Is the place where you go to buy a new car a kind of Dark Church where very bad things happen?
Not necessarily – and if it turns out to be so, it’s probably because you were forced to “worship” there.
There should be at least two ways to buy a new car – via a dealership or directly from the manufacturer. But in most states, you can only buy them one way – through a dealer. A pick-up at the factory is possible (for example, Chevy offers this with Corvette – so you can actually see the line and maybe even see your car roll off the line) but the transaction has to go through a dealer.
It shouldn’t be, for reasons that don’t require much elaboration. But free trade became a crime decades ago – along with free association. Both have been replaced by the bayonet – nudging you toward associations you’d rather not have.
And paying for them, too.
The tragic thing is dealers – not all of whom support your being forced to do business with them if you want a new car – do provide services most people would probably freely pay for.
But what, exactly, do you get for your money at a car store?
The car, for openers.
If it weren’t for dealers, you’d either have to go to the factory to collect your car – or make your own arrangements to have it shipped to where you are. Dealerships are local – and convenient. The factories where new cars are put together are usually neither. Often, they aren’t even in your state.
How to get the car?
If you don’t pay to have it shipped to your town you’ll be driving another car to wherever the new car is being assembled and then you’ll have to make arrangements for someone else to drive the vehicle you got there in back. Or you could fly to the factory and drive home in the new car. Neither plane tickets nor gas for a 2-3 day trip are free.
And in addition to money, you’re also spending time. Have you got several days to deal with all of this?
Or you could let the dealer handle it.
It’s not free, either – of course. A “destination and delivery” charge is added to the car’s purchase price. It’s generally in the vicinity of $800 (the price varies, in part, according to how far the car has to be shipped from A to B).
But it’s not an unreasonable fee – as such.
Whether you could save money by having the car shipped – or picking it up yourself – is debatable. It’s hard to get a motorcycle shipped across the country for $800.
And regardless, it’s a hassle.
But you ought to have the option to saddle up for the hassle, if that’s your preference. And the existence of that option would probably reduce D&D charges a little for those who prefer not to saddle up for a cross-country haul – or deal with a delivery service on their own.
Speaking of D&D. It’s more than just transporting the car from A to B that you’re paying for.
Brand-new cars with zero miles on them sometimes have issues. They roll off the truck (or the assembly line) with imperfections. Or something missing. Like an option you paid for but which wasn’t installed in your car. Or even the wrong color. This happens.
The dealer deals with it.
You may not get to drive home in your new car tonight – which is disappointing – but you won’t have to drive home tonight in a car with a paint run or ding in the door . . . listening to the standard radio instead of the optional premium surround sound audio system you ordered but which wasn’t installed. Or sit in a hotel for several days while it gets sorted out.
The dealer will make arrangements to get such problems fixed – or get you another new car without them.
He may even give you a discount or store credit for future repair/maintenance costs as compensation for your trouble. Possibly even a loaner car to use while he waits for the damaged/not-as-ordered problem to be sorted out.
At the end of the assembly line, there’s no one there to help you with anything. Why should there be? You aren’t paying them for that, after all.
You’re just paying for the car.
Well, here you go.
Even if the car is squared away – undamaged and as ordered – who will you call in the event there’s a problem with it once you get home? Or maybe before you get it home?
A 1-800 Call Center in Mumbai?
A dealership is a convenient (usually) someplace as well as a place that acts as the intermediary/advocate between you – the vehicle’s owner – and the vehicle’s manufacturer. The manufacturer is legally obliged to fix whatever broke under the terms of the warranty. But it’s the dealership that’ll do the actual fixing – as well as the wrangling.
Without (probably) any shipping.
You won’t have to get the car trucked back to the factory on the other side of the country; it’ll get fixed at the dealership in your town. A dealership that will probably have the same people there who helped you buy the car and know you and your car.
But arguably the most valuable service a dealership provides is the one you don’t necessarily have to pay anything for: Access to a huge parking lot full of brand-new cars to walk around and look at, sit in – and take for test drives.
It’s one thing to buy a computer via Amazon. You read the specs and know what you’re getting. No real surprises. But a car is different. The specifications tell you a lot – but not everything. You can’t tell, for example, how the seats feel by reading the specifications.
You have to actually sit in them.
Even things ostensibly objective such as paint color are often different in person than in a brochure. Its nice to be able to do an actual side-by-side comparison. And go for a test drive – before you buy.
Which you can do at the dealer.
Of course, manufacturers could set up service/warranty centers locally, too. But then they’d be de facto dealerships. And someone would have to pay for those services, too. Guess who that would be? Instead of a line-item D&D charge added to the sticker price, the sticker price just goes up to reflect the manufacturer’s cost.
It might go up a less. Or – possibly – even more.
It’d be nice if we were allowed to find out.
. . .
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