Buying From A Car Dealer: Why People Dislike The Process

October 28, 2010

I received a call from a desperate car buyer yesterday. She told me her 2007 VW Jetta had just been written off by her insurance company after being in an accident. Luckily, no one was seriously injured, with the exception that the car would never be driven again. The loss of the car was sad enough.

What was even more upsetting to her was the fact that she and her husband would now have to go through the process of replacing their Jetta by dealing with their local car dealership.

Dealer avoidance issues

The woman on the other end of the telephone seemed like a very nice person. She and her husband were well-to-do and didn’t have a problem coming up with the wherewithal to purchase another vehicle. But they were impassioned in their opposition to walking into any major car dealer’s showroom.

“What can be so bad about working with a car dealer?” I asked. She explained that she and her husband purchased a new car earlier this year and it was not a good experience. They did due diligence prior to going into the dealership: they read reviews on the car they were interested in purchasing and even researched new car prices to see what they should be able to pay for a new model.

However, when they drove home in their newly purchase vehicle they knew they paid much more than they should have. It left a bad taste in their mouth. What made matters worse was they didn’t fully understand how the dealer got the better of them. It turned out to be a frustrating experience, and one they didn’t want to repeat. Yet, they didn’t really know what went wrong, so how could they know what to do differently this time around?

Help! I need a new car now

“I don’t want to feel that helpless again,” she explained. “But we need to replace our Jetta now. What can we do?”

I tried to be reassuring. I explained that they could buy a pre-owned vehicle from a private seller and side-step the many games that dealers play.

“But we don’t have the time or knowledge to buy privately,” she replied. “What other options do we have?”

I paused in thought for a moment before responding to her question. Then I continued, “You can follow the advice I give all new and used car buyers who are forced to work with major car dealers. Pre-negotiate all aspects of the deal BEFORE you walk in the front door.”

I went onto tell her that pre-negotiating the selling price, the car loan’s interest rate, and the price of any options or extras they want to buy was the only way to stay in control of the car buying process.

“You need to have everything pre-negotiated before you talk to the dealer in person,” I explained. “Anything less than that and you could end up paying hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more than necessary,” I said.

The devil is in the details. More tomorrow.  

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