I’ve said before on this blog and in person to anyone who’d sit still long enough to listen that one of the biggest rules I try to live by is that of simply telling people the truth. That ranges from, “Dude, you really smell BAD and people are SO making fun of you behind your back” to “Honey, you are simply incredible and I’d do anything to keep you in my life.”
I was reminded on Monday, however, of my one exception to this rule. Car dealers are exempt from the necessity of honesty and deserve as much spin and deception as you can possibly throw at them. Case in point… on Monday I went to trade in my wife’s van towards the purchase of a smaller commuter car. The first car dealer I went to was very accommodating; we haggled out a reasonable price and I was quickly on my way. Ever interested in getting the best deal possible, however, I made my way to a neighboring dealer to perform the same task. After countless delays and negotiations this dealer arrived at a price $4,000 more than the other dealer. Seeing that this situation was clearly hopeless I thanked the salesman for his time, let him know that his price was $4,000 short of the offer he was competing against and made ready to head home. Before I could complete my exit, the salesman asked me to be patient and said he could work out a better price with the sales manager. To facilitate this he wrote out a little miniature contract in his awkward left-handed scrawl:
For the price of $XX,XXX plus tax, title and destination, I, _______, will buy this car today.
Then he asked me to sign his little contract. My reaction to this was a simple, direct, and blunt, “OK, I’m not signing your little contract; can you get me a better price or not? If you can, I will buy the car today but if you can’t then just forget it.” His response was to say simply, “Alright, I was just trying to help you out. I’ll see what I can do.”
After another 5 minutes of “seeing what he could do” he came back with half-priced all-season floor mats, a grand total of $121. So again I thanked him for his time and made ready my exit. However his bag of tricks wasn’t done yet. He went on to enumerate all the reasons he thought I should buy from his dealership in checklist format:
Salesman: Well, you live on the south side so shouldn’t you buy from us? We’re closer.
Me: I can drive to the west side quite a few times for $4,000.
Salesman: You’ve used our service department before, shouldn’t you buy from us?
Me: I bought my last Honda somewhere else and you didn’t refuse to service that one.
Salesman: How about I throw in the floor mats for free?
Me: Um, $4,000 worth of floor mats?
So finally after 90 minutes of entertaining but pointless dickering I was left with my original offer. Why, simply, can’t they say honestly, “we can’t meet that price, thanks for shopping” and be done with it? Why must my time be wasted by these yahoos?