I mentioned before that I am shopping for a new car. I’ve been to multiple dealerships since this is the first new car I’ve ever bought, and (for some odd reason) wanted to experience the new car buying experience complete with high-pressure sales tactics. Here are some examples of lies and deceptions that I’ve run across so far from different folks.
MSRP “Market Value Adjustment”
Apparently, MSRP isn’t good enough for some cars. I like the Honda Fit, which is a relatively popular car in my area and one in which the MSRP isn’t that much higher than invoiced (as confirmed by TrueCar.com) and thus doesn’t have that much built-in profit.
So, they add another $1,000 to $2,000 and tell customers that this makes the price “market value”. Of course, as I finish negotiating back down a bit below MSRP they admit “oh, the first price I said is only for folks who don’t know how to buy a car. But one person every week walks in and pays it!”.
And people wonder why car-buying isn’t a fun experience.
Options That Aren’t Optional
Another way to boost profit is to package a bunch of options like floor mats, wheel locks, or keyless entry and make a non-official $600 options package and put it on all the cars. When you don’t actually want something, say, wheel locks, they just say “oh, it’s already installed, sorry”. I can remove the floor mats in about 30 seconds, pal. If you push, they’ll let you buy one without options only if you commit to one that hasn’t arrived yet but is on their shipping list.
Jacked Up Options Prices
If you’ve already artificially tried to raise the price of the car, and then tack on default accessories, what is left? Make the price of the accessories above MSRP.
I wanted to buy a cargo cover for the back, and was told it was $225. When trying to negotiate, I got the sob story “oh, I only make $20 on this anyway”. Really, then why can I go online to another genuine Honda Dealer at College Hills Honda for only $119 plus shipping? And the retail price is shown as $165??
Always look online for a dealer that has fair prices on direct accessories, and either use that price to haggle or buy the accessories separately if you’re willing!
The Magically Disappearing Newspaper Ad Car
Finally, they even whipped out the magic for me. I saw a dealer with a newspaper ad for a 2009 model car at a great price, only $150 over invoice. I called them, and they said it was in stock. I drove over, and they said to take a seat and they’d bring it over. “Oh! I’m sorry, that car has just been sold. Can I interest you in something else?” I was pissed and started walking out the door. “Okay, okay! What if I offered you a 2010 car that had identical features or better at the same price!” Fine, show me. Now. After we look for a 2010 that was similar for about 10 minutes, the 2009 was miraculously available again!
That’s it for now, I’ve got to catch another flight, but I’ve got more salesman deceptions to share later…
By Jonathan Ping | Frugal Living | 12/21/09, 7:25am