Buying a car should not raise your blood pressure by 30 points. Yet, some car salesmen have the uncanny ability to get under the skins of their customers. Why is purchasing a new or used vehicle consistently rated as one of the worst consumer experiences?
It’s because of the games car salesmen play.
The games start the minute you enter the dealership and the games finally end when you decide to take your business elsewhere. That’s right, you do not have to put up with the games car salesmen play. From haggling over price to selling options you do not want, you must remember that you are the one in control, not the car salesmen.
Let’s look at the most common games car salesmen play.
Bait and Switch
Classic bait and switch involves promoting products that seem to be bargains, that is, until you show up at the store and realize the merchant has either replaced the bargain product with an inferior product or tries to sell you costly products. Car salesmen used the bait and switch tactic often, until the United States Congress and Federal Trade Commission made the practice illegal. However, consumers should remain vigilant for the use of bait and switch by car salesman. Some car salesmen have refined bait and switch to make it appear less obvious, as well as leave no paper trails of the con games.
The Trade-in Scam
Anyone who watched “The King of Cars” episode that shows a car salesman dividing a piece of paper into four squares and then writing down a few outrageous figures understands the implications of the trade-in scam. During the episode, the car salesman writes down figures on each of the pieces of paper for trade-in value, car price, down payment, and monthly payment. He filled out each paper square with insulting figures, and then he encourages the customer to concentrate on the low monthly payment, while basically stiffing the customer of the amount of the trade-in value. As in the television episode, if you bump up the price of your trade-in vehicle, the car salesman will respond by increasing the price of the dealer vehicle and/or by raising the interest rate on the car loan.
Do yourself a favor and negotiate the price of the car you want to buy and the vehicle you want to trade in during separate negotiations.
Speaking of Monthly Payments
Another game car salesmen love to play involves trying to keep you focused on making low monthly car loan payments, while hoping you ignore that higher than average price of a vehicle. Another monthly car payment game is to allow you to enjoy several months of zero annual percentage rate (APR) financing, while sticking it to you with an incredibly high APR once the interest kicks in on the car loan. Stay focused on the price of the vehicle to prevent a car salesman from winning this not so fun game.
The Hard Sell
You might have heard how interrogators wear down suspects by depriving the suspects of food and sleep. Interrogators also use threatening strategies to break down the will of suspects. For car salesmen, the hard sell represents the automotive industry version of trying to break your willpower. Car salesmen use a number of hard sell tactics, such as following you around or refusing to budge on vehicle price. The most effective method of preventing the hard sell is to be prepared with hard facts concerning vehicle sale price and knowing exactly what you want for car options.
Fine Print is Not Fine
Car salesmen depend on you not reading the fine print of an automobile sales contract. You might not discover finance charges and other fees tacked on to the contract until you receive the first bill in the mail. Once you sign a vehicle sales contract, the sale is considered legally valid, whether you got stuck with unexpected fees or not. Car salesmen also depend on customer impatience to add hidden fees in the fine print. Put an end to this game by requesting time to read the sales contract at home.
Some other games car salesmen play include charging customers for standard vehicle options and presenting you with incorrect information. You also might hear cons like “I need to speak with my sales manager” and “Now for the good news.” Remember that for every car salesman who likes to play games, there are several other car salesmen in the area who operate in a professional manner.