Most people, unless they are car nuts AND enjoy being oversold, manipulated, irritated and annoyed, dread the prospect of car shopping and interacting with car dealerships and sales reps. For those of us who fall into this category, the internet provides a wealth of information and opportunities which greatly reduce the aggravation of purchasing a new car. When I set out to replace my eleven year old Jeep Cherokee, I began by looking at the usual evaluations from consumer review magazines, car magazines, and websites devoted to comparing makes, models, and pricing of automobiles. I narrowed my search to three candidates, and then went out and arbitrarily test drove each one at whatever dealership was closest to me and therefore most convenient. I explained to the salesmen who let me test drive the cars that I was in the process of comparing several makes and models and was not prepared to discuss price or purchase until I had come to a decision. This allowed me to make my choice free from any pressure and kept the interaction with sales reps down to a bare minimum. I also came in to each dealership with a photocopy of my current drivers license on which I wrote the words, "I do not give you permission to do a credit check; the performance of unauthorized credit checks violates federal law". This is an important thing to remember as often dealers will ask to copy your license so that while you are happily - or not so happily - engaged in your test drive they can run a credit check to determine if you are a serious and time worthy prospective buyer. Unfortunately, every time someone checks your credit history, your credit rating goes down as the system assumes that the only reason someone checks someones credit is that it is bad.
So having chosen which vehicle I wanted - a Dodge Nitro - I went to several on line sites to find a dealer. Initially, I was looking for a post 2008 low milage used Nitro in any of three colors. I sent email inquiries to the four nearest dealers to me, one of which was Modern Motors in Thomaston, CT.
I received a prompt personal reply from Jodi Fletter the internet sales manager at Modern Motors, who thanked me for my inquiry and said she would check around to see if she could locate a certified pre-owned car matching my request. The other three dealerships sent me automated response letters ("bot notes") which said something like "Hi there, and thanks for your interest in purchasing one of our cars. Please call us any time to schedule a test drive and hear about our exciting sales events! Sincerely, The Internet Team at Blah Blah motors"
Jodi, on the other hand, searched on my behalf for the vehicle I requested. At the same time, I scoured the local sales advertisements and went to the larger multidealer and internet buying sites.
It seems these vehicles were somewhat scare in the certified pre-owned category. The only ones I could find had been owned by rental fleets and after test driving two I was not happy with the idea of buying a used car that had been driven under those circumstances.
After a few days Jodi contacted me and said that while her buyer at modern had located several cars at auction they too were pretty worn out. She asked me if I would consider a new car. She also informed me that Chrysler was offering a $2.000 rebate for new car purchases which expired on April 30th. While a new car had initially not been my intention, I went on line to check what the MSR price was and what the average regional dealers cost would be. I replied to Jodi's email saying that I might be interested depending upon how close to what I wanted to pay for the car they could come. I sent her a target figure representing the average between several car information service estimates of dealer invoices plus a small allowance for mark up and the standard registration fees and tax. At her request, the sales manager, Jeff Lajoie, emailed me a copy of his dealer invoice and then gave me a copy of wha