Monday, May 04, 2009

The Buying A Car Experience

For the last month or so, My Lovely Wife (MLW) and I were considering buying a car. Finally, last week it came to a head as our mechanic actually *recommended* she swap out her 11 year old Ford Windstar because the next several repairs would likely be more expensive than just buying one that worked better.

Like so many other things, from politics to music to news, the Internet has pretty much ruined the game. The first thing I did was look online at the price of the car MLW wanted. According to - $29200.

We visited a few dealerships, and I had a very, very simple question: how much is the car? This is a very simple question. 3 dealerships *couldn't tell me*. They *could* tell me they could get me into the car at $600 a month for 72 months after a $4500 down payment plus my trade-in value?

Which prompted me to ask "What's my trade-in value?" The response: Well, it's enough that your monthly payment would be $600 a month for 72 months, of course! Which means that a $29k car winds up costing about $48k.

"But how much is the price of the car, and what's my trade in?" I was not asking a hard question, this was not some trick. Price of the car, value of the trade in, interest rate on the loan.

I mean, think about going in to buy a TV set from Best Buy, and they won't tell you how much the TV is. You'd never come back. And yet, somehow, this is considered to be OK in the car world.

I finally decided that I just couldn't go to the dealerships any more. By the time the salespeople went to shook my hand and attach their lamprey like teeth to my abdomen to suck the life out of me, I was already in an Urge to Kill mood.

4th dealership - Honda Cars of Bradenton - had already called me after I put in an online request, so I called them.

"What's the price of the Honda Odyssey EX-L with dark grey outside and leather grey insides?"

Saleperson's response was instant - "$29900, which I know is $700 more than the Internet quote, but that's because it also includes A, B, C, D" (which was the stuff that MLW wanted anyway).

I was then transferred to his finance guy. I had already filled in the data he needed online. He got me the rate, the time, and we dickered for about 5 minutes - done.

Back to the salesman. "Here's the deal," I said. "If you and your finance guy are accurate, I'll be there in 30 minutes, and you'll have sold a car."

2 hours later (filling out paperwork and title transfers and such), we had a car. And the whole time our salesman was grinning. "Ever since we started telling people the price of the car off the Internet, we've started beating the other dealerships in the area."

Really. I can't imagine why.

Now my wife has her Mother's Day/Birthday President. Now, if I can just get her to agree that I need my laptop....


Jeff Fechner said...

Great Post! That is exactly why I chose to do Internet Sales here at the Cadillac Dealership I work at. Customer wants to know the price, give them the price, no games, no messing around, just straight out buying and selling. After all the information is right out on the internet anyway, so why play the old school game :)
Congratulations on your new Car!

John Hummel said...

Thanks - I'll have to keep my eye on Cadallac. After we get my wife's car paid off in about 5 years, there might be a good high fuel economy car I'll have to take a look at ;).

Anonymous said...

You mean people still try that tired old game? I work on the internet at a Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealership and never even learned how that game worked. I even work out the deal in front of the customer so they see everything right in paper.
Congrats on your new car.