A car is like a toaster to me, a functional thing to get from point A to point B, nothing more.
Fifteen years ago, I predicted that car buying would someday be a completely different experience. No car lots full of inventory, instead we would order a car online. There may be a storefront with two or three sample cars for those people who were compelled to touch the vehicle. Simple process, one price, place your order and magically a few days later, it would arrive at your home.
Boy, was I wrong.
Obviously, many people want to see, touch and drive the car before they buy. Not just an example of the car, as I had supposed, they want to drive the actual vehicle before purchasing it. I guess I get it; it’s a big purchase, but honestly, if it were up to me I would never step into a car dealership again.
The other day I accompanied my husband to a car dealership and found that unfortunately, the process of buying a car is the same game we have always played.
I acknowledge that the financial crisis of 2008-2009 resulted in some changes to the automobile buying landscape, but underneath it all, the gameplay remains the same. For example, both the Sales Associate and his Manager acknowledged that buying a car is never easy and no one likes the process. Okay that’s fine, and I am glad that’s out of the way – so why can’t we just cut to the chase – how much is it?
I hate feeling like a victim. I believe the reason we still have this archaic game is that evidently there are people who relish the false notion that it is possible to negotiate with these creatures and that it is a fair fight.
But it isn’t – they have you in the crosshairs and that’s all there is to it.
Once when my younger daughter still lived at home we went to a dealership. We were proud because we had done our homework, had identified our car of choice, its worth, and what we were willing to pay for it.
We made our offer. Per usual, there was stalling, the typical hemming and hawing and mysterious visits to the back room. Finally, my husband took our good faith check, ripped it up and walked out of the dealership, our mortified daughter in tow.
The salesperson came running after us and as we got into the car, began pleading with us to come back into the dealership. As my husband started the car, the salesperson sighed loudly and exclaimed, “Okay, okay you can have it for the price you want.”
What did that teach our daughter? Well for one thing, she would never again agree to accompany us to buy a car. What did it teach me? Never again would I submit myself to being in a win-lose situation when it came to a major purchase. That experience proved to me that no matter when I said yes to a price, more than likely I was leaving money on the table.
We are now working with a car broker. Does this guarantee that I am getting the best price? I don’t know. What I do know is that I no longer have to be in a win-lose situation over a toaster.