Are Car Dealers . . . Evil?

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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.

Because that’s the law.

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 Both have been replaced by the bayonet – nudging you toward associations you’d rather not have.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.

Only that you have no choice.

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.

What now?

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.

These are valuable services – as anyone who has had to deal with such problems already knows.

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?

And the car will need to be taken . . . somewhere to get the fix done.

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.

Better than dealing with total strangers whom you probably can’t deal with on a personal, face-to-face basis because they’re on the other side of the country.

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.

Horsepower figures are objective; how an engine sounds is not.

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.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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51 COMMENTS

  1. Warranties? When I was an F&I manager here in Pennsylvania not too long ago, we simply took our net dealer cost for extended warranties and doubled that cost to sell them to the customer. (Example: a warranty that cost us $750 would be sold to the customer for $1500.) And state law at the time only allowed us to mark up the finance interest rate a maximum of 2% based on the term of the loan. And as for reselling those loans? They were always taken by the approving lender within minutes of when the customer signed all of their purchase paperwork in my office.

  2. Guise, (And the one or two goils, too!)

    I’ve watched many of this guy’s vids in the pasdt. He is an old veteran stealership sales guy who makes vids to train car salesmen. And not the old pre-internet “park it over here in the ‘sold’ space” BS. but rather the new “internet savvy” ‘wrangle the financing and the numbers” variety…

    This stuff is fascinating, and this guy is REALLY good at it- top-notch, as far as that ilk goes.

    Watch a few of his vids- it’ll give you a REAL insight into the realities of the modern dealership game, and just how they work on people:

    https://www.youtube.com/user/jsteverichards/videos

  3. As long as you’re free to pick between dealers, or, where practical, go to another STATE, if necessary, to get the vehicle you want. This is all but impossible for Californians, whom must contend with the “People’s Republik of Cali(porn)ia”, and especially its Byzantine bureaucracies of the ‘CARB’ (California Air Resources Board) and the DMV. To all Greeks and Hellenophiles whom feel insulted at my association of the once-mighty Eastern Roman Empire with the once-Golden State Dummycrat-infested bureaucracies, my apologies.

    Due to emissions requirements which are seemingly nonsensical, many fine vehicles are simply unavailable to California residents, save that you’ve got a way to make a “straw” purchase and title them out-of-state, an option typically available to only the wealthy. Oh, after an elimination period which is typically one to three years, you can bring that now used vehicle into California and title it here, but you will pay an exorbitant “smog impact” fee for your presumed “dirty” ride, a premise which from a technical viewpoint is utter nonsense.

    Other than that for new rides, you should be able to buy directly from the factory, but as long as it’s a matter of THEIR retailing agreements, and not any bureaucratic nitwittery, that, unfortunately, is the wiles of the market. You’d think that a simple form of arbitrage could help out, as many dealers have makes and models that simply don’t sell well locally, while others they can’t keep on the lot. It would seem opportune for a broker to be able to put interested buyer and inventory together, especially in today’s age of the Internet. Truly, I can see where the “stealership” ought to, at some point, become entirely outmoded, as the entire experience is an enormous negative, that, IMO, KILLS car sales! Rather, I can see automakers either set up service centers to deal with warranty issues, and, of course, sells parts and service, or simply contract it out!

    But this form of flim-flammery is hardly limited to buying new and used cars. My son, recently relocated from the Midwest to Nevada, left behind items that weren’t worth the expense of moving, as he also found it needful to temporarily go back to apartment living while he gets through his new place of work and gets the “lay of the land” where southern Nevada is concerned. But he could use a better sofa, and so, having visited him over the weekend, as part of the “agenda”, we went to a local Lay-Z-Boy showroom. What a freaking joke! Sure, plenty of couches, love seats, sectionals, and recliners, no argument there! A particular sectional that would now fit his place and likely do for when he buys another residence had a sticker price of about $6K, which, of course, I could just channel his late great-grandmother, in all her Yiddish accent, saying, “oy, only suckahs pay retail!”. The quite aged and somewhat decrepit salesman, which reminded him of “Gil” from the “Simpsons”, mentioned the so-called “sales’, which meant that he’d “let it go” for about $4,200, IF my boy took the standard color of the leather covering, and he had one with the firmer cushions in the warehouse. My son asked about different colors, and getting one with a remote (which a different model had, and he liked), and the quote the salesman worked up in the color and with the options my boy preferred was considerably higher, almost DOUBLE the original quote! The “explanation” was that the factory, in order to cover the piece in the leather color he wanted, just “had” to cover the entire piece in all leather, whereas this model was leather on the seating surfaces only, the rest being “naugahydes”. Well, my heart just bleeds for them thar little “naugas” that gave theier all for that couch, but it’s obvious that if there’s one thing that any furniture factory would have loads of, its different rolls of vinyl in differing colors.

    Naturally I advised my son to just shop around and make do with the battering remains of the old sectional that he had’ he can “Netflix and chill” on that for now, and wait it out. Besides, as I pointed out, any significant monies he spends on furniture, should he find the mother of my future grandkids, will be WASTED, as she’ll never like what he had, because SHE didn’t pick it! A reality of furnishing a home, save that a guy is a “confirmed” bachelor, which my boy is decidedly NOT.

  4. I usually approach retail and customer service situations with pretty low expectations, and I’m usually not disappointed. That said in general I’ve found that the front line people have far more influence over the customer’s experience than anything else. Even if everyone else in the organization is lousy, if you have someone who’s adept at working the internal systems they’ll usually get things done for you.

  5. We won’t know what an alternative car buying system would be like since from the early days of commercial car buying/selling, car dealers legislated the current “dealer only” process. But as some here (and Eric) note, buying a new vehicle has many other elements: break-in fault finding, financing, transportation, speed of purchase, inventory availability, etc. While it may be easy to mark up merchandise too much, in these internet days ignorance of the market price and comparison shopping is easily done. More variance on used cars since auto dealers have mechanics and unless you are one (or are related to one) you don’t. The current system requires dealer to finance inventory, not car makers.
    A lot of men (normally not women) revert back to hunter-gatherer mindsets. So finding out you “could have” saved a few hundred bucks, had you known this or that looms large. Buyers remorse. But shopping is never risk free for anything. Cars are complicated and expensive. Some people are unreasonably cheap or fussy. If you deal with the public you learn that fast.
    some folks expect business to survive on zero profit margins. So it’s a complex game. Until the rules change we are stuck with it.

  6. I’ve bought many new and used cars from dealers in my life and have never experienced one that wasn’t as crooked as a barrel of fishhooks. I just bought another new one about a year ago and it was akin to Japanese driving bamboo shoots under my fingernails.

  7. There are dealers, and then there are some honest and ethical dealers. Over the decades I have been a successful salesperson and an F&I manager at both kinds. Dealers have created all kinds of ways, devices, and schemes to increase their profits – and I’m certainly not going to go into that LONG list here. Suffice it to say that as consumers we owe it to ourselves to know in advance what we are willing to get ourselves into, and how much it will or should cost. One of the best free car buying educational websites that I have ever found is Jeff Ostroff’s site CarBuyingTips.com. I have been referring my customers to that excellent site for 20 years so far; and I highly recommend it to anyone who is considering purchasing any vehicle at any time.

    • True, Kitty. A person that REFUSES to educate him/herself about the product or service that (s)he’s contemplating is just begging to be swindled.

      One thing that’s always bugged me is how the car makers “bundle” the options so that you get “up-sold” in order to get the features you want. In the old days, sure, unless you ordered it “spec”, and then, for sure, you paid top dollar (on many exotic sports and luxury makes, what would be the point in not getting exactly what you wanted?), you more or less picked from varying “trim” levels, which, to be price-competitive and have a reasonable amount of standardization, it had to be a “take it or leave it” proposition.

      Nowadays, there is NO excuse for this. Modern communication technology and ability to ship anywhere in the Continental US within 3 days means that ANY vehicle should be able to be purchased on “spec”, if the customer so desires. The trouble is, also, that dealers know that cars are sold on emotion, impulse, and they always have some artificial sense of “urgency” (I can get you this price, but the sales ends midnight tonight”) and other forms of manipulation. The other thing that I’ve hated is the “waiting game”, especially if you spend several hours in a dealership, you THINK you were dealing with a “closer”, and just when you believe that you’re going home with a new ride, BAM!, the “Takeaway”, the salesman’s line is, “Sir, I’m sorry, I just couldn’t get the sales manager to budge”. The last time that gambit was tried on me, I did a heel-turn and left without a word, in spite of the salesman trying to get me to come back. He’s lucky he didn’t get decked, what a lying POS.

    • Really got to hear more reviews about the dealership before we trust them. They are trained for a good sales talk and make buyers believe.

  8. The VAST majority of stealerships are akin to game booths at a carnival. They sucker you in (Just look at their ads- often making ridiculous claims- like “0% financing” [There’s only one person in the country who qualifies for it- YOU will have to pay 23%!), or advertising a particular car at a rock-bottom price…but they only had one at that price, and that sold 3 months ago to the managers father!

    The inflated prices, meaning that only people who are in-the-know and who are good hagglers get a reasonable deal; The psychological techniques they use to get people to buy- and often more car than they can afford; The hidden fees; The scam add-ons, like Scotch Guarding and undercoating; grossly over-priced worthless add-ons….

    The dealers make very little on the actual cars; It’s the financing; the add-ons; and all of the other cons on which their money is made. And that includes the service department- where your car is often “diagnosed” by the service writer (Who works on commission, and so tries to generate as much ‘service” as possible)- who will often summarize your detailed description of whatever your problem is, into one sentance- if that- for the “techs” to go on.

    All because buying from one of these big multi-million-dollar stores is required because of Uncle. If it were not so, there would be true competition, and the carnies would largely vanish, because there would be some honest places to go, and ones of varying sizes and level s of fanciness- but thanks to Uncle, the carnies are all on an artificially-leveled playing field- with no alternatives allowed, so their ways of doing business are essentially required and supported.

    “Where else can ya go? HAhahahah!”.

  9. Sure, it may be very convenient to buy a car from a dealership. Point taken. However, the experience of making the deal leaves much to be desired. I’d just as soon order a car online adding or subtracting whatever extras are offered, set the final price, send an order through the dealer and just go pick it up at the dealer after singing the paperwork and completing the sale. No confronting sneaky salesmen, a finance manager who can’t be trusted and no surprises or arm twisting. Anyway, If the government has its way, there will be only one choice of vehicle and you either taker it or leave it.

    • That’s how it almost was in Nazi Germany with the “Kraft Durch Freude Wagen”, or “Volkswagen” (“People’s Car”), and was for some 35 years with the Trabant, which, when one actually understands the constraints that the DDR operated on (like having no steel for the body), is actually a model of engineering on a shoestring and brilliant improvisation. Still, it’s a travesty how much hard-working good German “socialist” paid, much of it in bribes under the table, to get this automotive atrocity at all. Anytime anything other than the FREE markets sets the prices and products/services available, it’s the consumer that pays too much, at times with his/her LIFE.

  10. We were fortunate to be able to spend the day watching our ’07 Corvette being built on 12/12/06. At 4:10PM, my wife drove it off the assembly line. Then we returned on 12/22/06 to have it “formally” presented to us across the highway at the National Corvette Museum. Wonderful experience overall.

    To get to that point, I first had to have a “Dealer” process the paperwork for approximately $600. My local Chevrolet Dealer Sales Manager basically told me to “Go to hell” because they were only in the business of “selling” cars. So a dealer out of state got the “free” money for filling-out a few papers that our local dealer was too stupid to accept.

    Hey, I never force anyone to take money from me.

  11. The vagaries of dealers aside, I’ve bought and owned a lot of cars in my lifetime and what I REALLY miss is being able to order EXACTLY the vehicle I want with EXACTLY the options (or no options) I want …

    I miss those days …

    • Yeah, everything is in options packages these days. You have to pay for stuff you don’t want in order to get what you DO want…

    • I agree. One of my pet peeves is sunroofs. I really dislike them and never open them. And they add a lot of $. I was surprised to find the 300/Charger people at FCA must be car people because if you pay attention to the options you can mix and match ‘packages’ up and down the spectrum of their various models to get what you want or don’t want. AND you can order it! Hence my love for my current 300S V8 with sportier seats, and NO sunroof, haha…… Way to go FCA. Now if could only get them to add a posi option…………………

  12. I’m an older guy. In the course of my life in the US of A I have been in on the purchase of some 10 brand new vehicles and about 7-8 used ones. Most of these purchases were at dealers where I had never purchased before because the previous dealer I had dealt with turned into a scumbag as soon as I signed on the dotted line. A worser class of humans than car dealers is difficult to imagine. As soon as you’ve walked into a dealership you’re surrounded by sociopaths. After that it’s evil all way until your next car purchase. But then I ask myself: wasn’t it the same when you had to buy a horse 120 years ago? But there weren’t any horse dealerships, were there?

    • There were horse traders, and the term “horse trader” was a euphemism for a swindler, if that tells you anything about the process back then. Did you ever see Col. Stonehill in the movie True Grit?

      Heck, I actually know a couple of horse traders in real life today and they are exactly the same.

  13. Car dealerships are a dying breed. It’s getting just too easy to compare prices on the internet. Like Eric Peterson said, it’s nice to take a car for a test drive, but most people already know what they want. The only real value-added service that a dealership offers is that they will give you credit for your trade-in. (Carmax makes a big deal out of that). Over the last fifty years, most major car makers like Ford and Chevy have tried to circumvent the dealers with car lots of their own. But the direct to the consumer business-model didn’t work; because managing a service department, a body shop, an inventory of cars and parts, and a lot of employees turned out to be a lot more difficult than the manufacturers had anticipated. So Ford and Chevy gave up, and went back to just building cars. What’s changing now is the fact that there will come a day soon when every single car will be for sale; all the time. Do you have a 1969 Camaro? Great. It will be listed permanently on eBay motors, as will be every other vehicle on the road. Every day, the offers will come in. And every day, your financial needs will change. One day, when you’re feeling broke, and some other guy is feeling rich, the car will be sold. People will float into and out of cars just like they’re changing hats. A car won’t “break down” it’s value will have simply have decreased. And of course the government will get all those registration fees!

    So there won’t be any reason to go to the dealer and buy a new car. Just pick out the make and model that you want, and let the computer agent start bidding within the payment schedule that you have set.
    Only a sucker would buy a new car that’s going to depreciate. Most people will bid-on and buy cars that are a year or two old, and then sell them again after six months or a year. There’s no schedule, so it just depends when a good enough offer comes in; that could happen tommorow. This new system will work fine, but the finance guys at the New Car Dealership will have a problem. Right now, the spread on the note for a new car is worth more money than the actual markup of the vehicle; often $7,000 or more. It’s funny how people will argue the price of a car for hours, and then roll-over on the interest rate for the loan. That’s how car dealers really make their money. They resell your “loan” the next day. It’s like taking candy from a baby.

    But with the new system, there won’t be any “loans” to package and sell. New cars will enter the system through companies like Hertz and Enterprise. Maybe they’ll start-off as Uber cars for a few months, and then get sold into the general market, where they will change hands many times. The net result is that car drivers will have an incredible choice of vehicles. That leads us to the next dealer scam: Insurance. For those of you who don’t know, the car insurance business is a licence to print money. You collect a payment from each driver every month; and then you hire an army of lawyers to make sure that you never have to pay anybody. Car insurance companies don’t like to print financial statements, because they’re embarrassed at how much money they are making. It’s like taking candy from a baby.

    So now, there are two sources of revenue that will be under threat. The “Note” hustle. And the “Insurance” hustle. Did you ever wonder why quotes from five different car insurance companies are so similar? That’s because of a thing called “collusion.” All these companies check each other’s prices continuously, and make sure that they all remain within a certain range. (It’s called “Honor among Thieves.”) The prices themselves have no basis in reality. If they did, the price of car insurance for old people would skyrocket. But those prices are political. 1. Don’t piss-off the old people. 2. Rape the young people. 3. Be Mystical. If you asked the insurance companies for the actuarial data that justifies such high car insurance prices, they would tell you to go jump off of a cliff. But don’t go looking for a Congressional Hearing. Money talks a lot louder than you do; home boy.

    How then will insurance companies make incredible amounts of money without doing any work? It will be difficult, because in the future, you’ll get an “automatic” insurance quote for every car that you might like to buy. For example, imagine that you see a 1980 Ford Taurus Station Wagon on eBay. You know it’s a real chic magnet, and that you’ll be beating those girls off with a stick, if you could only get that car. All you’ll have to do is click the button that says “Insurance Quote” and in ten seconds, you’ll have a price. But if the insurance price is too high, the car won’t sell. And that will surely piss-off people who buy and sell cars. But when you’ve been taking candy from a baby for such a long time, that easy money is hard to give up. So Mr. Big Money Insurance Company will go to Washington. After a nice dinner, they will say “Hey Mr. Senator.” “Insurance is such an ugly business. Why don’t we just add cost of the insurance to the cost of registration? Or the cost of the vehicle? That way, your fat ass can get paid; and our fat ass can get paid; both at the same time. And we’ll never have to justify the cost of the insurance; because it will be mystically mixed-together with a bunch of other expenses. So Mr. Senator says, “That sounds like a fine idea!” So after that, the price of buying and/or registering a car will skyrocket. But since this expense is not subject to free market prices, there won’t be anything that consumers can do about it. Your car literally will not start without a command code from the DMV.

    The only way to fight this giant-screw job is to demand absolute transparency from Washington. First, which lobbyists met with each Senator to discuss these issues? Where’s the list? What was discussed? And what agreement was arrived at? Where are the calculations which show exactly how much it costs, in terms of premiums and payouts, to insure each type of vehicle? On each registration fee, exactly how much money will be spent on insurance? And most importantly, where is every penny from the registration fee going? It certainly shouldn’t be going to government employees who are receiving above market wages.

    So what do you think? Do you want to live in a world where everything is for sale?

  14. If you’re gonna buy a new car, wait till the fall and get one of the previous years models that they are desperate to get rid of.

    That’s my story and i’m sticking to it.

  15. The things described are mainly issues of poor quality from the manufacturer that get dumped in the dealers lap to fix. JD Power does measure this stuff in their ‘Initial quality’ report. The dealers will be under increasing financial pressure especially if they lease their space, as swathes of commercial real estate is now under control of very large corporations with very close banking connections. They borrow money for nothing, keep raising the rents, and don’t care if it’s vacant as the money was free. As long as they don’t lower the rent they can keep the book value up. Yet another consequence of the bailouts! The dealers pass on the increase in expenses or close.

  16. In my 50’s and never been to a dealer which acts like what is described in the article.
    All dealers I have ever used lied to my face multiple times.
    The Hyundai dealer won’t fix any problem with your new car, even if you call the day after you purchase it. You will be told that the problem is not covered under warranty.
    I had to use an attorney with Chevy and Hyundai to get them to fix things which were Clearly spelled out in the warranty. I still have to use that attorney every time with Hyundai or they will not fix anything.
    There was the VW dealer that didn’t know to align the steering after changing the clutch, or Nissan service which ‘accidentally’ caused a transmission leak after a transmission service on a 1 year old car which they refuse to fix to this day.
    How about the Ford dealer that wanted $500 for a starter. but told my spouse it was less than $200 on the quote?
    Every dealer I am forced to work with is a bigger scumbag than the greasy sales dude which sold the car.
    I know of 2 actual, actionable crimes committed by a dealer, and the prosecutor won’t do anything.
    I only go to dealers for warranty work if the parts are more than $250. Anything else and I do it myself.
    And NEVER buy a car from a dealer!

    • Whenever I take my car to a dealer, I always get it back with pieces missing or broken and the car interior dirtier than it went in. The quality of the work is less, and the price is more, than independent shops. Hell, it’s actually a risk. I think if I get another recall for my car, I’ll just live with the recall, instead of risking it in the hands of the dealership. Have you seen the way the porters drive your car? Like its not theirs…

      So I too am done with them. I’ve never went to a dealer service department I was happy with.

      Now, I would buy a used car from a new car dealer before I bought one from a used car dealer. If the used car trade-in sucks, it gets sent to auction where the used car dealers bid on it. If it is a good trade in, the new car dealer will keep it on their lot. That’s been my experience anyway.

      • A local Chevy(gone now)stealership sold Olds as well. I was considering an Olds back when the engines were still kinda, sorta Olds although they were similar to other brands. A nice car, leather interior had just been processed and was sitting there for sale. The drivers side back seat had a big gouge/cut from what was probably a screwdriver in a rear pocket. I mentioned it and the salesman just blew it off. Oh yeah, I’ll just pay full price for torn leather with 0 miles on the car. They were abusive idiots simply because the owner was an idiot.

        This was the next owner after the previous owner, a former Dallas Cowboy, promised me an anniversary Vette. I couldn’t believe they didn’t need a down on it. I could after I found out when the new ones hit the showroom they had none. They weren’t allowed to sell a ‘Vette.

        All dealers have ratings and those ratings(in the corporate sense)determine what products they can sell.

  17. Here’s one I missed due to how the dealer had it added called “Market Adjustment Fee”.

    The reason market adjustments are applied to vehicles is due to the simple economic principle of supply and demand. The fewer of a highly desirable automobile there is the more people are willing to pay to attain one if they can be one of the first to do so. Some dealerships will choose to respond to this situation and add a market adjustment which is pure profit for the dealer.

    https://www.autobytel.com/car-buying-tips/car-dealership-tips/car-dealership-market-adjustment-markup-104319/

    $1200…. Figured it out when I got home…. Called the dealer (Nissan) They said the Frontier was rare. Discussed it with a lawyer,,, legal in Floriduh. (Every scam is legal in Floriduh). Went to their three lots,,, every car / truck had this fee. So much for supply and demand.

    I’m usually pretty good at catching scams but this one I missed…. Suggest people get a pre-contract with all the charges and go home to look them over, out of the dealers purview. So I do not take the truck to that dealer for repairs as they have shown to be unscrupulous….. And I learned even someone adept at finding scams can miss one every now and then.

    • “market adjustments” are usually on a additional window sticker. Ford likes to have dealer rewards cars to which it restricts production and the allocates to dealers based on their sales figures.

      It’s all a big scam really. I vote by automatically dropping any vehicle with a “market adjustment” from consideration.

      • The late Charles Givens deemed this the “sucker sticker” and advised his readers to NEVER pay it, period. If it meant picking a similar make and model instead of your first choice, so be it.

        • Lately a common ploy is advertising the “DPP” (Dealer Posted Price,) Also known as the Idiots’ Price. Not labled a market adjustment per se, but stuff like $1000 undercoating, $2000 pinstripes and door edge guards, etc., and don’t forget the TruCoat! 🙂

          Now Hank Hill on the animated series “King of the Hill” always got a sweet deal – bought 5 cars from the same salesman at sticker price and not one nickel over, I tell you what! 🙂 🙂

          • “Not one nickel over sticker”- LOL- made me think of this girl I knew when I was a teenager, who, to affirm that an employment opportunity was a good job, would say “It’s minimum-wage!”.

            Heh, I remember when those rolling pile-of-feces Chrysler PT Cruisers came out…..they were actually selling above sticker!!! If I ever saw anyone do that, I’d say “That boy ain’t right!”.

  18. I don’t believe that all car dealers are bad. Some are shady. But all are businesses and are in it to make as much profit as possible. The one item I have noticed as of late is that a majority of them tack an additional D & D fee on top of what’s listed on the window sticker. Not ethical in my book. Then an additional dealer preparation fee for up to $999 is also in the fine lines. That much for registration, tags and title????? And also the dealer will attempt to sell additional warranty extension coverage. You have to do your homework before stepping onto the lot or you will get hosed for lack of knowledge.

      • People who don’t believe that all dealers are bad, are just the ones who have dealt with those who are better at hiding their dishonesty. Many dealers no longer use the old tired sales tricks….they instead hide the dishonesty in the paperwork, and unless ya thoroughly read everything and add up all the numbers…they”re screwing you.

        • Nunz, not surprising you hit that nail square on the head. Oh, there are a few, a damned few, that don’t screw Everyone. Those people who they sell cars to on a regular basis don’t get screwed like everyone else.

          But the real problem with cars is bureaucrats in who have ceded power via no oversight. And that’s the real problem of what’s happening in the car manufacturing. They know they can’t do anything about the federal govt. and it’s bureaucratic oversight. I listened to a TedX talk today by a woman who wrote a book on this subject. She never thought she’d find so much corruption and a huge amount happened in the BO presidency.

          How could the public vote that communist into the offal office twice? Well, that’s because the shrub fucked us so bad there was the common mantra of “anybody but Bush”….which led to a commie for the next 8 years.
          I’m not saying he was worse than Bush. He was just a common fascist just like Bush. He did countless illegal things.

          I can’t find the TedX talk yet but I will and post it for everyone to hear. I would say it was biased…..if it were, but it’s hard to not be “biased” when another prez fucks the country so badly.

          Of course it was the shrub’s bunch that initiated and passed the Patriot Act, a bill you knew had to be evil. When the Rep’s said to the Dem’s, You have to pass it to read it, I was aghast. That isn’t how govt. should work.

          Now none of us have any right because of that and BO only made it worse.

          I’m not an R or D….and why would I? They’re nothing but the opposite side of the same coin. Coin?…..ha ha. They’re opposite sides of the same devil.

  19. I’ve bought a boat load of cars in my 35 years of driving. Probably on average a car a year or more. I learned early on it was beneficial for me to have a relationship with a good dealer. Which was of course was beneficial to them as well. It is hard to do that at some dealers, but easier at others. Simple business most of the time.
    It became apparent to me that +/- $1000 really doesn’t mean much at the end of the day, so I spend my $ where the biz makes it easy for me and takes care of me, no questions asked.

    • I’ve only purchased 2 new vehicles in my 28 years of driving. The first one, I was taken advantage of and swore I’d never buy another new vehicle again. Then 17 years later I bought again. This time I did my homework, and fought for a good deal. They did get me with that extended warranty though. I was told you have 3 years before the factory warranty is up and you can cancel. Out right lie, I decided to cancel after 2 years and only got less than half my money back because it covered a rental car during the factory warranty. I confronted the dealer and that got me no where.

      I really hate having a middle man jacking up the prices, but it does seem necessary. The internet is giving them hell like any other retail sales item though.

      • Bin, I bought a demonstrator once. They asked me if I wanted a 0 repair cost 5 year unlimited warranty for $500….in 84. I said hell yes. They look sort of astounded and asked me “why?”. I was honest. I said Cause I’m gonna run this sumbitch into the ground. And they didn’t bat an eye.

        Right away I made my money back ruining a front half-shaft. then it was various other parts. I sure hated to see it go since it paid for itself several times including diving into the river that suddenly appeared in front of my house where there had been none. I thought it was about a foot deep like the rest….but it wasn’t and we swam out of it. It was a very strange experience. Had there been a river there when I went to bed, not a big surprise. But at 3 am when you look out any window and see nothing but trees and water, it’s a bit unsettling.

        I had a driveway made of thick anhydrite fines. I backed out on it to retrieve the drowned pickup and it collapsed under the next one. We had a couple more pickups and a Wagoneer. They didn’t do us any good till a friend showed up with his giant 4WD tractor and pushed a dike across it. The El Camino was sitting on the slab where the barn was to be only there was a 4′ ditch around it. It sat there with detritus hanging on the underside.

        I think you could say the whole place was wet. The ground water was ground level so it stayed dicey for over a year. No fence building since the first time you sunk a post hole digger it was just trying to dig mud…..and it won’t do that. OTOH, you could get a drink anywhere, just dig a foot deep hole and wait a little while for it to clear.

          • It was certainly nothing I’d seen before. I would see it again. The next time we’d have a tank and dam to send it over a great portion of the pasture and not over the house. Problem being, it washed away our 13 acres of income(truck garden, almost all watermelons and cantaloupes. Ca. Creek was bigger than it had ever been that anyone could remember. It changed its course, we changed it back.

            I lived through 1950 through 1957 drought, referred to as The Time It Didn’t Rain. Some famous books about it.

      • Half yer money back sounds about right, Bin- as those warranties are usually a 50% commission item for the salesman- which is why they always try’n push ’em. The lot/salesman make more on them than anything….and the actual warranty companies usually disappear long before you ever need their service…and in the meantime, they’ll just deny coverage for everything. That’s the way it works these days.

      • If you can’t afford repairs on the car once the warranty is out, you can’t afford it, period. The car should be paid off by the time the engine/drivetrain warranty expires, else, you’re driving a financial time bomb.

    • Hi Brazos,

      I’ve been at this a long time and come to know the Good, Bad and Ugly. Some dealers are despicable. But so are some dentists! I don’t condemn all dentists because of the sins of some – and dentistry, as such, is a valuable service. So also many of the services provided by dealers.

      • Amen, Eric! Car dealers are like anything else in life we do business with: There are some that are truly excellent , some that are pretty good, some that are OK, some that are mediocre, and some that are lousy.

        The problem is that it can be hard to tell which is which, and it may not be possible or practical to only do business with the truly excellent.

        So, apart from word of mouth, how does one determine if a dealership is of decent quality, or at least not terrible?

        • Word of mouth is the best. People don’t go back to bad dealers. They have good things to say about the one(s) they use.

          • There is one problem: In the days of yore, most dealerships were family-run operations, and maintaining customer good will was paramount.

            Today, dealerships come and go, and with the engine/drivetrain warranty usually being at least 5 years or 60K miles, by the time you’re once-new purchase is now the “beater” and you’re ready to put a new horse in the stable, “Friendly Frank’s” Chevrolet is now “Smiling Sam’s, an AutoNation company. These outfits are owned by big, impersonal corporations and/or investment groups whom only eye the latest bottom line and throttle the sales and service force to squeeze out the dollars, especially if the corporation is contemplating selling the dealership, so the numbers need to be good, especially if you want to keep your job once the new owners take over!

            Like “Officer Friendly”, “Friendly Frank”, your go-to man in the car biz, is a relic of the past, IF indeed he ever really existed.

            • Part of the Big GM Bailout was the forced closing of hundreds of small dealerships. Most or all of those were family owned and operated.

              Now if you live in a rural area or small town you have to drive 50 or 100 miles or more just to look at a new car or get dealer shop repairs or warranty work.

        • If I lived near a dealer I might drop in now and again. If you continue to see the same salesman, you’ve most likely found a good dealer.

          A good salesman will eventually understand what all that falderol on a window sticker means. I’ve asked salemen(not incompetent either)if they could tell me what a list of options that just as well be written in Greek for me actually mean. To a man, they admitted they didn’t know themselves.

          Things may have changed in the last few years but doing some research for a fairly new GM pickup a few years ago there was a list a mile long for options nobody could decipher. It was along about then I decided a good old early 90’s pickup had everything I wanted or needed. Power locks and windows, check. Plain old a/c, check. Captain’s chairs, check. Locking differential, check. Engine block heater, check. Cruise control, check. Stereo Am/Fm radio and CD, tape, whatever it may be, check. I know you’re supposed to want all sorts of things including the best Bose system and XM/Sirius but I had those added on by me. The XM/Sirius thing just went into the tape deck. I realize they no longer have tape decks and probably not CD’s. Big deal. I like two knobs basically. I can adjust the graphic equalizer when I’m not moving. I just want to be able to spin a knob for a station and spin one for volume. That electronic screen bs will get you killed.

          The best thing on my neighbors 19 Powerstroke is an on/off switch for electric rear diff lock. It’s in a row on the overhead console closest to the driver.

      • Given my observations over 30+ years of dealing with dealerships, and dentists, I would posit that the percentage of new car dealers who are crooks and scumbags is far, far higher than the percentage of dentists who are. And, as you point out, I can choose (well, within limts imposed by insurance, a subject for another rant) my dentist rather freely. There are a good dozen within 10 miles of me. If I want a new Chevy, I must go to a car dealer, and only a car dealer, of which there is only one within say 15 miles of me.

    • You definitely need to have the skills to negotiate against the dealers and agents to get the best bargain. Timing is a key as well, like before the end of the month where these agents are trying to meet their quota.

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