The other day, I decided to size up my dealer competition. I chose a car that could be priced two different ways depending on the manufacturer’s incentive: either 0% financing or $1500 dealer cash. The downside to these programs is that the general public only seems to know about the 0%.
I pursued my pricing request the way most customers would – by asking for their best price. Logical, right?
Dealer Games: Day in the Life of a Salesman
Before proceeding, picture yourself as a salesman. Every day, another “sure deal” lead you’re working with sends you this email: “Thanks, but I bought somewhere else. Please remove me from your list.” The month is closing fast. You’re nowhere near hitting your bonus. Your honest approach seems to fail more than it succeeds. Dealerships don’t have a “nice guy” award, and manufacturers don’t invite the “nice guys” to fancy Capitol award banquets.
You’re sitting at your desk, legs stiffening from performing calculation after calculation for your prospects. Some demand VINs. Some agree to appointments, but like most of these “sure deals,” you know – or at least strongly suspect – they’re using you. You know this because most eventually stop responding to your emails or phone calls once you send the information they want. Life in your District is a constant struggle.
Dealer Games: Day in the Life of a Customer
I log into my newly created email account to look through the quotes I’ve received. All were $1,500-2,000 below invoice. One dealer said they wouldn’t know the price until I came down this weekend. His promise of unknown savings seemed alluring. Snap out of it, I told myself, patting myself on the back as Katniss from Hunger Games might after disabling an opponent’s elaborate trap. I then focused on the dealers who sent me an actual quote.
Fair enough, I thought. I haven’t said that I want to finance the car at the 0%. I responded to the dealers to ask what the payment was, using 0% for 60 months with no money down. I expected explanations to come flying forward. “Well, with the 0%, I need to adjust the pricing…”
But, that’s not what happened. It’s as if I never asked the question, because no one jumped to explain anything to me.
Instead, I received emails asking when I was coming down. Others asked if I received any other quotes and said they’ll match or beat anything. One misguided dealer sent me a lease special. One poor fellow even spelled “writing” as “righting.”
I had to ask again. I wondered what percentage of shoppers wouldn’t ask again, because the average shopper doesn’t know about this Financing or Dealer Cash option. They wouldn’t even suspect it. They have no reason to. The Capitol keeps us in the dark on these matters. I fired off my replies:
“I’m not coming down to your dealership until I have all the details in writing.”
Half the dealers seemed to respond honestly and clarified my pricing with the 0%. The other half continued on as if I’d never asked the question.
At this point, I wonder if the ones who turned honest and increased their price would still be in the running with most shoppers. I think I know the answer.
Dealer Games: Career Salesman
The holdouts kept sending me emails asking to match or beat any price. The dealer with the mystical weekend deal still hadn’t given up. Both he and his manager were now sending me emails, asking what it would take to get me to visit their dealership. It seemed no matter what I said, they were chomping at the bit to tell me to come down and they’d make it worth my while – so they could trap me in their snares, I’m sure.
I ask myself what I’d really do as a shopper. Would I revert to the first honest dealer with the higher price? No. In fact, I think most shoppers would tell those dealers to remove them from their lists, too; more Tributes dying off in the Hunger Games.
After marking them out, I’m left with the dealers who make promises without putting anything in writing. Then, I stop myself. I’m so wrapped up at this point, I’ve yet to ask any dealer if they actually have the car they’re quoting me on. I almost don’t want to ask. In fact, I don’t even want my holdouts to clarify anything more. I want to believe they’ll give me the best price… even though they haven’t given me a price. Then I think, is this what an internet quote is all about? Is this what the Capitol wants? I went online to get a quote, and I’m somehow about to walk into a dealership without getting the 0%, no-money-down quote I’d asked on a car that is in stock or available. All I really have is a belief that I can work it out when I get there.
Then, I kick myself – because I wouldn’t have had to play these games if I went to CarWoo! instead.