Car salesmen (sales people for the politically correct) have a code. A language, if you will, that they speak when trying to get you to purchase your new car. This is incredibly hard for the average honest American to decipher because the best in us wants to believe car salesmen want the best FOR us. Especially women. That sleazy deal Brown's Mazda made with that nice woman really upset me. If only she had a friend like me. I would have fought for her. In a job that's nearly entirely commission, what's best for you is kind of thrown out the window. Here's a scenario with some similarities based on my recent experience. Except in this scenario, everyone's been injected with truth serum.
Average Jane: Hi, I would like to look at the Mazda 3, perhaps test drive it. I already know I will probably end up buying it because it's better than what I have now.
Salesman: Jane, I am glad to hear that. Since you are a woman, I feel I have an added advantage in selling you a car. While many women know a lot about cars, I still feel the odds are in my favor when young women show up alone.
Average Jane: Yeah, I know very little about cars. But because more and more women do know these days, I am going to nod appropriately to make you think I am one of those women.
Salesman: I now know I need to validate your car "knowledge". What model and engine you prefer?
Average Jane: Naturally I am going to want the model with convenience features. I am also going to request the engine that sounds best to make it seem as if I know what I am talking about. In addition to that, I am bringing a print out of the mid-range model so I can request something nice but cost efficient.
Salesman: Jane, you will test drive the Grand Touring model. This is part of an emotional manipulation technique I use. It has all the features possible and gives me the most commission potential. It's the top of the line, not the mid-level. Once you drive it, you won't want to settle for less.
Average Jane: I like the Grand Touring very much. It drives nicely and the Blue-tooth feature is very cool. Now I want to talk turkey so what are you going to give me for my trade?
Salesman: Oh, I see you have a Trailblazer. Since it's a domestic vehicle, I am going to make it seem like a cheap piece of junk and offer you an outrageously low trade in. You of course will counter maybe once or twice and that low offer I gave you will set the bar for my profit on your trade.
Average Jane: My car isn't worth more? Kelly Blue Book gave me more than double your amount as an estimate! I'm concerned that what I get isn't going to be enough to get me my new car.
Salesman: I'm going to deny that Kelly Blue Book is legitimate. I'll cite reasons Kelly Blue Book doesn't apply to you. I'll tell you every flaw about your car that we appraised while you were on the test drive. Like that scratch! Or the fender bender you had in August, because no one will purchase a car with a ding on the Carfax! Plus, I can always claim there isn't a market for your vehicle here. It doesn't matter that I am completely lying to you because my goal is to make you feel like you need to trade your vehicle in now so it doesn't lose more value. My goal is to make as much profit off that trade as possible.
Average Jane: I'm going to accept a much lower trade-in offer than what nearly every website I looked at recommended. This is because you've made me feel bad for wanting more for my trade and made me panic about depreciation.
Salesman: Great, because any more resistance, and I would have stopped working with you. After all, my time should only be spent dealing with serious buyers who are going to get me as much profit for this sale as possible.
Average Jane: Okay, so how much for the Grand Touring I test drove? I hope I can negotiate it lower so I feel like I am getting a deal.
Salesman: Negotiate all you like, I am getting what I plan to get from this deal and will manipulate the sale completely. You will feel you are getting a deal, but you aren't. The Grand Touring is too much for you to afford but rather than use BIG numbers like the price, what monthly payment are you looking for?
Average Jane: This seems good. I can think about how much money I have to spend each month on the car. I feel more comfortable now. I will give up what I spend currently because I realistically can only afford maybe $50 more than that each month.
Salesman: The Grand Touring is going to be $600 per month, which is $200 out of your price range. I can now offer you the sport model with no power locks for $100 over your price range. You, of course, will hate the sport model because you drove the Grand Touring.
Average Jane: Hmmm. That's a little high, I was hoping to spend less. Plus, I really do like the Grand Touring. It really is $600 per month?
Salesman: Ah yes, I knew you would like the better model. By offering you the stripped down model, I see that you might be willing to break your budget for the better one. Since I offered you an outrageously inflated $600 figure, I can drop you down and you will feel like you are getting a deal. I think we can help you get the Grand Touring for a still inflated $500 per month. Would you like that?
Average Jane: Gosh, I was really hoping that I would spend $450 MAX. I mean that $450 really pushes it. Also, the Sport model isn't as cool as the Grand Touring, or as cool sounding. Is that the best your dealership can do for the Grand Touring? I do feel like you are trying to give me a deal.
Salesman: Let me leave you for a really long time and tell you I am talking to my manager about it. I will actually come back with my final number that still serves me a large commission and will still be ripping you off. I'll just be having a Coke and making you sweat.
**30 minutes later**
Salesman: I want you to think that was tough but it wasn't. In fact, using the intercom feature on my phone, I listened to your conversation with your friend on how you could stretch your budget to buy this car. Knowing how much you will do to get this car, I am confident you will accept any financing we throw at you and the final monthly payment of $475. You won't even notice all the fees and accessories packages we tack on or that we put you on a six year loan.
Average Jane: I am so happy that I get a better price than $600 per month. I feel I am getting a bargain. Which will wear off once I start making the payments and eating Ramen noodles twice a month instead of real food. It doesn't matter that I haven't thought out how much more my insurance will charge me, you made me feel like I negotiated a lower price.
Salesman: I'm glad. Because if your friends are like you, I want their business.
Seem exaggerated? Read Confessions of a Car Salesman from an Edmunds.com writer. It's really close to what really goes on.
Consider yourself warned.
The entire reason the guy at Brown's didn't even let me test drive the car was because he knew any deal he made would be slim on the commission and that wasn't something worth wasting his time on. At the end of the day, he sold one less car. And I? Kept my dignity and my money.