Thursday, April 5, 2012

What Will it Take to Put You in This Car Today?

As a public service, I try to heighten awareness of situations that push the agita meter into the red zone. I do this to spare those around me the anguish I have known; forewarned is forearmed. Today's topic is that all too familiar minefield, buying a new car. We have always had two cars in the family, usually about two model years apart. At present we have a 2007 Toyota Corolla, Jasmine's car, and a 2009 Toyota Camry that I mostly drive. I know, I know, we should buy American cars, but to be honest, Toyotas run rings around our domestic cars, and I console myself with the fact that many of them are made right here in the good old U.S.A. It's about time to replace the 2007 Corolla, and so the dance begins.

Car dealers have a reputation for being sleazy, dishonest and unscrupulous. Actually, they're not that good. Their commercials try to convince you otherwise, but they just can't change what's in their DNA...they are crooks. Anyone whose negotiated with a car salesman (or woman) knows what I mean when I refer to "the dance". You go to the showroom fully prepared. You know what the car is selling for and try to get it for around that price. The salesman's first response: impossible! You show ads from other dealers and get up to walk away. Now it comes...wait for it... "Let me talk to my manager to see what we can do." Is the car salesman the least empowered employee in all the world? Not really. Actually, he has the authority to meet a target price, but it looks so much better when he disappears into the back to "go to bat for you."

He comes back, his tie loosened, beads of sweat on his forehead, looking like he physically wrestled the manager in an all out effort to get a price reduction. "I tried my best..." he lies, "...and although he won't budge on the price, we will throw in at no extra cost a factory undercoating and the console cup holder (both standard equipment by the way) as a way of putting you into this car today". He smiles expectantly as if awaiting your thanks for hammering out such a swell deal. Your harsh laughter seems to confuse him as you get up to leave. "Wait, wait, he pleads, let me try again; I know there's some wiggle room on this car and I want you to have it". The dance goes on, and if you have the patience to play your part, you can usually get the car for around the price you expected to pay, but not without getting that hangdog look from the salesman like you were taking the food out of his kids' mouths.

I try to short circuit the dance if I can. I tell them I've done my homework and I know what I'm prepared to pay for the car. I ask them to give me their best number up front, and if I like it, I will write them a check in full on the spot. No financing, no haggling, and everybody saves time. I wish I could say this works, but apparently the band is playing and the dance must go on. To avoid this, we have bought many cars from an Avis dealer in New Jersey. They are leased cars that are sold after they reach a certain number of miles. The cars have been well maintained and you can usually save good money if you don't mind taking a year-old model. The salesman is a 90 year-old guy named Jack Morris who served as an airplane mechanic in WWII. Jack doesn't know the meaning of high pressure...he just quietly tells you the asking price and leaves you with the feeling that if you don't buy today, the car will be gone when you come back looking for it.

We trust Jack because in all the years we have been buying from him, we never got a bad car. I hope Jack lives to be a hundred so I can walk in to talk business and leave my dancing shoes at the door.


LOOKING FOR A WORTHY CHARITY? TRY THESE FOLKS: Children's Craniofacial Association 


Joseph Del Broccolo said...

I totally agree with you about Toyota. I own two Prius' and would not buy American anymore because the unions allow for shoddy workmanship and cost overruns.
What I do in the show room is tell them I have a deal already at another car dealership that I am about to settle and am just looking to see before I do, that definitely I will make the purchase today. It really works!

Jim Pantaleno said...

Lies and deceit, why didn't I think of that!

The Whiner said...

Honestly, in this day and age, it seems riduculous that this sort of game continues. It's a sham and we all know it. All these salespeople dress in tacky clothing, all wear the same fake smile and act like they give sh$3 about us and our welfare. My favorite is when they say "I'm only makeing $5 on this sale. " My ass. Why can't we buy cars the way we buy everything else? I don't haggle over the price of shoes for God's sake.