To Haggle or Not to Haggle on Your Next Car Purchase

2009 Saturn Sky Redline Ruby Red Limited Edition

Remember Saturn?

I know how easy it is to forget things once they are out of mind, and Saturn has been out of our minds for about 5 years now. If you’ll recall, Saturn branded itself as “a new kind of car company” and famously sold new cars at a no-haggle price through standalone dealerships.

An article from 2006 at CNN Money said,

People who buy Saturns generally love the no-haggle price. In J.D. Power and Company’s annual surveys of dealership satisfaction, Saturn consistently ranks higher than any other non-luxury car brand.

So why hasn’t the no-haggle pricing structure caught on at other automakers and dealers?

Here’s the simple answer: People have been conditioned to never pay sticker price for a new car. Doing so implies the buyer got a terrible deal and will spend the remainder of his or her time with the car lamenting that they paid so much for the pleasure of driving it home.

Even if the sticker price is fair, for the buyer and the seller, there’s a feeling of being taken advantage of when the price paid matches the price on the window.

Some dealers want to change that. A new article, also at CNN Money, says that Sonic, a car dealer group with 105 stores, announced that it intends to eliminate all dickering at its stores by 2015.

That sounds appealing in theory. The idea of walking into a dealer and knowing right away the price of a car would make the buying process much faster and easier. However, it’s pretty much guaranteed that buyers will sacrifice the ability to pay the lowest possible price in exchange for that ease.

Plus, I think there’s a certain group of buyers, me included, who thoroughly enjoys the process of dickering for a car. It’s a powerful feeling to go into a dealer armed with information, knowing the price you’re willing to pay, then negotiating until you get what you want.

As a buyer, I’d be more likely to buy from a dealership that haggles than from one that doesn’t. Cars are a commodity of sorts, and their prices can change drastically based on demand and availability. As an educated buyer, I want the leverage to negotiate a great deal.

Would you prefer to buy a car from a dealership that has no-haggle pricing?


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