Car Buying Articles

Has Car Shopping Changed Since "Confessions of a Car Salesman"?

There Are Solutions for Car Shoppers' "Pain Points"


  • Has Car Shopping Changed?

    Has Car Shopping Changed?

    The shopping process has improved for most people, particularly those who use the car research tools of the Internet. | September 18, 2013

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In 2000, I spent three months undercover as a car salesman and wrote about my experiences in "Confessions of a Car Salesman." In the ensuing years, thousands of car buyers have read the article and thanked Edmunds for publishing it. Countless car salespeople and dealers also have read it. While the story has resonated with some industry insiders, others have challenged the integrity of the story by saying, "That doesn't happen anymore. Things have changed."

Brave New World or Same Old Thing?
Have things changed? It's hard to address that question because of the enormous variety of dealerships and salespeople in the business today. I believe that depending on where and how you shop, you could have the same contentious experience your father had 50 years ago. Or, if you shop differently, using the tools of the Internet, you could have a vastly different experience: one that is efficient, fair and stress-free.

So if you pressed me for a quick answer as to whether the shady practices described in "Confessions" still happen, I would have to say yes: In some dealerships, those tricks and traps are alive and well. But in many other dealerships they are dead and buried.

Some statistics seem to bear that out: In 2012, consumers made 59,214 complaints alleging fraudulent practices in the sale of new and used cars, according to the Federal Trade Commission. That's a substantial number, but it constitutes just a fraction of the nearly 15 million cars sold in the U.S. in 2012. My sense is that, on the whole, the car shopping experience has improved for the customer.

What Car Shoppers Hate
To provide a more specific answer about what has and hasn't changed, I made a list of the things that irk car shoppers. It boils down to these five "pain points."

1. I can't get a real price for the car I'm interested in buying.
2. I hate negotiating.
3. I don't like waiting while my salesman takes my offer to "the boss."
4. I hate feeling pressured and manipulated.
5. The sales pitches for additional products and services in the finance and insurance office make me uncomfortable.

Some of these pain points aren't as acute as they once were, but often that's only true if the shopper has discovered a workaround. In other words, many dealers would love to have you simply walk onto the car lot, as shoppers have always done, and play the age-old car-buying game. But savvy shoppers have learned to use the Web and dealership Internet departments, both of which provide information and a means of communication that speeds up the shopping process enormously. Oftentimes, dealerships don't advertise these approaches, so it is up to the shopper to discover them and learn how to use them.

In assessing whether each pain point has become less painful in the last decade, I base my answers on my experiences as someone who buys an average of 10 cars each year for the Edmunds.com long-term testing fleet. I also talk to many people who are actively shopping for cars and they share their experiences with me. Finally, I've consulted with experienced car salesmen and dealers for their insights.

Pain Point No. 1: I can't get a real price for the car I'm interested in buying.
This remains a huge problem and ranks as the No. 1 complaint from 54 percent of car shoppers, according to Edmunds.com research. On some car lots, it is impossible to quickly get a price on a car for sale. If you ask a salesperson at those stores, "What is the real price of this car?" the answer might be, "What are you willing to pay?" Or, "It depends. Are you financing with us?" Or many other possible non-answers.

To deal with this issue, Edmunds.com has introduced Price PromiseSM to give shoppers an upfront, guaranteed price on a specific car at a dealership. Meanwhile, some dealerships have experimented with posting discounted prices on the cars. This is helpful, but still leaves the shopper wondering if this is the very lowest the dealer is willing to accept. Still other dealership chains, such as AutoNationDirect.com provide firm, discounted prices online.

So on this pain point at least, there has been progress — as long as you know the workaround.

Pain Point No. 2: I hate negotiating.
Most buyers don't know how to negotiate and as a result they feel vulnerable and even frightened by the process. But they are torn: They want a good deal and don't want to feel the car salesperson is taking advantage of them. So they think they must get into haggle mode.

Car buyers who walk onto a car lot and negotiate face-to-face in a sales office may find that the negotiation process is largely unchanged. But shoppers choosing the Internet route can generally avoid negotiating. Since the initial price quote from the Internet sales team is typically so close to invoice and so far below the sticker price, shoppers often feel there is little to gain by haggling.

Again, the improvement in this area lies in knowing about and using an alternative to conventional car buying.

Pain Point No. 3: I don't like waiting while my salesman takes my offer to "the boss."
Some dealers still believe that the longer they keep customers waiting, the greater the time investment the shoppers will feel they've made and the more likely they will be to buy at a higher price. It's understandable that a sales manager needs to approve a price before he finalizes the deal. But there is no reason for it to take so long.

Unfortunately, this delaying tactic is still in effect at some dealerships. It ranges widely from a brief and tolerable five-minute absence to 30 minutes in limbo. In some cases, the salesperson who returns to the buyer is someone altogether new, or is one of many levels of managers who will now employ a different tactic to achieve a sale. A shopper who gets caught up in this game can easily spend two hours or more doing the back-and-forth without seeing an improvement on the price.

If this is happening to you, you can exert some control by refusing to tolerate long waits. One easy thing to do is to stand up when the salesperson does and say that you will be browsing the cars in the showroom or getting something from your car. This may leave the impression that you might leave and will likely prompt a quick return.

Edmunds discusses some other approaches to speeding up car buying in "Buy a New Car in One Day" and "How to Speed Up Car-Buying Paperwork."

Pain Point No. 4: I hate feeling pressured and manipulated by salespeople.
The amount of pressure that salespeople exert varies widely by dealership and brand. Some dealerships are still old school and apt to pressure a customer to close a sale, but many dealerships are now more aware that customers hate pressure, so their sales teams are less prone to bear down on buyers to close a sale.

In fact, in many cases, mystery shoppers have actually reported just the opposite problem. They can't get a salesperson to help them. In this situation, it's best to ask the dealership receptionist to page the sales manager, who will gladly assign an available salesperson to help you.

The best way to avoid the hard sell is to choose the right salesperson in the first place. Pay attention to how the salesperson treats you in the early stages of the process. If you feel uncomfortable, go no further.

Finally, you might like your salesperson but suddenly find yourself face-to-face with a manager who is acting as a "closer" and who won't take no for an answer. If this is the case, don't hesitate to simply leave. That's far better than being talked into a deal.

Pain Point No. 5: The sales pitches in the finance and insurance office make me feel uncomfortable.
As the profit has been squeezed out of the actual car purchase, many dealerships are pushing harder to realize profit elsewhere. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), the gross margin on the sale of new cars and trucks fell to 4.2 percent in 2012 from 4.6 percent in 2011. But aftermarket income rose "because of increasing F&I and service contract dollars," according to NADA.

Sales of F&I products now represent 37 percent of new- and used-vehicle department gross profit, NADA says. That's the highest it's been in 10 years.

That means the hard sell may be coming on products like extended warranties and a car alarm once you hit the F&I office. If you aren't interested in the products being offered, be ready to say no, even if you encounter a persistent finance and insurance manager, such as the one profiled in "Confessions of an Auto Finance Manager."

Find Your Way Past the Pain
Car shoppers can have better car buying experiences and minimize their chances of being hurt by these pain points. Even if every car dealership hasn't changed, many of them have. My advice has always been to find the dealerships and salespeople who will treat you right, and give them your business. Word of mouth is one way to find these businesses. Using Edmunds Dealers Ratings and Reviews is another.

And while it would be nice if all the bad behavior I saw in "Confessions" disappeared tomorrow, you can use the tips here to make it disappear right now for you, your friends and family members. And that's a good start.

Read more articles in the Edmunds Confessions Series.

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Comments

  • This update hits the nail on the head, the industry hasn't changed much since your article that I read also. Customers changed the industry, they are much more prepared now than they used to be. At the beginning of the information age they were armed with information but some of it was wrong (i.e. invoices without transportation or advertising cost). Now there is plenty of good stuff for customers to obtain research with. Most dealers will remain old school in their ways because that is how they were taught, until they straighten up and fly right it will be business as usual.

  • This update hits the nail on the head, the industry hasn't changed much since your article that I read also. Customers changed the industry, they are much more prepared now than they used to be. At the beginning of the information age they were armed with information but some of it was wrong (i.e. invoices without transportation or advertising cost). Now there is plenty of good stuff for customers to obtain research with. Most dealers will remain old school in their ways because that is how they were taught, until they straighten up and fly right it will be business as usual.

  • I good deal is a state of mind.

  • corndog50 corndog50 Posts:

    Being a true "Sales Professional" is tough. Because of the history involved with the snakes that brought it about, people just have no trust. Which is understandable. I've been doing this 5 years now. And people get to know and like me. We are all salespeople truely, you sold your wife to marry you date you have kids, sold your boss to give you the raise or even the job in most aspects, so if you only got paid 3% over whatever your job and company entails you to do then you wouldn't have that 40, 50, 100k a year job that we all strive for. The thing about this is, when you consider every aspect of detail that it takes in explaining how the cars work and all the features. Its not even the major things its the little things that make the biggest impact. I can almost surely say that in 5-10 years I will not want to be doing this anymore. The customers are getting better but, the cars will almost drive themselves.... park assist, side blindzone alerts, front cameras, thumb activated fan and volume controls.... Lets go back to the old days, when people knew how to drive! But overall for both articles, i fully agree and have been on the forefront to change the way I deal with people and the way our dealership operates is for the Customer Service. Not all of us are snakes in this profession, so give all of us a fair chance, and you will receive a good deal.

  • pm2kar50 pm2kar50 Posts:

    You're right about one thing. Having to go buy a vehicle and talk to care salesmen IS worse than having a root canal. You know....you KNOW that you're gonna get screwed one way or another. There's another category of buyer though, that you overlooked, and that's the buyer whose credit is in the toilet. Unfortunately, I'm one of them. What I've found is when you go to the lots and dealers that will even look at you, you're screwed. The inflated price you see on the vehicle is the price you're going to pay, period. Once it's known your credit's bad, they know they have you by the balls. They won't negotiate, and once you finance it, 18-24% is the norm. There should be a way to get around these vultures, because they are REALLY giving the industry a bad name.

  • bickatbyers bickatbyers Posts:

    It kills me that "Wortman" sold three to four cars a month. He was taking up space at a desk, he was not a salesman. I've been selling for 16 years. My number one goal is to do a good enough job to get a permanent customer, and referrals. I never concern myself with how much gross profit there is on any one car deal. The biggest and costliest mistake a consumer can make, is to buy the wrong car. Buying a midsize SUV for example when you've got three young children who will outgrow it in several years can cost you $10,000 dollars. A good salesman presents you with good alternatives, and earns his or her commission. This profession is in no danger of going away, except for individuals and dealerships who don't adapt.

  • bickatbyers bickatbyers Posts:

    One of the commenters mention invoices without "transportation" cost. I'm curious, do you folks think the transport drivers, and rail companys bring these cars to you for free. Why is that a negotiable item? You folks make this harder thatn you need to. Simply get quotes from three or four dealers, and you will get the "best" price. If you want to be a total jerreal sure, then call them all back and offer them a chance to beat it. None of the other garbage you read on these sites really matters.

  • bickatbyers bickatbyers Posts:

    pm50kar250: I suggest your working with the wrong salespeople or dealers. Every dealership charges Doc fees, limits set by the state. Every dealers passes along transportation cost. Every dealer charges tax, title, and license. Every dealer trys to sell aftermarkets, because margins as so low even on used cars now. If you never feel pressured or tricked into buying a car or aftermarkets walk away. Consumer Reports buying guide is very thorough, 3-4% over net, net is pretty close to invoice. The most important question is. Is the car worth it, and will someone else sell it to me for less.

  • bickatbyers bickatbyers Posts:

    When you've got screwed up credit, you've got to realize that in many cases it's the lender that cleans up. Dealers have to pay fees, to get the laons approved. As much as 15% of the purchase price. In most cases, that is the total margin in the car. As a salesperson, I don't enjoy working with people who have screwed up credit. They are timeconsuming, rarely satisfied, and get turned down about 75% of time that you do the same worked that would have otherwise earned you a commission. They also come back frequently because of misleading applications. The only reason I work with them, is to be helpful and because I am obligated to by my dealership. Occasionally it turns out really well, with a lower than expected rate or just a really satisfied customer.

  • toyotarick toyotarick Posts:

    I have sold used cars for 20 years.The car bussiness is nothing like the way it used to be.The cust has way more info and wants more from the dealership.You have some guy sell for a few months has all the answers but not able to make a living.maybe the car bussiness woul be better off if articles like this had some truth to them.

  • thatlaoguy thatlaoguy Posts:

    I'm in the market for a new car and it'll be my first buying one for myself. Last time I received a new car, my parents did all the work. After doing a bit of research about dealerships and their dirty tricks, it made me a smarter buyer. I'm not saying I'm and expert, but I now I know what to expect. Being a recent college grad and with a decent career, I probably would have been taken advantage of. A month ago, as I was browsing websites looking at all the shiny new cars, I expected to pay the msrp that was listed on the sites. Basically, I was going to end up in a dealer paying full price and I guarantee you they would have taken it and laughed about it as I drove off. Nowadays, I'm asking myself these questions 1. What is the purpose of a salesmen when I do my own homework and know what it is I want in terms of needs, performance, price, and colour? Isn't there a way to cut out the middleman(salesmen) and get the car for it's (true) invoice price? Now I understand the dealer has to make money as well and that's fine. I'm more than happy to pay the dealer for their services and all but the salesmen are obsolete in this day and age. You spend 4 hours helping someone? I spend 3 hours a night for 2 months researching my next big purchase in life. I'm entitled to my hard earned money. 2. is the listed invoice price truly what the dealer pays for the car? I compared invoice prices from cars in the 90s to cars now. I'm seeing a difference of $2,000 to $3000 from invoice to msrp from older cars in the 90s. Checking invoice prices for cars within the past year or so, I'm only seeing a difference of about $1000. This comes off as a bit fishy and reading how people are paying invoice for their cars and walking out happy strikes me as odd. Where is the dealer making the cash if they're selling the cars for the amount they've bought it for? I've got a feeling the invoice price has been manipulated in some way or another or some other fees were added to ensure that the dealers would still make money despite internet buyers walking in and demanding to pay invoice. This is the only explanation I can come up with. This is a shady business indeed. I have not concluded that I'll be buying from private owners instead of ever buying from dealerships. I just can't trust the practice the more articles I read about how dirty these folks are. I often see these salesmen come on here and cry to the public about how they're good people just trying to make a living yet would turn around and laugh at the buyer after they've duped them. Sure, not everyone is shady like that, but from what I've got and experienced, it seems that way. You make a living by marking up the prices of cars to earn a bigger commission? I don't get why your dinner and your kids tuition has to come at our expense. You guys don't manufacture the cars yourself. Your only job is to hand us the keys and be present as we take the car out for a test drive. I don't think that's worth 3-4 grand over invoice. People should be able to tip you for the time. 10 bucks and hour you spend helping is fair. I also see these salesmen come on here and tell us that if we're nice and polite to the salesmen, we'll walk out with a good deal and it'll be a better buying experience. DEFINE a GOOD DEAL!? Seriously, this is what i've seen from all the "good guys" in the sales department. A good deal for me is buying the car for (true) invoice as well as paying the dealer a set amount for their troubles and work. Everyone is happy except the obsolete salesmen.

  • cliffvettej cliffvettej Posts:

    I spent 25 years in the car business. There are some bad, old school dealers still out there but a great majority of the dealers are very good and treat the customers great. I remember some people wanted to know why they could not just order a car from the factory themselves. Okay. Then you can perfect your own paperwork with the State. Arrange your own financing. So what you say? Now how about this. How about taking the car back to the factory everytime you need warranty work done? If there are no dealers you would have no place to get FACTORY AUTHORIZED WARRANTY WORK completed. What about parts? I guess you could order them on the internet and then go find someone who is qualified to install them ( I am not talking about cheap after market parts). No dealers?!! You must be kidding.

  • bennyb44875 bennyb44875 Posts:

    Has not every business in the last 20-30 years changed? Where did you buy hardware items before Home Depot of Lowes? Have we not shut down the small business owner that actually knew and understood your hardware needs when purchasing these items? How about going to find a nice suit or a pair of shoes? Those old stores are long and gone, replaced with chain discount stores with zit faced clerk’s that have no idea how to size a jacket or match it with a pair of nice loafers! American’s have loathed buying a car, why? Is it they know they are to lazy to get their car cleaned and detailed to sell it themselves? Or is it that Americans have grown a custom expecting to get everything for nothing (we do live in a time where everyone gets a trophy, even if you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time)? In both articles the two gentlemen do say how difficult selling automobiles are. They both seem to make light the reason. The reason it is difficult isn’t because of an “old school” boss or dealership. The reason it is difficult is the consumer. Why blame anyone for selling you something that you are not either educated or smart enough to walk away from something you don’t want? We live in times where you can scan a television and see who has the best price within 30 miles! We live in times of the internet, where you can shop car prices from San Francisco, CA to Mt. Airy, NC! Every customer deserves the right to be treated 100% as they treat others! That is true in every aspect of life, not just the Automobile business. Walk into a restaurant treat a server with no respect, the dinner has the right to kick you out! Making a offer on a car, is no different than making a offer on a home! No one stands outside of a home, and makes an offer without stepping a foot inside the door! “Give your best price, or I am leaving!” A) In most states a real estate agent isn’t allowed to quote any price other than the seller’s price! B) Who would ever consider spending 50k-500k on a home without looking at every room? People do it everyday with cars, then complain when they get home and the vehicle isn’t what they expected and call the next day to say “I have 3 days to bring it back right?” Buying a car is simple, research your purchase. Attempt to sell your trade (if you can’t don’t expect to receive equal compensation as to what a Dealer would sell your trade). Call a bank and get pre-approved (we all believe banks are way more trust worthy than car dealerships, banks didn’t get 1 cent of bailout money). Make a offer, why wait for the dealer to give you their best price? Buy the vehicle at Your best price! I am not a journalist, but sell Vehicles; I do and have made very good friends with customers in the process, people have also gotten very mad at me, this happens to every person in every profession, it is called life…not the car business!

  • bennyb44875 bennyb44875 Posts:

    And why do people expect to pay what a deal would pay for a car? Give me 2 examples of where this happens in any other buisness? Please.. all of you that own or work in a small buisness where you offer your goods at your price?

  • emyh emyh Posts:

    This story is weaaaaak!! You are definitely not a car salesman. I can walk into any dealership in any state in this country and make an easy 6 figure income.

  • carman4444 carman4444 Posts:

    I have been a sales professional in the auto industry for 40 years with a major US luxury maker. I think this response to a car salesperson is a bunch of bull!!! I can really tell you what a pro goes thru every day.What I read is fiction and not realty. Give me an opportunity and I will really tell and teach you . JA

  • emptyracy emptyracy Posts:

    The reason people avoid car salesmen is because too many (not all) salesmen are 'temps' looking to make a quick buck by selling as much as they can without caring about the buyer and looking to get out or move up the ladder as soon as possible. To these 'temp' salespeople selling cars isn't a profession, but a temporary gig until something better comes along. The problem from the buyers perspective is that we don't know whether we'll get a professional or a 'temp' when we go to the lot. Watch the TV series "King of Cars" and you'll see what I mean. That's why I bought my car using a broker. I told him what I wanted and how much I wanted to pay then he found it for me. It was the best car buying decision I've ever made.

  • anthrslsmn anthrslsmn Posts:

    I was a mechanic for quite a while, and I was the bad guy then. Now I sell cars, and I'm still the bad guy. Everyone thinks they're getting screwed and there's secret invoices and hidden money that is getting thrown around in the back. People are upset because they just don't understand what's going on. Truthfully, there is almost no mark-up or money to be made on most deals. On top of this, everyone thinks they should be able to buy cars for the invoice price. The very idea is insane. Why should we have to sell you the vehicle without any real profit? It's frustrating to work a deal the whole way through just to find out someone is going to skip out on the deal.

  • chaz16 chaz16 Posts:

    I woiuld like to see all the car salesmen get fired and cars be sold by major retailers like Amazon or Wal-Mart.

  • kleiner kleiner Posts:

    This is really good information. It is worse than a root canal

  • tforr123 tforr123 Posts:

    FIRST THING, its very obvious that when the writer went in to this "investigation" to "enlighten" the world to how corrupt and rich car guys are that it was very one sided. If youre going to investigate the post office do you interview the guy that got hired yesterday, works horrible hours, and doesnt see his family or do you talk to a man thats been there for twenty years about to retire and have experienced it all in his job. The truth of the matter is car sales has changed since the past. The bad rep came from not having to disclose to customers what they were paying for leases, so salesman would switch customers from a buy to a lease for more gross. Laws have changed drastically to protect the buyer. FURTHERMORE ive been selling cars for about 3 years ive been successful. I can tell you my perceptions from when i was 6 months in to 3 years in about this business have changed. I could see how a green pea could listen to to veterans and think the business is some what suspect, but you gotta remember that veteran has been told hes a horrible person by the customer everyday for X amount of years and still tried to help them with a smile. As far as not negotiating with subpar credit... OF COURSE NOT! its going to take more work to get you done by a bank and its going to take the dealerships buying power to get the deal done. More work means more time which means less oppurtunity to sell people that have paid there bills on time. I ALSO I HAVE HORRIBLE CREDIT... BUT I DID IT TO MYSELF and am mature enough at 24 to recognize that. If youre not happy with that why dont you go get pre approved by a bank? Of course you could always buy private party... DO YOU THINK THEYRE NOT OUT TO MAKE MONEY ALSO? they have less cost therefore can sell for less pretty simple...good luck bringin it back to the private seller to get fixed bc they stand behind their car ZERO. The truth is the internet has taken the average gross profit and dropped it significantly. It's simple. Find the cars youre interested in type them in to the computer see which dealerships offer the best prices and inquire! The customer makes it worse than having a root canal with pre conceived notions, zero trust, and not listening to a seasoned sales associate. IF you have the right salesman he should be able to explain the whole process to you to make you feel comfortable enough to pull the trigger. customers stop complaining do research and stop calling us criminals were ppl like you that show up to work and go home to our families, except we have the joy of being abused by you consumers daily. Read this and dont misunderstand anger for frustration.

  • shube shube Posts:

    You realize the fake fern in the corner of the showroom could sell 3-4 cars a month. The psychology you speak of, is nothing more then making someone comfortable spending their hard earned money with you. This is done by actually listening to a customers needs and wants, and conducting yourself with honesty and integrity. Ive been selling cars for 8 years and have never lied to a customer. Furthermore youd be surprised how many college educated people come in looking at a 30,000 car and want their payment to be 350.00 a month. I wouldnt take to much stock, in someone who failed miserably, sounds more like someone with a chip on his shoulder, then anything eye opening, or informative.

  • mikeev mikeev Posts:

    I spent 25 years in the "Car Business" and I'm glad to be out of it. I started in parts and service and worked my way into sales. It didn't take long to figure out all the "money" was in used cars. Eventually I opened my own small used operation. We sold trucks mainly and treate dthe clients as we would want to be treated. The old adage of you want a car but you NEED a truck was the motivation behind going with trucks. All the same situations applied especially the credit worthiness of the clients. We started carrying our own contracts and saw the writting on the wall as new car profits shrank and sales forces at the franchised stores were not only be reduced but the number of veteran sales people had all but vanished. In 1972 I was selling Lincolns in my first sales job. A new Mark IV avragedd $10,400 with about $3600 in profit at window and we did not discount. Boom! Oil embargho #1 hits. and we are giving these cars away at $8000. It never came back fully. The four square? Best piece of stratedgy out there. My late father-in-law told me how he showed the owners of the store he managed how computers would cost them needed profits but they wouldn't listen. "Once it is on a TV screen you are locked in with little or no manuevering ability", he told them. He was correct. I'm now comfortably retired and don't miss a day of it. The sad truth is this: Many a car salesman made a lot of money in the day and they spent it. The economy always suffered when the car business was bad. The old saying was, " So goes the car business, so goes the economy". May still apply somewhat.

  • channel70 channel70 Posts:

    Read the book, Moving Iron, before even thinking about buying a car.

  • gotohoward gotohoward Posts:

    I worked for 4 dealers over several years, and even did over a year in an intenet dept for a multi franchise dealer. The car business and buying a car is a piece of cake. Of course, all the players still exist, and that includes the customer like you have described, but the bottom line is an alway has been the pursuit of a satisfied customer. The dealerships are mostly starving these days. The economy mostly prescribes that. Selling vehicle once you have an interested parts is mostly paint by the colors. You can't really spend all your time trying to perform tricks to sell a car. Most people aren't idiots, and believe it or not, most of the time when you get an idiot buyer, it's the hardest sale of all. The just smudge their fingers all over your finely tuned canvas with question after question after question. I rather deal with an informed buyer. It's a cut to the chase proposition where both sides are mostly satisfied. You were right that most of the time it doesn't take a "car guy" to sell well in a dealership. I wasn't one, and in the short run I could hold my own with any veteran. The long run is a little different because these guys are career monkeys in cars. They'll probably end up selling more cars over a lifetime. The Hank Aaron's of cars. I'm glad I had the experience and especially dealing over the internet. I found that working with people online was tedious at times, it afforded me the opportunity of spending more time doing what I like best in sales...going over product details. Once I got a customer in it would go pretty smoothly, because I was just delivering what we had talked about. The only issue I have with all that you've reported on about the car business is that you try to make it comical in a way that people are manipulated and practices are somehow neandrathal and creepy. I believe that those things really reside in the person. The sales people, managers, customers, and in your case the sneaky quasi undercover agent. You may find that you are more "car sales guy" than someone pretending that he was just moonlighting to expose the big bad wolf. That being said, buying and selling cars can actually be fun. Vehicles are really a marvel, and the process to some is engaging. My older brother actually enjoys going on lots to talk with salesmen and buying cars. He does it to release tension if you can believe it. It's absolutely true.

  • mikifin mikifin Posts:

    I have been selling cars for 24 years now. When people understand that most sales people are just trying to make a living and not there to take them to the bank things are so much easier. It is amazing some of the things that salesman actually go through. I had one lady a few years back actually drive 5 different Mercury Sables. She was comparing the exact same cars just different colors. She wanted to see how the blue drove differently then the red and so on! We now have the internet which takes most of the guess work out of it for the customer. All they have to do is a little home work. The prices are easy to find and it really isn't brain surgery. The only difficult part for the custamer is being able to look at their trade the way the dealer does. It has a cash value and sentiment had nothing to do with it. Kelley blue book is generally fairly close but it is an investment. They are investing money in your car for one reason and that is to turn a profit. Trade-in values are always going to be wholesale. The dealer will on many occasions put $1000.00 - $2000.00 or more into a trade just to make it lot ready. I read where one guy actually said they would like to have it like Wal-mart. That's just stupid. As long as people need to finance and title the vehicles let alone learn how to use the GPS, the blue-tooth and all the other idiosyncrasies of each and every vehicle. It could never be done by a retail location like that. It generally takes at least an hour to do a proper presentation for the customer. That would never happen at Wal-mart or K-mart.

  • thatguy42 thatguy42 Posts:

    To All the Car Sales Whiners: You guys have reaped what you sowed. My former profession (Life Insurance Sales - 18 years) has done, and continues to do, the same thing: there are far, far more unscrupulous sales "professionals" out there than honest ones. Your industry has refused to police itself for the past 60 years (at least) and you wonder why people don't want to deal with you? For every 'honest' dealership out there, there are dozens who are not and who drive their sales staff to use the same "hammer" methods they used 10, 15, 20 years ago. (One guy told my girl friend that the car had "heated" rims and was therefore safer. Another finance jerk wanted to sell her overpriced "replacement" insurance. Needless to say, standing up and walking out was the result.) I regret moving too far away to keep my old sales professional (who I purchased four cars from in 10 years ...the last two I drove over three hours to pick up the cars). Thank goodness for the Internet and sites like Edmunds.com. Even with their help, buying a car from most dealerships is like pulling teeth. It may be necessary, but I don't have to like it.

  • kahs101 kahs101 Posts:

    I have been in the car buisness for 22 years.I will tell you that where I live there are numerous state and federal laws that have been put in place to protect the consumer.Some of these laws go as far as putting an unnecessary burden on the dealership.We do not use 4 square sheets we use desk quotes with full disclosure of discount seperate from trade.We also disclose payment and rate and term.We are the future and we proudly stand by our product new or used.We even have a 4 day return policy.So the choice is yours people! Do you want to buy from a dinosauer dealership or from people that get it?I think I know your answer.By the way Im sure if this guy that sold cars for 6 months was able to make a living at selling cars his tune would be different.How can we pick apart the authors job? Im sure if we wanted to we could find plenty of things with anyone.

  • davenesc davenesc Posts:

    I have been selling cars for 27 years. I have seen the changes in the car business first hand. Most of the clients I talk to every day are looking for guidance to help them solve the puzzle of what they need. They have many questions about the new hybirds and how they work. They have questions about navigation systems and if they are worth the investment. Bluetooth. Satilite Radios. Radios that sync up to a customers cell phone. Most clients are very concerned with gas mileage and if the cars that get good MPG will still suit thier needs. I will explain the changes in the 4 cylinder engines that make them a great deal more powerful than V6 engines of just a decade ago and why. Transmissions are changing and the changes in the Safety of these new cars will make you head swim. I know the answers to these questions and millions more in great detail. This is my profession. To assist a client to the right car for his or her wants and needs. The money is secondary. The mark up in cars has dropped as incentives have gone up. The Factory rebates and special interest rates are paid for by dealers by reducing the markup in the price. So give the client a fair price in the right car and a deal is made. No drama needed or wanted on either side. I take care of the client after the sale with loaner cars and help with any service problems and they will spread the word. To think that you have an intimate knowledge of the car bussiness because you spent a couple of months stumbling blindly into a few deals a month is like saying I am a professional journalist because I just wrote a comment on a blog.

  • chess63 chess63 Posts:

    I spent twenty plus years in the automobile industry selling most of the brands available including Rolls Royce, yet I am always amazed at the public and the opinions you hear about Automobile Salespersons because it is the buyers who make the purchase difficult or impossible! Wow you say, how can that be as the given perception is that all Automoble Salespersons are liars and cheats and making tons of money off the unsuspecting customer..This just isnt the case, first of all the Automobile Dealers have millions of dollars invested to provide you with a good selection of vehicles which is a necessary product for Americans and the Dealers are intitled to make a profit as are the salespersons to make a living for being there to SERVE YOU! Thats right SERVE YOU, as the average salesperson works seventy to eighty hours a week, goes to classes every week and must be certifited in product knowledge to sell Automobiles and unless you can sell in volumn of ten to fifteen vehiles a month and hold a respectfull profit you will likely end up making mimimum wage, thats why only one out of a hundred Automoble Salespersons can make it a year in the business. If you really want an enjoyable experience buying a car, drive into a dealership, meet a salesperson, select a vehicle you want to own, have your trade appraised, tell the Salesperson you want to pay MSRP,Manufactured Suggested Retail Price, take the trade value offered, provide a 10% cash down payment and except the financing terms and insurances offered, the dealer makes the profit he deserves, the salesperson a decent living and you can have the best damn car buying experience of a lifetime... Thats not going to happen though, thats when the negotiations start and in a Capitalist Society that is the way it should be, if you could not negotiate your back at paying full MSRP anyway and the Dealers who do not negotiate only pay there Salespersons a base salary and minimum commissions that amounts to minimum wage no Automotive Professional Salesperson will work for that and your left again with a GREEN PEA who doesnt know anything about the product your looking at or how to access your wants and needs... Buyers always want to much for there trades and want to believe that a Dealer can keep his doors open by selling at Dealer Invoice without any profit, folks that will kill the American Car Buying Dream. The East Germans under Soviet control during the cold war, were only ALLOWED to attain a automobile if they were a devout communist, waiting seven years for there car to be built a Trabaunt, making payments on a car for seven years that they could NEVER own before they could drive it. (All realestate and automobiles were property of the state) they kept the same car FOR EVER as they were only allowed to have one. The Trabaunt had a three cylinder engine, manual transmission, no emissions, no safety items or safety glass, metal, a poor grade of tires, no heater, radio or air conditioner, a choice of six colors a body so thin it may have been made from tin and thats exactly what the American people will get if the art of negotiation dies in the Automobile Industry. If you dont believe it take a look at Flint Michigan, my home town the six Automobile Factories there gave thousands of hard workers the American dream, today the factories have been bull dozed down to the concrete slab and now Flint is one of the poorest cities in the US. So next time you go to buy a car be nice to the Salesperson who is there to ASSIST YOU, providing information, asking questions so that they can HELP YOU find the right vehicle for your needs and wallet, they dont like the manager to have to come in to close a deal and once you have arrived at an exceptable offer the Dealer can make a small profit by taking the deal and HOPE you have good enough credit and down payment to purchase or you have just wasted three hours of a salespersons time!!! I had a 99% customer satisfaction average and sold many of my customers cars for years to them and there family members. Hey you know what might be a noval idea would to return to Dealership, whether you purchased or not and surprize your Salesperson by offering them and there significant other a Gift Certificate to a Steak House for working for hours and hours in the heat, rain or cold, making minimum wage and putting up with your crap just to HELP YOU find the right vehicle and deal!!! Totally fed up with the customer is always right and that the PROFESSIONALS in the Automobile Industry are inhuman, unfeeling, liars and thiefs, if you really think so try working as one and see if you can even make six months....

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