Car dealer questionable business practices

wrathfuldeity

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Not really. In my view.

I bought a car in both 2015 and 2016 (used Saabs) and I was able to control the transaction to a remarkable extent. What I recommend is, strip out everything about the transaction that is not essential to taking title to the vehicle in question, other than a basic inspection and test drive. Knowing more about the vehicle than the sales goof is easy, IMO, and knowing which product to buy and from whom puts you in a position of dominance. I'm looking at Lonn and his spouse, buying one of these nice new Accords and right off, the dealer knows he's not dealing with fools. They just treat you differently if you're the boss, and not them.
^ Yes! Quite a few years ago, was looking for a used car in the Seattle area. At the time my oldest was with a backroom internet hosting outfit for many of the big auto dealers. He said come down for the weekend, hang out and we will cruise around.

Anyway, he had access to the dealer's inventory, that included their upfront/trade-in cost, service repair cost, what was done, etc. So, we cruised around in the evening/night look at specific ones that were of interest. And he on his laptop would pull up info on the spot. Then I went into the dealer in the morning to talk. Having a good idea of what they have in as their cost versus the sticker price. Then you figure in some dealer overhead, the sales commission and stuff. I don't mind folks staying in business and the sales needing to make a living, but I will not support a gang "R" of myself from a dealer, timewise nor $ wise. But it was eye opening about the profit margins that dealers/sales were trying to get...even on the financing end of the deals.

As for trade-in, I tell them that one of my kids are getting it. They don't even ask for the keys and I would not relinquish them anyway.

For many of my cars, I go kick the tires and drive. Then do a reasonable but somewhat lower offer. Most of the time I've walked out without the car and later the sales guy will call to ask if there is still interest. My general formula, figure out the sticker vs the estimated cost in for the dealer, and then offer a 33-40ish % of the difference. The upgrades/add-ons is a psych bs game, the dealer already has them in the car, they are not going to remove the upgrades...unless you are doing a production order.

As for bait and switch, I immediately walk away, no reason to be a victim and have my time wasted.
 
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CharlieO

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I believe that dealers keep a certain number of cars around as "bait" to sell specifically to people who must finance and will sign off on any number of add ons and high finance rates and so forth. The dealer is not selling cars, they're lending money and then stealing most of the money they just loaned. If you go in with cash in hand or with a high credit rating and level of sophistication, the dealer will generally run you off some way or another. He's fishing, and you smart guys are not the fish he's looking for.

And given that these "bait" cars, once plentiful, are kinda scarce right now, the transparency of what is going on should be pretty easy to see. If you're not seeing it, you're at one of the less sleazy dealers, I would think.
I actually bought (leased) one of those bait cars several years ago. Back in the days when newspaper ads actually were effective advertising, the local Lexus dealer used to run an ad in the Friday paper that included at least one very attractive used car. They had a two year old Jaguar X-Type with low miles that was priced well below the market. I drove past the dealer on Friday night to check out the car and left before a salesman could catch me. I then called the dealership and asked for a used car salesman just before closing time. I told him that I wanted an appointment to see the car on Saturday right when the dealer opened. It was ready for me in the morning. I asked him if I could take the car for an hour to show it to my wife, took it home and did some homework, and went back and snagged it before anyone else could see it. I leased it through a credit union that was not affiliated with the dealer. The dealer didn't make a lot, but the car probably served its purpose of getting buyers into the showroom.
 

boris bubbanov

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It's a lot better than it used to be.
My fix for this is avoid large metro dealers like the plague.
Probably so.

When I go over all the vehicles I've bought over the decades, I'm all over the South and into lower PA (Reading). Mobile, AL. Baton Rouge (twice). Tallahassee. West Palm Beach. Alexandria, VA. I guess New Orleans (East) was the largest but the larger pre-Katrina New Orleans was still about 450,000 people. No, I guess I would avoid Dallas and Houston and Atlanta and all that. I also bought from dealers with fairly low volume. Still my favorite ploy, is to buy used from a Luxury brand dealer where they want that odd unit off their lot.
 

mad dog

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I've had good luck with dealers. But once, buying a used Honda CR-V at a dealership, they pulled the huge fees for documentation and other made up s__t scam. I called them on it. Told them if there wasn't profit enough in the list price (which we were paying), I'm not supplying it via scam charges. Told them what I would pay, knowing from other good dealer experiences what those charges should be. Two back and forths with the manager later, they agreed. Deal on.

We're doing other paperwork when they pull the hail mary pass. Manager comes back, says top sales guy won't approve, they want more. My wife and I stand up, no words spoken, and walk. This little weasel heads us off, says please wait. I'll talk to my boss again. I told him "Say we had a deal and you're playing games. Stop, or no deal." They backed off. I'll never go there again.
 

Painter644

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What law prevented prices being raised?
Price gouging during the ‘70s oil embargo was met with some states enforcing such practices and some gas stations were shut down as a result. Each state is different. My point was enforcement, as it is rare that states now want to limit business even if they businesses operate in a sketchy way unless consumers can prove fraud rather than states’ attorneys general.
 

Painter644

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Probably so.

When I go over all the vehicles I've bought over the decades, I'm all over the South and into lower PA (Reading). Mobile, AL. Baton Rouge (twice). Tallahassee. West Palm Beach. Alexandria, VA. I guess New Orleans (East) was the largest but the larger pre-Katrina New Orleans was still about 450,000 people. No, I guess I would avoid Dallas and Houston and Atlanta and all that. I also bought from dealers with fairly low volume. Still my favorite ploy, is to buy used from a Luxury brand dealer where they want that odd unit off their lot.
I had an Audi while living in Baton Rouge and could not find an independent mechanic until I convinced a guy who worked on BMWs to do regular servicing on the Audi. The Audi dealer there was the most dishonest outfit I ever tried (once) except for a VW dealer in Brookline MA who tore up an air filter to try to justify an unauthorized replacement. Recalls and a few parts are the only reasons for me to step foot in a stealership.
 

Sleph

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I hate buinesses that operate like that. I'd go and test drive a bunch of their cars and not buy a single one - just for fun - and to waste their time as much as they wasted yours.
 

glenlivet

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My mom worked at an Oldsmobile dealership for many years.
She knew exactly what dealers were making off cars.
She retired and purchased a new car (from a different dealer, the place she worked sold out and eventually shut down) many years later.
She wrote the check before she walked in the door.
Handed it to the salesman, and said, "that car, right there, as it sits."
The salesman ran through all the usual stuff....many "leme talk to my mgr...etc etc etc..."
She didn't budge, and just kept saying "that car, right there, as it sits. You have the check in your hands, if you want me to sign it....that car, right there, as it sits."
My mom drove the car home.
 

Painter644

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My mom worked at an Oldsmobile dealership for many years.
She knew exactly what dealers were making off cars.
She retired and purchased a new car (from a different dealer, the place she worked sold out and eventually shut down) many years later.
She wrote the check before she walked in the door.
Handed it to the salesman, and said, "that car, right there, as it sits."
The salesman ran through all the usual stuff....many "leme talk to my mgr...etc etc etc..."
She didn't budge, and just kept saying "that car, right there, as it sits. You have the check in your hands, if you want me to sign it....that car, right there, as it sits."
My mom drove the car home.
When I worked at a Chevrolet dealer I frequently went on “swap” trips to take and bring back a car that the other dealer had that fit the specifications our customer wanted. I took a check to purchase the car and brought back that car and a check for the car that was swapped. I couldn’t believe what the dealers were paying (low) versus what they were charging (high).
 

CharlieO

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My fix for this is avoid large metro dealers like the plague.
Exactly. My last three cars came from Longview, TX, Springfield, MO and Washington, MI. I call them up, wire the money, and the car is dropped off outside our gate within 48 hours. Works for me.
 




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