Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Car-Buying Experience

(Crap!  this wasn 't supposed to post until Friday!  So, consider this my Friday post!)

I mentioned yesterday that I have been battling the car sales wars--sparring with car salespeople, trying as we all do to get the most car possible for the lest amount of money.  To be fair, I sold cars for 11 months, so I know it's a tough way to make a living, especially in the current economy.  I didn't survive;  I lasted 11 months before being handed my pink slip.  The dealership expected me to sell 10 cars per month; I was only able to average 7 per month.  (That was back in 1992)

That stint in car sales, plus my experiences purchasing vehicles over the last 40 years or so compelled me to write this post.  My Jargon Translations are in red italics.

The Car-Buyers Dictionary of Car Sales Jargon, or What they  really mean when they utter this phrase:

1.  What kind of car are you looking for?
What do we have in our current inventory that we might be able to pawn off on you, whether or not it meets your needs.

 2.  How much are you looking to spend on a car?
Give me a figure to which I can add a thousand or two and sell you the car that gives me a better commission.

3.  Did you have a monthly payment in mind?
I should be able to add $75 to that and sell you the car that gives me a better commission.
I can fit any car into that montly payment if I extend the term long enough; 

4.  Would you like to drive this car home to show your spouse?
If we can get your spouse hooked on the car, then the two of us can gang up on you until you fold!

5.  We were lucky to get this interest rate on your loan!
If you're willing to accept the first interest rate I quote, the dealership will make extra money on this sale!

6.  I strongly recommend you purchase the extended warranty contract; it only adds a few dollars to your monthly payment.
If I can get you to buy the service contract, we can make more money on this sale!

 7. What would it take to put you in this car today?
I know if you leave, you may buy elsewhere, so if I throw in floormats or a GPS system, will you sign on the dotted line now? 

 At one dealership (whose name I will not mention), the salesperson asked us what we were looking for.  We said we wanted a Chevy Malibu or Impala, any color but black or white, and we absolutely wanted a sunroof.  "I think I have the perfect car for you," he said.  We were instructed to take a seat in the showroom while he fetched it.  He drove up to the door in a white Impala with no sunroof.  When we explained that this car would not work and why, he asked again what we were looking for exactly?
Once again we said, "Malibu or Impala, with sunroof, remote start, in any color but black or white." 
"Oh, I know I have the car you want!" he responded, and proceeded to show us a black Nissan Altima.
At this point I was thinking a colonoscopy would be more fun than this, so we gave up on that place!

We visited a couple other dealerships with better experiences, but they did not have the car we were seeking.  Finally, we ended up at Quirk Chevrolet in Portland, Maine.   We had the good fortune to work with Alishia Topham. a true sales professional.   She listened to what we said, and showed us only cars that met our needs.  She quoted a price and left the decision to us; she didn't apply pressure, she didn't pull the "What do I have to do to put you in this car today?" line.  We were able to negotiate a deal that was satisfactory without haggling or stress.  If you are in southern Maine and looking for a car, I strongly recommend Quirk and especially Alishia.  I promise you won't regret it.  And tell her I sent you--I do get a referral fee if you do, but I wouldn't recommend Alishia if we hadn't had a really positive experience.  She's extremely helpful and comfortable to work with.

Oh, and what did we finally trade our 2006 Malibu Maxx that took us on that 7,000 mile cross country trip for?   A Pre-owned (used) 2009 Chevrolet Impala LTZ:

With a little luck, this car will last us the rest of our driving days!  We have our sunroof, it isn't black or white, and it has all kinds of wonderful features which I need to learn how to use! 
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Meeko Fabulous said...

Congrats on the new car! :) It's gorgeous!

Steven Anthony said...

I'm glad you had a happy ending ;)

Steven Anthony

The Vegetable Assassin said...

Used car dealers are scary. It's just natural instinct not to trust a thing they say. Obviously there are some good ones out there and it seems you found one finally, so yay! But I always think they're out to scalp me of all my money and sell me a lemon because I know nothing about cars, except I want one that moves and is fairly reliable. Also, they really hate when you say you can buy it outright and won't require their financing. They will try and talk you into financing it anyway. WTF? I HAVE THE MONEY. GIVE ME THE CAR. I don't want to pay you PLUS interest. Car shopping for a used car is the most horrible shopping experience ever.

Candice said...

I hate the car buying experience! Glad you ended up with what you want.

Jen said...

Well, that was an experience!!!! Congrats on the new wheels.

Brian Miller said...

sweet ride! glad you got a good one and not...blechk!

Eva Gallant said...

Jen: Thanks!

Veg: Second only to colonoscopy preparation!

Steven: Me, too.

Me said...

Hahaha, we had quite the same experience over here. I wanted a big enough car where i can fit a dog kennel in and they wanted to sell me a car where I can't even get two dogs into the back.

We ended up buying the Jeep Compass which turned out to be not the best idea because I can't get a kennel in either since the back is sloping down. However, it's big enough to get three dogs in. It was the first time we bought a car and we only have the military dealership on post, however we've learned a lot from that experience.

Oh and one thing I want to add. The military dealership advertises tax free cars, well I wished they wouldnt because with many states you have to pay the tax once you ship the car back to the US. So it's not really tax free, it's only tax free the moment you buy the car but you usually end up paying it anyhow, so it's kind of misleading the customers.

natalee said...

Thank god it all worked out.. I laughed soo hard at the "Translations.." Congrats on the new car my friend

Canadian Blend said...

I hate car buying. There's a big dealer in town I'd never go to again -- all because I had a bad experience with a sales guy 20 years ago.

Congrats on the new car. It's a nice looking ride.

Robynn's Ravings said...

Congrats, Eva!!! Lovely car and BOY were your sales tips RIGHT.ON.!!! Glad you found that true professional - good sales person AND good human being. :)

Pat said...

Sounds like a sweet deal and it's a cute car, to boot!

Kristy said...

Congrats! Always fun to have a new car around, but I hate the car buying experience as well. And, the phrase "pre-owned?" So funny, their play on words.

Joann Mannix said...

There is nothing worse than shopping for a car. I have a secret weapon, though, my husband. He's an insurance salesman so he can beat them at their own game.

Great looking car. Enjoy it.

Eva Gallant said...

Kristy: I don't remember when cars went from being used to pre-owned, but you never hear the term "used" anymore!

Robynn: I love my car, but I'm so glad the process is over!

Canadian: Thanks. I'm glad we were able to find a good car and get a decent deal.

Me: They get you with the taxes every time!

loveable_homebody said...

Your subtext of car sales people's jargon is humourous, but kind of disturbing. There is so much deception in business. I'm sorry you were required to exercise it, especially since you obviously don't care to deceive or be deceived. At least you learned to understand the tools of manipulation. I'm sure it has made you a better consumer and also sympathetic to employees who are doing what they can to earn a living. It's a complicated situation and I'm sorry you had to go through that pressure.

Nice car! I bet you're glad to have that experience over with! Nice blog. I will be back!