Last week I shared some of the ways that we were able to save money when we finally had to go shopping for a new car (Seven Car Shopping Tips to Save You Money). Our experiences were mostly positive, but there were times that were not. While we were ultimately successful in finding a great car for a price that we could afford, there were a number of times that we just shook our heads at the attitudes and behavior of various car dealers. On the other hand, there were a handful of them that were doing an awesome job. Here is a list of things that we wish all car dealers knew:
1) It would be nice if automakers would make the cars that we want: Chevrolet used to make the Venture, which we liked so well we bought two of them. It was comfortable, affordable, reliable, had eight seats, and got good gas mileage. We would have happily bought another one, but they don’t make them anymore. Our local Chevy dealer only carried other brands of minivan in their used car lot and almost no one makes a van with eight seats. Brilliant.
2) Dealers should know that we own computers and know how to use them: Thanks to the Internet, before we left the house we knew what car we wanted and every dealership within 50 miles that had one. We knew the Kelly Blue Book recommended price, and how much the dealerships wanted for them. Several dealerships seemed to have no clue that this technology exists.
3) Just because it looks like a van, doesn’t make it a van: One major brand advertises that they have the highest fuel economy in a minivan but when we looked into it, their minivan only has seating for five. Seriously? Our Aunt Gladys’ Buick LeSabre has more seats than that, it gets better gas mileage, and its big overstuffed leather seats are almost certainly more comfortable.
4) Comfy seats do not always make the sale: The dealer whose lot is literally across the street from our church was courteous and polite but failed in two ways. 1) They had nothing close to our price range because the vans on their lot were all loaded up with leather seats and all the extras and 2) while these vans were only a little more than we were looking for, they made absolutely no attempt to negotiate. We left.
5) Rudeness never pays: Downtown Ford in Canton offered one price online but when we asked how much the car cost, the saleswoman made two mistakes. 1) She nearly demanded that we drive it before she would tell us the price and when we insisted, she copped an attitude and gave us a base price that was $2500 more than the price quoted online. We left.
6) We don’t negotiate the price of most things, but we expect it when buying a car AND some of us prefer to pay cash: One dealership we visited had two, reasonably priced, low mileage vans that we liked. We test drove both of them. They wouldn’t budge on price and insisted that because they were a wholesaler they couldn’t negotiate. They did, however, try very hard to offer us a “better deal” if we would only take out a loan, despite our offer to pay cash. How is paying interest supposed to save us money? We left.
7) Being polite and helpful never hurt your business: The salesman at Greg Pruitt Honda met us in the lot almost as soon as we got out of the car, asked what we were looking for, and actually listened. He told us that they didn’t have any in stock but got several in each week and would, if we wanted, let us know when one came in. He was polite and helpful even though he knew he didn’t have what we wanted and also knew that we would continue to look elsewhere. I will almost certainly go back to their dealership the next time I am looking for a car.