Car buying sucks

2009/03/02 at 13:22

Here’s another fine example of why people dread the car-buying experience so much. In short: guy walks into multiple dealers with cash in hand, knowing what he wants, dealers try to screw him every which way.
I’ve had several bad car-buying experiences, but this one was the worst: back when we lived in New Jersey, a tree limb fell on our beloved Camry and totaled it. A few days later, I walked into the local Toyota dealer, explained to the salesman what had happened, and told him exactly what I was looking for: another 2-3 year-old Camry with a particular set of features, color doesn’t matter.
Instead of consulting his inventory, the salesman’s response was, “Well, let’s go see what we have on the lot.” Already off to a bad start. As we walked around the lot, the salesman would point to a car and ask, “Do you like that one?” or suggest “Why don’t you drive that one home and let your wife take a look at it.” He would point at another car and ask if I’d like to test drive it or if I liked the color.
Each time, I responded with “Does it meet the requirements I gave you?”, “As I mentioned, I don’t care about the color”, “My wife only cares that it meets the requirements I told you” or “Once we find a car that meets my requirements, sure, I’ll test drive it to make sure it runs.”
Each time we went through this process, my blood pressure inched up. After we’d walked around the lot for about 10 minutes, I had had it. I don’t remember exactly how I expressed my frustration, but when we went back into the showroom, the salesman excused himself to go talk with the sales manager. A few minutes later, the sales manager asked me into his office; I recounted the story above, to which the sales manager just replied, “Well, it looks like we’re not going to sell you a car today.” I walked out of that dealership never to return.
In hindsight, that stupid salesman managed to turn away a customer who was already in love with his product. I was an easy sell.
And it amazes me how many car salesmen seem incapable of adapting their sales pitch to the individual customer.
(geez, my heart rate is up just writing this blog post)