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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Buying a Car: Do You Still Have to Beware of Tricky Salespeople?

Last time we bought a car (2002?), we actually purchased something from Consumer Reports which gave you "behind the sticker price" info and suggested target prices. I think the info cost $30 and this was a big improvement over previous modes of negotiation.

Now, there is a lot more transparency and everything is pretty much free on the internet. In fact, Mr FS emailed a bunch of dealers with info about what we wanted and waited for offers to come in. Eventually, he got the price we wanted at the local dealer; the salesperson was a friend of a friend, so all was good.

When we got to the dealership to pay up, our guy David was "busy" so we had a substitute for the preliminary paperwork. He brought a contract for signature and Mr FS noticed that, while the price was the one we had negotiated, there was also a $695 "Accessory Charge." He pointed out to substitute sales guy that David had waived that fee. "Oh, so sorry. I'll fix it."

Question: Was the substitute salesman a ruse whereby such a "mistake" would we made and--perhaps--not noticed by the tired customer? Would David himself have "forgotten" that he had waived the fee and included it on the contract?

Thank heavens Mr FS kept his wits about him and was paying attention.

Interestingly, we got a 2014 Honda Accord for $1000 over the cost of our beloved 1998 Camry. Pretty amazing.


Anonymous said...

You two did well! And so smart to be watchful. I am betting it was a ruse. But how cynical am I?

SarahB said...

My husband has worked 30 years in a dealership as a master technician. Even he doesn't trust salesmen or worse the F&I guys.

Gam Kau said...

Ugh, it has been many years since I've had to deal with car sales people, but I think the experience has come a long way from gimmicky to transparency. My parents recently purchased a Honda and the transaction went so smoothly so maybe it is part of the Honda process? I was also impressed with the price, really, cars are a much better value than they used to be. I'm holding out for a Google Car!

Anonymous said...

I bought a car last year and it was a horrendous shopping experience. There were so many lies about this fee and that, saving money if I paid a higher price (???). I even brought up one of the issues to the manager, and he tried to show me the math to prove I wasn't being swindled. Problem was, his math proved the swindle! I got $300 back. And yes, the guy in the office where you sign tried to sell me a $600 insurance policy and made it sound like it was a mandatory fee. It wasn't, so I got that back too. *Sigh*

Shelley said...

I've only ever bought one new car back in 1984; can't remember a thing about that purchase except that I kept the car for 11 years til I moved to England. I wouldn't trust a salesman unless he was my best friend, and I'd still read the document. Whether it was a mistake or deliberate, it still would have been money out of your pocket. Good job on finding a good deal!

Frugal Scholar said...

@All--Well, this is all very depressing. We were lucky that we didn't have to finance (a result of two long lasting cars with few repair bills over the last 16 years). That seems to be where most of the trickery is.