I hate buying cars. People, especially men, are always telling me what great deals they got when they bought their car. I think they mean what great deals the salesmen told them they were getting. Car salesmen always assure me that they’re giving us a great deal—not making a penny on the price we’re paying when we finally purchase. Still—glancing in the rear view mirror of our new car, we can’t help noticing the sales staff slapping each other on the back and throwing fistfuls of money in the air as we drive off the lot.
Tired of feeling ripped off, this time we did our homework—researched models online, test drove Fords, Hondas and Toyotas. We fielded phone calls and e-mails from hungry salesmen for over a month.
Finally, we paid $15 for Consumer Reports to price the make and model we chose. The report gave us the base line price we should pay, told us a documentation fee of close to $300 would be charged, but that we should not pay a delivery/destination charge of about $750.
Consumer Reports sent our request to three dealers in our area and we were inundated with calls and e-mails. Every sales person had the perfect car for us—and yes—every dealer insisted on our paying a delivery fee.
When we didn’t buy immediately, salesmen sent notices about cars on which they could make a deal—always cars with luxury packages we didn’t want.
Last week we looked at a Corolla priced about $1500 below the sticker price. Soupy Salesman said he could talk the manager out of the delivery fee. He couldn’t. We left.
Soupy called a few days later to tell us about their new clunker trade-in offer—$3,000 for our 12-year-old Taurus. “At the same price you quoted us on Tuesday?” “Yes. I’ll fight for that. I want you to have the best deal possible.”
We looked. The sales manager agreed to honor Tuesday’s price. We sat down to negotiate. When the manager wrote up the total, he was willing to honor the previous price, but would only give a $200 trade-in.
Now, I know trade-ins are a gimmick and I know nobody wants our old Taurus. If it wasn’t making expensive sounding noises, we wouldn’t be looking for a replacement. We should have walked away, decided on a different make of car, and started over. But we were exhausted—and concerned that our Taurus might leave us stranded in an inconvenient spot. So we bought.
Soupy, to make us feel better at paying top dollar, threw in a free key chain and invited us to the buffet dinner for new car owners the following week. We declined. It will be at least 12 more years before we can bring ourselves to step onto a car lot again.