I recently spent some time with a local car dealer. I told him that I enjoyed my vasectomy more than I liked being at his business, and I meant it. The problem? Oh, there are a few to talk about. We went through two “sessions”, shall we say.
Session #1. Not Really Ready to Buy, But Wanting a Lay of the Land. This one went as follows:
- Walk onto lot, no appointment. Very little real research done.
- Fairly nice guy gets a pickup truck ready for us to test drive.
- Drive said truck, we’re mildly interested in it but haven’t done the “new car thing” in a while. Let’s just see how the numbers shake out…
- Same fairly nice guy works up those numbers. As he’s running through them, we see MSRP, then price go down then price go up. and up.
- Confusion ensues, several attempts to explain it. We *almost* comprehend (between wife and I, we have 8 college degrees) but also have no desire to buy the truck on the spot, given “the numbers”. It’s late in the day.
- Same fairly nice guy says “we’ll just give you the truck at $500 over our invoice. You don’t have to haggle, we make $500. It’s easy! I’ll show you the invoice” Remember this.
- We say we’ll think about it. Then manager walks in, less than three minutes later and says “what’s it gonna take? We can probably move the price down some more, like maybe $500?”Hmmm… so manager just contradicted sales guy, because they certainly aren’t selling that truck with no profit. This point is also important during Session 2.
Session #2. Really shopping. Vehicle researched. Acceptable price determined. Back to dealing with these paragons of virtue.
- Point out vehicle to fairly nice guy. Inform of my desired price.
- Funny math ensues, guy goes straight to payments.
- I share that I don’t like that he’s skipping past “price”, ask him to slow it down.
- Math doesn’t add up, at all.
- Here’s where I get schooled in the bull shit- as in the excrement that comes out of a bull’s ass- that is car buying. Let’s employ a visual aid.
- So… you got your fairly arbitrarily assigned “MSRP”. Is SUGGESTED. You’ll never really know what the car truly costs. Why is this industry allowed to function in a way that the buyer is denied TRUTH?
- Skip down to “Price”. When you go to WalMart and buy shoes, you pay sales tax (most of us do, at least) on THE PRICE. Not so with cars. Price is not price, and you can’t win… Here’s New York’s approach:
Calculating New York auto sales tax can be tricky. If you purchase a vehicle from a dealership and there are manufacturer incentives and rebates associated, the auto tax you will pay is determined by the sale price before the reduction.
- Now fairly nice guy’s math is starting to add up, and it smelled really bad. Except his rather shocking math as presented including tax was legal. The way they deceptively bandy the word “price” around is both unethical and also common among dealers. I bitched and moaned that nowhere was any of this reflected on the advertisement. His answer, backed up by the manager- this is how everyone does it. (Or- we’re no sleazier than anyone else and the state gets their cut.)
- I say… then you’ll need to lower the MSRP. He says… we can’t do that. We’ve given you our best deal.
- I point out that last night’s “best deal”- that $500 over invoice- was completely bogus. Fairly nice guy says “Oh… the manager has access to dealer cash I can’t see”. Uh-huh. How about I just deal with the manager then? Why deal with a a lowly sales guy who can’t see what manager sees? And what supposed invoice were you going to show me, given what the manager had to say?
- Finally, I pissed, punched and sarcasmed my way to a deal that I could stomach. But I have no doubt I still paid too much- because I have no idea what this car or any new car COSTS. It’s all vagueness, games, double-talk, and lies. I don’t care how much research you do- the average schmuck is doomed.
Not only is the government in on it with the BS tax stuff, but our tax dollars bailed this industry out during the big economic crumble, propped it back up, and Congress did nothing to reform the sleaze that pervades.
Utter Gaul- the customer survey. Fairly nice guy shows us his “I love me” wall. Lots of awards, because he gets such high ratings on the post-sale surveys. Really now? It’s very important that we rate him and the dealership with absolute perfect scores, so he gets his next award.
Sorry to break it to you, Slick, but that won’t be happening. Where I come from, you don’t get gold stars for being part of a crime syndicate.
So how low is people’s esteem when it comes to car dealers? Do some Googling, see how many hits you get:
- “New Car Scams”- 4,050,000 entries
- “Auto Dealerships are Crooks”- 329,000
- “Auto Industry Scams”- 881,000
In closing, this is not the first new car I’ve ever bought. But I paid a lot more attention this time, and when you do, it really sucks. I don’t know how people in the sales side of this industry live with themselves as professional truth-distorters, and I don’t see how the government doesn’t demand reform on behalf of customers.
Did I mention that my vasectomy was more enjoyable than this loathsome experience?