02/13/15 by Rennie Detore
Go ahead and think about all the times you bought a car and try to remember the one experience that sticks out as the forgettable one. You undoubtedly recall that one the easiest because it made you a smarter shopper and warned you with each subsequent buy what to pay attention to when you're trading in a vehicle, negotiating price or trying to simply find a dealership that you can potentially trust when so many of them reek of rip off.
That isn't to suggest that all car sales persons or dealers are slimy, shady characters, a stereotype that most dealerships try their best to dispel. In recent years, most car dealerships have done away with the bells and whistles or corniness, and have decided to focus on customer service and quality pricing, something that clearly is long overdue.
Still, some companies still haven't got the message, so when you see anything that resembles the following, you can forget about driving for a minute and just worry about running in the opposite direction.
1. Inconsequential gifts: Never quite understood how some dealerships determine that offering some sort of gift for buying a car is a savvy marketing tool that works. Nothing screams sad and pathetic then a dealer offering you a free grill or cooler for a summer time promotion or even a $25 gift card in exchange for you spending $10,000 or more on a car. A nice gesture? Yes. A reason to choose this dealership over another? Nope.
2. Free food and parties: All the hot dogs, hamburgers and soda you can drink just for test driving a car or "Christmas in July" promotion shouldn't suggest that the dealership is brewing with creativity but rather tell you without question that their cars, trucks and SUVs are overpriced and service sketchy, and we're trying to distract you with lame parties and cheap food as a result.
3. Free cars (for the day): This one still seems like it has some legs left, even with the dealerships that fancy themselves as respectable. You may have a salesperson go above and beyond the simple test drive with them as the passenger and instead hand over the keys to you and tell you to take the car to dinner or home for the weekend to really get a sense as to whether you truly want to buy or not. This one not only is dangerous and ill advised for both parties but uses the old sales tactic of "let them see themselves in it" so they'll be more encouraged to purchase. That said, be leery of this and stick to the customary test drive.
4. Cliched open ended questions: Here's a favorite: "What do I have to do to put you in this car today?" The answer: nothing, but you'll be leaving after you hear this tired expression that should have been retired long ago. If you find yourself answering a lot of open ended questions (ones that don't have yes or no answers), the salesperson likely is gathering information to eventually use against you when they close the sale.
5. The ubiquitous manager: Does anyone ever really believe when a salesperson says "let me go talk to my manger that they're actually doing it?" Sure, they probably head back to the office and give the boss an idea of the situation, but what happens is more fiction than fact. What makes it worse is when the salesperson brings the manager to the table to perhaps persuade you even further or assure you you're getting the best price, when in actuality their seniority doesn't impress the customer, but rather has the opposite effect.
6. Trade in terror: This one actually happened to me. I brought my car to a dealership about 45 minutes from my house simply because their car pricing was aggressive. When I arrived, they offered me $500 for my car, an SUV that had about 100,000 miles on it but was worth far more than that sad offer. I immediately said "no" and started leaving when the salesperson stopped me and uttered a question that remarkably ridiculous and basically told me they're complete con artists as work. "Well, how much do you want for your trade in? You're the dealership; you are supposed to do some research and give me, the customer, a fair price. Sure, I want $100,000 for it, but that's not what it is worth and neither was the $500. My surgeon doesn't ask me before I go under where his first cut should be, so why is a supposed car expert asking me what my vehicle is worth. That's their job.
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