commenter” :-)

  12. Starfury says:

    Costco. Last year we replaced our Dodge mini van with a Toyota Sienna. We figured out what we wanted and then started getting prices. Costco made the process very easy and we got a good price w/o any dealer hassle…except for the big push for extra warranties while doing the paperwork.

    The worst part: paying 8.25% sales tax on the car.

  13. dieman says:

    My last car was easy, I let USAA figure out the price of the car with the dealer, which lead to a $22.5k price on a $25.5k MSRP car on a Subaru, which the person who did the work over the phone was highly pleased with. (As was I)

    The dealer was exceptionally nice compared to Ford on extended warranties and did not take an opportunity to bash my trusted mechanic shop, which does have mechanics who know Subaru cars.

    Also, be sure to check out your *own* banks for a car loan. Many dealerships make a *mint* off of their loan services. Generally you are better off taking the cash and then using a loan with a competitive rate.

  14. Sudonum says:

    My brother was “Director of Finance” for one of those mega dealerships in CA. His favorite expression… “There’s an ass for every seat”.
    Just thought I’d share that one as a warning.

  15. iMike says:

    Adding: don’t finance at the dealership UNLESS you get a subsidized factory rate (e.g. 0% financing). And if a subsidized rate is available, check to see whether you can get an additional discount on the car for paying cash, or financing it elsewhere (good recommendation to try a credit union), then run the numbers to determine the better scenario.

  16. That edmunds article is GREAT. Particularly playing the dealers off one another.

    I’m not that into cars (my husband is) so when I go car shopping, the fact that I really don’t care whatsoever seems to head off a lot of the more high-pressure sales tactics. I don’t care about this option or that one, or what color it is, or if it has name cachet. I take the Consumer Reports issue so I have my own safety and reliability (becuase when they find out I want safety, they’re all, “this car is extremely safe!” and I’m like “whatever, CR doesn’t think so.”). My total lack of interest in car-as-object-of-desire makes them work a lot harder at making the sale because I’ll walk off the lot if I get bored.

    Another excellent tactic is: (sad face) “I don’t think my husband will let me spend that much.” I have yet to find a dealer who isn’t willing to believe that my marriage exists in the 1950s and I get an allowance and must have my purchases approved. Usually pops $500 to $1000 off the price right there. Use it when you’re coming down to a final price. The sale is in his grasp and … and … husband won’t let her buy … maybe just a little more off ….

    (Actually, this works to get out of any high-pressure sales situation where men are the majority of salesmen and the traditional customers (electronics, cars, insurance) — look brainless and say, “I’ll have to check with my husband.”)

  17. medalian1 says:

    That article scorched03 posted is great. I was going to post that myself cause it totally applies here.

  18. Trick says:

    Though I am certain I did great with my last purchase, I sometimes have that hindsight feeling…

    In March of ’06 I bought a fully loaded Nissan Titan 4X4 (all options) with a price almost $7,000 below sticker. The negotiation was done via e-mail and I didn’t step on to the dealers lot until he had the truck brought up from another dealer. (Fontana Nissan to Santa Barbara Nissan)

    No hassles on the price, the truck was what I wanted and everything was there. Turned out I had a ’05 Titan owners manual which they swapped for a ’06 manual a month or so later…

    No push on financing. They knew I was writing a check. No waiting for the check to clear, no checking my credit and trying to finance me. I was in and out in under two hours, including the time to go over the truck.

    Most importantly, I am happy with the purchase. I felt I got a good deal without any hassle and in the end, I guess that is all that matters.

    That is until some Joe comes and said he got the same truck for $8,000 off, at the same dealer…. blah blah blah :)

  19. E-Bell says:

    I recently purchased a used car from a dealer and was surprised at their honesty.

    One thing I learned (and the dealer admitted to this), is that dealers put out ads for “teaser” cars to get people to come onto the lot. This is how I got a great deal. They’ll advertise a certain in-demand model for a very good price. These cars sell quickly, often on the first day they are advertised, but they’ll keep the advertisement up for weeks afterwards. Thus, customers come on the lot and get talked into buying cars other than the one advertised.

    I suppose this may not technically be a bait and switch, but the principle is the same.

    I got burned once – “Oh, sorry, we just sold that car last night.” But the second time – at a different dealer – I happened to be the first guy to show up and put his money down. When I asked the salesman about it, he admitted that they use the tactic to draw people in.

    The rest of the transaction went smoothly. The only pressure came from the “business manager” who tried to upsell me on various optional service plans (which I refused). I feel like I was treated fairly and honestly – so I’ll give them a plug: Northwestern Honda outside of Baltimore sold me a great car at a great price and made the process as painless as possible.

  20. number9ine says:

    @Trick: That is until some Joe comes and said he got the same truck for $8,000 off, at the same dealer…. blah blah blah :)

    You shouldn’t be dismayed, that’ll only mean Nissan upped the rebates on your truck. Pickups have a higher “spread” than most cars, because they’re cheaper to build. The Titan’s spread is prob. around $3000-3500, meaning they gave you a mfr. rebate on top of that, and maybe a dealer incentive. The more inventory they have, the higher the rebates and incentives… Supply and demand.

  21. bob9 says:

    I have worked at 3 different dealerships now. First Toyota, than Lexus and now Saturn. Basically everything everyone that has said something before me is correct. Dealers are scumbags, dealers have better deals at the end of the month and you should always walk away from a deal that does not meet your expectations.

    Except at Saturn. I have been so surprised and so happy with everything. Fresh flowers on a new car, bakes goods sent to the consumers home, a no haggle policy. They even have a decent product now. Did anyone see how they sent out the Award to customers who bought the Aura before it won car of the year?!?!

    That is freakin awesome, a customer of mine even brought it in when he got it and the whole dealership took a photo with it. No bull shit at Saturn. Great place to work.

    I’ll share my horror stories at Toyota tomorrow.

  22. 160medic says:

    @bob9:

  23. misterfact says:

    Michael of Baldwin, MI October 27, 2009

    This applies to General Motors in particular. I’m sure the following is the policy of other car mannufacturers. It is a policy which I see very little publicity given- anywhere.

    Some car companies HIDE epidemic major flaws in their cars, once the company discovers them and after a number of those flawed vehicles have been sold to the public.

    One good example is the single overhead valve 1.9 liter engines in 1992 to 1997 Saturn cars. Saturn discovered, around 1995, that they had put over 100,000 of those engines,in their cars, onto the market. The engines had casting flaws in the cylinderhead – which caused the head to CRACK (anywhere from 5,000 miles to over 125,000 miles). The 100,000 figure was given to me over the phone by someone in customer service.

    Upon discovering their epidemic COSTLY problem, the people at Saturn called a meeting and decided on the following course of action: “We will not announce this problem (send out a service notice) until June of 1999. That way we can get as many of those affected cars OVER the warranty period- thus we will not be responsible for covering those out-of-warranty cars.”

    In order to “look good”- Saturn extended the warranty on their cracked cylinder heads to 100,000 miles. A very large number of those heads cracked at over 100,000 miles. (ours was one of them)We suffered a 3750 loss. Our head cracked at 107,000 miles. Had Saturn announced the problem when they found out about it (1996)- A lot of owners might have had some recourse to getting those flawed heads replaced.

    This problem of car manufacturers hiding flaws in their cars is not new. Saturn figured that this flaw was not a safety concern. They made that decision on their own. Therefore, they were not required to report it to the government. I would contend that the immediate loss of engine power due to the crack, would be a great safety concern while trying to pass a semi-truck on a two lane highway, not to mention other circumstances.

    I hope your organization will look into this practice and give it a lot of publicity. Prospective buyers need to know about these epidemic flaws as soon as they become apparent. This might involve keeping in closer touch with auto repair shops, who see these epidemic problems sooner than the buying public. Also, keeping a watch on the internet for post from “victims”.