Saturday, January 10, 2009

Car Buying

Why does buying a car (which should be exciting and fun) turn into something almost as unpleasant as a root canal?

I realize car dealerships need to make money, but at the same time I also think they shouldn't constantly try to rip people off while doing it. No other purchase is so frustrating. For example: let's say I want a pair of jeans and I do a little research on the Bloomingdale's website before I go to the store to see what styles they have etc. When I get to the store they may or may not have the same pairs in stock, but they aren't suddenly $200 more than the website had them for - it's the same freaking price!

But with car buying apparently even if you've agreed to a price via email - you get into the store and it's like ohhhh yeaaaah well that wasn't REALLY the real price. Then what the fuck was it? Don't waste 3+ hours of my time!

I made it CLEAR with the email I sent to several dealers which is as follows:

I intend to purchase, as soon as possible, a Nissan Murano SL in Platinum Graphite Metallic. I am soliciting multiple Nissan dealers for the best offer, but I will immediately agree to purchase under the terms described below. If you cannot meet these terms, please send your best offer, as I will consider all offers if no dealer can meet the following proposal:

Car: Nissan Murano SL with AWD
Options: Premium Package, Technology Package, Navigation / ipod hookup, Moonroof, Leather Package
Color: Platinum Graphite Metallic (or Brilliant Silver Metallic if platinum graphite metallic is unavailable) with Black Leather interior
Price: $30,000
Financing: 60 months at 2.9 percent (your website isn’t updated with the new financing rates)

I would prefer a response by email, but I can also be reached by phone at xxxxxxxxxx. I would like to finalize all paperwork by email/fax (subject, of course, to final inspection of the vehicle at delivery).

Thank you,

I think that is pretty clear. I am not messing around. I already test drove the car, I have already looked at all the options and features. I am ready to buy. They don't have to do anything but agree to those terms (or make another offer) and I would agree, sign papers and come in and pick the vehicle up.

Sure I realize I am asking for less than invoice - I am looking for a deal in this bad economy. Car sales were down 46% in December - so I hope to take advantage of that.

I also know my boyfriend's brother has bought his last 3 cars completely via email/fax - so it CAN be done!

But instead here's a sampling of the responses I get (I'm also considering the RDX):

I wanted to see if you were available this weekend to come in for a test drive? I also have a couple of interesteding pre-owned and Acura Certified RDX's available now! Let me know if you are still considering.


First: I am not interested in a test drive. I've driven it. I'm all set.

Second: no mention of price. Seriously I am not fucking around. I am not coming in there and arguing over price for 3 hours while they trap you in the store. AND BTW - the fastest way to get me to NOT do something is to piss me off about it - like bait and switch me and get me in there only to raise the price by 6k from what I offer and LIE to me that - that is "invoice" I KNOW it's not. I have extensive information from Edmunds,, Consumer Reports, and Car and Driver. I am really not that stupid to show up without my research!

Third: I am not interested in a PRE owned vehicle- did I say that I was?

Fourth: if you want my business learn how to use the spell check before sending that email.

Here's another gem:

Thanks for giving us an opportunity to serve you! However, we have not been able to reach you. Could you please contact us, at your earliest convenience, so we can better assist you.

These people did not call me so I don't know how they "tried to reach me" but I am not calling back and wasting time on the phone while they try to convince me to come in. This is the offer take it or leave it, but don't waste my time (or yours)!!

And yet another:

Thank you for your inquiry in the 2009 Nissan Murano. I have great availability on what you are looking for at competitive prices and a range of colors and trims for your convenience. I would like to provide more information on our inventory along with current prices, any incentives, and then schedule an inventory showing and discuss the final detail as soon as you get the chance. Please call me at your earliest convenience so that I may better assist you.

I'm not sure I could have made it any clearer. I am not looking for vague answers. And I am not wasting one more minute going down to dealers so they can lie to me about the invoice price.

And lastly here may be my favorite back and forth with IRA Nissan:

Your offer is not unrealistic, however we need to see your trade in person before we can provide a definate answer

What time today can you come in so we can see your Solara in person and give you an exact value?

I then wrote back and said I want to be clear on the price and other details because I am serious about the price I want to pay, and I don't want to waste your time or my time.

The response:

We have a large selection of Muranos available and a number of which meet your criteria
I entered all the information you and I discussed into our system. Your VIP number is below. When you arrive, ask the receptionist directly for a sales manager and give him this number.

I wrote back a 3rd time to clarify EXACTLY what I wanted and for the price of $30,000. I also told them I had a trade in.

The reponse:

It is not unreasonable, however you would have to meet with my sales manager
What time today should we expect you?

I finally go in- thinking this seems good. Mistake.

They tried to sell me the car for $34,000 WITH my trade in!! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!! The INVOICE is less than that AND I know the kelley blue book rating for my car is $5500. They "claimed" they were taking $2k off the cost of the car and give me $4k for my car. They must have thought I was an idiot. I refused. Showed them our emails because they were trying to deny I made that clear up front. Oh I made it clear. Once I showed proof of the email they said "perhaps you can't afford this car and should buy an altima. REALLY? I came in for a murano and you are now trying to sell me an altima. Way to make sure I NEVER do business with you. I don't know if these techiques work on other people, but they don't work on me!


Brad said...

I feel your pain... I had a miserable experience trying to lease a car from Boston VW and VW of Brookline a few months back. Both were transparently trying to mess around with me, and wouldn't talk straight no matter how straight I tried to be with them. Truly painful.

(on another note, and no offense meant by this, there's some pretty amusing irony in your mixing up forth/fourth in your point about spell checking :) Not that a spell check would catch that.)

DJDiva said...

Oh my! I can't believe I called them out on spelling and misspelled myself!

I had to fix it ;)

Marc Siegel said...

That's pretty bad - almost as bad as the time this guy at the Honda on rt 1 threatened to fight me after I demanded my credit card back, which he "needed" in order to see about a price negotiation, and told me he "knew where I lived"!

Thankfully Bernardi Honda in Natick was a lot nicer.

DJDiva said...

That is rude and scary! I can't believe these car dealerships behave that way (and stay in business).

Melissa said...

I had a similar experience with a Nissan dealer in NH. I negotiated the price on-line, and when I got there, they had slapped a HAND WRITTEN price on the car that was $1000 higher. They also tried to give me a laughable amount as a trade and bullied me when I questioned this my saying - w hat do you care what we give you on your trade as long as we can come up with a monthly figure that suits your needs? Needless to say I do not drive a Nissan Versa, I chose a Ford Focus with lots of bells and whistles which I LOVE. I think the dealers see a woman coming and think they can take advantage!

Christopher said...

I agree that most of the car dealerships replied with e-mails that did not address your inquiry, and that IRA Nissan should have attempted some negotiation via e-mail.

However, I disagree with your overall assessment of IRA Nissan. Car sales is about negotiation, and your offer represented your counter to their sticker price. At no time did the e-mails you present accept your price -- they never rejected the offer, but said you would have to meet with them.

Unless you know that the particular dealership is in serious financial trouble, I think it's unreasonable to expect the dealer to straight-up lose money on the sale by selling for less than invoice. The economy is bad, but that does not mean dealers will forfeit their right to earn money from their business.

"It is not unreasonable, however you would have to meet with my sales manager" does not constitute an agreement to buy at $30k. You didn't mention what the sticker price of the car was, so their counter-offer may have been too high. But your attitude seems to suggest "$30k or the highway" which does not seem to lend itself to a good negotiation. Right now, the salesmen are probably talking about the customer who thought she could get under invoice and have them buy another car (which they then have to sell and try to make money on in this economic climate!).
(As a sidenote, Consumer Reports recommends not mentioning a trade-in until a final price is agreed upon, because some dealers won't give as good a deal when a trade-in is also on the table.)

I agree that it would have been more convenient if the dealership had attempted to negotiate by e-mail, and based on how you phrased your initial e-mail, it should have realized that you were not interested in a sales job and it should have adjusted its tactics accordingly -- failure to do so cost it this sale.

DJDiva said...

Yes I agree - they did not agree to my price. Which really was my mistake for going in. I did email them 3 times clarifying what I wanted/checking to make sure it was clear before I went in there. However, lesson learned. Since that day I have not been suckered into any of the emails that tried to get me to come into the dealership.

They then acted kind of annoyed I was wasting their time, but I was clear of what I was looking for. I know it's lower, but for them to come back and be 7k over invoice is ridiculous too.

I learned my lesson about the trade. I am no longer mentioning it at all.

DJDiva said...

What I also find strange is that there is A LOT of information available on the internet about invoice prices, dealer incentives, financing options, car reviews, and dealer reviews. Why would dealers flat out lie knowing people have access to this information and probably know the truth already.

B said...

I've had problems very similar lately while trying to buy a new car (despite buying one almost new just under 8 months ago and getting completely hosed by the VW dealer!).

I hope you keep your blog updated with the progress on buying your Nissan. G'luck!

DJDiva said...

The whole thing is making me so angry to hear about everyone's awful experiences buying cars. Surely there has to be a better way.

Mr. Saucy said...

Reminded me of my own car-buying tale of woe:

Thanks for refreshing my memory. I think.

Rick in Duxbury said...

FWIW, there is no more "Ira" at Ira, since he sold it and started "Prime". Remind me again why any of these clowns deserve a bailout? How long do we reward bad behavior?

DJDiva said...

YES! This is one of the reasons I question the bailout too! If these car dealerships/manufacturers just had honest & competitive pricing and made decent cars - they wouldn't need a bailout!