Drive Shafts Industry Tricks
Dealing With The Dealer Consumer Tricks
Consumer Driven Deals
Auto Consumer Resources
Grand Theft Auto: Industry Cases
Last VW Mistake
Other Car Not A VW
True Costs of Driving
15 Sec. Car Deal Lecture
Eco Orgs & Auto Industry
Deals - Do-It-Yourself Troop Support
Tell Car Makers To Make Cleaner-Air Vehicles
Tell Ford Motors Company to Get it's
Gas in Gear
"If you want
to control people, promise them freedom..." - L. Ron Hubbard
Driven Car Deal
"Driving (Defensively) A
Fixing The Dings
In The "Great" American Car Deal & Paving the Consumer's
Toll Free Lane on the Car Deal Highway
Consumers in the Marketplace
Dinging the Manufacturer and Dealer
Very long page follows
Driving A Hard
the wheel of
the consumer driven car deal...
and swerve to avoid the
Ding the Manufacturer
on Negotiated Profits
with an automobile dealer or manufacturer, obtain a certified copy of the manufacturer's
and the dealer's AUTO CONSUMER'S BILL (Invoice) OF RIGHTS (dealers
and manufacturers will not know what you are talking about, but
demand it anyway until the dealer fakes one or provides the genuine
article), and keep in mind that anything in writing from
the dealer or manufacturer will have to be enforced by the consumer
after sale. Some dealers may fake a few hoop jumps to move a
unit off the lot, and stall out on follow-up and compliance after
sale. Its the oldest trick in and out of the book (owner's manual).
What are warranties for, anyway? To move units off the lot at
inflated prices. Its a moving unit...!
- The following
is a listing of some car deal related considerations for empowering, motivating,
& mobilizing consumers in consumerizing (jump-start it,
or give it a push, but don't wait for the auto or banking and
loan-lending industry or your government to help) the Great American
- You may wish
to consider and pass along these thoughts to friends and relatives for further discussion,
consideration, reflection, improvement and adjustment or tailoring
to individual personal circumstances, politics and tastes and
"market forces." Before negotiating car sales, lease
or service deals, pick up a book or two or three (they all have
some new twist or angle on evening up the car deal score) on
car buying and negotiating and spend some quality time with these
- Find as much
information and wisdom as you can about car dealer "dealing
by the numbers" techniques which are referred to collectively as
"System Selling." These dealing tricks have inflated
profits for the auto industry and ripped-off our friends and
families for decades. Oh, the automobile and dealing industry
recently "celebrated" its 100th birthday. So, why do
you suppose they are called "dealers"?
- Beware of
turbo-charged industry lip service (salespersonship and advertising) being
paid to lure consumers down to the dealer (trolling for suckers).
manufacturer advertisements and material fake an earnest attempt
to make dealing and service fairer and cleaner. Remember that
manufacturers have said that they have no control over their
authorized dealers, and you will hear this especially loudly
after a deal turns sour. These ads and materials, some cleverly
pandering to consumer angst by spoofing the classic car deal
shams are an acknowledgment of the deep traditions of sham in
the industry, and do not represent any substantive difference
in the treatment of consumers. Trust your instincts and the general
public reputation of the automobile industry.
If the dealer
promises you the moon during deal and price negotiations, get
it in writing, and do not be surprised if you get mooned after
buying it... nothing personal, just business = the economics
of capitalist relationships...(:-)
remains a shabby anti-consumer business. This industry will say and do anything
to lure and milk more consumers -- even try to sell itself as
honest and fair in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Things must be awfully competitive out there in dealer land,
that this industry would acknowledge in its ads its shameful
"past" practices. Don't buy it, the industry is no
cleaner or fairer today than it was fifty or a hundred years
ago. Ding the dealer and ding the manufacturer on every new car
deal or lease. This industry has earned the public's ire and
- Pick up Remar
Sutton's books at the library or bookstore and read what he says about "System
the dealer's major weapon against consumers in car dealing. Shift
"System Selling" into reverse and engage the dealer
in "System Buying" where you keep in mind and keep
reminding the dealer that the dealer wants and needs your money
more than you want or need the trouble of another expensive,
over-priced, and potentially problematic new or used car. Avoid
over-valuing an inanimate, shiny thin tin, plastic and glass
object which has been designed to become obsolete with next year's
in this is the depths dealers and manufacturers go to lure consumers
with worthless advertising and sham sales tactics labeled as customer service
bromides. As the dealer tries to make you feel uncomfortable
(guilt manipulation) about not accepting an unreasonably high
price--asking you what you are going to do to make the deal happen,
remind the dealer that you are offering a fair price for an overpriced
product of mediocre quality and potentially endless and expensive
problems regardless of warranty or lemon law, and ask the dealer
what he or she is going to do to provide you the vehicle your
want at a fair price. Most lemon laws are themselves lemons.
Consumers are on their own in enforcing lemon laws and warranties
- Develop self-respect
as a consumer.
Stop expecting this industry or your government to clean up the
auto industry unless forced to do so by enough consumers demanding
fairness in automobile sales and service practices. Australia
has comprehensive consumer protection laws and enforcement in
car sales and service practices, including training, testing
and licensing of dealers and including full documentation and
disclosures of defects and hidden damage repairs. Why don't we?
Because we have let the automobile industry puppet our government
in watering down, postponing or killing real consumer, safety
and environmental protection.
and fraudulent auto sales and service practices represent a hidden
tax on consumers
-- cleaning up (professionalizing) the industry would be far
less expensive and would benefit consumers, the industry and
protection laws would protect consumers, honest dealers and manufacturers and our economy by boosting
consumer confidence. Dealers who cannot compete fairly shouldn't
be in the business. A country or society that would continue
to permit an industry to run roughshod over it like the automobile
industry has done for decades shows little in the way of collective
intelligence or cultural self respect. This can be changed. Until
now the auto industry has bought off government with consumer
money. Its time consumers demanded a fair return on their investment
in this industry and their government.
a voice activated pocket tape recorder which may inadvertently be left on in
a purse or inside jacket or breast pocket during deal discussions.
Recorded representations discovered after the fact may assist
in reminding sales staff about promises or representations made
prior to, during or after sale. Some recorders can be fitted
to a phone for recording phone conversations as well. Recorders
and miniature video cameras may be velcroed to the inside of
the hood or engine compartment or wheel well of vehicles being
left for repairs to pick up repair shop talk, too. Please check
your local, state and federal regulations on the legality of
recording and using taped private conversations, and proceed
accordingly in your own best interests. Sometimes it may be found
that playing back a recorded discussion may help in resolving
a dealer problem before unresolved legitimate issues escalate
into a more serious collision, although even this may not persuade
the more jaded of dealers or mechanics. CARveat Emptor - increasingly
the truth is used to bamboozle sales and service customers...Bring
along Morley Safer of 60 Minutes if he's game, or Leslie Stahl
if she's available. Get it all on video if possible.
- A Toyota
Dealer was reported in a major daily newspaper to have lease-sell
dealt a $12,000 Toyota for $26,000 to an unsuspecting and overly trusting
consumer. 2000 auto consumers in Florida who thought they were
buying cars outright were leased vehicles instead. Heads-up and
obtaining a business function calculator (borrow the dealer's) and learn how to
use it before negotiating for a car purchase or lease deal. Such
calculators have programs for calculating the costs and percentages
of interest rates and other important business factors. Remember
to toggle the ding dong dealer factor on your calculator before
settling on price. Every car sold in American is priced thousands
more than its intrinsic and consumer value. Do not pay a dime
over what the vehicle is worth, which is somewhere around the
cost of making the product plus a small or token profit to the
manufacturer for its troubles. Consider that most retailers mark
up their products 50% to 100% of its wholesale costs. The auto
manufacturer merely pads the window sticker price similarly,
which includes a sales incentive or "hold back" in
most cases of between 3% to 5% or more which is paid to or kept
by the dealer upon sale of the vehicle (in addition to the dealer's
markup you negotiate as a fair market price of the vehicle).
Keep these issues in mind when negotiating price. Hold the dealer
and manufacturer's take on every vehicle to the absolute minimum
over the cost of making and delivering the vehicle. The gross
profit on some of the new super Sport Utility Vehicles is reported
to be $20,000.
- One business
or economic philosophy increasingly espoused by business schools
and consultants (gurus) has it that the main purpose of any business
enterprise is to make as large a profit as possible for their
stockholders. Of course this is not true, but it is true that
the main function of consumers in the marketplace is to check
profit creep and gouging by negotiating fair profits on car deals
and leases. Once was when our economic system was sold by business
schools as a means for the equitable distribution of goods and
services in society. This has evolved to the hyper-profits first
theory... most likely from an MBA candidate with too much time
on its hands.
- Recall the
consumer who paid $26,000 for that $12,000 Toyota, and avoid the same
mistake. Usually, low advertised interest rates require purchasing
the vehicle at the dealer's or manufacturer's window sticker
price and may be limited by a time period. Shop vehicle pricing,
and loan interest rates around between several sources and if
you decide to buy, consider opting for the best total price including
interest rate or loan costs, make as large a down payment as
you can budget to keep payments and interest lower. The typical
dealer forms which include spaces for the new car price, loan
and interest rates and trade-in allowances are often confusing
and may be used by a "sharp" salesperson to milk a
deal by hiding trade-in allowances, interest rates and etc. The
confusing auto contract forms must be another customer service
feature. Service in the rear, read the small print on the back
of the form... with a magnifying glass?
like fries with that... or how about our value meal?
bringing it back within three days (some manufacturers are luring consumers
with 30 day bring back deals--read the fine print). This only
counts in horseshoes and mortgage lending, if at all. You bought
it, you own it, its your's sucker! Now, go find your own road
or pathfinder...? Finally, some dealers are having to compete
by offering three day return offers. Check out the fine print,
and evaluate the entire deal against other alternatives, including
the, "Don't Have A CAR, Man!" auto-motive alternative
- Avoid being
sold redundant or unnecessary dealer applied or installed clear-coating, rust proofing or other
dealer applied or supplied extras unless you feel particularly
Generally these items are unnecessary and are expensive far beyond
their worth, garnering huge profit margins for the dealer. Beware
the fancy label trick. Clear-coating may be called by some fancy
name. If its applied at all, and often it isn't even applied,
its usually invisible, and more importantly, its unnecessary.
A good way to avoid being surprised with last minute sales pressures
and add-ons or dealer remembered extras (surprises) is to obtain a copy of all
deal related paperwork and a written disclosure of all services
or dealer applied or supplied extras the dealer will try to sell
you at deal closing or signing of the contract. Obtaining this information
well in advance of closing the deal, giving you plenty of time
to read the fine print away from the dealership, will better
prepare you for dealing with the dealer when completing the deal,
and it establishes you as a consumer in charge of the deal. Be
ready for the last minute sale add-ons where the dealer tries
to milk the deal (the consumer) by taking advantage of your "emotional
momentum or investment" after you have made up your mind
to purchase. One secret to selling is to ask yes only answer
questions. Beware the "yes" answer momentum and the
pressure to be agreeable and to answer questions with a positive
response... be polite and sociable, but firm... be parsimonious
with personal consumer information, as agreement and disclosure
can become a communicable disease in car dealing.
If a dealer
tries to load-up a deal with lots of extras, either walk, or inquire whether the
manufacturer didn't supply a fully completed product. Before
paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for often unneeded dealer
add-ons or extras, take a break, and leave the dealership to
evaluate the sales pitch, and research the suggested extra[s].
Why would you pay extra for dealer installed clear-coating when
the manufacturer has already lacquered or clear-coated the vehicle
at the factory? Was the vehicle damaged in transit or on the
dealer's lot? Many are, including high-end luxury models. If
so, make sure to negotiate a much lower price for the vehicle
or ask for a new and defect free vehicle. Remember, dealer installed
air-conditioning (vs., factory installed air conditioning) is
commonly problematic and subject to maintenance problems. If
you want air conditioning, its generally better to buy it factory
road kill on the car deal highway)
expect parking lots full of resistance from dealers and manufacturers
on negotiated profit deals. Dealers
and sales staff will do or say nearly anything to pay the rent,
keep the overhead overhead, and maintain their Gucci lifestyles.
Be very watchful of dealers trying to pass off damaged goods
or products of less value on negotiated deals. Many consumers
believing and expecting to get defect-free new cars, found out
later that the new car they paid a premium price for came with
undisclosed options of hidden damage repairs or undisclosed damage
or defects. Not all new cars of the same make are the same. Shift
changes at the factory may result in differences in the quality
of vehicle production runs. It has been known to happen that
wrong parts, including major drive train features have been installed
in unintended vehicle models and shipped and sold. Customer service
and satisfaction is merely a goal of varying degrees of commitment,
not a promise or guarantee, although it may be promised (sight
unseen) to induce consumers to frog onto "such a deal..."
dealers treat customers like numbers (usually with a smile and firm handshake
-- count your fingers) through what is known as System Selling
techniques. It pays for them to do this, because they don't know
how much a consumer knows until they try everything in their
arsenal of car deal tricks to inflate the price of the vehicle
and milk the deal with add-ons or forgotten, er., remembered
extras after a customer has been low-balled back to the dealer
with a fantastically low price, only to find the price increased
with each new service or extra the salesperson includes in the
final price. Without good consumer protection laws, car buying
and dealing is "whatever traffic allows," (smooshed
consumers, road kill on the car deal highway) and until the laws
are enacted and enforced to take the industry to task for its
shortcomings, this situation will remain. Even with good laws,
there will continue to be sham in automobile sales and service.
But, strong customer protection laws would give the industry
a fairness target to shoot at (in addition to consumers) and
would hold sham artists to account when caught red-handed with
Life Isn't Worth Consuming...(Yum, yummy, crunchy human)
A recent University
Extension School class schedule featured "Psychology of
is a misnomer, as this class teaches merchandisers and salespeople
how to "read" or psyche out customers in order to manipulate
their values and create needs or to make connections between
a product and some illusionary relationship to fulfill manufactured
and real human needs... not to provide a service, but rather
to affect sales and ring up record profits... service is merely
the straw-middleman to the end-game of record profits... the
best way not to bet ripped off in the increasingly manipulative
marketplace is to "know thyself", and the methodologies
of sales manipulation.
- Stages of development,
- Social conformity,
individuality and other needs
- The importance
- Types of customers
/ consumers and methods of communications
- Cognitive and
social role styles
- Hierarchy of
- Risk vs. safety
- Methods of learning,
training and changing. Participants can gain a sophisticated
awareness of customer motivations including the importance of
building long-term positive customer relationships and the real
meaning of providing total quality and service [ostensibly as
opposed to the faked variety...?]
- Also see "Servicing
Check out similar
classes at your local university extension program or obtaining
the course textbook may be just the ticket for not getting "sold"
on a product or service based on trumped up needs or wants...
as long as merchandisers and retailers are going to push your
buttons, you may as well learn where they are...
- Are you being
Freuded or Skinnered? Freuding is marketing by using psychological needs
for social acceptance and group association, personal identity,
safety, personal values, etc. Skinnering is using operant conditioning
or (pseudo) rewards psychology... sometimes know as "good
doggie" marketing or sales tricks. The membership discounts
cards used by some grocery chains or other stores are a good
example of Skinnering (named after B.F. Skinner, the famous Harvard
behaviorist who wrote, "Without Marx or Jesus."). Rebates
are another form of operant conditioning or skinnering. This
is designed to make you think or feel as though you are getting
a good deal or a rebate when in fact you are still paying an
inflated price for the vehicle. The rebate is the dog biscuit
tossed to consumers for performing stupid consumer tricks. Don't
buy it... Don't be Freuded or Skinnered. Work your personal values
and needs agenda, and don't let the dealer or manufacturer play
chickenshit games with your needs and wants to affect a sale or rip you and your family off
for an inflated profit.
- Be aware
of the new car "buzz" factor and don't rush a deal or pay too much
merely to have it over with -- that's not service, its being
"serviced". Beware the new car "feel good factor"
to the extent this may unduly sway your objective consumer skills.
Avoid becoming emotionally attached to any inanimate object,
especially a new automobile, no matter how pretty or expensive
it may be. Request written documentation of all dealer or sales
representations, and keep in mind that anything in writing from
this industry is doubtful to be worth the paper its written on,
as such information may depreciate the value of otherwise good
The consumer's agenda is to get the most value/best vehicle with
as many options and extras for the lowest cost. While the manufacturer
and dealer are free to ask any price they wish, and consumers
are free to pay any price they wish, the prudent guerrilla consumer
pays only as much as any product, especially "large ticket"
items are worth, which is seldom much more than it costs to make
and deliver it. In some cases this is less than the cost to make
and deliver the product. This is often thousands less than the
asking, expected or inflated price of most automobiles.
Yep, that's right, we all have paid way too much for the average
automobile, way too much, far more than most cars are worth.
This we have done due to so called market forces (real, imagined
and concocted), which in many cases merely means we have passively
"bought" the inflationary pricing schemes, advertising
and sales pitches (values manipulation) of an industry at war
with America's individuals, families and villages -- consumers.
The dealer's and manufacturer's agenda is to maximize after-loophole
profits from sales to consumers by hook or crook.
drawn down to a purchasing decision from television ads promising low prices
or interest rates, and especially if these are promised conditioned
on you arriving by or before a specified time. Remember, every
time you hear "limited offer," that you will hear the
same thing again the next time you turn on the TV or read the
newspaper. Buy, if at all, on the consumer's, on your schedule,
not the schedule of the dealer or the manufacturer. Maximize
your consumer profits in all retail transactions.
this mistake, you or me...?
Understand the natural
human pressures to buy up and be aware of the sales tactic known as "price
merely means stocking three or more levels of products of gradually
increasing prices (with or without regard to a corresponding
increase in quality). The natural cultural pressure and apparent
human instinct is to buy up in such situations. Where one might
be lured down to the dealer by a low introductory price for a
stripped down or very limited number of models which may not
be available when you get there, the tendency is to "reward"
oneself with better goods upon prodding with the intermediate
or higher priced product. After all, aren't you worth it... may
actually be the sales pitch. And, if you're paying "this
much," what's little more....? You'll know soon enough when
your happy smile wears off, and your 48, 60 or 72 month premium
booklet shows up in the mail. Keep the "buy-low or down
and rent up" auto consumer option in mind in such situations.
Be aware of the natural dealer's tendencies toward the hard-sell
for higher priced models with higher profit margins for the dealer
and the manufacturer. Hard-sell and guilt manipulation or dealer
pressure should be a cue to get up and leave or to proceed with
extra caution. Push your way past sales staff that may rise to
physically or psychologically block a doorway or exit if necessary.
Avoid falling for the "another cup of coffee" "grounding"
trick which is traditionally used to wear down consumers. Call
the police if they lock the door on you. Do not go to another
dealer or retail outlet until you know what a "loss-leader"
Don't be sold
on any deal.
Guerrilla Car Consumers control the deal. Any worthy or credible offer should
not be unreasonably limited by time. If the deal isn't good in
thirty days to sixty days, its probably not such a good deal.
With some research, effort and patience, and a willingness to
wait, walk or "fly" (this really depresses car sales
staff), car consumers likely can drive a better deal home. As
always, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it likely is
-- watch out for dealer and manufacturer ding factors. And, be
particularly watchful of the "lure low, hard sell"
or lease up tactics where dealers advertise or quote low prices
to get you off the couch, and jack you around on price or extras,
and hard sell you up on higher priced vehicles, or lease/purchase
deals which are anti-consumer and pro-dealer.
obtaining the title of a current Introduction to Business textbook at a nearby college
or school and purchasing or obtaining such a book at your library, and bone up on some
of the con-ventional sales and marketing strategies used to induce
sales and move inventory. Check out pricing strategies commonly
understood to manipulate consumer purchasing decisions. This
information, used properly from a guerrilla consumer perspective
can be very helpful in avoiding "selling" techniques
which favor merchants and business at the expense of consumers.
Such beginner's textbooks are worth their weight in gold (actually
hard unbacked cash), and should be standard learning materials
in every public high school in any capitalistic economy or culture.
Ask that your school board consider incorporating basic business
practices training in your high school as soon as possible --
and we're not merely talking word processing and dictation here
folks. These classes are commonly understood as "business"
education at the secondary education level in America.
post record profits, this is evidence that consumers are not
doing their job of controlling profit creep in the marketplace.
Ding the dealer and manufacturer on price before you get dinged
on price, quality, or product.
respectfully offering 1/4 (.25) to 1/3 (.33) or more off (less
than) the manufacturer's invoice price or what is known as the dealer's costs
(not the window sticker price, which is the MSRP or manufacturer's
suggested retail price, which has affectionately become known
as the 'manufacturer's suggested rip-off price') (the manufacturer's
invoice or dealer's cost invoice is available from Consumer Reports,
AAA, USAA or other car pricing service for a nominal fee) to
the dealer for the vehicle and its options and walk away ("fly")
if necessary until the dealer calls begging you to come and take
one of the over-priced inanimate shiny thin tin, plastic and
glass objects piling up in inventory on the dealer's lot.
Yes, unfortunately that $20,000 vehicle is likely worth only
$14,000 or $15,000 or less, at most. Deduct more from over-priced
(aren't they all?) luxury models, especially those "hand
made" Rolls and Jags.
are posting record profits and building up huge cash reserves at the expense of our friends and families
through so called non-negotiable "value pricing" schemes
and no-dicker deals. Don't buy value price deals. Record profits
are evidence that auto consumers are being fleeced and not doing
their job of checking unchecked profit creep in the automobile
every car deal. Do
your pricing research. Make your best offer and walk. If you like, ask the
dealer for his or her lowest, most competitive price for the
vehicle. Don't fall for the suggestion that the dealer will match
or beat any offer you get from a competitor. This is a classic
dealer agenda tactic which is intended to get you to return for
the hard-sell or softening-up treatment. Make it understood that
you are seriously shopping for the most competitive price for
the specific model you are looking for with specific options,
and that you need to know his best price and for how long the
price is good. Get it in writing. Start over if the dealer sells
the vehicle, switches vehicles, or otherwise tries to increase
the price when you are ready to buy. Keep in mind that the dealer's
best price will be thousands more than the vehicle is worth,
and thousands more than it costs to make and deliver the vehicle.
This is why the preferable consumer driven car deal is the one
where the consumer researches the pricing and includes all of
the relevant ding factors and makes an offer and walks. When
enough consumers do this, auto prices will fall to their intrinsic
or consumer value level, instead of the inflated "market
force" level which is inflated with advertising hype and
social (peer or the Jones') pressures.
- Why do you
think its called the "Blue Book" price? Keep in mind that the
blue book represents prices inflated by the concerted efforts
of an industry whose interests are best served by inflated resale
costs. The Blue Book price of vehicles will naturally go lower
when consumers in enough numbers begin asserting their responsibility
for checking profit creep and inflated vehicle pricing in the
marketplace. Say, why is it that the dealer never buys or credits
a trade-in at Blue Book price?
of thumb is that a dealer pays 30% less for used vehicles then
they are worth and sells them for 15% to 30% more than they are worth.
This rule of thumb is generally true for new cars too. So at
the least, whatever you negotiated for your last vehicle was
likely "at least" 15% to 30% more than it was worth.
At least! Actually, 30% to 50% or more is perhaps more like it.
- Another excessive
consumer cost is the so called new car depreciation costs, affectionately known
as the shine or new car buzz cost. This has been reported to be on average
$3500 or more of the price of new cars. The new car depreciation
cost is the dollar value of the vehicle lost when you merely
drive it off the lot new and try to resell it. This is the "shine",
"new car smell" or buzz factor cost in new car prices
-- try to negotiate this out of the cost of new cars, just deduct
it from your final offer and walk. Ask for semi-gloss or matte
finish instead of the more expensive super factory or dealer
detailed shine. Make your offer, in writing and leave a contact
phone number where you can be reached, and walk until the dealer
talks. Expect trunk space loads of dealer and manufacturer resistance
here as well. Resistance and denial are the dealer's expertise.
is difficult, especially for many of the "old dog"
dealers and manufacturers. Consider whether new car depreciation (shine)
costs aren't another good reason to go carless or to acquire
a mildly pre-used vehicle...? and / or to demand efficient mass
transit facilities...? Last year's new models should be obtainable
at a reduced new car depreciation cost.
Consider this: if the vehicle has been test driven half a dozen
or more times and has left the dealer's lot at least that number
of times, why didn't it lose its depreciation inflated costs
during one of those test drives, instead of when you merely purchased
it and drove it off the lot? Consumers should stop paying
the so called new car depreciation costs. Make this industry
appreciate you rather than depreciate you as a customer. Make
the industry live up to its advertised and represented claims
of customer satisfaction and customer service. Help the industry
meet its often claimed customer service goals and priorities.
priced", "no-haggle" or "no-dicker sticker"
deals are designed to control pricing and limit consumer rights (free market
responsibilities) to negotiate a fair dealer and manufacturer
profit on the deal to check profit creep (creeps?) and price
gouging, except as a take it or leave it deal--leave it--leave
your written offer and walk or fly until the dealer talks. "Value
Priced" simply means that everyone ends up paying too much
"equally" for the same make and model of over-priced
vehicle within a market: "Such a deal?".
so-called value priced deals are an unintended admission by the
industry that it has been ripping consumers off on optional equipment for decades. So do you really want
to pay extra for this so-called customer service? Value priced
deals are the industry's answer to the increasingly prevalent
practice of consumers negotiating fairer dealer profits, up from
the manufacturer's invoice (so-called dealer's cost) price. It
took awhile, but consumers (too few really) slowly and steadily
woke up to the negotiated deal and increasingly refused to pay
the inflated window sticker price. Although however, too many
consumers till pay the window sticker price for new cars. Unfortunately.
The "free" in free market when it comes to the automobile
deal industry seems to mean that dealers and manufacturers are
free to lie, cheat and steal to make a killing on new car deals
and service--whatever traffic or the market allows. Moreover,
this situation will continue until consumers demand that the
industry changes its practices or makes it do so through government
regulations, or both.
- It's now time to take
the successful dealer profit negotiating concept one step further, and ding the manufacturer
on profit as well. A fair price for any new car is a few dollars
perhaps over what it costs to make and deliver the vehicle. This
assumes that the manufacturer is efficient and prudent in its
manufacturing operations, and most are not. This means that a
fair price for new cars may actually be less than what it costs
to make and deliver them. Negotiate down from the manufacturer's invoice
(dealer's costs) price (not the window sticker or MSRP price).
Make your offer and walk until the dealer talks--begs you to
take one of the shiny thin tin, plastic and glass inanimate objects
piling up in inventory on his or her lot. Of course, lemons at
any price, unless you're into driving sour citrus, when (if)
it runs, are way over priced.
The free market depends
on informed participants.
laws assume the parties to an agreement are informed as to the
nature of the product and services and agreement specifics. If
you are not informed and do not have the necessary information
to determine a fair price for the vehicle, hold out until the
dealer and manufacturer provide notarized certifications of all
data necessary to inform you adequately.
certified, detailed and meaningfully itemized audit of vehicle
to help determine how much profit the manufacturer has "built"
into or hidden in its invoice price to the dealer (so-called
"dealer's cost"). Expect resistance, as this will be nearly impossible,
but request (demand) it as a matter of course anyway, and build
this request into your lifetime auto purchasing strategies. Consider
that you may already have made a recent new car deal mistake,
and mistakenly believe that you are not currently buying or are
not in the market for a car, but if you own a car and expect
to replace it when it wears out, or if you are continuously checking-out
the look and feel of other vehicles on the road, or if you are
bathed in automobile advertising in the newspapers and on television,
you are actively in the process of buying another automobile,
or making other conscious or unconscious auto purchase decisions.
Furthermore, auto owners may be just one major fender bender
or accident away from needing personal transport. Consider the
Have You Been
Serviced by A Factory Authorized Dealer Lately?
should demand that pricing information and fairness become a
factor in industry pledges of customer service and satisfaction. Do not let the automobile industry define
customer service, satisfaction, or price. Request of the dealer
all pricing information you need to make an informed pricing
and purchasing decision prior to dealing. Dealers and manufacturers
who decline or refuse to provide you the information you require
are not deserving of the reward of your business. Verify it.
Say, are the floor mats, and seat covers, and the dingle balls
included in the so-called value price? And don't let the dealer
suck the gas tank dry or remove or replace items from the vehicle,
or switch vehicles between test drive and drive off. Make sure
that factory installed parts and accessories have not been replaced
by the dealer with cheaper replacement parts, or that included
optional items have not been removed or charged twice or more
for by the dealer or seller. Consumers should decide value and
price, not this industry which has demonstrated a sad but considerable
anti-consumer history and tradition. "Any color, as long
as its black." "Any finish, as long as its shiny."
- Remind the
dealer and manufacturer about their pledge of customer service
when they politely decline to provide the requested certified
itemized vehicle production cost inventory. Without this information
consumers are at a disadvantage in determining the true consumer
or market value of a particular vehicle in comparison with others,
unless they buy the dealer's sales pitch--duh?. Expect resistance
here, like it'll never happen, until and unless enough consumers
walk away or fly until the dealer and manufacturer walk the talk.
Make detailed vehicle production and pricing costs a customer
satisfaction and customer service issue with the next auto dealer
you consider buying from. Make manufacturers and dealers compete
against each other in providing accurate, certified accountings
of vehicle production and overhead costs and profit margins.
Pricing is a customer service or its a disservice.
manufacturer and the dealer on profit on every new car purchase or lease, including
no-dicker deals and so called "value priced" deals. You'll feel much better
if the vehicle or the deal turns out to be a lemon down the road,
or you discover the facts are other than as represented to you
by the dealership prior to sale on the condition or use of the
vehicle, if you don't pay too much up front on the deal. Undisclosed
defects and hidden damage repairs on new cars are a very real
new car deal risk (trick) to be aware of --ding, ding-dong, ding!
Nothing personal folks, just business going on here, come-on
- Don't Buy It. Consider making your
offer (explicitly in writing, including your specification that
you are making an offer for a new and defect-free and fully warranted
vehicle, or otherwise as the case may be), leaving your phone
number and walking away until the dealer walks the talk. Exercise
the important function of checking profit creep and price gouging
in the marketplace and the historic traditions of sham in the
automobile markets by implementing the Consumer Driven Car Deal.
list of all the information and materials you will request of
on your "fishing trip" or first visit to the dealership. Include all of the
deal paperwork that will be presented at the time of closing
the deal. Get a list of all dealer products and services that
will be pitched at the last minute during dealer paperwork signing.
Evaluate these products away from the dealership. If the dealer
slips in any other service charges or products, decline them
firmly but politely, after faking to leave, or actually walking
away. Hey folks, its just a game, you've got to take it more
- Beware of
the ding-dong factor in new car deals. Deduct a big ding dong factor from your next new
car deal offer or the ding dong may be on you. The trick to car
deals is to be the dinger not the dingee.
to the dealer's "low-ball" sales tactics involves the dealer
quoting a low pay-off price on trade-in vehicles for which the consumer still
owes another lender.
- Request the
dealer provide you with a signed copy of his or her membership
contract with the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)
and any other regional, state or local Dealer Group or Association.
a copy of NADA's "Customer Bill of Rights", and Dealer
Professional Development program policies. If NADA has no such
documents, requirements or polices, request that NADA undertake
to "professionalize" the "profession" as
real professional associations routinely do. Obtain a copy of
the NADA's consumer protection assurances. Then laugh loudly.
looks like this: the
sales person leaves the area to phone the bank to find out how
much the pay-off balance is on the trade-in so that it can be
factored into the price of the new car, which is financed. The
dealer quotes a low pay-off price for the trade-in, and says
this number may be off "by just a little" and that
the customer will have to pay any extra which may actually be
owing on the trade-in. It is inadvisable to trade in any car
to a dealer on the purchase of a new car, as a private sale usually
will get a consumer more return on the "investment."
To avoid having to pay hundreds or thousands more than the low-ball
quote by the dealer on such deals, cap the amount to a certain
acceptable amount and have this agreement put in writing and
signed by the dealer, the lending bank and the consumer.
- Many auto
buyers are reporting that after negotiating a price of a vehicle to be ordered
by the dealer, the dealer tries to negotiate an increase in the
price or to stall delivery to try to shake the customer out of the deal so
the vehicle can be sold to someone else at a higher price. Apparently
some dealers are saying they have a source for a special order
vehicle when in fact they have no idea when or if the vehicle
can be found or delivered. This is done to take advantage of
and to "set" a customer's "emotional investment"
in the product, price or service. Some dealers also come back
to the customer after the contract is signed and the vehicle
delivered, and try to add on extra costs, with the excuse or
plausibly sounding explanation that certain charges or options
were not included, forgotten, or overlooked in the original contract.
CARveat Emptor. It ain't necessarily over until its over...
complete checklist of all your car deal criteria beforehand and make sure that all
important items are checked off or satisfied. By establishing a personal
list of deal criteria or categories and ranking or weighting
the importance of the various items on a simple scale such as
very important, important or mildly important, or high, medium
or low in importance can assist you in evaluating or comparing
vehicle models and deal particulars. Even a simple "pro"
vs., "con" consumer values list can help in determining
between a few vehicle model options. Try to distinguish between
what you determine to be your deal or vehicle needs and wants
and value these according to your personal priorities. By doing
this, consumers assert their proper role and demeanor in the
dealer/customer relationship. (Pick up a magnifying glass to
read the fine print between the lines on contracts and all deal
related documents -- deduct its cost from your final offer).
Consult an attorney about the rights you give up by signing a
car deal contract or make the dealer and manufacturer spell it
out in 12pt type size or larger (plain English, please!). Better
yet, negotiate your personal consumer contract-- perhaps this
is the newest wave in car deals.
- Obtain a copy
of a complete set of all deal related paperwork, including a
copy of the contract form and all other paperwork that the dealer
will expect to be signed at deal closing. Obtain this material in advance of
making a purchasing decision in order to review it completely
(including the fine print on the reverse) away from the dealership.
Just do this!
- Consider negotiating a
better lemon law for yourself during deal negotiations. Most lemon laws are
themselves lemons. Have you test driven or read one lately? Spell
out under what circumstances the dealer and manufacturer will
replace a defective vehicle in detail and have it signed and
notarized by the dealer and the manufacturer. Remember,
you may have to engage an attorney to enforce any written agreement
or to enforce existing lemon laws. In California the lemon law
needs only be considered, not necessarily followed to the letter,
by the industry sponsored lemon law mediation board, which places
the industry at an advantage over the consumer in lemon law disputes.
Some auto sale issues attorneys take cases on contingency, and
many attorneys are beginning to specialize in auto deal resolution
services (Yellow Pages under Attorneys: "dealer fraud"
or "lemon law"). When all else fails, pick up the phone
and consider the legal alternatives to a sour deal. Check under
Attorneys, Dealer Fraud or Lemon Law in your yellow pages. (http://www.freeadvice.com)
Why A FEDERAL
LEMON LAW Is Needed:
- Because State
lemon-laws are often unenforceable intra-state let alone across
Moving to a new state? Will your lemony lemon-law migrate with
you? Buying a car in a neighboring state? Negotiate a signed
lemon-replacement agreement with the manufacturer (dealers don't
count) in writing and notarized in triplicate (FROM THE MANUFACTURER
binding arbitration agreements as part of leasing or purchase deals. In a recent newspaper
story in the San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday July 20, 1996),
Reynolds Holding disclosed the results of a University of Indiana
study due out in January 1997, which demonstrated that businesses
may stack the deck against workers, and which apparently shows
that with employers who go to arbitration twice or more a year,
they win against employees 80% of the time--not bad, eh? The
results of this study may be generally applied to arbitration
programs in the auto industry as well, where often the industry
sponsors the programs (not all manufacturers have arbitration
programs). Employers in the story found that they could obtain
the repeated services of arbitration masters who routinely found
against employees and for employer management. Depending on the
specific circumstances of any automobile sales or service arbitration
program, the same pro-business bias may be present. Arbitrate
carefully, if at all.
- In many lemon
law mediation cases,
dealers or manufacturers shop for mediators or arbitration "specialists"
who routinely rule in favor of the industry. Not a bad deal if
you can get it, eh?
things like floor mats and other little extras are included (milked) without additional
cost. This is called reverse deal milking or downshifting the
traditional dealer deal milking of consumers. No floor mats and seat
covers; no deal! What does value priced mean anyway unless it
includes all the expensive little extras that make a car complete.
Guerrilla car consumers negotiate these little extras as part
of the deal, instead of letting the dealer sell the consumer
on paying extra for them. Get seat covers thrown in too, if possible.
Why pay extra for what should be standard equipment? What's customer
service for anyway? Tinted windows? They should be included in
any final negotiated deal as well. Feel free to leave a big tip
if you want, its a free country, or at least it was until the
Fortunate 400 bought it at Uncle Sam's Members-only Discount
Factory Outlet. Milk dealers like the dealers milk customers.
Grip firmly and from the top down, squeeze firmly while pulling.
Sorry, no sucking allowed. (:- )
- When the
dealer tries to sell you extended warranties during the manufacturer's warranty coverage
find out how much the dealer intends to charge and deduct this
amount from your final offer, and ask why a good product and
a good warranty would need supplemental warranty during the manufacturer's
warranty period. Don't pay extra for overlapping warranties that
cover the same repairs during the same period unless you really
enjoy paying too much and don't mind inflating the costs of products
unnecessarily for others.
Do the same
for new car depreciation (shine) costs and other deal add-ons and extras which
the dealer tries to "sell" near closing the deal if
possible when the consumer is most anxious to have the deal done
and generally is most receptive to spending "a little"
more on extras which should be included in any "value-priced"
deal scheme. Expect resistance here too. But, make your offer
and demand that floor mats and seat covers be made a part of
the basic price of the car. Work with another dealer if the dealer
you're working with is too stingy to sell you the whole car at
a fair price, and make sure to have someone stay with the car
while you are signing the paperwork, to avoid permitting the
dealer to drain the gas tank or remove rear bumpers, trim or
other items from the vehicle. _--IT HAPPENS! Did the factory
not buying a vehicle,
that the dealer or manufacturer will not provide you the opportunity
to use for thirty days prior to committing to a purchase or lease
agreement. Consider negotiating a thirty day return without question
clause in your purchase or lease agreement. Why should you, the
dealer or the manufacturer expect you to be able to make an informed
major purchasing decision based on a short, one-time test drive
with a dealership sales staff member on board pointing to all
the new features and leading you away from the vehicle's negatives
(every vehicle has negatives!)? Don't buy a car unless you know
its the right car for you and your needs and your budget. Repossession
and auto-remarketing is a growth industry too!
or prevalent auto consumer mistake is to overbuy, overpay, settle too
soon on price, and to get dinged on undisclosed hidden damage
or repair costs. Avoid overbuying. How can you possibly do that
based on a typical fifteen minute test drive? Add this to your
car deal checklist. Deduct a huge ding factor for dealers and
manufactures that expect you to make a permanent eight year purchasing
decision in fifteen minutes.
Buy down, rent
Put a value
on your car dealing time and charge the dealer and manufacturer
for the value of your time in dealing for the vehicle. Charge the dealer for the "haggle
or ding factor" in negotiating a fair dealer and manufacturer
profit and closing the deal. Deduct the value of your time in
dealing with the dealer from your final offer. And deduct an
additional "ding-dong dealer" factor depending on the
relative responsiveness of the dealer to your needs as a consumer.
This is basic economics 101 folks. Stop rewarding this industry
for faking customer service and satisfaction. Make a profit on
the value of the service you provide as a consumer to the dealer
and manufacturer. The dealers and manufacturers are really the
consumers here, you are the service provider. While you may have
walked into their showroom, they walked into your living room
first with trashy psychologically insulting and obnoxious advertising
luring and beckoning you down to their dealerships with veiled
promises of greater sex appeal, social acceptance, power, control,
happiness and other worthless nonsense.
buying only as much vehicle as required to meet 90% of your personal
transportation needs. Rent a van or sport
utility vehicle when a special occasion requires more vehicle
than your normal driving needs require. Beware of the dealer's
need to sell-up, to sell you more car then you can afford or
need, or want and can afford or which you just "gottahave",
for more than its worth. Beware of, expect, and avoid the sell-up.
your local library or local book stores under "cars", "automobiles"
and "transportation" for books and references on negotiating
new and used car deals. Check out books on negotiating, too.
Polish-up your negotiating skills, knowledge and abilities ("Getting
to Yes," by Harvard University Press is a good general negotiating
text, and there are others). Target and practice your negotiating
and walking skills, knowledge and abilities civilly (dealers
are very sensitive creatures--treat them gently no matter how
beguiling they are to you) on a few dealers before making real
or committed offers.
- Don't sell
the value of your services as a consumer short. Consider marking up your haggle or ding factor
50% to 100% in accordance with typical retail markups. Adjust
as needed for market variables and practical realities. Go for
more if possible. Remember, highballing up from your bottom line
is generally the way this is done. Know and keep your best alternative
to a negotiated deal (BAND) in mind. Be willing and able to walk
away. Perhaps the best way to do this is to have an acceptable
alternative vehicle in mind, or perhaps the more lucrative no-deal
option. Walking is the best deal alternative for most people.
Perhaps replacing the transmission or engine in an older model
is better than sucking on a new car deal mistake. If the dealer
says that he can wait you out, that someone else will come along
and pay more, make sure the dealer gets the opportunity to do
just that, as this suggests that the dealer may not value your
regardless of what the dealer has cleverly led you to say or
commit to, you
are free to walk away from any deal until you take possession of the
vehicle, which usually means when you drive if off the lot. Before
driving off the lot, check the gas tank indicator and other trim
items. Is the bumper and engine still there? How about the tires,
the spare tire, is it in the trunk? "Oh, we didn't understand
that you wanted the windshield, bumpers and the engine too. Why
didn't you say so." CARveat Emptor! Car buyer be very wary!
Be particularly watchful for undisclosed defects or hidden damage
all new (yes, "new") and used car deals, especially
negotiated profit deals. Be especially careful with vehicles traded between
dealers or vehicles represented as being "auto executive"
or "brass-hat" vehicles. Carefully inspect new cars,
especially along detail and design indention lines or other edges
or points or lines or change in materials for over-painting which
may indicate prior damage and hidden repairs. Check for uniform
clearances and gaps between doors and body panels. Have the dealer
raise the vehicle up on a repair shop jack you can inspect the
under side of the vehicle. Does there appear to be a clean and
neat or planned arrangement of systems and parts? Is the fuel
tank protected from side impacts by the chassis frames and the
rear and front axles? Are the brake lines protected from being
pinched between chassis frame and the axles.
Shabby or uncoordinated
underside arrangements of systems or parts may be an indication of poor design
or assembly. Have the vehicle inspected by an independent certified
body and repair shop. Improve and share good car buying skills,
abilities and knowledge with friends, family and associates.
Check carefully beneath detailing lines added to the finish.
Sometimes these detail finishes are used to hide repair or repainting
work. They often crack and peel after a few years, so don't pay
extra for such detailing gimmicks. Look at the entire exterior
painted surface. Try to see the surface of the metal and look
for uniformity in appearance and texture. One way to check the
quality of a paint job is to look at the uniformity and consistency
of the reflection of objects in the new surfacing. By inspecting
the vehicle carefully, panel by panel, to see the clear-coating
layer over the paint, the paint layer (is it uniformly applied
over a smooth and dust particle free surface?) and to see the
texture and consistency of the metal or plastic under the paint,
will help you avoid paying too much for quality problems and
Take a small
magnet to check for bondo repairs that may conceal hidden damage or repairs.
Get a bicycle
instead of buying a car, or to supplement your automobile for personal
Consider alternatives to car ownership (much less expensive and
better investments) such as B I C Y C L E S (negotiate
price and profit here too), public transportation (demand political
action and support for good train and light rail service and
public transit), rental, buying down (smaller - less expensive
vehicles), and renting up for special needs and occasions when
you actually need a larger or different vehicle), communal or
shared ownership options, donating used vehicles to needy causes,
and ride sharing.
- Car dealing
has historically been handled like sex in our society, done but
talked little about publicly, or perhaps boasted undeservedly
about to boost one's bravado (its easier to boast of a great deal,
then admit to having gotten skunked on a car deal). People generally
say they got a great deal on their car purchase, but really they
spent hundreds or thousands more than the vehicle was worth,
and consumers are loathe to admit car dealing mistakes, like
no-one makes them...? The metaphor may be apt here as well, as
often parents forget to pass along good tips on car deal foreplay
or rough car deal sex (getting screwed) and so forth.
safe CAR DEAL sex. Fifteen
minutes with a good book or two on the subject of car buying
will give you more guerrilla auto consumer ammunition in dealing
with the dealer than 90-95% of consumers going into a dealer's
showroom possess. Teach your children and parents well. Pass
along good car buying techniques. Share tricks of the deal. Avoid
unsafe or rough car sex. Again, "consumer protection is
a life-long team sport." Avoid unsafe car deal sex! Unscrew
the deal and consider the alternatives before buying.
- Learn how
to complain effectively. Only 4% of aggrieved consumers bother to complain,
and many who do complain do so ineffectively.
planning, design and construction of alternative public transit
facilities, including light rail
train and people movers, commuter and recreational bicycle paths,
and efficient and convenient bus service. Even if you drive
and do not use public transit, you benefit when others do.
Others cannot use automobile alternative transportation unless
is it available. Public transit is a no-brainer, so why do we
do it so poorly in the United States? Clue: the auto industry
and other public and private utilities have lobbied local, state
and national governments to make sure that good public transportation
is not available, and the public has not made it a priority in
their voting decisions. Until we run out of petroleum supplies,
this unfortunate circumstance will likely continue. But, it does
not have to.
- Use appropriate
transport modes for
short, medium and long distance travel needs: walking or bicycling
or electric cars are perhaps best for short hauls or trips; cars,
bicycles, bus or car pooling for medium length hauls or trips,
and public or private transit for longer hauls or trips. Develop
a lifelong personal transport plan.
popular and expensive sport utility vehicles received Consumer
Reports "thumbs down" unacceptable rating because they
flipped or rolled over in emergency maneuvers, say, as one might
encounter during normal driving conditions at 35 mph. Buying
a SUV?...be very wary. Why do you think some SUV's contain
a warning about roll-overs? At least some do--check behind the
- Be particularly
wary of buying so called "sport utility vehicles" (SUVs). Consumers are paying
premium prices and loan costs (interest) for sporty mini-vans,
pick-ups and sport-utility vehicles which seldom are used for
their intended purposes or capacities. These vehicles are in
a special "not-a-car", "not-a-truck" category
which exempts them from many standard sedan safety and bumper
requirements. Some SUV's are reported to be high roll-over or
stability risks. Narrow (side to side) and short (front to back)
wheel based, high center of gravity and top heavy vehicles may
represent a higher instability or roll-over risks, especially
in high speed cornering, evasive maneuvers, or when struck by
another vehicle from the side. Anyone who tells you otherwise
is likely a car dealer or manufacturer.
utility vehicles (SUVs) are notoriously unstable on cornering and subject
to flipping or rolling over. (You paid extra for that...?) The
Federal Government recently caved in to the industry, failing
to require sport utility vehicles be made safer in consideration
of the fact that these vehicles are increasingly used by families.
These vehicles often exceed environmental standards required
for standard sedans which are regulated.
- Beware of
so called All Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicles which many consumers discovered after
purchasing are not warranted for off-road use. All Wheel Drive may
not mean four wheel drive. The Suburu Outback is one such AWD
vehicle which is not a conventional four wheel drive, off-road
vehicle. Some AWD vehicles owners have found out too late that
they have voided their vehicle warranty by driving off-road.
- New traffic
sign: "Caution, Go Slow, Your auto-consumer friendly government
at work again helping auto industry fleece consumers?" Whatever
traffic allows. Until push comes to tow, and consumers demand
better treatment from the industry and their government, consumers
are what's for dinner. Beef: its what's eating us...?
a vehicle's safety history in making purchase decisions. Intellichoice of Campbell,
California offers consumer value ratings based on several consumer
value rating criteria, including: initial price/cost, safety,
gas mileage, maintenance costs, trade-in value, etc. Consider
comparing Intellichoice's recommended buy against your "ideal"
or "gotstahaveits" make and model. Consumers who are
smitten by a particular vehicle or option can develop acting
skills and pretend what they want most is not that important
for the purpose of negotiating the best consumer deal possible.
Practice your "take it or leave it" attitude today
and rehearse it out your local dealer. Learn and rehearse a believable
"flinch" response when the dealer says for the tenth
time that his price is the best he can do.
buying a smaller or more practical vehicle ( do you really need that global blast
furnace or would the smaller global warmer meet your real needs?)
without sacrificing safety and comfort and renting a van or sport
utility vehicle for special occasions and purposes when needed.
Larger more expensive cars are not necessarily safer than smaller
or mid-sized cars. Verify crash test data to determine general vehicle
safety, and remember safety tests do not test for all possible
real world accident situations and conditions. Include safety
factors in your personal pre-car deal inventory checklist and
had an "out of car experience lately?" Demand that your government
reward carlessness and people who are able to find ways to avoid
car ownership or who drive less than the average annual mileage
with tax incentives or advantages as responsible users of private
and public transit. Consider demanding tax incentives for reduced
use of the private automobile, and larger tax breaks for total
carlessness or car-abstinence! Likewise encourage higher taxes
(disincentives) for luxury or high gas usage vehicles and the
a better investment. Instead
of paying $20,000 to $40,000 or more for another car deal mistake,
do yourself a favor and put that 20 to 40 thousand bucks or more
into an interest bearing, socially responsible CD or other responsible
investment for education or retirement or for charity, instead
of rewarding this industry for its traditions of anti-consumer
sloth. The Car Book, by Intellichoice is another publication
available at bookstores or libraries which contains consumer
choice information based on seven consumer value categories for
various makes and models of vehicles. CARveat Emptor! Check your
sources and your sources' sources.
merely accepting a manufacturer's rebate or dealer's incentive
reduced price on new year-old models is really not that great
of a price incentive, deal, or price break. You can and should
do much better than accepting merely the dealer incentive or
manufacturer rebate pricing schemes. If not, walk or fly to another
dealer until you find one that is willing to honor and respect
your service to the industry as a consumer.
planning your new car purchase well in advance of your needs when possible. Postpone
buying as long as you can, but give yourself plenty of time to
leverage (wait out) a deal -- six months (minimum) to a year
or more... be willing to wait -- its the best negotiating chip
a consumer possesses, besides one's two feet. One year old new
cars on the dealer's lot should be a better deal, minus new car
depreciation, rebates and other manufacturer and dealer ding
deductions, of course.
useful life out of your old car as long as possible. Keep your vehicle in good working order
with regular competent maintenance. Be careful here too. Find
a good service mechanic if there is one. Generally, fixing up
an "older" car is less expensive than buying a new
car and making payments and paying interest on a loan for four,
five, six or seven years. Consumers can generally work better
deals through private sales and purchases with other non-dealer
sellers or buyers, although any car deal is potentially problematic
- Target and
practice your negotiating and guerrilla car consumer walking
and flying skills
on a few dealers to
get the feel for the deal again if its been a few years between
purchases or just to sample the salesmanship of the dealership.
You can always buy later, and a "new" year old model
is less expensive than a "new" new model just off the
assembly line -- don't buy the depreciation costs... A new car
is just an old car waiting to happen, waiting to lose its shine
or depreciation value. If you are lucky you won't end up with
an expensively defective "new" car, and you won't get
taken for a ride on warranty or other repair work. If, you are
warranty or guarantee in the world won't protect consumers from
the tricks of the Great American Car Deal, including industry after-deal indifference or
avoidance. Many consumers have discovered after purchasing that
their concerns are ignored or put-off by dealers or manufacturers.
The number one consumer complaint, based on the total number
of consumer complaints filed with consumer protection agencies
and non-profits involves automobile deal and service issues.
Government is supposed to be responsive to such issues, but apparently
your government has been studying the tricks of the Great American
Car Deal in responding to auto consumer issues, and ignoring
it. Make sure your local, state and national representatives
know how your feel about the tricks of the Great American Car
Deal that costs our friends and families tens of billions in
unearned profits and costs every year. Fairness apparently is
too much to ask?
disclosures of all use, users, owners, and defects, damages,
and repairs, IN WRITING, in advance and verify these. Obtain a title search
from your state department of motor vehicles and contact former
owners to verify prior use, mileage and so-forth. Also get a
copy of all repair receipts for any used vehicle purchase before
buying. Check it out!
- The technology
has existed since the invention of the wheel, but apparently due to the automobile
industry's unwavering commitment to customer service, odometers
remain tamperable. Useless headlight wipers, but no tamper-proof
odometers. Now, we're talking real deep customer service.
Try to avoid
being taken or influenced by the new car buzz. Don't go gaga over any
over-priced inanimate shiny thin tin, plastic and glass object,
especially one as expensive and impractical as a car-mobile.
And, keep in mind that its only a car, so don't pay to much and
don't let the dealer trick you on the deal or the product. No
matter how nice or helpful a dealer of salesperson seems to be,
they are really more interested in how much they can get you
to spend on your next car deal, then they are about you as a
consumer, human being, or family provider. Nothing personal,
its just business, just a simple matter of free market economics.
- Test drive
the dealer! Target
& practice your Guerrilla Car Consumer skills on a few dealers
before deciding to deal or buy. Feel out the dealer's sales strategies
and tactics. Listen with a silent but critical ear to the sales
pitches. Do a few dry runs to get in shape and to become more
accustomed to dealing with the dealer and to build up self-confidence
and to sharpen your guerrilla car consumer "walking"
skills. Because most car buyers buy a car only once every several
years its easy to get out of practice and forget just how much
of an ordeal buying a car can be, or how much fun, depending
upon your perspective and dealing skills, knowledge and abilities.
Auto consumers don't have to get taken for a ride every time.
an offer on a vehicle places a consumer at a disadvantage because no one makes
an offer for something they are not interested in having. Expect
the dealer to try to exploit your interest(s) and be particularly
aware of your "emotional investment" in a vehicle model,
price or service, -- disclose as little as possible about yourself
or the things you like about a vehicle, and never, never, never,
ever, tell the dealer or salesperson your budget, how much you
can afford to spend, or how much you can afford for a monthly
payment. Maintain a professional and objective attitude about
cars and dealers and have an alternative vehicle or transportation
alternative to avoid becoming another dealer victim. And learn
ways of exploiting the dealer's need for moving inventory, regardless
of profit. Make your low-ball offer and walk until the dealer
talks. Don't buy more car than you need or want. Try not to become
emotionally involved with an inanimate object. People in love
generally exhibit enlarged eye pupils when viewing the object
of desire. Trained car sales staff may detect changes in a customer
body language to gauge one's interest in a product, price or
service. Develop a healthy and professional consumer disinterest
in the product before negotiating.
car salespeople who have practiced their "craft(iness)"
for years, ten
to fourteen hours a day, seven days a week will be formidable
in manipulating a consumer's focus and concentration toward the dealer's
agenda and away from the consumer's agenda of highest value for
the lowest price. Don't let the dealer lead you to over focus
on any aspect of the product, including price unduly to draw
your attention away from the value and costs of the entire deal.
A common dealer sales trick is to plant sales rhetoric or spin
in the subconscious of the consumer. Keep reminding the dealer
of your value as a consumer, and keep asking whether the dealer
values your business, and if so, why he or she is not more forthcoming
in demonstrating it. If the dealer suggests that he can get more
from another customers, walk and let him.
Be keen to
your consumer orientation and style. Are you a left or right brained consumer?
Do you respond or are you more impressed or manipulated by formal
mathematical or charted-graphed data (left brained) or to feelings
and emotional (warm and fuzzies) pitches and advertisements (Right
brained). The point here is not whether you are left or right
brain focused or oriented, its being aware of the methods of
manipulation and types of sales pitches being used to create
needs and manipulate wants in your conscious and sub-conscious
mind. Its easy to remember this, its just the opposite from what
you might expect it to be based on left and right political perspectives.
Here the left hemisphere of the brain governs the more linear
and critical thinking functions, and the right hemisphere governs
the emotional or feelings functions. Actually, when you think
about it, the Republicans, being more reactionary, are really
more emotional, merely appearing to be more logically rational...such
is life, politics and car deals, just when you think you've got
it figured, someone comes along and explains things...er...adds
on forgotten items and misc., additional "remembered extras
and charges... (:-), oh yeah, that'll be $??.??? for the bumper
and the brakes. Did you want an engine with that...? Fries...?
- Specify that
you are (if you are) negotiating for a complete, new and defect-free
as if this is not stated (and even in some cases when it is--be
car-ful) dealers may assume that a slightly defective car passed
off as new and defect free may be permissible (hey, there's no
law against it), or things like gasoline, bumpers, trim or other
items may be removed between test drive and drive off. (Say,
Mr., Mrs., or Ms. Dealer, does the deal include the engine and
tires, or are they optional on this deal?).
for the average consumer is a life-long experience of several
cumulative expensive mistakes, er...purchases, over fifty or sixty years depending
on personal longevity and when one begins owning cars. At best
car consumers likely will purchase a new or used car every ten
years after the age of twenty (actually every six to eight years
on average). This adds up to potentially seven or eight cars
or more over a lifetime on average. The lifetime costs of car
ownership and operation is considerable,-- over a $100,000 including
indirect but associated costs of car ownership and use. How
much of your tax dollars support the national, state and local
system of highways? The real per gallon cost of gasoline is closer
to $8 or $9 when the costs of maintaining the US Navy and Air
Force in the Gulf for cheap crude is calculated.
- Also, be
keen to your interpersonal or consuming style. Are you assertive (not
necessarily aggressive) with others or are you passive-aggressive,
or what is known as "other people oriented", which
means simply that you often agree with others and derive your
world view and general demeanor or life focus from others rather
than from inside, from yourself? Assertive people tend be less
likely to be taken advantage of by dealers or others, but even
assertive people can be tricked by savvy car dealering. Yes,
Mr. Macho car buyer, you've been cheated on car deals before,
even if you were not aware of it. "Other people oriented"
people are at greater risk of being taken for the Great American
Car Deal Ride.
Being aware of your interpersonal style should help you adapt
to the degree necessary to avoid being manipulated in a car deal
or lease. Studying negotiating strategies and textbooks is a
good place to begin assertivizing your interpersonal style. Its
worth the effort and time, and will pay dividends in other areas
of your life as well as car dealing. Prioritize this, and drop
by your library and pick up a book or two on the subject of negotiating
soon. An introductory textbook on psychology may also be helpful.
Be assured that auto manufacturer advertising agencies have a
psychologist on retainer to tweak advertising content to push
the inner buttons of your psyche. We're not just talking apples
and oranges here. We're talking the many differences between
granny smiths and golden deliciouses.
- It was recently
reported by the San Francisco Chronicle in a story about the
costs of development and growth, that the average California automobile commuter
spent one of every five dollars ($5 : $1 ) of their incomes on
car ownership. One in five dollars
over a lifetime is a hefty piece of change! 20%.
that the total annual average costs of owning and operating an
automobile is estimated at $7,000. ($7,000 x 60 years = $420,000). Multiply
this times the number of years you will own and operate a vehicle
for an estimate of your lifetime automobile bill. Add in all
of your personal, property, income and sales taxes that support
the oil, tire, and other auto-related industries, and perhaps
you will agree that the automobile "choice" is excessively
expensive compared with public transit and other automobile alternatives.
developing (just do it) a life-long car consumer strategy and
demeanor. If you are going to
buy and use cars, have car ownership and purchasing built into
the organization, budgeting, and planning of your life. And make
your government protect the health and welfare of the marketplace
by policing up unfair, manipulative and fraudulent auto sales
and service practices in the automobile industry. Do this now,
and keep doing it until your government works for you. You've
helped the auto industry pay for laws that protect the industry,
now its time to ask the industry on your next new car deal to
help you buy a piece of your government back.
a car deal file, folder or binder or repository ready to receive
clippings, stories or notes about cars, car deals, and car industry
things. Keep a separate file for car deal and maintenance receipts.
The customary car owner will buy five or six or more vehicles
over a life time (assuming no major changes in personal transportation
- Record past
consumer mistakes and dealer tricks that worked or backfired (write them
down and file them in your car-file. Share these with family
and friends, neighbors and enemies. The Great American Car Deal
is a team sport. Clip and save newspaper reports (usually buried
in the business section, if printed at all) of consumer related
automobile industry issues. Refer back to this file when planning
any future new or used car purchase. Share this information with
friends and family. Most car consumers hold their noses, end
up paying too much and getting the agony over with as soon as
possible, only to have to endure the experience again in several
years without growing from the process or doing anything to improve
it. Try something that works.
making a car deal checklist during any car purchase pre-planning and make sure the dealer
provides all of the pre-deal information you need and request
in a form and content that is useful and meaningful to you as
a consumer. Make sure that any information the dealer or manufacturer
presents is of value to you. Fluffy sales brochures do not help
consumers make objective purchasing decisions. And they are not
intended to do so.
car ownership and purchases to be a life-long process of learning
and mastery. Make the necessary commitment
to improve your skills, knowledge and abilities and to support
worthy consumer protection organizations, agencies and efforts.
Consumer protection is good for capitalism and is a non-partisan
issue,-- even some conservatives enjoy a good fair deal, and
resent being cheated on price or quality. Not every Republican
believes that cheating auto consumers is a Constitutional right
or Darwinian entitlement.
negatives and positives about a particular model based on your
personal consumer criteria and transportation needs. Such criteria
might include (·) dealer demeanor and helpfulness (go
for substance here, and avoid the puffery or the faked sincerity),
(·) voluntary provision of useful consumer information
with objective comparisons between a vehicle and its competitor,
(·) total price clearly identified and itemized, in full
out the door, (·) customer satisfaction rating by an independent
rating service such as J.D. Powers, and Associates, or Consumer
Reports, (·) maintenance track record as independently
rated, (·) warranty period and coverage (read it) they
very considerably, (·) fuel mileage (your mileage will
vary considerably), (·) tire brand and ratings, (·)
extra freebies, (·) size of spare tire, (·) free
warranty period service maintenance, (·) gas tank design
and placement, (·) bumper ratings, design, and composition
materials (reshapeable or brittle plastic over reinforcement
or not reinforced) (·) etc. Intellichoice, Campbell,
California (Call information for listing) provides vehicle
rankings based on seven or more consumer value categories. IntelliChoice
publishes car consumer materials which may be available at your
library or local bookstore. Look for, "The Car Book",
- If you cannot
read or understand any materials provided by the dealer or manufacturer,
consider it worthless. Before talking price, make sure the dealer
is willing to provide you with all the information in a form,
context and content useful to you in making an informed purchase
comparison and decision. Make the dealer and the manufacturer
earn and respect your business. Bring your hoops with you to
the dealer and keep them hopping.
If the loan
holder is the manufacturer, consider the possibilities of leveraging a resolution
if necessary, by possibly withholding payments until legitimate
grievances are addressed satisfactorily. Some consumers have
found that when almost everything else has failed, withholding
payment brings the lien holder around in such cases. Caution,
defaulted loans may be foreclosed.
- Report all car deal problems
to your loan holder,
(in addition to the Better Business Bureau, and local and state
consumer protection agencies). County District Attorneys are
perhaps the best place to report fraud or unfair, manipulative
auto sales and service practices. Consider consulting with an
auto deal issues lawyer for possible legal assistance on a contingency
basis. They are sometimes listed under Attorneys as "Dealer
Fraud" or "Lemon Law" specialists. Or try: http://www.freeadvice.com
unfair, and manipulative sales and service practices to your local District
Attorney, Consumer Affairs Office and State Attorney General's
- Before taking
out a loan,
demand to see a copy of the bank's or lender's published consumer
protection policies, and any agreements that the bank or lender
has with dealers to protect consumers from unfair, manipulative
and fraudulent sales and service practices. If the bank or loan
company has no such policy or agreements, consider finding one
or renewing a subscription to your local newspaper or national magazines,
consider requesting of the editors a copy of their published
policy on consumer relations as they relate to automobile industry
advertisers. Demand that newspapers contract with auto industry
advertisers using agreements that respect and protect consumers
from sham practices and commit the industry meaningfully to fairness
in sales and service practices and support and sponsorship of
Fair Car Sales and Service Practices consumer protection laws
including: training, testing, monitoring and effective enforcement.
Many newspapers merely accept without question or care that dealers
and manufacturers adhere to substandard and watered-down advertising
disclosure laws when and if they exist. This is not enough. Demand
more, demand better.
- Report car dealer and
manufacturer problems and issues
to the editors of your local or regional newspapers
where the dealer or manufacturer advertises. Request the editor's
or publisher's assistance in resolving legitimate deal or quality
grievances, as the newspaper and loan-lien holder benefit from
the advertising business of the dealer and the manufacturer.
Request that editors balance industry and business reportage
with consumer reportage, including an independent section on
consumer protection is good for business, and is a non-partisan lifetime T E A
M sport. Lying, cheating and stealing are not family, Christian,
conservative or liberal values. Make your government help keep
the auto industry honest. Even baseball has rules and requires
- Demand fairness
in car sales and service practices from your newspaper where the auto industry
Newspapers can handle this contractually with their auto industry
advertising clients and by agreement can help protect consumers
from sham sales and service practices including misleading advertising.
newspaper editors balance their automobile industry reportage
and support with realistic consumer reportage and supportive
Ask that editors screen and enter into enforceable consumer
oriented and supportive agreements with their automobile industry
advertisers to help police the industry of sham practices and
practitioners. Ask that editors shun advertising from dealers
and manufacturers for a reasonable time period after any sanctioning
actions have been taken by consumer protection agencies against
the dealers or manufacturers for unfair, manipulative or fraudulent
sales and service practices. The price of cars include a hefty
hidden charge for advertising, and in many cases dealers and
manufacturers have charged consumers twice of more for the costs
of so-called regional advertising which was already included
in the manufacturer's invoice price to the dealer. Make sure
you get your money's worth by demanding that newspapers help
police the auto industry on your behalf - since you're paying
- When you demand
FAIR CAR SALES AND SERVICE consumer protection legislation
from your local, state and federal representatives, send-mail,
fax or e-mail a copy to the editor of your local or regional
newspapers and request the editor's editorial support for meaningful
consumer protection measures to help police this industry of
its traditions of inflationary and sleazy treatment of consumers.
Remind the newspaper that auto sales and service are the number
one consumer complaint, and ask what they've done about it recently.
Demand that they do more.
your newspaper subscription or renewal on the publisher and editor taking positive
affirmative and publicized steps to protect consumers (our friends
and families) from unfair, manipulative and fraudulent car sales
and service practices which the newspapers profit from directly
or indirectly through advertising fees. When your newspaper prints
its traditional "ten reasons to buy from a factory authorized
auto dealer," ask them to balance this with consumer supportive
editorials and stories.
- The following
note is included in the classifieds section of the San Francisco
Examiner and Chronicle under #455 - Massage / Spas: 'The San Francisco Examiner
& the San Francisco Chronicle make every effort to ensure that
our MASSAGE/SPAS classification contains only legitimate advertisers
who adhere to strictly professional standards of conduct. If
you encounter a violation of this policy, we encourage you to
call our representative......All responses will be held in strictest
of confidence'. Unfortunately, apparently the Chronicle and Examiner
are more concerned about their MASSAGE/SPAS readers getting rubbed
the wrong way than they are about their AUTO classified readers
being taken for a ride, as no such cautionary note or complaint
solicitation is printed in any of its AUTOMOTIVE classified advertising.
get rubbed the wrong way by your auto dealer or service shop, drop your newspaper
editor and publisher a note accordingly and demand that they
police up their automotive classified advertising clients.
protection is a safe sex team sport -- everyone needs to work
together to keep this industry from screwing us one customer
at a time. Even baseball has rules and requires umpires. Why
not automobile sales and service?
Keep a tally
of industry supportive vs. meaningful consumer supportive reportage and editorials in your newspaper. When
was the last time your newspaper took on this industry by news
reports or editorials in a meaningful and productive way
to help protect consumers from sham in the auto industry?
- Demand that
your newspaper editor not cave in to the industry's bullying
retaliating against newspapers that take strong consumer supportive
editorials and reportage (see "Case(s) Against The Industry).
Request your editor support consumers regularly in his or her
Fluffy perfunctory rehashing of news wire stories don't count.
When was the last time your editor challenged the auto industry
to police itself of its shabbier side and act pro-actively and
comprehensively to clean up its public image and reputation?
When was the last time your newspaper or magazine editor printed
"10 good ways not to be taken for a ride by your factory
authorized car dealer," or printed a warning about "unprofessional"
auto sales and service practices on their Auto Classifieds pages?
Trick s of the Auto Deal?
When was the last time your editor suggested that consumer protection
in auto sales and service is good for business and for commerce?
There is no Constitutional right to cheat customers on auto deals...!
It is unrealistic to expect average consumers to be mechanically
and business savvy enough to protect themselves from "professional"
auto deal and service cheats. Moreover, auto buying and selling
is not a test of survival of the fittest or of Darwin's theories
of natural selection. Its a matter of demanding to be treated
fairly by those wielding the truncheon of the corporate privilege.
If you cannot organize and plan your life to include carlessness,
bring God, a prayer, and know the tricks.
When was the
last time you did anything about sham factors in auto sales and
service practices? Are you part of the car deal problem or part
of the car deal repair plan advantage? What are you waiting for?
If you wait until you buy or lease another car, it likely will
be too late, although better late than never.
comparative costs and possible benefits of having your new vehicle
serviced by a dependable and trusted independent service mechanic
or shop after the dealer has done all of the manufacturer covered
warranty services and maintenance. Consider whether the manufacturer
permits independent mechanics to perform warranty maintenance
as a condition of dealing or purchasing from the manufacturer.
Inquire of the manufacturer's policy in permitting independent
repair shops access to manufacturer's repair and service manuals
and information. Some manufacturers are considering restricting
the availability of vehicle servicing information only to factory
authorized dealers. Consider whether this practice represents
another perversion of the auto industry's idea of customer service?
- After dinging
the manufacturer and the dealer by negotiating the dealer's and the manufacturer's
profits on all new car deals, consider smiling politely, maintaining
friendly eye contact, shaking hands firmly and courteously mentioning
the superior negotiating and dealing skills of the dealership
salespersons. And politely tell the salesperson not to tell anyone
about the bad deal you got.
- Before buying,
check with the Clerk of your County Court to verify small claims, bankruptcies and other
formal legal claims against the dealer or manufacturer. A review
of such cases may forewarn of potential problems and previous
consumer issues. Avoid rewarding bad businesses.
dealing information from several sources before developing a strategy tailored
to your personal situation. Avoid relying on any single source
or criteria in making a purchasing decision.
Keep in mind
that the primary and biggest mistake in car dealing is buying
a car. The
second mistake is settling on price too early and not getting
absolutely the best price (watch out for dealer responsible pre-sale
defects or hidden damage or repairs on all new car deals, especially
negotiated profit deals). Even BMW cheated its customers on repainted
Beemers, failing to disclose the fact that some of its "new"
vehicles required repainting due to finish defects caused in
transporting the vehicles to its US dealers.
- Refer to
consumer advice materials and advice (of which there are many sources at
your public library or bookstores) along with your own personal
car dealing skills, knowledge, abilities and experiences in fashioning
the best car deal strategy for your personal circumstances. Expect
the dealer of sales staff to politely and professionally bamboozle
you about the facts and figures (real issues) to consider in
making informed auto consumer decisions.
for dried out, water-logged vehicles shipped in from flooded
or storm damaged areas.
The auto industry often swaps inventory with other dealers and
distributors by transporting locally damaged stock or tainted
goods ("stock churning") to other areas after major
natural disasters. Often these vehicles have been under water
or otherwise damaged and repaired without proper disclosures
about their prior use, condition or repair records. Do the "smell
test" to make sure that water damage has not been covered
up with that new car smell or perfumed in other ways. Just
another clever dealer trick to be aware of and to avoid, brought
to you by Shyster & Swindle Motors, Inc., Potentially Anytown,
- Keep track of
changes in the marketplace, the rate of inflation and the increase from year
to year of car prices, and adjust your strategies, negotiating
tactics and final offers accordingly. Keep track of the annual
inflation rate and try to hold any auto price increases to this
rate or less,-- less your negotiated fair dealer and manufacturer
profit price, of course.
consumers may be their own worst adversary when it comes to car
deals and consumer protection issues. What have you done lately
to improve consumer protections in the auto industry?
When was the
last time you wrote a letter to your county commissioner or supervisor,
your city mayor, or state or national representatives demanding
FAIR CAR SALES AND SERVICE PRACTICES laws to protect consumers
from the traditions of sham and unfair, manipulative sales and
service practices and fraud in the auto sales and service industry?
typically complain, hold their noses and get ripped-off time and again, often unknowingly,
without taking the action necessary to bring this industry to
task for its shortcomings. Don't wait for the industry to do
anything substantive in this regard, except perhaps the smarmy
advertisements of late which claim that pricing and haggling
are consumers' main concern in buying vehicles. Price is one
thing, and a valid consumer concern, but cheating on quality,
warranty, and hidden or undisclosed defects or damage repairs
are far more likely to be of bigger concerns and costs to consumers,
and for good reason. Trickery and sham follows a close second
if not first in consumer concerns overall.
have passively accepted the current state of affairs in the automobile marketplace,
without asserting necessary and legitimate consumer pressures
on pricing, quality, or customer service and without demanding
governmental intervention where it is obviously needed. Consumers
have permitted its government to pander to and to protect the
auto industry at every turn.
(mileage) fraud in used car sales is estimated to cost consumers
$10 billion annually,
approximately $3000 per vehicle. Beware of low mileage cars with
new brake peddle covers. Have the title researched (State DMV)
and have the vehicle evaluated by an independent service mechanic.
no tamper-proof odometers after all these years? Engine clocks
you say? What next, tamper-proof engine clocks too. Hey, anything
for our beloved customers.
- There may
be other industries with similarly odious and unsavory histories, but the automobile industry stands out
among industries with public personas and reputations for tricking
the public as a traditionally expected and accepted practice.
Many costly and effective unfair and manipulative practices are
not prohibited by law, so it becomes a situation pitting the
relatively novice and easily manipulated customer against the
"professional" car dealer.
Therefore consumers need to improve and exert not only their
best consuming skills, knowledge and abilities, but also to demand
that government step in and help clean up the shabbier side of
this industry, which has been estimated to cost our friends and
families 22 billion dollars a year from fraud alone, not including
the costs of unfair and manipulative sales and service practices
that fall above the technical threshold of legally actionable
fraud, and without factoring in the real consumer costs of industry
sales and service incompetence. A billion here and a billion
there, and soon we're talking real money, real money that could
be put to better use than fattening the bloated and undeserving
coffers of the automobile industry.
are in the market for a Bentley, Rolls Royce or a Hyundai or
Yugo; whether you are a Michael Jackson, a Bill Gates, Ross Perot,
Bill Cosby or a Mr., Mrs. or Ms. J. Q. Consumer, you owe it to
yourself, your family, friends and others to pay not one dime
more than the true value plus a reasonable profit to the dealer and the
manufacturer for any make or model of vehicle, with the possible
exception of some historic, antique, or classic vehicles, a status
of which few new makes or models will ever achieve .
- But don't
let us talk you into or out of anything here,-- feel free to
pay too much for your next new car or to get ripped-off on quality
too, if you like (its a free country and free market economy,
Leave a big tip if you like, too. But if you do, you risk assisting
and rewarding this industry for the many tricks it has played
on our friends and families over the decades, and in inflating
prices, needlessly making it more difficult for consumers less
able or more sensitive to or sensible about price in acquiring
not giving it away foolishly or rewarding sloth, arrogance and
deceit in the automobile industry. But, also remember, its a
free country, dealers are free to ask for the moon, try to make
you believe they or their products are worth it, and you are
free to go along for the ride or you are free to profit from
the value of your business as a consumer in the Consumer Driven
Car Deal, in our so called consumer driven economy.
If a dealer
and manufacturer are unwilling or unable to provide you with full and detailed
background information on pricing, consider not dealing with
the dealer or manufacturer and dealing with dealers and manufacturers that
can and do provide you with helpful information with or without
a sincere smile. When enough consumers muster the skeletal and
gray matter to stand up to this industry, these customer value-added
services will become voluntary, standard, and automatic. Tell
the dealer and the manufacturer that you need this information
to make an informed purchasing decision and comparison, and don't
deal until they provide it to you in a form, context and content
useful to you as a consumer.
- How much
is five minutes of often sloppy dealer paperwork after hours
of haggling worth anyway? Save as much as possible on your next new or used
car purchase (you save the most on the no-deal deal strategy)
and put it to better use for better social or personal endeavors.
Invest it for your retirement or for your children's education
or future, or donate it to worthy social or consumer charities.
itemization of the unit costs, including basic costs for making the
vehicle and the total profit and other costs of materials and
services built into the price of vehicle (completely itemized)
should be standard industry disclosures and might look like and
include the following:
- Production costs,
including materials and assembly labor (fully itemized and certified)
costs, including management and shareholder payouts (fully itemized
costs (don't pay advertising costs if possible, just deduct it
from your final offer, unless perhaps in the unlikely event you
were served directly by the advertising in making your purchase
- Warranty costs
- Past litigation
costs (list these) ( it has been reported that lawyer fees add
as much or more than $500 to the cost of each automobile on balance).
(This is another value-subtracted cost to avoid paying if possible
- ding, ding ding-the dealer)
- Debt service
- New car depreciation
costs (and method and period of calculation)
- Hold back for
dealer (dealer profit built into the manufacturer's invoice price
to the dealer for the vehicle) this is usually concealed on the
mfr.'s invoice in code
- Sales incentive
program fees or costs (usually offered by the manufacturer to
- Rebate program
costs (usually offered by the dealer to the consumer)
- Dealer profit
- Executive salaries,
golden handshakes, and pensions and retirement costs
- Corporate pension
- Estimated average
annual and "life of car" consumer purchase and operating
costs (including basis of calculation)
- Liability litigation
- Political contributions
- Etc. (add your
criteria and information you would like to have here)
treat consumers like numbers, running down their list of deal milking tricks
and statistically successful deal ploys, ruses, and representations
on every customer, so return the favor and treat all dealers
like numbers in return, always respectfully of course. Ding each
and every dealer equally -- nothing personal -- just business!
- Make sure
the itemized disclosure of vehicle costs is fully certified as
truthful and accurate by a licensed certified public accounting
firm of national
"Distrust and verify" may be the best personal policy
in dealing for cars and gathering information from the industry.
Unfortunately car dealing has not evolved much since the days
of shady horse and buggy trading. Beware the horse dealer with
one species of horse, and do not be surprised to learn from this
dealer that his only horse is just the right horse for you. Beware
the heavy dose of dealer B.S. factor.
documentation and backup of all sales representations. The automobile industry
may argue that this is unfair and that detailed pricing information
is "proprietary" information which the consumer is
not entitled to possess. From a guerrilla car consumer's perspective,
that is the dealer's and manufacturer's problem. Actually, since
only Ford Motors makes Taurus's, sharing its vehicle unit costs
hardly jeopardizes Ford's legitimate proprietary information,
because no one but Ford can make the Taurus. But, it gives consumers
another piece of useful consumer information on which to base
a major purchase decision. It permits consumers to compare production
and profit costs of various companies and vehicle models as a
legitimate consumer service. If Taurus's for example, are made
better, more cheaply, with smaller profits than another make
or model of vehicle, why wouldn't a car maker volunteer this
information without being asked, and prove it with full certified
- Verify all
representations and information to the extent possible, including merely sharing
the information with family and friends for constructive and
supportive feedback. Never buy a car on the first date (visit)
to a dealership, as this sends the wrong message and sets the
wrong consumer to dealer relationship and demeanor. Do your homework
and wait out the dealer on price. Control the deal.
itemized disclosures of production costs in hand, consumers can help monitor
and reward efficiency and other marketplace and social values
in the system through consumer purchases. Expect a lame answer
from the industry until consumers force a manufacturer out in
the open on the issue. The others will follow when such disclosures
become a routinely recognized and expected consumer service.
Expect it, demand it, get it.
will resist and
argue that consumers don't request this information for toothpaste
and therefore are not entitled to it for automobiles. Expect
the resistance and resist back. The logical answer here is that
consumers should request the same information for toothpaste
and other products. Don't forget too, that automobile prices
are significantly higher than tooth paste, even when calculated
over a lifetime of car and toothpaste purchases. Another factor
to consider is that toothpaste is essentially tooth paste, and
toothpaste manufacturers can compete head to head with other
toothpaste manufacturers on materials and ingredients, whereas
auto manufacturers enjoy trademark monopolies on make and model
of vehicles they sell, effectively eliminating head to head pricing
Let us know if you ever hear about anyone buying toothpaste
using the services of a broker to avoid having to deal directly
with the retailer. And let us know if you find a shelf full of
books at your library or bookstore on how to avoid getting ripped-off
by your local toothpaste or toaster dealer.
buy broken-in industry arguments for hiding its inefficiencies and profit
creep in auto pricing and dealing. Manufacturers and dealers
are posting record profits at the expense of our friends and
families. Negotiate everything. Yes, negotiate the price of toothpaste,
too. The longer it stays on the shelf, the more likely the price
will come down, or at least that's the way the marketplace is
rumored to work under academic supply & demand models. Toasters
and toothpaste you can take back for a refund if they prove unsatisfactory,
but automobiles as currently marketed are for life.
between toothpaste and automobile purchases:
1. Buying toothpaste does not require an expensive four or five
2. No confusing "fine print" contract required for
3. Toothpaste costs less. (!!!)
4. Toothpaste can be returned and replaced or refunded, no questions
5. Lemon flavored toothpaste is sweet, not sour.
6. With toothpaste, complete customer satisfaction is guaranteed
or your money back.
- Pricing is
one of the most important factors affecting consumer demand, and it is manipulated by manufacturers,
suppliers, distributors, and dealers, yet consumers walk around
blind to important pricing factors, merely comparing incomplete
retail prices between similar or different products or brands.
Don't buy it. Demand useful and detailed background pricing information.
We live in a consumer driven economy, so jump into the driver's
seat of the consumer driven car deal! Drive a hard bargain.
Don't buy until the manufacturer and dealer jump through
your hoops and provide you the information you need in order
to make an informed pricing and quality purchasing decision.
DON'T LET THE AUTO INDUSTRY DEFINE CUSTOMER SERVICE AND SATISFACTION
FOR YOU... Don't be sold on any deal. Be a shopper. Do the buying.
Its your job as a consumer. Beware of the dealer sell-up. Buy
only what you want and what you can afford. Repossession of vehicles
is big business on the take.
Keep a separate
file, folder, envelope, box or binder of car deal materials,
stories, articles, good deal tips, past mistakes, and other related
Clip car industry and sales stories from your local newspaper
and keep them for future reference.
- Make your
government respect your consumership in the new consumer driven economy with
tax breaks and write offs similar to those enjoyed by big business.
After all, you can consume more if you are taxed less, right?
How about 100% write offs for all personal medical and the increasing
costs of living (cost of business) under increasingly unregulated
anti-social and anti-personal capitalism. You cannot work and
earn money to pay excessive prices in the newly free traded and
globalized economy if you are sick or unless you eat and recreate
regularly. Businesses write off three martini lunches, but consumers
cannot write off basic costs of living... Democracy, what good
is it if only a minority get to use it and benefit from it?
the value of your business-- the value of your consumer ship, your value
as a consumer.
If the dealer respects you as a consumer and values your business,
he or she will provide you with the information and service you
require in exchange for the value of your consumer ship -- your
business, your service. Hey, its a consumer's economy, right?
However do not permit the dealer to leverage, guilt-trip or coerce
concessions in price, quality or product merely because he or
she may have provided you with materials you have reasonably
requested. If the dealer is unable or unwilling to provide you
with the materials and information you require to make an informed
consumer decision, then he or she does not value your consumership,
and you should take your business elsewhere where it is valued.
negative reportage and manufacturer and dealer reputations when rewarding car makers
and dealers with your business. Consider reviewing the public court records
at your City or County (call ahead for directions) Clerks office
to determine issues raised by other consumers in small-claims,
superior or district court actions against the manufacturer and
dealer in your area before dealing and especially before closing
any deal. Certify for yourself the worthiness of the dealer and
manufacturer for the courtesy and reward of your business--the
value of your consumership. Buy only from consumer responsive
dealers and manufacturers.
Do the Math.
Add up the
automobile ownership costs for a year of driving and for the running life
of your car, and for your lifetime of car ownership: 50, 60,
70, 80, 100 years?
figure" your car ownership costs: (Compare this with the manufacturers'
estimate, if available and obtainable)
same for your LIFETIME of car ownership and operating costs. Include insurance,
license and registration, depreciation (cost of car minus trade-in-value,
divided by years of ownership) and finance charge, if any. How
much of your state and federal income and local property and
sales taxes go to pay for highway and road construction and maintenance?
You can easily
calculate your lifetime of automobile ownership costs by using
the standard federal car use reimbursement figure of between
$0.28 and $0.35 per mile for reimbursable personal vehicle use.
This figure is an average figure. Double this figure and you
begin to approach the real costs of car ownership and operations
with the costs of unfair, manipulative and fraudulent sales and
service practices added in. Report No. FHWA-PL-92-019 from US Dept.
of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Office of
Highway Information Management, Washington, DC 20590 gives the
"Costs of Owning & Operating Automobiles, Vans and Light
If you drive 20,000 miles a year its going to cost you approximately
$7,000.00 per year, including wear and tear (depreciation), gas,
insurance, debt service, maintenance, etc. If you own a car for
60 years its going to cost you approximately $420,000 (based
on current calculations of standard government per diem reimbursement
rates for mileage). As time passes, actual costs will be more,
significantly more than the median priced American home. Note
that this cost factor does not factor in the actual wear and
tear and full mileage costs for operation and ownership of an
automobile which is considerably more. Its is nearly twice the
cost of median priced American homes. This cost does not include
such economic externalities such as the costs of environmental
pollution and other indirect costs of subsidizing the Great American
Car Deal. These costs have been estimated variously to be from
$5.15 to $15 per gallon of gasoline. Compare this to the pump
price which does not reflect the full subsidized price of gasoline
or automobile ownership and operation.
Parade Magazine (Jan. 26, 1977) reported that a Wisconsin based
consulting firm, Runzheimer International, calculated the upkeep
on the 1997 Mercedes 320S at $18,212 a year to operate. These
(after purchase) costs were based on annual total fuel,
oil, maintenance, tires, insurance, depreciation, financing,
taxes and licensing costs. Runzheimer International reported
calculated the following annual "operating" costs
(keep in mind these cost do not include indirect economic
costs associated with the automobile in the environment):
- Cadillac DeVille
- Lincoln Town
Car Executive ($14,222),
- Oldsmobile Aurora
- Buick Riviera
- Ford Crown Victoria
- Buick LeSabre
Thus, a lifetime
of Buick LeSabre Ltd. operating costs could add up to $581,900,
assuming a 55 year automobile ownership lifetime (not including
purchase price at X-year intervals). Your costs may vary, of
course. Oh, and a 55 year automobile lifetime of ownership for
the Mercedes 320S (at 1997 prices -- [factor in a 3%/year inflation
rate]) would be $1,001,660. But, what's a million between friends?
With interest and inflation compounding over sixty years, a considerable
So, why isn't the Great American Car Deal regulated with
minimum education and training requirements, testing, and licensing
of dealers and mechanics like or similar to the way we regulate
real estate agents? Because your government hasn't gotten
your consumer message, or is ignoring it!
Using these calculations, if you drive 15,000 miles a year and
own cars for 60 years at today's figures, say for $0.28 per mile
of reimbursable private vehicle use costs, your consumer costs
would be $252,000, again significantly more (nearly twice as
much) than the median price of the American home (recently reported
to be ($149,000). Actual costs, factoring in the real costs
of ownership and operation including the inflationary influences
of fraud, waste and abuse, is considerably more than these figures
Oh yeah, keep in mind that at least and likely much more than
$256 billion of your tax dollars over the next five years
will be given away as corporate welfare to profitable corporations
- Archer Daniels
- McDonalds (to
advertise its products overseas).
- Gallo Winery
(to advertise their wines overseas).
- Plush Colorado
- Georgia Pacific
- Walt Disney
- Martin Marietta
- Mining Industry
- National Meat
- Energy and Petrochemical
- and many more...(Thanks
for your contributions).
Because your government hasn't gotten your consumer message,
or is ignoring it! Are you getting your money's worth? Some of
us are, why aren't you? How long are you going to permit
your "representative" government to give away your
money to profitable corporate slouches like Archer Daniels Midland
(ADM), to help it pay its fines for fixing prices for which it
recently was found guilty.
Is it worth
Add up all
costs for operating your car per year, length of ownership and
longevity of vehicle.
estimate them by taking the costs for a month and multiplying
twelve to give you the yearly costs, but actual costs over the
chosen time period is more accurate. Include gas, oil, tickets,
tolls and parking, maintenance costs, car washes and other car
related costs. All of them. Do this manually or if you have Quicken
or other money and finance managing programs, set up a separate
"car costs" account to track your overall car costs
for future comparison and reference.
figure" your car operating costs:
(Compare this with the manufacturers'' estimate, if available).
information for reference and comparison. You may not be able to calculate these
costs because you don't have complete records, but this is a
good time to begin keeping all your car related records for future
reference. These records may help you in documenting repair work
and in selling your car when the time comes anyway.
- Is it worth
your total Lifetime per mileage cost of car ownership and operation?
Is it worth it? Would better and more efficient public transportation
serve your needs more economically. Can you reduce your per mileage
personal transportation costs by changing your car ownership
or car use habits and patterns? Not driving is the best deal.
Driving during non-peak traffic conditions is more efficient
than commute driving. Grouping chores or errands requiring vehicle
use is also a way of reducing overall per mileage car ownership
and operation costs.
requesting a copy of the manufacturer's franchise licensing agreement between the dealer and
manufacturer before purchasing from a dealer. Expect resistance, whole
trunk spaces full here, too. Also consider requesting a copy
of the industry's policy on sanctioning and policing tricky dealers
and unfair, manipulative and fraudulent sales and service practices.
If the dealer requests its salespersons to sign truth statements,
request copies of these in advance of dealing too, and remember
to ask why these statements are required by the dealership. Expect
resistance, be firm. If these documents are not available, why
not, doesn't the dealership respect its customers or provide
minimally satisfactory customer service?
requesting that vehicle manufacturers provide written projections
of the total
cost per mile of ownership and operation of each of its vehicles
(your total cost / mile may vary), and request the manufacturer's failure
rate projections for the model of vehicle you are considering
buying and factor this into your purchasing and final offer decisions.
Manufacturers have risk assessment specialists on staff to calculate
lemon and failure rates to determine how much to ding the consumer
per vehicle to cover these anticipated costs. This failure rate
is calculated into the cost of all new vehicles. This includes
the manufacturer's costs for warranty work and replacement of
lemons. There is no good reason why, in the name of genuine customer
service, that the manufacturer should not be willing to provide
this information without request, so ask anyway. Consider not
dealing until you receive all necessary disclosures and information
in a clear and concise and useful form and content. If there
was true competition in automobile markets manufacturers would
be competing more obviously in providing consumers with value-added
information and consumer services. Instead buying a car is a
potential risky business.
avoiding dealing until all documentation has been received in advance and reviewed completely
away from the dealership. Make this a standard practice until
dealers and manufacturers build this into their customer service
and sales practices. Obtaining the dealers home phone, address
and credit information is more easily leveraged prior to a purchase.
should require of the manufacturer and dealer the same information
of the dealer and manufacturer that is required of the consumer
in the transaction. This sets the proper tone and demeanor between
consumer and dealer and consumer and manufacturer. It puts the
consumer in the driver's seat of the Great American Car Deal
where we belong. Standard loan or employee application forms
may be obtained at your local stationers or business supply store.
Tailor the standard information to meet your personal needs for
obtaining necessary credit and address and phone number information
from dealer and manufacturer staff. Having the home phone numbers
of the dealer's and manufacturer' customer service representative
manager may help in resolving after-sale quality and warranty
issues. Make sure you are not being sandbagged with a phone number
to a business office or answering machine. Check for a published
direct and active listing of the owner(s) of the dealership and
for the president, sales manager, and customer service manager
of the dealership in the area of location of the dealership,
and of the manufacturer in the directory or from directory assistance
in the area of location of the manufacturer's national headquarters.
No published home phone number for the dealer or manufacturer?
Why not? Its much easier to give customers the brush off when
you don't have to deal with them directly, and what are dealer's
Does Your Auto
Dealer or Manufacturer Support FAIR Car Sales and Services Practices
Legislation? Find out, and get it in writing.
forwarding a photocopy of the dealer's letter to your state and
national representatives along with your personal letter requesting
Obtain a copy of similar letters from the manufacturer if possible
before buying too. Perhaps the manufacturer will volunteer a
list of all consumer protection laws, programs and policies it
has supported and sponsored.
- Request and
obtain a copy of the dealer's letter to its state and national
legislative representatives outlining the dealership's support and sponsorship
of local, state and national "Fair Car Sales and Services
Practices" legislation to protect consumers from unfair,
manipulative and fraudulent sales and service practices in the
industry. Look for this to be displayed conspicuously on the
dealership's "salesperson of the month" motivation
plaque display wall. Consider not buying until the dealer provides
you with a copy of such a letter and you are satisfied with its
contents and that it has been forwarded for action by the dealer's
bumper rating sticker on new vehicles...? No deal...!!!" (2.5 miles per hour rating-- you call
that a bumper?) Hell no, no bumper, no deal! (Pick-ups are often
yet sold without bumpers, although they likely will be presented
for test driving fitted with one and removed between test drive
and drive-off, or perhaps the dealer will remember the bumper
as an add-on or extra near closing the deal after the consumer
has settled into the deal--avoid such deal add-ons, make the
dealer throw in the forgotten extras as a condition of completing
but verify. Remember,
dishonest car dealers can always become convenience shop clerks
or burger flippers at the local fast food restaurants if they
cannot make a living fairly without mistreating the public and
abusing the marketplace. This industry is making enough in profits
and is successful and powerful enough to demand and get effective
and comprehensive consumer protection -- "
FAIR CAR SALES AND SERVICE PRACTICES" (is fairness too "flipping and turning"
--legislation to protect consumers, dealers and our economy from
the expensive trickery of unfair, manipulative and fraudulent
auto sales and service practices. But they will not do this voluntarily,
and consumers are paying for it. So, make sure you are getting
your money's worth.
your willingness to deal with a dealer by requesting that the dealer (the owner of the dealership
on dealership letterhead) write a letter to their state and national
representative demanding Fair Car Sales and Service Protection
Legislation. Obtain a copy of the letter and forward a copy of
it to your local, state and national government officials, along
with your letter demanding same. Better yet, take a copy of your
auto consumer protection letter to your dealer with you when
you are ready to deal, and leverage the deal for dealer's signature
on the letter. Forward the letter to your government representative
after making a copy for your files.
rebate information about vehicles you are interested in purchasing
"IN WRITING" (Read between the lines -- double meanings can
be confusing or misleading). Obtain this information in writing.
Ask that every verbal representation by the dealer's or manufacturer's
sales staff be backed up in writing. Everything! Don't accept
or buy anything at face value. Remember to request full disclosures
about outstanding or current recall information about any vehicle
you are about to purchase, including new and used vehicles.
- Don't rush
to close the deal, as this is the customer's
milking time. Is this misrepresentation or just the industry's
idea of customer service--the bumper thing? What are bumpers
for anyway? Cheap bumpers are a way for manufacturers to pass
costs downhill to consumers. A little extra in bumper protection
would save consumers in insurance premiums and deductible expenditures
for major damage caused due to minor impacts. Ding, ding, ding...Make
sure bumpers, tires and the engine are included in the base price
of the vehicle, as consumers have discovered to their dismay
that dealers have removed many items between test drive and drive-off...don't
get taken for the Great American Car deal Ride.
- Understand the
difference between sales incentives and rebates. Sales incentives are
typically offered from the manufacturer to the dealer. Rebates
are typically offered from the dealer to the consumer. If you
request information on future rebates and the dealer or salesperson
says that the manufacturer does not offer rebates, so there is
unlikely to be rebates on the vehicle, this is half truthful,
as rebates may not be offered by the manufacturer, but may be
offered by the dealer at a later date.
are usually considered legal if they are truthful. To be considered unlawful
an advertisement (not necessarily a sales representation or brochure)
must generally be both untruthful and misleading. A truthful
and misleading advertisement is therefore not unlawful. Huh?
Or, an untruthful ad that is not also misleading is apparently
OK. Hey, the dealers and manufactures helped write the rules
with your money, what'd you expect? What, you weren't invited
to the party? -- you paid for it with the excessive price of
your last auto deal!
- Dealers also
have some neat truth tricks they play with invoices. Who's invoice? Manufacturer's
invoice? Dealer's invoice? "Oh, I thought you meant my invoice?"
A dealer once went back to his price book three or four times
to get the requested "manufacturer's invoice price",
returning each time with a different and wrong answer. When tweaked
on this the following day, the dealer's sales staff indignantly
said he thought the customer had meant "his invoice."
Yeah sure. Like the dealer wouldn't know his invoice price any
better than he would know the manufacturer's price? Another dealer
even said over the phone that his sales staff would not know
the manufacturer's invoice price because he would not tell them
what it was. Yeah sure, well perhaps anyway, like the dealer
wouldn't let the sales staff know where their commission is based?
And, as if a car salesperson wouldn't have personal access to
such information? Yeah, sure. You place your trust in anything
a dealer or sales staff says or does at your own risk.
of advertising. What
is the stated and unstated message and the product and the feelings
or unstated products being sold / advertised? Modern advertising
is psychologically associative -- associating a product or purchase
with such things as "escape" from the stress and boredom
or the work-a-day world or corporate culture (also sold by advertising).
If one could actually buy these things the excessive price of
the Great American Car Deal might be worth the price. Its just
a car, and it isn't worth the price of industry advertising which
lies about a product being anything more than what it is or what
it will do. "Distinguish yourself, be original, be radical,
be anti-establishment -- buy a car, like everyone else...? Find
your own road? Duh? Its a Saab story...!
driving a new or used vehicle, have a friend or family member follow you in another
car and carefully inspect the tracking of the vehicle. Even new vehicles can
be skewed on their frame and track down the road at an angle,
where the front and back of the vehicle appears to offset and
out of square. This is especially important for used vehicles
which may have been salvaged where two different vehicles may
have been welded together. Inspect for wheel alignment too, as
many "new" vehicles come off the assembly line or off
the transport truck without proper alignment.
- Walk away
from gamy or rummy dealers,
let them puff their tiny egos dinging unwary consumers, old ladies
and uninitiated first or second time buyers. If you get dinged
on a deal, learn from it, consider avoiding the dealer and perhaps
the make and model of vehicle again. Unfortunately dealers and
manufacturers have contented themselves with swapping disgruntled
customers, satisfied in the status quo of current car sales practices
rather than making the entire system more consumer responsive
as most other retailers have done through Total Quality Management
practices. The auto industry will be the last to discover TQM,
especially as it might apply to sales practices.
or under the shine.
of shabby metal surfaces which may be covered up with shiny or
lighter or darker finishes. Wavy or pitted metal surfaces are
often hidden this way. Ding the dealer and manufacture for imperfect
finishing, instead of becoming a ding factor of the dealer or
the manufacturer. Close inspection of shiny new finishes can
reveal repaint jobs which may lead to discovery of other hidden
- More good reasons
to ding the dealer and manufacturer. Carefully inspect any new or used car.
Look it over very closely in different lighting if possible.
Move the vehicle from where the dealer displays it and look it
over again. Be particularly critical of door, hood and trunk
gaps and alignment and window sealing strips -- not all new cars
are created equal -- even two vehicles from the same assembly
line on the same day may vary considerably in quality control.
Bring your own ball bearing.
Will the vehicle look and perform the same in all seasons
and weather conditions.
particularly watchful of dealer applied pinstriping. Such detailing is often
added to cover up defects or damage repairs or to draw consumers'
attention away from defects, problems of less desirable aspects
of the vehicle. Avoid paying extra for such detailing -- its
not worth the mark-up the dealer will likely charge for it. Ditto
for window tinting. And don't let the dealer "give"
you anything, dealers never give customers anything -- its a
taking business, and any gift is a ruse to make you feel beholden
to the dealer for other aspects of the deal including the over-pricing
and other dealer ding dong factors. CARveat Emptor!
Polaroid sun glasses to dim the glare of the new car shine, it'll help you
find razor blade thin clear-coat cuts and scratches or other
hidden finish repairs. Check along panel indentation or detail
lines for evidence of refinishing marks.
- Avoid brain
surgery at muffler or oil & lube shops. These shops butter their bread on both
sides by selling unnecessary ancillary services unrelated to
the reason customers take in their vehicles. Many of the specialty
auto repair or service shops are slippery at selling unneeded
expensive services, these are where the real profits are.
be oversold on any service suggestions especially just after the muffler shop
has removed all your tires and they are sprawled all over the
repair shop floor. Beware the neat trick of trying to sell unneeded
shocks and coil springs with the excuse that brake lines might
be pinched unless this service is done immediately.
any such recommendation with at least three other mechanics or service shops, and
compare pricing before giving the go ahead. Do not be rushed
into any service decisions just because the mechanic has your
vehicle torn apart on his service shop floor.
service is not needed, have the mechanic put the tires back on and back
that sucker out of there and do not go back. If the service is
needed, use the your willingness to take the vehicle to another
shop as leverage to reduce or negotiate the service charges.
Get at least three other appraisals from other mechanics over
the phone before authorizing the work.
Remember, 'half of the cars serviced by AAMCO Transmission Centers
don't need new transmissions'....?
Keep in mind
that retaliation is a two way street. Dealers may slander or
libel you if you seek to correct or even up a sham deal, or they
may sue you for slander or libel if you assert your rights.
is generally discussed in most comprehensive negotiating texts.
Get one and study it. If you or your family have been tricked
on a deal, and the dealer or the manufacturer is unwilling to
make the deal whole, consider retaliating in a lawful, creative
and measured way. Too often consumers just shrug their shoulders
and "eat it", or let their emotions get the best of
them and make a bad situation worse. This merely rewards the
industry for trickery and guarantees that the practices will
One of the best
ways (besides TV ads, billboards and web pages) besides taking
some form of legal action is to go to the court of public
opinion by sharing your consumer experience with at least
five family members, five friends and five strangers, with a
friendly suggestion that they do the same...and so on. Tell at
least a thousand people about your experience, especially if
its negative. Don't let a dealer or manufacturer sham another
person in the way you may have been shammed.
- If you paid
by personal check and later find that you have been dinged by
the dealer or the manufacturer consider stopping payment on the
check if possible to leverage a response to the problems. Also
consider that stopping payment on personal checks may be a violation
of state of federal laws. It may be worth it if it works to leverage
compliance with fairness standards or warranty or other sales
copy of the CARveat Emptor: CAR BUYER BEWARE flyer or make your
own, and distribute it widely.
- Make a flyer
and make sure your library has a public consumer's folder for
consumer information and concerns...this is a team sport, folks...we
only win as a team in the Tricks of Great American Car Deal game!
Hey, two can play this game. A few dollars a month will keep
you in flyers which make great reading on bulletin boards at
laundry mats, cafes, bus stops, or just about anywhere where
people congregate or pass. Be creative within the confines of
local littering and handbill ordinances. Flyers or business sized
consumer action alerts or information grenades can be returned
with utility and credit card bill payments, or returned in postage
paid envelopes that are contained in junk or unsolicited business
Places where flyers might be well received:
Bank teller & ATMs
Office bulletin board
Opened widows of parked cars
Conventions or trade shows
Call your local
taxi company and find a source for car top signs for displaying
your car dealing or quality problems for others to note during
your commutes or trips to the grocery store. Domino's Pizza also
uses a car top sign which is modestly priced. These come with
a light to catch the after dark crowd. The car top sign manufacturer
is often listed somewhere on the product.
- While "XYZ
Motors, Inc., Sucks," seems informative, its not news to
anyone who has gone through the demeaning rigmarole of buying
a car from a dealer, as most dealers suck. So when developing
personalized consumer alerts and flyers, be as detailed and descriptive
as possible and be as brief as possible. "Undisclosed Defects,"
"Hidden Damage Repairs," "Unreinforced Plastic
Bumpers," "Side Impact Exposed Gas Tank," "Never
Again", "My Last VW (or other manufacturer or dealer)
Mistake," followed by a contact phone number or internet
address, etc., or similar are more descriptive than merely Shyster
Motors Sucks," even though this is undoubtedly true. Give
helpful and descriptive information when possible, letting fellow
consumers know just how badly the dealer or manufacturer sucks
or bites. Distinguish dealer and manufacturer problems where
applicable. But do not let the dealer and manufacturer Ping-Pong
you back and forth when resolving legitimate consumer concerns.
They are in this Ping-Pong game together against the consumer.
Slam. Slam. Slam. Slam. Your serve.
can be designed into self-inking rubber stamps which can find
their way on returned utility and credit card payment slips and
envelopes, and blank spaces on personal checks, etc.. Businesses
can frank their bulk metered mail with a consumer supportive
or guerrilla consumer information alert message on all outgoing
- Send a dollar
($1.00 US) for handling and a self addressed and stamped business
sized envelope to CARveat Emptor for a Xerox ready copy of the
CARveat Emptor flyer. Make copies of the flyer and make sure others
receive a copy of it in your area or take copies of it with you
on vacation and share it with others along the way as a way of
evening up a sham deal or for just alerting others to the need
for fixing the Great American Car Deal. Helping to educate auto
consumers is a good and legal retaliative measure.
pre-cut ready-to-apply (RTA) vinyl lettered vehicle or window
signs available at FAST SIGNS or other sign company (yellow pages
under signs) can be easily installed on vehicle windows or other
areas of the vehicle to let fellow commuters and others know
about quality or dealer problems or issues. Well- done, informative
and tasteful signs will sensationalize and make your commute
more productive and interesting, and its amazing how well fellow
commuters treat drivers bearing free car consumer information.
Most people will acknowledge such helpful information favorably
with a smile and thumbs up signal. Avoid the few ill-advised
industry apologists who likely will give you the single finger
salute, as they may be employed by people who feel a need to
defend the auto industry.
- Holding a
well advertised lemonade, lemon cookies and lemon meringue pie party or
sale outside the offending dealer or manufacturer showroom, with
the media invited along will help consumers know where to shop
more carefully or to avoid altogether. Talking to shoppers leaving
an offending dealer or manufacturer's showroom is perhaps the
most effective means of helping consumers avoid unsavory dealing
tactics. Unfortunately it is also very time consuming, but a
weekend morning or afternoon or two can do great things for your
CARma in evening up a screwy deal. This will certainly make the
dealership jittery about the effects of its deal spiel being
taken for a spin by a cheated consumer as customers return to
their cars from the dealership. Direct action is the weaponry
of the guerrilla car consumer. Do a quality and informative flyer
and go to the annual auto show in your area and distribute it
to show patrons as they line up outside.
consumer alert message number with flyers (with tear-off tabs
at the bottom), signs on your vehicle or windows, etc.. This
gives one's personal recorded consumer awareness or heads-up
message a wider audience and effect, and its very neighborly.
How many potential consumers do you have to alert to even
up a screwy deal? Just one, right? The more the merrier,
as they say....?
- A recorded phone
message about quality or dealer problems or concerns will let
your friends, family and late night calling tele-marketers and
wrong number callers know of your concerns. Keep any such consumer
alert message short and to the point - look into getting an answering
machine with voice mail boxes to post such messages which can
be selected by the calling party. Choose a machine with ample
message storage capacity within each mail box.
and messages can be photocopied on light index card stock and
cut into business card sized cards or very small (as small as
3/4" x 2") cards (guerrilla car consumer's informational
grenades) which can be unobtrusively left at ATMs, phone booths,
the post office or tucked into all outgoing mail envelopes, or
other areas frequented by the public. These small consumer alert
cards may be stuck on the outside of mail-back envelopes using
a glue-stick. They may also tuck easily under windshield wiper
blades or between the window glass and rubber weather striping
at the driver's door of parked vehicles for sharing consumer
alerts with other motorists. Carrying a few of these consumer
alert cards or flyers when visiting the grocery store, the library,
the post office, to the football or baseball game, other special
event, or on vacation, etc., allows many opportunities to share
personal consumer alerts or heads-ups auto consumer information
with other consumers. For a few dollars a month you can keep
a ready supply of these guerrilla consumer informational stinger
missiles ready for launching. Be careful with leafletting cars
as some dogs can be possessive and rabid about anyone leaving
free information on a piece of paper on their automobile. And,
their pets may bite too.
- Copy a copy
of the free CARveat
page and take it to work and post a copy on your staff or public
bulletin board. Send one to school with the children. Leave a
copy with your bank teller, grocery clerk, toll-road toll clerk,
butcher, and etc.
Consumer alerts may be well received at:
Bank teller & ATMs
Office bulletin board
Opened widows of parked cars
Conventions or trade shows
PTA Meetings (does your school teach car buying 101?)
others know about your car deal and quality mistakes and tricks that car
dealers and manufacturers have played on you, your friends, family
and associates. Only by letting the widest number of other consumers
know about the tricks of the trade will consumers be able to
avoid repeating these expensive mistakes, and will dealers and
manufacturers pay an effective price for tricky dealing and screwing
deal mistakes by becoming a savvy car buyer, and consider not permitting this industry
to ding you without an appropriately measured and lawful retaliatory
Do the arbitration thing if its available and to your advantage
without compromising your options, values or integrity. If the
dealer or manufacturer screwed up, they should own up to it and
or just fix the matter without jerking consumers around through
the arbitration ordeal which may be tainted with a "business"
bias since many of these programs which dealers and manufacturers
subscribe to are sponsored by the dealers and manufacturers --
not necessarily an objective or arms-length relationship. I have
never understood why dealers and manufacturers who screw hundreds
and thousands of unwary consumers, fail to merely make a few
deals whole when they are caught red handedly shortchanging customers.
Its just a greed and numbers thing, and we suspect there is a
small matter of ego, where some dealers have developed an arrogant
attitude over the years about consumers and profits. Make a killing
on thousands of deals and make a few deals whole when found out.
Its a no brainer, but many players in this industry are just
greedy and unwilling to make screwy deals whole when caught,
unless forced to, and as long as there are no laws governing
unfair and manipulative sales and service practices, dealers
and service shops will continue to believe they have a perfect
right to cheat customers as a matter of routine business practice.
Some industry players misbelieve that because a practice may
not be illegal that it is fair and OK, even though by any objective
standard the practice is clearly unfair and is cheating.
- Add AutoBuyology
to your hot link site or recommend it for hot link listing with your
favorite web sites. Build CARveat Emptor into your e-mail signature
block as an automatic act of random kindness. Also consider creating
a website home page or subpage listing your personal vehicle
experience history. Describe problems and triumphs with deals
and with vehicle makes and models. Sticking to the facts may
help you avoid reverse harassment and or nuisance claims from
the dealer or the manufacturer, although suing customers may
be an untapped profit center for some dealers experiencing slower
web address to your e-mail signature block.
consulting with an attorney who specializes in auto deal or lemon
In the end, this may be the best and quickest way, if not the
most fun way, to resolve or settle some auto deal or service
issues. Some attorneys will take good prospects on a contingency
basis. Several cheated auto consumers have reported good results
from their lemon-law attorneys. CARveat Emptor!
claims or other legal action after assessing the facts of your circumstances
and after consulting with legal counsel. Some small claims courts
provide claim filing advice.
- Avoid foreclosing
on your options when it comes to deal dispute or problem resolutions and avoid dealing or
settling with offensive or aggressive dealers or manufacturers
unless it is to your advantage and meets your consumer values
and criteria. Avoid signing away your rights. Avoid binding arbitration
unless you are comfortable with the prospects of not having legitimate
issues addressed through the arbitration process. Take it, "or
you won't have any friends," jokingly or seriously stated
by a dealer or manufacturer or his sales or finance manager is
wholly unacceptable. Consider discontinuing negotiations at this
point and consider appropriate lawful retaliation unless you
believe you can trust the dealer to make the deal whole after
having cheated you the first time.
of physical abuse
or threats against one's life or property should be reported
to the police immediately. If a dealer or manufacturer cheated
you, consider not entering into a quid-pro-quo resolution, where
the dealer or manufacturer suggests settling the issue if you
"shut-up" about the deal or product. These situations
occurred with us in dealing with VW's authorized dealers. If
the dealer or manufacturer screws a customer, they should make
the deal whole unconditionally. Charge extra for giving up your
free speech rights.
- Contact your
local or state consumer protection agency for assistance in resolving disputed
service or sales issues. Request that a case or claim be opened
against the dealer or manufacturer.
A system of
standardized symbols (thumbs up or down, or lemon graphics or
symbols) may be developed which can alert other consumers of
a car buyers relative satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a
vehicle or deal as a neighborly consumer to consumer service
to other consumers (such as a thumbs up or down with the make
and model of car or dealer's name on it). Someone suggested that
an inexpensive way of making bumpers sticker is to print a message
on a laser printer, having it laminated and apply it with double
- If all else
fails consider alternative lawful measures including signs, faxes, flyers, business
or smaller sized consumer alert cards, etc. Ready to apply
(RTA) pre-cut vinyl self-adhesive window signs can be purchased
at FASTSIGNS (©) or other self adhesive lettering or retail
sign outlets in the yellow pages and easily applied to vehicles
for advertising consumer alerts, warnings or notices to others.
Be creative, truthful and as briefly detailed as possible for
the best effect in such messages. Stay on message. Engage a resume
or word processing service or use the graphic professionals at
KINKO's to help if necessary in developing an effective flyer,
graphic or logo, or vehicle sign system.
Other Car Is Not A (enter make and or model of car you are driving),"
bumper sticker (Vinyl lettered sign or bumper sticker from FASTSIGNS
or other sign company) will let others know that your car deal
or vehicle choice is not recommended for the benefit of others
who might take advantage of and appreciate the free advice. This
is a low tech / low cost way to even out a lopsided deal or shabby
quality or service.
- A simple self-sticking
lettered strip such as "Never Again" or "My Last
VW (or Chrysler, GM, Volvo, BMW, etc., car dealer's name) Mistake"
in the area of the dealer's monogrammed license plate frame (front
and back), or in larger contrasted lettering on the rear window
(don't block visibility) would clearly indicate to others a customer's
dissatisfaction with a particular dealer's treatment or vehicle
quality. If undisclosed defects are an issue, a self-adhesive
lettered window or vehicle sign so stating, including the undisclosed
defects would help others avoid similar mistakes. A phone number
or internet or home page address would permit others to contact
a consumer for more details or to hear a pre-recorded message
about the dealer, the manufacturer, or the vehicle.
obtain strong and effective consumer protection laws in auto sales and service
Do this now for improved car dealing experiences in the future.
You may not be buying a car right now, and you may not be planning
on buying one soon, but if you own one now, you will likely buy
another one again someday. Make the effort and take the few minutes
it takes to stake out your interest in the marketplace. Demand
that the automobile industry be regulated in its own interest
and in the interest in consumer protection.
- Consider going
to an annual Auto Show in your area or nearby city. Take 5000
or more copies of your well crafted consumer alert flyer (use
ours) and hand these out to Show visitors as they line up for
entrance and encourage them to share the information with friends
and family. Make sure you include a note to share the info, as
some people forget or fail to understand that repairing the American
car deal is a team effort.
consumer agencies or non-profits is good for one's CARma and future car
Practice random acts of kindness. Share CARveat Emptor with everyone.
- Tell others
about CARveat Emptor and how to find us.
(Punishable by law, if caught),-- Costs are Usually Passed Down
the Road to Future Consumers by Dealers (So do not try these
at home or at your local friendly factory "authorized"
or over-reaction generally reflects the tendency of consumers
to overvalue the automobile and thus pay too much, and therefore
react extraproportionately to that overvaluing... you likely
will get screwed in addition to paying too much, either on quality
or product, etc... but its still only a car... so don't overvalue
it and don't over pay for it, and don't over-react when you get
what everyone expects -- screwed on another car deal...An example
of overvaluing and resultant over-reaction associated with auto
ownership may be reflected in the real life story reported where
a homeless person was shot and killed by an auto (BMW) owner
who became irate when he returned to this street parked car to
find the homeless person leaning against it. The BMW owner is
now overvaluing his BMW from behind bars for committing manslaughter.
For our money, no car or screwy car deal is worth killing or
hurting anyone over.
- In New York
State last year a dealer discovered that a bulldozer left on
an adjacent construction lot by a construction crew had "accidentally"
been started and aimed to roll over a line of 11 new Oldsmobiles.
Flattened them all. Coincidental? Perhaps.
- Scratching the
finish of dealership inventory (sometimes known as keying a car,
or the more fashionable: Razor blade thin (Exacto blade) micro-fine
clearcoat scratch that only shows up weeks or months after sale
when the clearcoat opens up
- Removing antennas
from dealership inventory
- Spray painting
graffiti on dealership inventory or buildings
- Deflating or
puncturing tires on dealership inventory
- Other vandalism
of dealership inventory
- Physically or
verbally intimidating dealership staff
- Shooting, beating
or maiming dealership staff (unfortunately this actually happens
from time to time - when irate consumers over-react and take
extreme action over "its just an overpriced and overvalued
car" (consider lawful and legal measures instead which offer
greater satisfaction mileage and less potential for personal
down-time in jail or on death row [no car dealer, no matter how
scummy is worth going to jail for] --trust us on this one, go
legal in any retaliation, its more fun and potentially far more
effective if done well and creatively!)
- A friend once
related how her husband took a car back after buying it after
a real hard sell job including several grounding techniques and
lots of coffee. After a heated exchange including pulling on
the salesman's tie, they were able to have the deal annulled.
Do not try this at home.
- On a recent
trip, it was learned that a Corvette owner who was not satisfied
with the quality of the product and service found himself out
in the wilds near a steep cliff with a coincidental flat tire,
and low and behold while changing the flat, it rolled hundreds
of feet down the cliff after slipping off the jack. Apparently
the insurance company replaced the vehicle which the dealer and
manufacturer would not.
- Some disgruntled
auto buyers have taken it upon themselves to have a "smashing
good time" in bringing public attention to their lemon vehicles
and lemon deals... by taking their unserviceable lemons back
to the dealer and smashing it with sledge hammers, some offering
the honor of a few blows to passersbys or willing onlookers.
consumer tricks on your next or future car deals:
your state attorney general, but usually until you actually drive
the vehicle off the lot (considered taking possession of the
vehicle -- the contract has not been executed -- meaning that
until you drive the vehicle off the lot, in some states you may
be able to back out of a deal even though you may have signed
the contract. Use this fact where applicable to cat and mouse
the dealer if such fun is your interest.
- Use "System
(System Selling shifted and driven in reverse) techniques to
keep the dealer focused on valuing the value of consumers. Shift
System Selling techniques into reverse and back up the dealer
into a corner using your "System Buying" techniques.
When the dealer asks what he can do to make the deal for you,
merely suggest that he meet your request for fair pricing, quality
and service. Then, don't let the bugger talk you out of obtaining
these simple consumer oriented deal items.
Hold on to
the keys of your old car if you are trading it in. Never, under any circumstances,
give your keys to the dealer until you are really ready to drive
the new car away -- as this will make escaping a "good deal
gone bad," much easier. Don't give up your keys for any
reason, even to the dealer to have the vehicle "appraised".
Hang on to your old car keys until the deal is done and over
with. Do not under any circumstances let a new or used car dealer
talk you out of your old car keys until you are ready to drive
the new car off the lot after signing the contract. Giving up
your keys leaves a consumer at a negotiating disadvantage and
lessens one's stature as a consumer in the dealer / consumer
dynamic. Keeping your keys gives you leverage right up to the
point of driving the new car off the lot.
deal goes sour,
or if you discover that the dealer has sucked the gas tank dry
or removed trim, bumper or other items, you still have your keys
and can drive away in your old car. Don't give up your keys under
any circumstances. Use you keys as the final act of the transaction,
after you have signed the papers. This also establishes the proper
customer to dealer rapport, demeanor and relationship. Keep your
keys and control the deal.
reported safety problems with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Use safety and maintenance issues and problems to eliminate potentially
unsafe or high maintenance vehicle and to negotiate lower purchase
prices. Report automobile related problems to this number too.
Obtain a report / complaint form and return it to the NHTSA for
- Avoid buying
new models first year out - wait for design and quality bugs to be found
and worked out before making a poor investment in a new product. Check the 1-800-424-9393
NHTSA car safety report service before buying any car, but
especially newer models. Find out what problems others are reporting
about a make and model of vehicle before plunking down excessive
dealer and manufacturer profits. Use these reports to negotiate
lower dealer and manufacturer profits. These reports represent
a consumer's track record with various makes and models of vehicles.
the manufacturer's profit too, on all new car deals, even (especially) no-dicker
or so-called "value priced" deals. Remember the dealer's
profit is only half the profit picture on car deals. The manufacturer
puffs its invoice (so-called dealer's costs) with excessive profits
and other customer "value-subtracted" costs such as
advertising, product liability and negligence litigation, political
lobbying to postpone, water down or kill consumer and environmental
protection laws. Try not to pay these value-subtracted costs,
or hold them to the lowest possible levels. There is no good
reason why the auto industry cannot provide helpful and meaningful
consumer information instead of wasting profits and costs on
cheap emotionally charged advertising. Demand and obtain consumer
service or don't deal.
the dealer's profit on all new car deals, including so called "value priced"
and no-dicker deals. Make your final offer after complete research
and comparison shopping, leave your phone number and walk or
fly if necessary, until the dealer talks.
a consumer's lemon law into each deal. Just have the dealer and the manufacturer put in
writing the consumer conditions you require for the replacement
of the vehicle should it turn out to be unserviceable after purchase
or fail to perform as you believe it should or expect it to at
the time of purchase.
laws are good as far as they go, but typically the definition of "lemon"
favors the industry and not the customer, and some arbitration
programs only have to "consider" the law instead of
enforcing the letter of the law. Negotiate everything in leveraging
a good consumer deal. And remember you are on your own in enforcing
a written guarantee and any lemon law. Many dealers and manufactures
require consumers to jump through a series of hoops before responding
to legitimate consumer interests as a matter of simply postponing
warranty repairs or costs to the dealer or manufacturer.
consumer negotiated deal in writing up front on every deal. Leverage the value
of your consumership. Don't be surprised after sale when the
auto manufacturer is trying to raise capital for a pet project
or to reward shareholders to find a downward pressure (the squeeze)
passed on to dealers to dampen warranty services.
exercise considerable latitude in honoring warranties. Look for hidden warranties.
Often, emission or pollution control devices or fuel distribution
system parts may be required to be warranted for a longer period
of time than standard warranties.
Why A FEDERAL
LEMON LAW Is Needed:
- Because State
lemon-laws are often unenforceable intra-state let alone across
Moving to a new state? Will your lemony lemon-law migrate with
you? Buying a car in a neighboring state? Negotiate a signed
lemon-replacement agreement with your manufacturer (dealers don't
count) in writing and notarized in triplicate (FROM THE MANUFACTURER
how much the new car depreciation costs are for the new vehicle and deduct this
from your final offer -- don't pay "new car buzz" or
- Charge a
consumer's profit on all purchases (negotiate a lower price). Value the value of your
business--your consumership and make the dealer value you as
and manufacturer personnel business and credit disclosures before
order to maintain the proper role between consumer and merchant,
the merchant should be requested to provide the consumer with
the same information about the dealer and manufacturer that is
requested of the consumer, such as credit information, home address
and phone numbers, and other such information. Verify. Verify.
- Change the
control dynamic between consumer and dealer, shifting the emphasis to the consumer where it
belongs in a consumer driven economy. Don't let the dealer guilt-trip
or otherwise manipulate you into or in a deal. Remind the dealer
when the salesperson attempts to focus your attention on one
or another particular aspect of the vehicle or deal which you
may have expressed an interest in, that your business--your consumership
is the product or service in the transaction and continue to
ask the salesperson whether the dealer values you as a consumer--values
your consumership. When the salesperson broken-records, "what
can we do to sell you this car," merely reply and repeat
(broken record) as often as it takes, the consumer's broken-record,
"meet my price and quality expectations and needs for fairness
in pricing and quality assurance.
Study "Guerrilla Selling," and become a Guerrilla
- Deal with
the dealer's sales manager if possible to avoid being flip-flopped
between salespersons and management. You may find that the dealership has
several sales managers upon your request to see the sales manager.
If so, consider walking out of the dealership to another one
where there is only one sales manager who has authority to price
and sell cars without chasing you or his boss around Robin Hood's
barn to close a deal. This is called "flipping and turning,"
and many unaware consumers fall for this slick dirty little car
deal trick. Its sole purpose is to keep consumers off guard and
confused about pricing and from focusing on the consumer's best
interests, the bottom line. Keep your eye on it, and if you cannot
find it, don't buy it.
motivated deals (Dealer's
agenda vs. consumer's agenda) (Don't come on down, until you
are ready), buy when you are ready at your terms, not when the
dealer and manufacturer would like you to or on their terms.
- Avoid time
- any good deal should not be hurried. Don't suck on 0% down, no interest deals.
Re-envision advertising claims to reflect the reality of the
product and the deal. Visit an auto junk or body repair shop
before buying for a balanced perspective.
paid for it) notwithstanding, no new car will make your sex
life better, make you happier, make you more powerful, make you
more likable or loved or give you more control over life's difficulties
or uncertainties as many advertisements suggest. (In fact,
many car deals and cars have actually made many a personal situation
or problem worse.) Sadly, no new car can do this, regardless
of the stupidity of advertising which is psychologically researched
and designed to push consumers' hot buttons of human needs for
feelings and needs for power and control and social acceptance
and inclusion in what has become an increasingly impersonal,
chaotic and out of control world. Advertising and the corporatization
or depersonalizing of our culture seeks to dispossess people
of their needs, and sell these back at a profit. Clever, eh?
don't pay for garbage advertising, it provides no value to you
as a consumer. Be wary of the suggestion that a vehicle is
in limited supply. Often this is stated to manipulate a sale
regardless of its verifiability or truthfulness. A similar ruse
is to suggest that the vehicle may be difficult to get, which
is merely another sales trick to generate or increase a psychological
interest or demand for the product.
advertising tries to associate fulfillment of human needs with the acquisition
of a product. No matter how wealthy you are, you cannot buy love,
power, or control, and even if you could, you shouldn't pay more
than they are worth.
Honda is currently advertising "simplicity" with
its vehicles. Five years of car payments, and the risk of
a Honda lemon is hardly a mater of simplicity, and neither is
the complicated technology which can take days or weeks to diagnose
when it malfunctions. Simplicity, eh? What price, simplicity?
copy of the transport, test drive, and use log of any new vehicle before negotiating
These logs should completely account for all mileage on the vehicle
and document the dates and places of transportation of the vehicle
from factory to distributor to dealer. All damages, defects and
repairs should be fully documented and disclosed, including persons
responsible with contact numbers.
- Avoid being
sold. Question and be skeptical of all sales representations
and advertisement claims. Read, "The Tangled Web They
Weave: Truth Falsity and Advertisers," by Ivan Preston (at
your library or bookstore--tells consumers how to find the truthful
lies in slippery slope of advertising).
cars inspected by an independent certified body repair shop and mechanic prior to
Double ditto for used cars, but increasingly important for new
cars too. New cars are transported on open truck racks which
means that rocks kicked up off the road often ding and nick the
finish on new cars -- BMW, Hondas, Volvos and other models alike.
Check with the local Dent Doctor to see if they have a record
of repairing the vehicle subject of an anticipated purchase.
Look very carefully for poorly or hurriedly repaired or touch
up jobs in finish work, as this may tip you off to greater damage
- Obtain a
copy of the transport report/receipt from the trucking company
that shipped the car to the dealer from the car maker's factory
or distributor to the dealer before buying. Be very careful of purchases of vehicles
traded between dealers for undisclosed defects, damages, or hidden
damage repairs. Obtain and verify full documentation of all mileage,
transportation and use or test driving of all new vehicles. Remember
vehicle claimed to have been "executive" vehicles,
may have been abused rental or leased cars.
notarized written release from the dealer and manufacturer of all consumer
complaints and information filed against the dealer or manufacturer
by consumers with any public or private consumer protection agency,
organization or non-profit before finaling a deal.
- Keep in mind
that even if the odometer has not been tampered with, mileage readings
do not tell you the whole story of the use of a vehicle,
like how long it may have been used in commute traffic. An engine
clock would be helpful to consumers in this regard, but don't
hold your breath, for the auto industry to add one for your convenience.
does not reveal how the vehicle has been driven or treated or maintained
either, nor does it give you the maximum engine temperature,
maximum speed the vehicle has been driven, or other extreme occurrence
measurements which would assist consumers in "valuing"
vehicle purchases. It does not tell you whether the vehicle has
been abused during test driving. Often new cars are supposed
to be driven carefully for the first 500 to 1500 miles or more
for break-in purposes.
are especially susceptible to damage by improper test driving or emergency
stops during the break-in period. These are other good reasons
for deducting the new car depreciation costs for all new cars.
Remember, most manufacturer warranty maintenance is done at consumer
expense. Find out how much this will cost and compare costs for
warranty maintenance between dealers.
negotiating dealer or manufacturer responsibility for all maintenance
during the manufacturer's warranty period or the term (length)
of your auto loan or lease. Consider negotiating an extended
manufacturer's warranty as a condition for the deal -- what's
"value priced" mean anyway?
against the dealer and manufacturer with the BBB, Departments
of Motor Vehicles, State and County Consumer Affairs Agencies,
etc., before rewarding a dealer with your business. Keep in mind
that generally the BBB currently will not divulge useful information
about consumer complaints about a dealer -- so what good is it
unless the dealer and manufacturer release this information to
consumers in writing? Get this release up front before dealing
along with all of the other information you have check listed
in your deal pre-planning. Leverage your business, and don't
let any concession be used to coerce you into a deal. Walk or
fly until your are completely comfortable with the dealer, the
price and the product and service.
certified up to date listing of all past customers from the dealer with contact information.
Randomly verify consumer satisfaction or service. At a minimum,
request a copy of at least the last one-hundred consecutive sales
contracts. Keep in mind that dealers typically number contracts
sequentially. And keep in mind that these contracts could be
faked for the purposes of disclosure or hiding disgruntled customers.
- Demand that
the BBB rewrite
its agreements and
memberships with dealers and manufacturers to include full disclosures
of all complaints filed against dealers and manufacturers. An
unconditional membership fee seems like a rather poor qualification
for membership in an organization that suggests by its name that
consumer protection is its most important commodity.
careful of purchasing vehicles from a manufacturer immediately prior to, during,
and for a period after employee or union disputes or strikes,
as quality may be compromised. Unhappy assembly employees are unhappy
campers. Excessive overtime can add to quality control problems,
so try to pay attention to news reportage and coverage of the
industry, the little that finds its way into mainstream newsprint
may help consumers avoid quality problems built into the car
manufacturing machinery. General Motors is reported to be effected
by labor strikes currently (March 1996) which is impacting several
of its manufacturing and parts assembly plants. CARveat Emptor!
Watch those GMs folks...as GM gears down to meet demand. GM has
been reported to be maintaining a very skinny inventory, so it
will likely be hurrying production to come back up to speed once
labor contract negotiations are resolved.
- Check county
court records for
small claims and civil actions brought by other consumers, and check
the bankruptcy court records for any indication of financial
problems with the dealership.
GM's recent (mid-1996) employee strike in Canada is effecting
US production and parts supplies. Heads up! Steer clear? Chrysler
is currently experiencing labor strikes (April/May 1997). Watch
out for downstream quality problem spill-over. Shop defensively.
all the information you need to satisfy your consumer needs before
Work your checklist, work your deal. Don't be manipulated by
the dealer or salesperson. Its their job to sell you on their
products regardless of your personal transportation needs. They
have babies to feed, but so do you, right? Try not to blame the
low level sales personnel. They are merely pawns in the car deal
shell game, and are usually paid a small commission upon a minimum
wage, after the dealer has milked as much out of the deal for
executive salaries and overhead as possible. The blame for the
tricks of Great American Car Deal belongs with the manufacturers
and dealers who benefit from the current system of delivering
vehicles to consumers, and who pay token and patronizing commercialized
lip-service to the low public repute of the industry in the eyes
of the public.
- Obtain from
or estimate all value-subtracted costs the manufacturer builds
into the invoice price of the vehicle. Estimate and deduct costs for liability
litigation for shoddy products the manufacturer should have addressed
through design engineering. Estimate and deduct advertising costs
the manufacturer adds to the cost of every car. Estimate and
deduct costs the manufacturer tries to recover from consumers
for its congressional lobbying efforts to kill, postpone or water
down value-added consumer and environmental protection and safety
who have the resources and means to repair the Great American
Car Deal have chosen instead to maintain the status quo, where
unwary consumers are often dinged on product quality and price
through the employment of unfair, manipulative and sometimes
fraudulent sales and service practices. Yet the industry has done diddley nada
squat (aside from industry serving advertising) to improve its
reputation or the system, opting instead to ding customers through
so called 'value priced" or no-dicker deals...where everyone
merely pays too much more or less equally. You call that customer
service, eh? You've perhaps seen the ad in major magazine media,
touting the industry's so called response to consumer discontent
with the industry, buy suggesting that haggling over price is
the major consumer concern.
Its interesting that the industry would try to persuade consumers
with advertising about the nature of the industry's public relations
problems...this is just more advertising SOP to make consumers
think that things have changed when in fact the Great American
Car Deal remains the sham it has been since the first automobile
was produced on January 18, 1886. Well, more likely since the
days before camel trading.
from auto auctions
test driving and mechanical and aesthetic evaluations by an independent
service, repair and body shop are not permitted unless you are
a professional car buyer and know what you are getting yourself
into. Lemons and salvaged vehicles are often "laundered"
through auto auctions. If you buy from an auction, deduct a huge
ding factor from the deal to cover the uncertainty and consumer
- Be wary of
the new national car deal chain dealerships (the McDonalds of car dealerships) that
are cropping up such as AutoNation (known locally by various
These dealerships offer checklists (they have filled out the
checklists in advance) and offer minimal warranties to grease
deals and move units off the lot. Have any new or used vehicle,
regardless of where it is purchased, checked over completely
by an independent car assessment or inspection mechanic and body
shop before buying. Save yourself the trouble and uncertainty
and just do this, and ding the dealer and the manufacturer by
back charging the amount of the costs of the inspections from
your final offer to the dealer. These new car dealership chains
suggest that consumers should be able to safely buy a car during
lunch hour. Dream on, folks, and count your fingers and toes
after shaking hands on all car deals.
your government have fleet purchasing policies and criteria that
avoid business dealings with manufacturers and dealers with histories
of sham consumer practices and that reward credible manufacturers and dealers
who demonstrate a comprehensive program of customer service and
to negotiate the manufacturer's profit on all new car deals, especially so
called value price or no-haggle deals. Make your offer after
doing your pricing research, and walk until the dealer talks
reports of sham auto sales and service practices and forward copies to
your local, state and federal government representatives with
a request that they review government fleet purchasing policy
to protect consumers from sham practices.
hundreds of then in Pennsylvania, New York and California, without disclosing prior
use, defects, damage or repairs, to second purchasers. General
Motor was caught and charged with laundering 50 lemons through
31 San Francisco Bay Area GM Dealers. Some of theses "cars"
reportedly contained mechanical defects which could not be repaired.
Some of the defects involved safety issues, such as brakes. Feeling
not be used to reward these sham practices and to help these companies pay for
the token fines imposed by timid, underfunded and understaffed
consumer protection agencies. Make sure your local, state and
federal governments are not rewarding unfair, manipulative, and
fraudulent sales and service practices in the auto industry.
- As many as
50,000 lemons or more,
are repurchased by manufacturers every year and resold, often
and all too often without labeling or disclosure of serious defects
or repairs. Thousands of more vehicles miss becoming technically
lemons by one repair job or because owners fail to enforce the
semi-gloss or matte finish instead of the more expensive high-gloss vehicle
finish, and request credit for the semi-gloss or matte finish. If the dealer is unable
to supply the non-shine finish, deduct the new car depreciation
(Shine costs) from your offer, as before your loan is paid the
vehicle will turn into a semi-gloss or matte finish anyway. This
is especially true for US cars which have historically displayed
inferior exterior finishing. Getting dealers or manufacturers
to make good on shabby finishing work after sale is very difficult,
usually requiring research into paint finish problems experienced
by other consumer owning the make and model of vehicle, and pursuing
a claim through small claims or higher courts at the consumer's
expense of time.
- Reduce your
to defray any costs associated with pre-sale defects, damages
or hidden repairs discovered after sale for which the dealer and manufacturer
deny responsibility. Deduct the additional costs of the lowered
deductible from your final offer for the vehicle.
scenarios for various standard repairs and replacement costs such as for tires
vehicles require specialized tires which may or may not be readily
available or may be available only through particular outlets),
bumper, fender, rear deck and window or sliding side door replacement
costs. Fuel and water pump replacement and air-conditioning
compressor replacement costs are worthwhile costs to budget for
and factor into the overall price of the vehicle as well. Remember,
many of these relatively expensive items fail soon after the
warranty fades. Check out any special tire rating which may make
them unusually expensive or difficult to acquire from third party
tire manufacturers and stores. Consider that each of the mechanical
systems: electrical, brakes, power train (consider taking the
train instead), power windows, suspension, transmission, tires,
fuel supply and emissions control, frame, upholstery, and other
items often fail to perform as designed, planned or intended.
- Request that
the manufacturer provide you with a three, four, five, ten, fifteen and
twenty year computerized aging progression image or "morfed"
image of the vehicle as a means of judging the vehicle's appearance
and potential resale value over various periods of time. This information will
be much more useful than a ball bearing rolling down the grooves
between the hood and fender of a "new" or recently
assembled vehicle. Also request computer modeled collision impact
images based on common and worse case crash scenarios with respective
cost estimates for repairs.
- Require the
dealer and manufacturer to price in advance the costs of all scheduled
warranty and on-going maintenance costs. And keep in mind that those new vehicles
which supposedly can go 100,000 miles without a tune-up or oil
change break down and sometimes turn a lemony shade of sour yellow
after purchase, well before the 100,000 mile post.
on the important stuff (how much is this mistake costing me, we, us) and
don't fall into the dealer's trap of romanticizing the "best
case scenarios" (a natural thing to do when under the spell of
the "new car deal buzz"), as every make and
model of vehicle has its share of quality control problems, yes
even those overpriced Lexuses. Those "100,000 mile, no (SCHEDULED!)
maintenance vehicles" can be just as sour or sourer than
the other lemons on the lot.
- If your state
requires license plates on both the front and back of the vehicle and
the vehicle is designed to receive only one plate and especially
if the dealer has installed only one license plate mount, ask
yourself what else the manufacturer may have forgotten. How do
you feel about a license place being screwed to the front bumper
through the plastic because the manufacturer forgot to design
or provide a front license plate mount, or the dealer chose to
save a dollar by not installing one? You pay the fine, not the dealer or
manufacturer, and the costs for installing a plate mount after
Signs of Voting
Dummies On-board!, ... and Life on Mars?
monogrammed or engraved license plate mounting frames because they work as
letting others know where you made your last new car mistake.
You may not want to advertise to every kook and stranger in the
world where you got taken on your last new car mistake, er.,
deal. The dealership should not assume that you wish to assist
it in advertising the dealership, and should request your permission
to install the dealership's monogrammed license plate mounting
frames. By requesting generic plate frames consumers assert the
proper consumer to dealer demeanor and relationship.
- If the dealer
provides license plate mount frames, request generic plate mounts without
the dealer's name and phone number franked on them if possible,
or request that the dealer pay you for driving around advertising
his or her business. This may seem like a small or insignificant
issue, but it speaks volumes about the relationship consumers
permit the dealers to define between consumers and the auto industry.
See if reverse works, after adjusting the rear view mirror, of
course. Buckle up, and drive your hard bargain safely.
only legitimate use
of the dealer's license plate frames is when they are accompanied
with ready to apply (RTA) self-adhesive lettering or signs indicating
the nature of any mistreatment accorded the consumer by the dealer. In such a case, the
accompanying message should be obviously related to and reflective
of the dealer's name and phone number and located near the dealer's
monogrammed license plate frame.
- And by all means, if a dealer mistreats
you, do not drive around with the dealer's name and phone
number emblazoned on the front and rear of your car, for
free at your expense -- yes, you paid for it. Remove the license
place frame and replace it or go without one, or you can paint
or tape over the name of the dealership in some cases (avoid
over-spraying). Remove the plate frames and replace them with
generic or other engraved plate frames available from your alma
- Driving around with the dealer's monogrammed
license plate frames on your car is generally reflective of a
non-assertive consumer working for the dealership for no remuneration
-- stupid, very stupid. Unless the dealer is paying you for the service,
take them off and replace them as soon as possible. Does the
dealer drive around with your name on his or her vehicle, advertising
the value of your consumership, for free? Do what the dealer
does. Give the dealer the dealer's treatment. Treat the dealer
like dealers have treated consumers for fun and profit for decades
over the last century.
wary of buying cars from
a manufacturer which may have recently experienced labor unrest,
work stoppages or strikes. Vehicle quality can be problematic and erratic
enough under ideal circumstances. I'll avoid the story about
the Ford Bronco owner who discovered after several dealers looked
at it, that the wrong transmission had been installed in it at
the factory (oh, perhaps the dealer did it). While mistakes can
be made in normal manufacturing, and things might be left undone
or left out from one shift to another at the factory, however,
dissatisfied employees are not necessarily the most ideal folk
to have building a product you trust your money and your life
with on our highways.
- Dealers are
to have an inventory incentive to move units on a monthly basis
and may try to increase their monthly unit sales by accepting
a better consumer deal near the end of the month. Try to avoid
buying over the seasonal holidays of Christmas and New Years.
Dealers often try to reduce inventory before new model vehicles
are due out around October of each year. New model cars are usually
out in October or thereabouts. Dealers may accept better consumer
deals nearer the time when they are expecting the new vehicle
model shipments from the manufacturers. Consumers will have to
negotiate fiercely whenever they deal to get the best consumer
deal. Expect this and build this into your consumer demeanor
and strategy. Expect dealers to deny or to spin or even to admit
to much of the material contained in this and other web sites
and in the various books about typical dealer practices.
likely would show that
quality control problems grow during union or labor unrest. (This has been alleged
and denied during the year 2000 Ford/Firestone Tired Recall--that
the quality problems of the tires resulted from hiring inexperienced
scabs to replace striking employees). Keep an eye on the business
pages of your local newspaper for indications of labor / management
problems. When a manufacturer experiences labor unrest deal very
carefully for vehicles built before, during and for a period
after labor / management dispute resolutions. CARveat Emptor!
Personally, I'd avoid buying from a manufacturer during and labor
dispute resolution period and for a least six months following
resolution of the issues. At the very least use reports of labor
unrest as a bargaining chip in negotiating better pricing and
better warranties and deal extras. Go for it? Expect dealers
to use real or invented inventory shortages during employee disturbances
to increase demand and prices. Don't buy it. Walk. Wait. Walk.
Wait. Walk. Wait.
do not require leasing rate disclosures which are required on direct loans, and
dealers have been ripping off customers in credits on trade-ins,
rebates, maintenance, early-out, or other negotiated credits.
Two thousand or more auto consumers in Florida reported being
leased vehicles that they thought they were buying and intended
to purchase outright. Hum, must be more of that good-ole customer
service the automobile industry brags about in its advertising.
Dealers and manufactures make 3% to 10% or more over the MSRP
on many lease deals because of the confusing nature of lease
forms and due to non-disclosures of crucial consumer information.
Consider not leasing if possible, as leasing is typically not
a good deal for consumers. CARveat Emptor.
- When leasing (not advised,-- dealers/mfrs
win, consumers lose) your next new car, be careful to have the
dealer quote in writing (have it notarized) the rate of interest
you are paying on the lease or the lease rate or what it costs
you to lease the vehicle, the total costs for the lease, and
any costs for premature return, and the buyout of the lease costs
upfront -- get these in writing. A good way to proceed with lease
negotiations is to ask the dealer (and verify) the difference
in total costs between leasing and buying the vehicle outright.
If you don't mind paying for maintenance, excess mileage, and
other hidden lease costs, and typically hold onto your vehicles
for less than three to four years, leasing may be acceptable
to you... but buying and holding is still the best way to go
from a consumer point of view... and you may as well think about
taking advantage of this strategy, as long as the auto industry
permits it... or buy used, carefully, or opt out of the car deal
deal altogether and pocket the change and invest it with compounding
interest for a better retirement...
Emptor - Tricks of the Great American Car Deal
© copyright 1995-2012, R. Rand Knox. All Rights Reserved.
Not for use, reuse, sale, resale or fee unless so licensed or
by R. Rand Knox in writing.
Happy motoring, wheeling and dealing,
-- virtually and really.
and we will email to you a 4 page .pdf file of 19 deal tricks
sellers often use to inflate automobile costs, and additional
auto consumer resources.
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