Hello dear reader(s)!
Yesterday I was perusing the Pressed Words, and happened across a post by Joey about negotiating. I thought to myself, “Myself, this post is funny and reminds me of my one and only car dealership new-car buying experiences. That was a fun story, perhaps I will share said story with those dear reader(s)!”
It was a dark and stormy night, only pretty much the exact opposite. The year was 2001, and I had just gotten married to my first wife. She had been bestowed a rather large (by our standards) sum of money that was part of an inheritance from her uncle. As we were basically taking care of her mom who had really bad health issues and needed quadruple bypass surgery, (then wouldn’t follow the doctor’s instructions afterwards), and driving out to her little town that she refused to leave in her tiny, cramped trailer that she refused to leave; we decided to get reliable transportation in order to do so.
Around this time, we see an ad for the local Mazda-Kia dealership selling the brand-new Kia Rio for $9,795. The commercial said, “Not just one or two models…over 50 to choose from!”
So, thinking we would be able to get 2 reliable base cars brand-new, we headed to the auto dealer’s row to shop. We managed to walk around the lot a bit without being accosted and found our cars. I picked a white Kia Rio 5, with black tinted windows. (I knew that might cost a little extra.) My ex-wife picked out hers which was probably purple, knowing her. Both were stick, both had no power anything, both were standard except for my tinted windows.
Enter sales guy. “Fun little cars, aren’t they?”
“I don’t know,” I haven’t driven one,” I start, “but they look like fun little cars.”
“So you’re interested in taking a test drive?” he asks.
“Well, I’m not going to buy a car without driving it,” I reply.
“So you are in the market then?” he asks.
“No, I’m just standing here, glued to this car for no reason,” I say. I really don’t like this guy. Sometimes someone just rubs you the wrong way, and I feel his past significant others would probably tell you that no matter how well they instructed, he rubbed them the wrong way too.
He asks us to come into the office to make copies of our ID’s for the test drives. We follow him into the office, he has us sit down at a desk, and that is when the “fun” begins. Only when I say fun, think root canal. (Which I have never had, but hear they are no fun, and I couldn’t imagine them being fun, since cleanings are like a mini-hell for me.)
The hard sell begins.
He asks how much we’re looking to spend. I tell him no more than 10K each, out the door. He says he thinks he can do that. He asks about our credit and I tell him it doesn’t matter, because we are paying cash. So he writes some numbers down (um, what happened to the test drive?) and passes them across the table. Why? What the hell is this, a spy organization? Her’s (total base model, as advertised): $11,500. Mine: $12,975.
“But the ad says $9,795,” I tell him, shaking my head “no”, “Her’s is the base model, and you can’t tell me my tinted windows cost $3,180. This is unacceptable.”
He replies, “Well that ad is national. It comes from the manufacturer.”
“Well, it has your dealership’s name on it. Besides, I’ve been able to get cars for below MSRP before and you’re telling me it will be more?”
“Well, there is overhead, and that is with factory incentives for financing. Since you are paying cash...”:
“That wasn’t in the fine print of the commercial, I think this is false advertising. A bait and switch sort of thing,” I say.
At that he seems to take us more seriously and tries to back off the prices. He of course asks to see what he can do by talking to his “manager” and then without answer, goes over to him and they pretend to talk seriously. He comes back with two more numbers, of course, written down, and of course, passed across the table like the information is some sort of secret.
Hers: $10,795. Mine: $11,995.
“Lower,” I tell him.
“This is the lowest we can go,” he replies.
I ask him to leave so I can talk it over with my then wife. She really wants the car. I am prepared to walk. She convinces me to wait until the test drive to decide. I concede.
We tell the guy we want to take the test drive and he informs us the dealership is about to close, but we can do a test drive the next day. We tell him that would be okay, we’d come by after work. He tells us he has had a lot of interest in the cars we chose and suggests we hold them for 3 days with a deposit of $150 each. He assures us the checks will not be sent to the bank but that way he can hold the car. We get assurance from the “manager”. At least they were honest about that part.
We leave the deposits and go home, upset. I see the ad on TV that night and realize that there is no way I am paying the prices they were asking for those cars.
After work the next day, I decide for the sake of comparison, we would check on the Hyundai Accents at the Hyundai dealership down the road. They were advertising the cars for $9,995. A coupe hundred bucks more, but maybe they would be better and we could get them closer to the advertised price.
So we went and met with a sales kid (he must have been 17) who was very nice and low pressure. I found a silver Accent that I liked, and she found a charcoal one. They were basic cars, but we liked them. We went into the office to give the ID copies for the test drive, and unlike at the Kia dealership, we made the ID copies, and took turns driving the cars. I loved them. They drove like a go-cart, but still had enough pick-up for most situations. We get back to the dealership and follow the guy into the office for negotiations.
“Have you seen our ad?” he asks.
“Yeah, but I don’t remember the price,” I lied, testing him.
He pulls out a copy. $9,995 + tax, tag, and title. “Now, this is a sale, so I’m not sure there is a whole lot of room to wiggle, but tell me what you were looking to spend.”
“We want both cars, out the door, for 20.” I tell him.
“Hmmm, that might be tough…but I’ll see what we can do,” he said, “Can you give me a minute to meet with the sales manager?”
“Do what you gotta do,” I said. My ex-wife and I turned and smiled, this kid seemed to be pretty decent.
He returns a short time later and says, “I’m so sorry. We tried really hard, we just can’t get you out the door for 20. With every thing we could apply to lower the cost, with tax, tag, and title, we’re looking at $20,240.” And he showed us, (not slipped us upside down) the figures that led to that number. Each car was less than the $9,995 advertised by about $500. Then the tax, tag, and title were factored in, and they added up to what they added up to. The guy knocked $500 off the price for us before we really started the back and forth.
This was so refreshing, and he was so nice, I didn’t want to haggle into his commission any further than what I knew he already gave up to make two sales in cash. I looked at me ex to make sure she was on board, and reached across the table, shook his hand, and said, “Done.”
Her insurance policy was transferred from her old car, and mine was purchased, so the total was something like $20,347. We got our cars. We had 15 minutes before the Kia dealership down the street would close. We drove our brand new Hyundai Accents right up to the big plate-glass windows of the Kia sales office and walked in. EVERY SINGLE SALESPERSON was all over us. The General Manager of the dealership came running (literally) out of his office. I saw him, smiled, and said, “We’re here to get our deposits back.”
The GM said, “Of course, may I ask who you were working with?”
I handed him the card that the sales guy from Kia had given us. He had apparently already left for the day.
“Do you mind if I ask why you chose to go with those cars instead?” the GM asked.
“Do you really want me to go into that in front of all your customers in here and all your employees? I asked in return.
“Yes, I would like to know what we did wrong,” he responded.
“Okay, he asked for it,” I thought to myself.
“Well, you see…” I began loudly and proceeded to tell him about the commercial, what we wanted to pay, and what the guy was willing to sell them for. I projected the story as well as I could how we really felt as though we were being scammed, and that there was no way we shouldn’t have been able to walk out of there with both cars for $20,000.
As he returned our checks, he said lowly, “I could have sold you those cars for under 20.”
“I know,” I began, “But instead we got Mr. High Pressure, liar.” “I wonder how many other of your customers got someone like him,” I added.
And with that we left the showroom and got into our brand new cars from another dealership and drove home.
*Image from http://auction.robertsonauto.com/