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Tricks car salesmen use and how to avoid them

Posted by mandyf on January 22, 2012

What is it going to take to get you in this car today? If you’ve ever heard that then you have an idea of the tricks salespeople can use to sell you a car. Not all salespeople are bad, but their job is to get you to not only part with your money, but as much of it as they can. You, as a consumer, want to save as much money as you can, and under normal circumstances are not going to rationally spend more when it is not necessary. As good as a salesperson may be, you can be just as good a car shopper by knowing what tactics they may use and being prepared for them.

A favorite claim is that the dealership had a rough month, or they are desperate to make quota so they are going to cut you a sweetheart deal to make a sale. That could very well be true, but most times it is not. Even if it is true, don’t bet on them showing you sales and income figures to prove it. What usually happens is a version of the bait and switch. They get you very excited about an older model they can’t move (which is why it is cheap) and then try to work you up to a more expensive model. If they can’t pull that off, they unload the model they otherwise can’t move on you.  The way to combat this trick is just being aware of it as it unfolds.

A tried and true sales tactic is to ask you questions that you cannot answer “no” to. Instead of asking “Do you want the upgraded stereo?”, they may ask “Do you want the basic model stereo or the stereo with quadraphonic sound, steering wheel controls….?” The question is designed to force you to make a choice. The option they want you to pick is the one they will explain in depth and will be the more expensive option.

The way to stop this is that YOU take control of the negotiations and you dictate what you do and do not want. Make the salesperson answer your questions. If they cannot answer your questions then leave or go to a different salesperson for help. If they try to manipulate you in the sale – leave. You are the consumer and you have the money so you decide what you buy and what you do not – not the salesperson.

Salespeople will try to get you attached to a car. They will take you on a long test drive, talk about how great a fit a car is for you, how good you look in it, how popular it is with people and that everyone is snapping them up. Don’t fall for it! They will present them self as your buddy, an ally, someone that is fighting to get you the best deal. They may want to talk about their hobbies, kids, spouse, whatever it takes to get you to believe that you can trust them because they are your pal.

The thing you have to remember regarding this ploy is that buying a car is not about making friends. It is a business transaction. Just because you both like a certain sports team or have two kids does not obligate you to buy anything. Nothing binds you to having to do buy anything you do not want. He is trying to make money, and you are trying to save money – sentimentality has no place in the transaction.

Timing is everything, at least in regards to either trying to hurry you through a sale or keep you on the lot so long that you feel like you need to make a purchase. The faster a sale can be conducted the less time you have to think. That means the less time you have to ask questions, do any comparison shopping, or make sure you even really like your purchase or that it is the right car for you.

Similarly, if you cannot be hurried through a sale, a salesman may try to detain you as long as possible. This is where salesmen can get super sneaky. They may ask for your keys so they can evaluate the trade in value of your car and then get delayed indefinitely. When you get your keys you may find your car is blocked in and you have to wait for them to find someone that “forgot” to return the offending vehicles keys to the desk. They may tell you the manager wants to see you about a better deal if you can wait an extra 10 or 15 minutes. The longer you are on the lot, the better odds he has of making a sale.

To combat these tricks, again you take control. When they want to evaluate the trade in value of your vehicle, you go watch them do the inspection and get your keys back and move your vehicle yourself. You do not wait for anyone – if your sale is really valued, a manager will see you immediately. If he really has no time because he is with other clients, he can call you and give you his great deal he wants to make. Before you go to a lot, eat and make sure you have no appointments to rush off to so that you personally have no need to rush, and you can come or go anytime you please.

Some salespeople rely on the guilt trip. If you’ve listened to a few sales pitches then you have certainly heard the “My boss will kill me for making this deal” or “I’m not making anything on this sale” kind of spiel. This is the easiest thing to overcome. All you have to say is “So what?” Who really cares? His sales problems are not yours and if he is that bad at his job that he can’t make money on a sale or might get in trouble for cutting too good a deal that’s his fault – not yours.

Sex sells and salespeople are not above flirting with you or playing up the angle about how hot they find a man in a convertible or how good the wind looks blowing through a woman’s hair. They are not going to go out on a date with you if you buy a car. There will be no hanky panky. That happens on TV, but TV has nothing to do with your sale. Stick to the car and not getting caught up in how good someone thinks you look in it.

When it comes to money – it is your business. All they need to know is you have financing or cash sufficient to purchase a vehicle. It is none of their business what you can afford to pay per month. That may sound odd, but it is true. When you disclose that you can afford to pay $350/month for example, a good salesman can over-sell you. What they do is adjust the down payment, length of financing, options on the vehicle etc… to make you spend as much of that $350 per month as possible – but in reality you may end up paying off your car an extra year or two later. If they are really good they get you to go beyond $350 by showing you how much more you get for just an extra $30 – only $1 a day more!

To stop this, keep what you want to spend per month or in total to yourself. It is your business alone. Stick to negotiating the total price of the vehicle alone and you have the best odds of staying within the budget you set rather than letting someone else set it for you. Salesmen can make ANY deal look good when presented the way they want to.

The bottom line is you need to be in control and have a plan. Bring a list of questions you need answered and get those answers. You dictate the pace of the sale, you dictate what you will spend, and you remember they need to sell a car to you far more than you need to buy from them. It is all about you!


One Response to “Tricks car salesmen use and how to avoid them”

  1. nessaroxea said

    This is all really really great advice! I have an inherent dislike/distrust for care sales people, tricky sneaks! I hope this article reaches the eyes of every person shopping for a car!!!

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