The Art of The Buy: Hide Your Time Wisely

In an ideal world, the salesman is a doctor diagnosing your problems and needs and prescribing remedies. But let’s talk about the real world and the need to keep your timeline for buying a secret.

Another car buying travesty came across our desk and while interesting in its own right, one sentence in particular got our knuckles cracking for the post.

“I was trying to beat the 1% sales tax increase in New Jersey, so I really only had a few days to make the deal on the car final. Once I explained my situation to the dealer his demeanor changed for the worse…”

All you did there is point to a big lever in your back and say “pull here for easy access.” When negotiating, never let the salesman know when you need to complete the sale. A salesman’s worse fear is that you will walk off the parking lot without buying. By saying time is of the essence, he figures he’s got you locked down and can ratchet up the pressure. He figures he can force concessions. Your time is your own, so keep it a secret from those who would use it against you.

The rest of Dawud’s letter is after the jump. Ultimately, he did the right thing by walking away from a high-pressure salesman. But how else could he have responded in the first situation?

Dawud writes:

“Hey guys/gals,

I just wanted to share my pain. I recently bought a new VW Rabbit and I shopped around a bit first to try to get the best deal. Anyway, the first dealership I went to was Hamilton VW, I should mention that this is my first time buying a new car, so while I did a lot of research I didn’t know what to expect from the dealer but I was optimistic. I’m a bit of a geek so I was pleased with VW’s whole ‘build your car’ feature, it takes you through and lets you choose your options and everything, and then it sends your information to a local dealer for a quote. A few days later I was contacted by the internet sales manager via e-mail about my quote and we set up an appointment for a test drive, so far so good. When I actually got to the dealership things started to go down hill.

The first problem I had was that the dealer was pushy, I wanted a 2 door and he kept trying to push me into a four door every time I asked about a specific feature he would start pitching the four door again which was irritating but I didn’t let it get to me.

Next we go in to talk numbers, I had been saving for the car for a while so I already knew how much I wanted to pay and I was willing to pay pretty much exactly what they were asking for the car, but for some reason what should have been a painless procedure turned into another hassle. In the middle of this we get interrupted by some other customers of his, apparently they wanted a Passat, which costs about 30k more than the Rabbit, and for some reason that’s beyond me the dealer basically indicated to me that I was small potatoes and he really had to take care of the Passat people.

Now I felt insulted, but it was about to get worse, the dealer left me at the desk to go talk to the other customers for about 20 minutes, afterwards he came back to tell me how sorry he was and pitch me the four door again, before leaving for another 20 minutes to woo the people who wanted the Passat. At this point I was getting really frustrated, but not knowing any better I stuck around and waited for the guy to get back to me.

So he finally comes back, apologizes again and asks me how I was intending to pay for the car. Being the responsible young man that I am I had been saving for a new car for the past two years so I had ~half the cost of the car covered with my down payment, and I had already secured a loan for the rest with a sweet 7% interest rate. I should mention here that time was of the essence because I was trying to beat the 1% sales tax increase in New Jersey, so I really only had a few days to make the deal on the car final (it was Wednesday and the increase was scheduled for Friday).

Once I explained my situation to the dealer his demeanor changed for the worse, he started telling me that he could only get a deal done that quickly if I went through VW’s financing and that if he did he probably couldn’t get me an interest rate as good as the one I had. I explained that I had good credit and that it wouldn’t hurt to put in a credit application for me to see what kind of number I would get back, and if it was agreeable I would see what I could do. Then he told me that it would be $500.00 for the credit application. I was surprised because I was under the impression that credit applications were free. Sales guy replies back that the $500.00 is for the deposit on the car, and that I need to put down a deposit before he can do the credit application.

I had never heard of this before, but as it was my first time buying a new car I conceded and gave him the $500.00 bucks. On my way home I’m feeling mildly violated, like that feeling you get when someone touches you in an intimate area and you can’t decide if they did it on purpose or if it was an accident. TMI? Okay, moving on. So I’m waiting for him to get back to me optimistically hoping that I’ll still manage to beat the sales tax thing.

On Sunday I gave up and went to another dealer (Princeton VW/Audi) and my experience there was completely different from Hamilton, the dealer treated me like I was there to buy the most expensive car on the lot, when it came time to fill out a credit application not only was it free of charge, he told me that I shouldn’t have given the other guy a dime, and he didn’t try to sell me any more or any less than exactly what I wanted.

So now everything was great except I was short the $500.00 I paid Hamilton for the credit application. I called up the Hamilton guy and got his voicemail and explained the situation and asked for my money back. Still didn’t hear back from him, so I sent an e-mail (remember this guy is supposed to be their internet sales manager) and I still didn’t hear back. So then I contacted American Express, because no scumbag pushy car salesman is going to cheat me out of my money. That’s the end of my story, to sum it up:

If you’re buying a VW in central jersey don’t go to Hamilton VW because they are douche bags. Do go to Princeton VW though, those guys are awesome and don’t leave you waiting around so they can whore themselves out to someone who looks like they have more money than you.