Saturday, September 5, 2015

Car dealerships? Caveat Emptor!

There is no place that "caveat emptor" applies more than at a car dealership. Why do you think those salesmen are so nice and friendly (in front of the customer)? They have x-ray vision and they are about to get in your back pocket, where your wallet is.

When an impressionable young person (or even older person) enters a car dealership alone, without understanding the "game", it's like going out on the playing field thinking you are about to play badminton, and then finding out the game is rugby.

I sold car for two months in Denver in the mid-1980s. It was the worst two months of my life. I had met the owner of the Nissan dealership in Littleton, Colo., and he encouraged me toward car sales. By the time I went to work there, he had sold it to new owners.

What was the philosophy of the new ownership? Everybody is a buyer! And if we didn't sell them a car that day, somebody else would. They knew that, if a prospect left without buying, he would buy somewhere else. The prospect would never "be back".

One day a young, poor couple had a flat tire in their old pick-up truck. They had no spare and no money for a service call. All they wanted to do was use the phone to call a friend. The sales manager insisted that I sell them a new truck. I remember saying, "Look at them. They don't even have money for a spare tire; how can they afford payments on a new truck?" I refused to try to sell them.

He took over and started grinding away. Sure enough, they left in a new truck. And three days later, the truck was back on the lot. Their financing was rejected (of course).

Which brings me to one of Crystal Lake's largest dealerships ...

When a prospect has no money and cannot even meet his basic, small living expenses on a disability check, what honest car salesman and finance manager would sell him a new car?

And what finance manager would tell him that, since his credit application for a loan to purchase a new car was not approved, he could lease a new car?

Did they ask about driving habits? You do know about the cost-per-mile factor, if you exceed the mileage limit in a lease? How about $0.15/mile for each mile over 36,000 in three years?

This person drives about 3,000 miles a month. In three years, that will be 108,000 miles. He'll be 72,000 miles over his lease. At $0.15/mile, he will owe $10,800 when he turns the car in.

Think they explained that? That's an average over-mileage expense of $300/month. Add that to the payment he can't afford, and he could have purchased the car, rather than leasing it.

And did they ask him how he planned to make a car payment, since he was well into the red on his budget every month before adding in a car payment and insurance?

If there is one buyer out there who got treated this way, how many others are there?

If you have a horror story about buying a car in Crystal Lake, let me know.

Before you ever go to a car dealership, make a decision about whether you are going to buy a car while you are there. If you are not, take someone with you who will drag you away, when they offer a "deal you can't refuse". Leave your wallet, credit card, checks, ballpoint pen at home. Put boxing gloves on your hands, so you can't even hold a pen. If you aren't going to consider buying that day, practice saying "No". You don't even have to give a reason, which will just give a salesman some hook on which to hang his hat. Say "NO".

1 comment:

Big Daddy said...

I remember my buddies dad who was a car saleman tell me years ago that there was no way a customer could beat the dealership. He said that no matter what price you negotiate with the salesman the dealer will always get what he wants one way or the other.