The Car Dealership Experience is Designed to Break Your Soul
To many people, the very act of going into a car dealership gives them the shivers. People fear the negotiation process and are scared of getting ripped off. The rise of no-haggle dealerships and the ability to access previously hidden information (like MSRP and Blue Book pricing) have taken some strain out of the process. But the old stereotype of the slimy car salesmen still holds a grain of truth. Despite progress, the entire car buying experience is meant to work in the dealership’s favor, not yours. All of their sales tactics can take an emotional toll if you’re not prepared. Here’s how the car dealership experience is designed to break your spirit and how you can get out with your sanity and budget still intact.
The moment you set foot on the car dealership lot, you become a target for salespeople hoping to cash in. They will greet you and introduce themselves, offering a friendly face and a handshake. This pleasant introduction is also a way for them to size you up and is essentially the first step in the negotiation process. Whether you're looking for a new or used car, the salesperson will likely steer you toward models with the latest bells, whistles and performance packages while downplaying the attractiveness of the more basic models along the way. The entire experience is meant to put you at ease while pushing you to spend more money right from the very start.
How to keep your spirit alive: Know what you want before you go to the dealership. If you have the specific make, model, and features package in mind, you can send the salesperson a clear message that you won’t be pressured into buying something you don’t want. For help finding the right car for you and your budget, check out the Credit Union of Texas’ new car search tool.
Once you find the car you want, the negotiation begins. By its very nature, haggling is designed to wear you down. They know you’re interested, and because they hold the keys, they hold most of the power. The back and forth over price is as much theater as it is business. Salespeople will use any number of negotiation tactics, including appearing sad, frustrated or conflicted about the price you’re offering. They may step away to talk to their manager, making it appear that you’re getting the deal of the lifetime. They can also apply pressure, making it seem like you’ll lose out on a great deal if you walk away from the table. While the specific sales tactics will vary, the goal is always to get you to buy, and to pay a premium for the pleasure.
How to keep your spirit alive: Stay strong. Remember that no matter how flustered the salesperson appears, it’s all part of the dance. Stick to your guns on what you think is a fair price and ignore all the theatrics. Also, consider visiting a no-haggle dealership. Although you’ll likely still encounter aggressive sales tactics, and you may end up paying more for the car because of the predetermined price, you may have a better overall experience.