Argh, I hate car salesmen!

notjustjay

macrumors 603
Original poster
Sep 19, 2003
6,044
118
Canada, eh?
The recent thread about a guy's Apple store experience reminding him of dealing with used car salesmen, got me thinking about my own experience these past few weeks doing exactly that.

Situation: a lease on a 2004 Toyota is expiring. Looking to move into a Toyota Matrix or Pontiac Vibe, ideally purchasing a used one to save some money.

After visiting a number of dealerships and dealing with several salespeople, a number of patterns emerge...

(In order of the people I visited)

The smarmy presumptive closer: When I asked about how to proceed with closing my lease, he immediately sat me down and started writing up a sale for a new Matrix. "What colour would you like?" is one of his first questions. Promises to get back to me with some quotes when I tell him I'd really prefer to look at used models first. Never hear back from him.

The no-negotiator: Looking at a 2008 Vibe. Absolutely refuses to budge on price, quotes MSRP, claims they sell too well to discount, offers a decent financing promotion (1.5% for 60 months) and says my savings will come from that. No cash discount, no haggling. BUT you have to act soon, the financing special ends in a few days!

The nice guy: The guy I'm most likely to deal with after all this. If he's pulling one on me, he's doing a good job of it. Helpful and friendly, no pressure, calls me every few days just to see if I've found what I'm looking for yet. Helping me look for a used model but I know these are hard to come by. Helped me search the inventory of remaining 2007's but we didn't find anything I liked. Offered me, right from the get-go, about a $500 discount off MSRP for an '08 and implied that we could do better.

The sweep-it-under-the-rug guy: Visited a dealer with a great advertised deal on a 2005 Vibe. $3000 less than the average I see in internet ads or other dealers. Test drive it and immediately I feel like something is just not right. Engine seems shaky, idle rough perhaps? Tries to show me a feature by opening up a panel, but the locking clasp is broken. Still well under warranty and he shows me a clean record with only two minor warranty claims. So why is it so cheap, and why does it feel so wrong? I run away.

The outright lying bait-and-switch guy: I call up asking if they have a used Vibe to the specs I need. Checks over the phone and says, why yes, a 2005 vibe exactly like that just came in! Great, I drop in to the dealership where he stands like he's been waiting for me. Immediately tells me, sorry, he made a mistake, but there's this lovely 2004 here... He tells me that the Toyota Matrix doesn't come with power steering, only the Vibe does. That he searched for remaining 2007 models two weeks ago and "there's not a single one left, anywhere in the country". (He must not have searched the same place that The Nice Guy did, 'cause last week we found a dozen within 300 km of the city...)

The good cop, bad cop team: I bring my lease into the Toyota dealer. Salesman trying to get me into a new car looks it over for damage (scratches etc) and says, this is fine, he's seen much worse. Lease manager comes over and starts yelling about me paying $1500 in damages to get out of the lease. When he leaves, the salesman looks at me confidentially and says, "Don't worry, I'm not as abrupt as he is... and I'm sure we can work out a really good deal if you buy another Toyota". Right.

(All of the people I talked to about lease returns said that they were all given forgiveness for scratches and damage like that, and walked away without paying a penny.)

The high pressure guy: At a Dodge dealership looking at the Caliber (ugh). See a used Vibe in the lot, but it's not equipped how I want. Salesman asks me three or four times if there's anything they can do to help me decide to buy one right now. I tell him no, without the right equipment, I'm not interested. He keeps trying -- how about a $1000 discount? $2000? $2500? What if I wrote you a check to cover the damage for Toyota? "We do crazy things here!" ...

Argh. I want to deal with the Nice Guy but he doesn't have a used car in inventory yet that I like. I'm half tempted to just go ahead and buy a new car, but that's a lot more expensive. Decisions, decisions.

I hate car shopping.
 

Lyle

macrumors 68000
Jun 11, 2003
1,874
1
Madison, Alabama
notjustjay said:
The outright lying bait-and-switch guy: I call up asking if they have a used Vibe to the specs I need. Checks over the phone and says, why yes, a 2005 vibe exactly like that just came in! Great, I drop in to the dealership where he stands like he's been waiting for me...
The last time I dealt with this guy, we drove two hours to an out-of-town dealership only to be told that the car we had specifically discussed over the phone was no longer available. He knew we were driving from out of town; he didn't bother to call and tell us this in advance.

The nice guy: The guy I'm most likely to deal with after all this. If he's pulling one on me, he's doing a good job of it. Helpful and friendly, no pressure, calls me every few days just to see if I've found what I'm looking for yet. Helping me look for a used model but I know these are hard to come by. Helped me search the inventory of remaining 2007's but we didn't find anything I liked. Offered me, right from the get-go, about a $500 discount off MSRP for an '08 and implied that we could do better.
My experience has been that when I do manage to find the nice guy (and buy a car from him), he's no longer working there a few years later when I come back to buy a new car.
 
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mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,777
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Random aside, but my impression is that, for relatively complex reasons, there were significantly more quality issues in the earlier years (I don't know about 2007 and after) for the Matrix than for the Vibe. They're built on the same line, and Toyota is of course Toyota, which makes all of this strange, but the increase in rate of reported defects on the Matrix compared to the Vibe back then was too high to be likely to be artificial, IIRC.

I had really wanted one of the two and ultimately moved to getting something else, but I just wanted to drop the warning. The one Matrix I drove also incidentally had multiple build quality issues, although that was just one unit. Those issues aside, I thought it was a very nice vehicle.

I do totally agree about hating the car buying process, though. :(
 
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QuarterSwede

macrumors G3
Oct 1, 2005
9,237
1,245
Colorado Springs, CO
What really works is to tell them you'll go up the street and buy X car because you can get it for about X less. You have to be willing to walk away. That shows them you aren't willing to screw around. My father and father-in-law do this and it works almost every time. For the ones it doesn work on it shows you that they were being truthful. Don't be afraid to call them out either. How much money are you spending again!?

The reason they use strong arm tactics is because it works on most people. You have to be that 1% that won't take their crap and let them know it.

My father-in-law walked away with a brand new Jeep fully loaded at the same price as the regular model for my wife. Of course it helped that they had bought 2 other cars from the same guy in a few years.
 
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Airforce

macrumors 6502a
Jan 12, 2006
938
0
I feel your pain. Just this past July, I was looking for a new car. I hated the whole experience. Went to dealerships and they were like vultures! Swarmed my car before I even got out. Ended up buying from "nice guy".

Believe it or not, I was actually looking for a Matrix as well. I ended up going with a 2007 Honda Fit. Better gas mileage and just about the same exact room. Fully loaded, it was also about $2,000 cheaper than the Matrix models I was looking at.
 
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Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
Some car sell guys suck. I like the no pressure ones. I went with my dad when we got my car. The Madza sells guy tick me off because he did not pay me any attention until my dad told him that I was the one deciding what car I was going to get. He had look on his face that showed he knew he screwed up and be came very nice to me. Mind you he started talking all about the car I was interested in saying it has this this and this and how great those were acting like no other car had them, all of which is standard on all cars. Like clear fluid holders for all the fluids but oil (standard on all cars now). Mind you I just did not pay much attention to him (nor did I buy my car from him)

Now mind you I was getting a supplier discount on the car which means set in stone price on the car that is below what you could haggle for and they like it because they get more money in the end.

Now a honda sells guy that my dad has bought 3 or so cars from have been pretty nice and they will work with him. Now when they where getting replacing my brother car he ask about the civic SI. Sells guy flat out told him that they will not drop the price on it. They where able to sell them about MSRP because of how quite they where selling. So that would explain why some time they will not drop in price. They sell to well as it is so you not buying it is no skin off their back some one else will get it very soon at that price.
 
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notjustjay

macrumors 603
Original poster
Sep 19, 2003
6,044
118
Canada, eh?
So that would explain why some time they will not drop in price. They sell to well as it is so you not buying it is no skin off their back some one else will get it very soon at that price.
Well, had I only visited the one dealership, I would probably have believed the guy that told me the price was totally non-negotiable. Toyota, for example, especially in Canada, has that reputation. So it was a pleasant surprise for me when I went to talk to the "nice guy" at a different dealership the next week. I even asked him, why are you offering this one at a discount? Is it a demo? He just said, "no, it's a new 2008, I'm giving you a discount because I want your business and I'm going to treat you right". Cool. He had also talked about ways he could help me get out of my lease, which implies further cost reduction to me. Sounds good.

Airforce - a Honda Fit, eh? I'll check it out. I liked the taller seating of the Matrix/Vibe. Any thoughts on Nissan Versa?

mkrishnan - what did you end up getting?
 
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adk

macrumors 68000
Nov 11, 2005
1,937
21
Stuck in the middle with you
Airforce - a Honda Fit, eh? I'll check it out. I liked the taller seating of the Matrix/Vibe. Any thoughts on Nissan Versa?
You may want to consider the honda element, too. It's a bit bigger, but it's incredibly well designed as far as utility. You may be able to get a great deal on a used one, too.
 
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Sdashiki

macrumors 68040
Aug 11, 2005
3,515
8
Behind the lens
I bought the first matrix, with manual tranny, in my city in Florida. They were at the dealer coincidentally the day I went looking.

Didnt even know it existed, didnt have TV at the time, wanted a Corolla, ended up with a Matrix.

Ive never had a problem with it beyond normal wear and tear.

The only "defect" on a 2003 (actually 2002 was the year) was that there is alot of road noise, but its not a luxury car so I dont care. Ive also heard the rubber trim gets nasty.

The Vibe is ugly in my opinion, but mechanically they are exactly the same.

Toyota mechanics + GM Electronics (the red glowing dials give that away)

Im happy with my first model matrix. Other than dropping the AWD version, I think they only made minor cosmetic changes to newere models...like the foglights on my car are found on this flimsy plastic thing under the bumper, newer models its within the front bumper.

Oh and, if you go with steel rims/hubcaps, they WILL fall off. Ive seen so many early Matrix with 1, 2, 3 or all 4 caps missing. And I thought it was just mine.


ps: who the hell can sell a car and say "It doesnt have power steering!". I havent met a car sold in the US in the last 20yrs without it. Maybe Im wrong, but I highly doubt that.
 
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rfrankl

macrumors 6502a
Apr 15, 2006
506
12
The best way I deal with a car salesman is I do my homework with KBB.com and others so I know what price I want to pay. Then I let them try and beat me up, and I say this is what I am willing to pay, here is my card, and I walk off and tell them to call me when you are having a slow week. They always call and now miraculously they can sell it to you for your price.

Also, I do know that the last digit of the price on the window written in those bright markers means something...it is how much wiggle room they have to play with.

Lastly, I work at a law firm so I see W-2's for people in all industries, and those guys ain't hurting so it shows the profit margins are a lot higher than they want you to believe. How many car dealerships do you know that go out of business. If anything, its usually one guy who owns them all in his area. Be patient and you will get your price.
 
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notjustjay

macrumors 603
Original poster
Sep 19, 2003
6,044
118
Canada, eh?
ps: who the hell can sell a car and say "It doesnt have power steering!". I havent met a car sold in the US in the last 20yrs without it. Maybe Im wrong, but I highly doubt that.
Yeah, all his credibility basically went out the window when he told me that (that and the "there are no 2007's left anywhere" line). Yeah, let's have Toyota build a car and also rebrand it as a Pontiac, except the Toyota one will be missing a key feature found in every other modern car today. :rolleyes:
 
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carbonmotion

macrumors 6502a
Jan 28, 2004
983
0
San Francisco, CA
You may want to consider the honda element, too. It's a bit bigger, but it's incredibly well designed as far as utility. You may be able to get a great deal on a used one, too.
For the money of a fit, you can get yourself a really nice used car like a 02 Ford Explorer
 
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Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,136
4
ps: who the hell can sell a car and say "It doesnt have power steering!". I havent met a car sold in the US in the last 20yrs without it. Maybe Im wrong, but I highly doubt that.

Well I going to tell you that you are wrong. I can think of a small handful of cars sold in the US that did not have power steering. Mind you every single one of them is a high end sports car but they lack power steering none the less.

I think if a sells guy told me that I would call him and idiot to his face and leave.
 
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mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,777
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
mkrishnan - what did you end up getting?
I bought an 03 Mazda6 in 04... I had just entered grad school, and so I sacrificed a little on the fun side. Good vehicle dynamics -- better than most non-premium small and midsizes at the time, but not quite as good as the Focus or Mazda3. But a long (4/50) warranty. Depending on where I end up for my pre-doctoral internship next year, it's probably going to be traded in. I had really wanted a 5-door... I'm a small car kinda guy! :eek:
 
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bbarnhart

macrumors 6502a
Jan 16, 2002
824
1
CarBuyingTips.com has a lot of good information. I bought a Honda Odyssey a few months ago and I did a lot of research so I could get the best price.

Be sure to visit every dealership and get a quote. Get online quotes. Absolutely walk away from the first two or three negotiations with each salesperson.

Don't fall for their sob stories. They won't sell a car unless they can make money. You don't know their bottom price so you have to start low and slowly come up. Walking away each time and going to the next dealer.

It can take a week to a month to buy a vehicle. Remember, you are in control. If you feel you're not in control, get up and walk out. Just leave. Say, "I've changed my mind" and leave.
 
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Airforce

macrumors 6502a
Jan 12, 2006
938
0
Airforce - a Honda Fit, eh? I'll check it out. I liked the taller seating of the Matrix/Vibe. Any thoughts on Nissan Versa?

I tested the Versa out. The CVT annoyed me. It didn't feel right and screamed (in a bad way) getting on the highway. The Honda just seemed to be made better. It didn't feel "cheap", yet it was in price.
 
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Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
I hated to see the no Haggle dealership change their name to Power.

The other dealers in town hated them because, they included all the cash discounts and offers, priced with a fixed profit, and stuck that on the windshield. The hot cars on the market weren't priced with market adjustments either.

Basically, please beat this price -- and the other dealer stops talking to you.
 
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jessep28

macrumors 6502
Sep 8, 2006
380
0
Omaha, NE
I hate salespeople of all varieties because their sole mission is to separate you from as much money as possible.

Car salesmen are the worst though. Yeah, if you have like 3 months to haggle with 5 of them, you can get a good deal on a car, but most people don't.

The ones who basically flaunt pointless features like how the serpentine belt is made from material integrated in bullet proof vests are the type I want to punch..haha.
 
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Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
Cannot really blame the car salesman, since the dealerships teach them what features to flaunt -- and bring in people teaching them how to make the pitch.

Basically, walking out is the best negotiating tactic you have -- since you are unlikely to come back and buy from that salesman in the future.

Though some dealerships have resorted to conveniently losing your car keys as way keep you there, and accidentally shredding your copy of a contract to get you to resign at a higher rate.
 
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Rapmastac1

macrumors 65816
Aug 5, 2006
1,120
47
In the Depths of the SLC!
Just a note, my last car was a Chevy Metro (2001) and it didn't have power steering. Most of some small cars don't have that becuase it's unnecassary. Now my Aurora, boy am I glad it has power steering, and it's speed dependant too!
 
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FrankBlack

macrumors 6502
Dec 28, 2005
365
0
Looking for Lucy Butler
Some of you might be interested in this website. It's Dealer Rater.com

Some of these citizen reviews can be quite revealing. The information seems to be pretty accurate, at least for Massachusetts dealers.

Years ago, I had my own run in with a Toyota dealership, while looking to buy a 4x4 truck. It was just like something out of a movie, with all the cliché stuff. The pushy, hard-sell salesman, the "I've got to let my boss approve this" bit, and demanding that I sign a purchase contract that was not even completely filled in. (I kid thee not! Certain lines were left blank) Oh yes, the entire showroom reeked of horrid cologne. Where, oh where, do they buy that stuff?

Heh, at this point in time, (mid-1989)Toyota was just introducing its Lexus line of luxury cars. This salesman wanted to make sure I was impressed with the fact that they had "been selected" to be a Lexus dealership. He mentioned this about eight times in less than five minutes.

I did get the toyota truck I wanted, from a small, family run dealership in Needham, MA. Sadly, that dealership is no longer in the business of selling cars. The owner died a few years ago, and only the repair business, without the "Toyota" name, remains.

I won't even comment on my one experience at a Dodge dealership.

You would think that car companies would take a more firm approach to how their dealers treat potential customers, but this is not the case is it?
 
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Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,415
124
Location Location Location
Three words: Car Broker. WHOOO!!!!!!


Got a $2000 on an $18600 car (non-US dollars). Pretty damn good if you ask me. I went to a dealership, and right then and there, I knew my personality wasn't part of the 5% of people who are good at negotiating with car salespeople. I didn't want my ego to tell me, "No way, man. If other guys can do it, so can you. Be tough. Be strong!!" Fuggitaboutit. I think I managed to get a $500 discount, which isn't nearly as good as the $2000 I got through the car broker.

Also, I do know that the last digit of the price on the window written in those bright markers means something...it is how much wiggle room they have to play with.
So if the price of a car is $25695, then how much wiggle room do I have?
 
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Rapmastac1

macrumors 65816
Aug 5, 2006
1,120
47
In the Depths of the SLC!
The best thing to do is come with a pocketful of money, right then and there on the spot. Start flashing it around, be like, "Well, if you can lower the price of this car by X amount, then I will pay this down payment (Pull out the cash) right now"

Actually seeing cash gets them into action!
 
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rhsgolfer33

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2006
882
1
The best thing to do is come with a pocketful of money, right then and there on the spot. Start flashing it around, be like, "Well, if you can lower the price of this car by X amount, then I will pay this down payment (Pull out the cash) right now"

Actually seeing cash gets them into action!
Or you could just tell them that you'll write a check for the whole car or put it on your credit card, that really gets car salesmen excited. So does hearing that your car is only 1-2 years old and paid off already.

I've only met two truly nice car salesmen in my life; one was the guy who ran the autobroker where I got my current car and the other was at an Audi dealership.
 
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je1ani

macrumors 6502
Sep 19, 2007
455
1
I know LOL! I was looking for a Lancer Evolution a few months back and I get to a dealership and he wanted $28,000 for a 2004 model with 40k miles on it.. I was like WTF?! I've seen 40k Milage evos go for under 20! not to mention he wants 36 for a new one when theyre all over ebay for 28-30... That place made me hate all car dealerships.. they wanted to check my credit for a test drive :confused:
 
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