I Can't Believe He
No Honor Among Thieves
-- Tales from the Trenches
Our toll-free consumer helpline
for buyers of our printed guides has been used thousands of
times by readers looking for pricing, product information,
buying and selling information, and just plain advice.
Besides helping out people with confusing situations, it keeps
us close to the "action" in the retail car marketplace. In
the print world, we believe it is one of our competitive
It also has provided for some
amusing office banter. We all share our phone stories, have a
good laugh, and then get back to business. A while ago we
decided to write some of them down for use in a future story.
Although we present these in a humorous manner, often times the
actual situation is anything but. While thereís no denying that
there are reputable and honest car dealers out there, we hear
enough of this stuff to know that the industry has a ways to go.
Particularly distressing is that
a high percentage of these stories come at the expense of women,
especially younger first-time buyers and older women with no
place to turn for help. The problem is not relegated to
independent used car dealers. Plenty of
manufacturer-franchised stores are guilty as well. The car
companies, while publicly supporting and praising their dealers,
are not happy with this situation. It costs them goodwill
and future sales. Itís part of the reason so many of them
are looking for alternative purchase and delivery avenues for
So read these and chuckle, but
donít forget that there are real people behind these stories.
He said it had an extra
coat of paint to make the car heavier and safer. From an
older woman questioning why the new car she was looking at had
an extra charge of $1200 over MSRP.
I have two other people
interested in this car. They're coming back this
afternoon. An often heard statement designed to
We use different books for
different manufacturers. A salesman explaining why
he used NADA for the car they were buying and a different book
for their trade in. Another "sell at NADA, buy at Galves"
story. NADA generally publishes high retail numbers, while
Galves publishes low wholesale numbers. Dealers make out like a
bandit on these deals.
It costs more than the book
because it has the special 6-cylinder engine. To a
woman looking at a Suburu Loyale, which was never available with
a 6-cylinder engine.
You have to pay extra for
all the luxury options. From a salesman gamely
trying to add $2000 to the book value of an LS400 while trying
to convince a prospect that power accessories, alloy wheels and
other premium (and standard) items were all options.
Sign the papers, take it
home, and if you don't like it we'll take it back.
Sure, and watch for our new publication, Land Deals in
Actually, convertibles cost
more in the winter, because we get more buyers in here looking
for deals. From an import dealership in the
Northeast. And we bought our boat in November thinking we
got a better deal.
Our cost is MSRP, the
invoice price is the factory cost. A Toyota dealer
trying to explain why his window sticker showed an amount well
You don't get the rebate if
you finance the car from someone else. From a Ford
dealer trying to convince a young buyer that he'd have to use
in-house (and more expensive) financing to be eligible for a
That book is garbage. Those
prices are made up and fraudulent. They shouldn't be in
business. Reportedly the words of a mid-western dealer when
presented by a prospect with an issue of VMR Standard Used
Car Prices. After told this by a helpline caller, we
called the gentlemen and told him he can call us anything he
wants, but if we ever hear of him accusing us of making up
numbers and committing fraud we'll have our lawyers on him.
He laughed and said "Actually, I use your book to buy cars
It's good for another
200,000 miles. The story on a 200,000 mile '87
Mercedes-Benz 300E from a North Carolina dealer. When the woman
called our helpline to verify the claim, we told her that it was
absolutely true. All she needed to do was take out an equity
line on her house and establish a maintenance and repair fund
for the Benz.
Weíve already checked the
car out, you donít need to bring it to your mechanic. A
dealer explaining why a customer couldnít take a car from his
lot to another mechanic.
And our favorite:
If you go out with me, Iíll
give you a better deal. A Pennsylvania college
woman away from her family called several times asking for
advice on how to handle this salesman. He was very
attentive, even showing up unannounced at her door with the car
she was interested in. The car was priced thousands over
our retail price. Perhaps this was due to the extra
service the salesman was offering.