confessions of a car salesman

July 13, 2006

in Cars, Links, Personal

I am kind of halfheartedly shopping for a new car. I say halfheartedly because there are few activities on this earth I hate more than buying a car. The very thought of having to set foot in the vicinity of a car dealership makes me cry piteously, break out in a rash, get a migraine, see bats, hear voices, and have to go lie down for a while. In fact I can feel a headache coming on just writing about it here. What? Did you see that?

Why can’t you buy a car on Amazon.com yet? That’s what I really want.

edmunds.com, which is a very excellent site and very helpful in giving me lots of information about cars so that I won’t cry so much when I do have to travel within some distance of a car dealership, sent one of their reporters out to be a car salesman for a while. He worked at a traditional high-pressure sales lot and a no-haggle lot. And after reading this if I had any hope that that car dealerships were not the most miserable places on earth I’m well disabused of that notion. Its good, albeit horrifying, reading.

{ 4 comments }

1 jet July 13, 2006 at 9:28 pm

I only deal with fleet sales reps these days. “I want a model XYZ with these options, how much?” and that’s it. My out-the-door price is within $100 of what Consumer Reports and USAA says it should be, so I’m happy.

2 Dave Peacock July 14, 2006 at 9:52 am

Never under-estimate how completely untrustworthy car dealerships can be. My wife took a job in car sales at a very well known and respected dealership in Hampshire, England. After working there three months she witnessed all kinds of deceitful and sometimes dangerous business practises.

Apart from the usual con-man tactics upon customers, the final straw that made her quit (after only 3 months) was when a customer brought his car back to the dealership, complaining of a rattle from the gearbox and also some trouble shifting. It turned out that the gearbox was broken beyond repair. To save money on ordering a new gearbox and fitting it (which would have been covered under warranty, thus the dealership would have incurred costs), they instead chose to poor (I am not making this up) sawdust into the gearbox to make the sound better.

The customer was told he had a new gearbox and was sent on his way.

…and this was a respectable dealership of a very well known manufacturer. I can only imagine the tactics used by the independant back-street ones.

I apologise to any reputable car dealer who might be reading this and think I am slandering, but hey – your industry only has itself to thank!

3 Matthew July 14, 2006 at 3:54 pm

My dad is also a big fan of talking to the fleet sales rep. He’s even a little harder than jet in that he says “I want XYZ and I just filled out a check for umpteen dollars and fiddly cents. Will you accept it?” so that the answer that comes back is either “Yes” or “Sorry, I just can’t.” If it’s a fair price, then it depends more on

I’m surprised that the expose didn’t explicitly spell out what I think is the biggest problem. It’s not the biggest transaction you’ll make this year, it’s the THREE biggest transactions you’ll make this year: you’re buying a car, you’re selling a car, and you’re financing a loan. Why would you suspect that the clown in the gold watch is your best dance partner for all three of those simultaneous floating deals? Even if you don’t think you can privately sell your own car for $1000 less than it’s worth (rather than trade it in for $2500 less), at least get the non-scuzzy people at your bank to pre-approve a loan you can trust. That knocks either two or three of the corners out of their idiot boxes and you know how much the car is worth because you are a Web goddess.

All this advice brought to you by a guy with a ten year-old Saturn. :)

4 Doctor Fegg July 17, 2006 at 3:18 pm

First decide on a funky but completely infeasible car that isn’t available in your home country. I suggest a Citroen Pluriel.

Then you don’t have to worry about car dealers. None of them will sell you one of those, anyway. There’s probably one man in the whole country who can sell you a Pluriel, and he has to get it shipped in from France. Or Uzbekistan. I’m not quite sure.

Plus, everyone will then ask “what the —- is that?”.

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