After being a one-car family for nearly 3 months, we finally took the plunge last Friday and bought a new car.
It actually started out Thursday evening with a visit to AutoWest Honda in Roseville. The car salesman, Jason, was pleasant enough. I realize that's his job (to be the good guy, while letting his higher ups do the dirty work of trying to rip us off (yes, seriously (that's what they do))), and he played the part well enough. However, the guy from the finance office, Seamus, was a total prick: high pressure, aggressive, and predatory. We had Troy with us, and when he needed to be changed, I promptly headed for the bathroom. On the way, I passed Seamus, who was just standing around chatting idly with a coworker. He had left us sitting at the table for a good 5 minutes, and while I thought he was wheeling and dealing with his manager, apparently he was just making us wait. I have since learned that this is a trick that these guys use; it helps to establish their dominance, and reinforces the notion that they are in control of negotiations. But I digress…
As soon as Seamus saw me walk away from the table, he pounced. I obviously wasn't there for this part of the conversation, but Kelly said that Seamus was all up in her grill trying to get her to sign her life away before I returned. Two things:
1) Kelly's too smart for that. She wasn't about to be bowled over by this sleazeball.
2) The deal they offered us was complete trash: $23,999 at 7.5% over 72 months. They offered us this knowing full well that the very next day they would start offering a special rate of 4.9% for Memorial Day weekend.
Needless to say, we bounced. No one should be treated like that. And, as you may guess, I will never recommend to anyone that they should shop at AutoWest.
The next morning, I requested quotes via phone/Internet from several area dealers, including AutoWest (just for kicks). They all came in for substantially less than the proposal from the previous night, even the one from AutoWest. Carmichael Honda came in with the lowest bid, which was about $1000 below invoice (according to the Internets — I never asked for the dealer invoice). We took it.
Kevin runs the Internet Sales department at CH, and he was our direct contact. To say that dealing with him was the polar opposite of our previous night's experience would be a gross understatement. Kevin was polite, courteous, forthcoming, and never once applied pressure to get the deal done. He explained everything very clearly and thoroughly, demonstrating to us that there would be no hidden fees to make up for the low price.
All in all, we got a honey of a deal on a tricked out 2007 Accord. The only things we didn't get — and didn't want — were a V6 and GPS navigation. Our customer service experience with Carmichael Honda was phenomenal, and beyond all reasonable expectations. Obviously, I will recommend to any family and friends who are looking for a Honda that they seriously consider purchasing their next vehicle from CH.
Some helpful tips for you if you're in the market for a new car:
Scour the articles on Edmunds.com. They are invaluable, and several of them provide insight into the psyches of predatory car salesmen. They also have a great loan calculator, and a feature that lets you find special financing deals for the particular model of car you want.
Request quotes over the Internet and also over the phone. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you get.
Buy a business finance "TVM" calculator and learn how to use it. Don't be afraid to whip it out and use it while negotiating your price. If ever there was an equalizer, this is it. With the touch of a few buttons, you can quickly determine whether a dealer's offer is fair and within your budget, or if they're trying to pull a fast one on you.
Don't sign or initial anything (except the credit report application, if you're having the deal financed) until you are absolutely sure you've gotten the deal you want.
If you don't like what you've been offered, walk away. Don't let them guilt you into buying a car. They're not helping you to get the best deal, so don't feel you have to help them make a profit. Remember, you don't care what they paid for the car; you only care what you pay for the car.
Be rational. Don't let your emotional attachment to a new car screw you out of your hard-earned money.
* Because I am good friends with people who sell cars for a living, I must add that I know that not all car salesmen are predatory animals. There are some good apples out there.
When I bought my first car post-college I found a place on the internet (via Edmunds.com) that would approve you for up to a certain amount (say $30K) and then send you a blank check to pay for the car with. That way you had already negotiated the loan before even looking at the car. Effectively, you were paying cash to the dealer so they couldn't dick with you at all. Either they gave me the price I wanted or I walked. Worked really well.
We looked into going that route, but interest rates these days are ridiculous. For new cars, you’re looking at over 6%. Since we knew we’d be getting 4.9% over the weekend, we didn’t bother getting pre-approved.
But, yes, that is an extremely effective bargaining tool.