I can’t think of a business with a more negative reputation than a car dealership.
Well, there’s the mafia, I suppose, but I’m keeping things legitimate here.
Often a poor experience with a dealer can be chalked up to a lack of preparation on the consumer’s part. Walk into a dealer unprepared, and you’ll likely drive out with a beautiful new car you paid a few thousand too much for.
Show up well educated, and you and the dealer will engage in a productive dance of negotiation that ends well for all parties.
Results of a new study released by CarGurus show that 56 percent of car shoppers on the site rated their dealer experiences with 4 or 5 stars on a 5-star scale. That’s saying a lot for an industry with its share of questionable past business practices.
Like all car shoppers, I’ve had good and bad experiences with dealers, two of which are detailed after the jump.
I have purchased two used cars from a local dealership, both of which gave me considerable trouble. The first, a 2000 Nissan Altima, was a former rental. That little nugget of information wasn’t disclosed by the dealer and remained undiscovered until I paid off the car and received the title.
The second vehicle, a 2002 Honda CR-V, wouldn’t start on the lot (which should’ve been my clue to keep shopping) and ended up giving me two years of problems before I finally sold it.
I decided to give the dealer one more shot. I made an appointment with a salesperson and showed up at the scheduled time. The salesperson, however, was enjoying his day off. A manager helped me instead and asked for my keys so they could provide a trade-in offer, then told me the car I came to see was just sold. When I decided to pass on buying that day, the manager played the old “We’re looking for your keys” game while another salesperson upped the pressure to buy.
Needless to say I wasn’t happy and have vowed to stay away for good, which is sad, because I wanted to give this particular dealer my business.
A number of years ago I visited a dealership often to browse, check prices and take test drives. I was never pressured and always treated respectfully. On one visit, a salesperson pointed out a vehicle he knew I was interested in, said it had been on the lot for a while, and offered it to me at an amazing price.
I jumped on it right away. The entire experience was pleasant, and I’d buy from them again.
The bottom line is respect and honesty. When a dealer engages in bait & switch and high-pressure sales, the customer isn’t likely to leave happy. When a dealer is patient, honest and respectful, the customer will feel good about dropping big bucks on a new car.
We’d love to hear any dealer stories, good or bad, that you have! You might also be interested in reviewing your dealer on the CarGurus page.