Car Dealer Tricks: Won’t Return Keys or Registration - Part II

July 25, 2010

When car dealers evaluate your trade, they ask for the keys and registration. They need the keys to drive the car. They need the registration to make sure it’s current, and to confirm ownership information, the vehicle description, the vehicle identification number (VIN), and so on.

In yesterday’s article, I introduced my friend Jan. When she tried to leave a car dealership after saying no to the deal they presented, the salesperson and his manager literally refused to return her keys and registration in a failed bid to make the sale. In time, Jan was able to get her keys and vehicle registration back. As she drove away from the dealership she was angry, frustrated, and perplexed at how a business could treat her in such a callous and disrespectful manner.

Bad Behavior
When we talked later that day, I explained to Jan that all car dealers make every effort to make the sale at the time the customer is in the showroom. Past experience tells them that if a customer leaves without buying, the dealership probably lost the deal. Thus, dealers will pull out all stops to try and make the sale now.

For most dealers, trying to make the sale immediately does not mean engaging in unethical behavior, such as not returning their keys and registration. Instead, most will drop the price, or entice you with extras that you normally wouldn’t get with the deal, such as free service or accessories. However, some dealers turn to the dark side to make a deal at any cost.

“Old school” dealers train their sale staff to do whatever it takes to make a sale. This can include being pushy, rude, offensive, callous, disrespectful, and act with inappropriate bad behavior that is unacceptable under any circumstances. It’s a big reason why dealers have a bad reputation.

What to Do
What should you do if you’re in dealer’s showroom and you just gave the salesperson your keys and registration to evaluate your trade? When I was Internet Manager for a major dealer, the savvy customers always asked for their property back as soon as I returned with the trade valuation. They literally stopped the sales process until their keys and registration were returned.

What should you do if your salesperson tells you that the manager has your keys, but he just stepped out for a few minutes? At this point you need to take control of the situation: simply inform the salesperson that you’ll take your business elsewhere unless your property is returned immediately. Then, follow through on your threat. After all, do you really want to do business with someone who treats you in this manner?

Jan’s Story
What happened to Jan? Did she go back and buy from the dealer who mistreated her? We’ll have the final chapter of Jan’s story, tomorrow.

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