In most markets, you have a lot of car-shopping options. And where you have options, you’ll see fierce competition. Car-buying should be fun, and your final car dealer selection will play an important part in your shopping experience.
In this article, I’m going to show you how to spot honest and dishonest car dealers, and let you know how you can contribute to a better dealership experience.
Deciphering Honest Car Dealers on Review Sites (Google, Yelp,CarWoo! DealerRater)
Even an honest car dealer will get the occasional bad review. It’s just not possible for a business, especially a car dealer, to make every customer happy all the time. To spot honest and dishonest dealers, look for common themes on car dealer review sites. Those common themes usually reveal the experience they have in store for you.
- Dishonest car dealers will have multiple reviews stating they changed the price, refused to honor a quote or agreement, or didn’t have the car after promising they did. These types of reviews are the result of dishonesty – these dealers will say just about anything to get people in the door.
- Honest dealers will have multiple reviews stating that everything went as promised.
- Honest dealers will respond publicly and sincerely to both negative and positive reviews.
A word of caution: The most dishonest car dealers will pump in fake positive reviews to hide their typical shopper experience from you.
Here are a few more tips on how to weed out dishonest dealers.
Spotting Fakers on Yelp
I’m a Yelper. And since I’ve started writing reviews on the site, I’ve evolved an interest in Yelp’s “Filtered” section. This is where Yelp shelves the reviews that seem fake. Most of the time, they are. When I see 30 or so filtered positive reviews, a major red flag goes up for me. This usually means the dealer has been trying to boost their reputation by writing their own reviews, rather than by actually improving their customer experience.
Spotting Fake Reviews on Google and DealerRater
Not all review sites have filtered reviews like Yelp. Here’s how I identify suspiciously positive reviews on sites that have limited or no review filters:
- When scanning positive reviews, are multiple positive ones written on the same day – or in the same time period of the month, every month?
- Do you find the same spelling errors from different, positive reviewers?
- Are the positive reviews about same length, following the same general format in their beginning, middle and end?
- Are the reviews general, or very specific and unique?
- For each positive reviewer you see, how many other reviews do they post? How often?
Now that you know how to identify the dealers to avoid, here are a few major indicators of an honest car dealer.
Honest Car Dealer Indicator – Price
Typically, an honest dealer won’t have the absolute lowest price quote you receive. That’s because they have to go up against dishonest dealers’ quotes – and these guys are masters at deception and trickery to get you in the door. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you’d end up paying less at the dishonest dealer. In fact, you most certainly wouldn’t, because those dealers have strong monetary motivations for their dishonesty.
Honest Car Dealer Indicator – Information
Honest dealers will usually give you all the information you ask for, in the way you ask for it. For example, if you ask for a complete lease breakdown, they’ll provide you with exactly that and even a few extra bits of information. Dishonest dealers prefer to be vague and would rather give you information on their terms. This means they’d rather you come to the store first. Dishonest dealers will say “just come on down,” without first confirming any of the information you’ve asked for.
You Can Change the World
As a car buyer, you can help reward honest dealers and ultimately change the course of dishonest ones. If you’ve just shopped for a car, don’t just tell your friends and family about it. Let future car buyers in on your experience, good or bad, by adding your review to multiple car dealer review sites. You’ll help make it easier for future car buyers. After all, that’ll probably be you again someday.