I may have mentioned I’m currently looking at buying a different automobile, and letting the kids take charge of the Mitz.
I also may have insinuated the general feeling of contempt I generate when face-to-face with aggressive used-car salesmen. Well – the other night I got a full reminder of just how close to the surface my irritation comes when faced with a pushy one.
Actually, I met with 2 such arrogant stuffed-shirts, but the first one decided early on I wasn’t worth his time, and actually SLAMMED the door of the car he was trying to get me into. I could almost see the frustration swirling around him as he stormed across the pavement in a huff – ‘How DARE I openly display dislike of his select combustion-engine box-cabin???’
Imagine, if you will, a ramrod-stiff back, stuffed to the brim with righteous indignation; one arm and two fingers upraised and a contemptuous “two hundred a month!” snarled over one shoulder. That’s my final impression of salesman #1.
Well, sugar, offering me a deal I don’t want, on a car I’m not interested in, with an aggressive tone of voice and body language that screams ‘f*ck you?’ Yea…I can see that tactic working WELL in your future…
Salesmen don’t like me, because I will not be bullied into buying more car than I require or can afford. I also refuse to be blinded by bling, swayed with options, or seduced by all-leather interiors. Granted, I’m not fond of salesmen of any kind as they are the public face of the consumerism I rail against – but I’m convinced there’s a special little hell-hole that pukes out the used-car guys…
I will fully admit that by my fourth step onto any given a used car lot I’ve developed a huge chip on my shoulder, a set price in my head, and attitude oozing from every pore. It’s my natural reaction to walking into such a hostile environment. I automatically prepare myself for the attack on my sensibility, my intelligence, and my wallet.
I’ll also admit my job plays a large part in my touchiness over automobile purchases, as financial myopia is a common side-effect of an accounting career.
At the second dealership, I’m offered a firm handshake and a smile. I swiftly enter the opening salvo – what type of vehicle I’m looking for, how much I’m willing to spend. I am absolutely, bluntly honest about my price (NO tact – NO sugar-coating – money is a brutal business) and that there will be -NO- financing entertained.
He suggests the two cars on the lot that are under my price point. Both 4 door sedans. Not interested. I turn to go. No sense wasting my time and his.
He then points out a small SUV, which I am interested in, but mentions a price well above my line in the sand. Again, I tell him no. He suggests putting money down to hold the vehicle, giving me 30 days to finalize the deal. I repeat my no – I can’t raise an additional $2k in 30 days. I reiterate my top price and absolute refusal to finance.
He offers cookies, coffee, a soda. Allow him a chance to view the particulars on this car, get some information – all that damn contact stuff – and maybe we can make a deal. I need to use the bathroom, so…OK. I’ll go in.
**The crowd goes wild as the gladiators enter the arena!
Directly after getting the name, contact info, blah, blah blah – he goes for the numbers instead of meaningless small talk or a push for a test drive, which is an unusual tactic. I have yet to be up close and personal with the vehicle he’s trying to interest me in. I haven’t walked around it, touched it, heard it run or smelled the interior. I LIVE the numbers game 40+ hours a week, though, and detest small talk…so I’m curious to see how he plays this one out.
**Here’s an interesting maneuver from the Champion…a quick retreat to keep the challenger off balance!
He bounces back and forth between his ‘manager’s’ office and his desk a few times during the numbers segment of negotiation. Only once does he get within $500 of my line in the sand. There are undertones of ‘finance’ in the air, soft insinuations, but nothing I can really call him out on.
**Our champion shows off his impressive footwork – trying to get inside the challenger’s defenses…
I don’t budge from my line…this is what I have available to spend What he doesn’t appreciate (or realize) is my bluntness over money matters. The price I quoted him IS what I have available – there’s no room for me to go up.
**The challenger continues to stand firm…alert and defensive – batting away the attacks…
After the third run to the manager’s desk, he returns with keys – insisting we go for the test drive.
**Ohhh – the champion strikes out with a devastating mental attack!
The psychology behind automobile sales is obvious in its simplicity – Get the client into the product. Let them feel, touch, smell and drive the product. Let them play with the product, fantasize about the product, imagine themselves with the product. Allow the client to bond with the product. Once the client has mentally sold themselves on the product, you just mop up with the appropriate paperwork, and hello! commission!
To that end, he spills out a story while we’re on the test drive about how the SUV is a one-owner trade in, and he knows the previous owner personally. It was his trade, and the other owner was sorta reluctant to give up the vehicle they had owned and loved for almost a decade.
**Bad choice for our champion, choosing a mental spell constructed of freshly-extruded fecal material!
I have to admit – it was a nice vehicle. The interior appeared to be clean and well-maintained; the engine was clean; the body nice and shiny, without dings or obvious touch ups in the finish. Brakes, alignment, tires, climate controls, everything worked the way it was supposed to. It test drove very well.
While on the test drive, I mention the kid’s dying car to our erstwhile salesman. I’m figuring if the dealership gives us only a few hundred for scrap value, it might be enough to meet at an agreeable number. He immediately goes into info-gathering mode, pumping them for as many details as he can on the potential trade-in.
**The challenger attacks – and is deflected!
The test drive over – the salesman once again takes the desk, writing down all the details of the kid’s car. He gathers all his documents in one pile, fleeing once more toward the shadowy ‘manager’ hidden somewhere within in the building.
**Our champion charges – war cry on the lips…
The offer he brings back? To their credit, this offer finally had a number at the bottom, instead of only price plus TTL (which is easy enough to figure with the calculator in my iPod) on the other offers. It’s still $500 above my line in the sand – even with the extra $200 offered on the kid’s vehicle in trade.
In short – it’s the exact same offer given before the test drive – worse, actually, as now they’ve factored in a trade in vehicle credit while still coming up with the same price as before.
**Oh no! The champion has tripped on his own shoelaces!
I’m no longer curious about his sales tactics – now I’m irritated. Maybe a little insulted. I’m tired of repeating the amount I have available, I’m tired of his face, his posture, and the mental struggle to put his accent into understandable sentences. I’m tired of the increasing pressure to agree to a price above my available funds. I switch to a more aggressive mode – stabbing the dollar value at the top of the offer with a stiffened finger. “This,” I tell him, “Is what I have. This is what I will pay.”
He mutters “Well, now you’re getting emotional…”
**Ooooo – right onto his own weapon!
And just like that, I’ve had it. He just got personal. I’m done. I stand, coldly thanking him for his time. My outstretched hand is a challenge in itself.
“But,” he insists, “I have two cars that will come in under your price…” He’s slightly panicked at this point – I can read it in his eyes. I think he FINALLY realizes I’m serious about the amount I’m willing to spend on a car; realizes how badly he misread things; realizes how badly he bungled this potential transaction; and is now attempting a Hail Mary to salvage his sale.
Seriously? I’ve been in the dealership for over an hour, and he wants to start fresh with a different vehicle? One that I was dismissive about at the very beginning? I give him a firm no – that I am done with shopping for this evening.
**OMG – what an incredible game – but it’s all over with a tie score! No winner for the Superbowl this year!
I really, REALLY hate car shopping…