Buying a new car is a tough decision, especially when dealing with a salesman who takes advantage of naive buyers. These car shoppers share the reason why they backed out of a deal. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
Always Research The Fees Or Else
“In 2000, my (now-ex) husband and I went to a local Dodge dealership to buy a Grand Caravan. My ex was a huge researcher on major purchases. He would read the information in Consumer Reports (CR), (note: there was very minimal internet info to research back then), talk to mechanics he knew and to people who owned the vehicle he was considering, among other tactics. One thing that CR mentioned was a fee Dodge would insert into contracts; not sure if it is still done. It was an advertisement fee. Basically, the few hundred bucks in the final price were to help pay for the dealership’s advertising so they didn’t have to. The CR stated legally they couldn’t make you pay for that because it was not directly related to the vehicle purchase. The majority of people miss that in all of the paperwork so they basically pay it unknowingly. The CR also stated to find and have it removed from the contract.
So when my ex found it, he crossed it out, initialed it, and told the salesman to remove it from the cost.
The man quietly sat there for a second, and then said, ‘I need to speak to my manager.’
The only part of the conversation we heard was the manager saying, “’ don’t care what he says, just tell him we can’t remove it because it’s a corporate policy. And if he doesn’t like it, tough. We already know he wants the car so he’ll pay for it.’
We knew from the CR this was a total lie. The salesman returned to us with a big bright smile saying exactly what the manager told him to.
So we said, ‘Thank you,’ stood up, and left.
Both the manager and the salesman ran after us all the way to our car, trying to close the deal, begging us to reconsider, and trying to throw meaningless incentives in like free oil changes. Nope. They lost out on a $30,000 sale over a few hundred bucks. We drove right over to another Dodge dealership who was more than happy to remove the fee when requested. Then we drove home a new car.”
“My first car was a white Wrangler with hot pink pinstripes. Don’t judge, it was the ’80s. That one was traded in for a red Wrangler in ’97. Once I got pregnant with Spawn number one, however, it was time to get a family vehicle. So we headed back to my trusty Jeep salesman for the third time and picked up a used Grand Cherokee.
It served us well, but by 2013, it was time to trade in the old gal for a newer model. The kids were bigger by this time, and between their sports or music equipment plus their entourage of friends, we knew we needed a third row. Not an option on the Cherokee, so I went in search of a non-Jeep option.
It was weird to think about buying from a new dealership, but there were plenty of options out there beyond my beloved Jeeps which wouldn’t require me caving to convention and settling for a minivan, right? Anything but the dreaded minivan.
After some internet sleuthing, I decided to check out the Lincoln Navigator in person. A salesman greeted me on the lot, took note of my beater Cherokee, and after a bit of scripted chit-chat, asked me to come inside and fill out a contact form.
Ugh. Okay, fine. Whatever.
I handed the completed form across the desk, and the sales guy scanned it over. He said, ‘You put ‘author’ in the employment field.’
The way he said it was strange. As if he wanted to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake.
‘Yes,’ I said, proudly. ‘That’s my job.’
He literally rolled his eyes as he snickered, ‘And what kind of books do you write?’
‘Romance,’ I replied, chin held high. I’ve encountered enough people over the years who were content to snub the entire genre. I had to learn pretty early on to grow a thick skin about my chosen subject matter.
After another eye roll, he snarked, That’s cute.’
He went on to make a few joking comments about ‘Bored housewife. Little hobby. Fifty Shades. No income and you’re looking at a $40,000 vehicle?’
All in supposed good fun, just kidding around with me. I don’t remember his exact words because I was fuming by this point.
Now, I had only released my third novel by then. But it was the final book in a trilogy that had somehow managed to find some success, so I had just quit my day job(s) and gone all-in on the writing thing. That year was a turning point, not just financially, but because I had just started allowing myself the right to call myself an author. And there I was for the first time actually trying out my new title in public, and this clown was mocking me for it.
I leaned back in my chair, cocked my head, and said, ‘You know, I don’t normally go around bragging about this, but I happen to be a New York Times bestselling author. I’ve already made six figures from my ‘cute little hobby’ this year alone. So, yeah. I’m able to buy a new SUV.’
I wish I could tell you that I added, ‘Just not this one,’ and got up from my chair while his mouth gaped in shock before he ran after me begging for forgiveness and pleading for my business. But that’s not how the story went down. Instead, I politely said my goodbyes and left that particular dealership, holding true to my convictions that I would never buy a car from that place.
Regardless of the fact, that my little rebellion was entirely unknown to that snarky salesman, I was proud of my choice to deny him the commission.
I ended up buying a Ford Explorer from an awesome dude who thought my career was ‘groovy.’
A Mechanic’s Opinion
“I was looking at a used Honda Prelude in about 1985. I liked the car and wanted to take it for a test drive.
As soon as I started to drive away, I said, ‘Oh, the clutch is weird.’
I don’t remember exactly what it was, but I knew the clutch was going out, but it was not a big deal to fix. The salesman said the clutch had just been replaced, so I asked to see the paperwork on it.
He said, ‘I don’t have it right here but I can get it.’
I said, ‘Ok, do that. In the meantime, I want to take the car to my mechanic to have him go over it.’
Once my mechanic gave it a good examination, he told me the clutch was bad and would have to be replaced soon, otherwise, it was a solid car. So I took the car back to the dealer and told him about the clutch. He again insisted it was a new clutch but could not provide any documentation to support his claim. I didn’t pass on the car because the clutch was bad, I passed on it because the guy was lying to me. I would have bought it with the bad clutch if he had been honest about it.”
Since When Was This A Rule?
“I worked at a car dealership in Florida and I wanted to buy a car. A nice little Volkswagen with teeth. The sales manager told me if I ever needed a car, to come to him and he would handle it. So I did. He told me to work with this one gentleman and when I found the car I wanted, to let him know and he’ would speed it on through.
So I went on my lunch break with the salesman he recommended and told him what car I wanted, a brand new 2004 VW R32 (at the time). So I found the one I liked— a silver one. I said I wanted this one and proceeded to open the door. I had been eyeing them whenever they came through the shop on pre-delivery inspection.
‘Please don’t touch this car,’ the salesman said.
I said, ‘What?’
‘Please don’t touch this car unless you intend to buy it,’ he said.
I didn’t fuss. Instead, I walked away, got into my car, and drove across town to another VW dealer and bought the car there. All the Volkswagen guys in that area more or less knew each other from meeting at VW training school or from the racetrack plus I used to work with some of them.
I said, ‘Don’t prep it, don’t clean it, just take the sticker down and let me take it the way it is. Don’t even gas it up.’
I maybe spent 20 minutes there. I had my own financing so it wasn’t a hassle. Their sales manager was blown away when I told him what happened to me not half hour earlier. I drove back to work and parked it in the employee parking lot. Then went into the break room to eat a sandwich.
That rude salesman from earlier walked in and tried to offer me a deal.
I said, ‘I already got the car.’
He said, ‘Really, from who?’
I said, ‘from XYZ Volkswagen.’
He looked at me weird. I dropped the keys onto the table with the id tag still on it.
‘Wanna see the receipt?’ I asked.
He walked away.
The sales manager came in and asked what happened and why didn’t I come to him first.
I had nothing against the sales manager at the dealership I worked for but I told him, ‘Every single time I’ve tried to buy a car from any dealership I’ve ever worked for, I’ve gotten a hassle from the sales department, every single time – cash deal or otherwise. I agree to the price, I buy the warranties and extras, why isn’t my money good enough?’
He was speechless.
The next week, the owner of the dealership was highly upset I bought a car from another VW dealer. I told him the story, and all he could do was apologize. Did you know that the following month the owner threatened (off record) to fire anyone who bought a car from another dealer? Talk about punishing the victims of his hostile sales department. Since that day, whenever I go to a dealer to buy a car, I go to the weakest salesperson and give them their fastest sale ever. The big shots can go pound it..”
“In 2003, my wife and I were car shopping. We’d hit up numerous dealerships, as we had an 11-year-old Lumina, and really had no idea what we’d like to buy. When we got to the Toyota dealership, my wife was excited, as she had a friend with a Camry, and she really wanted to see what we could make a deal on.
Well, we started through the process with them, explaining what we wanted, etc. The entire time we sat at the salesman’s desk talking, anytime my wife asked a question, he would turn to me in answering it. Not a single time did he directly look her in the face and answer. Not once.
It took about fifteen minutes for us to conclude that we had no desire to buy at that dealership. We got up and left, and I truly don’t remember if we even said anything when we left.
Not long after that, we went into a Nissan dealer nearby and there sat an Altima, red, sparkly, just daring us to drive her. The salesman was a gentleman, and I want you to know that word exactly fit his demeanor and his personality. He treated my wife like she was the most important person in the showroom, and he did it without even coming close to patronizing.
He sold our family (not just the two of us) seven Nissans of various models over the next 11 years. If we hadn’t moved across the continent five years ago, we’d still be buying from him. At no time during that period did his demeanor and his relationship with us change – he treated us every time as if we were the most important people in the showroom. He always gave us a fair deal, and never did we feel taken advantage of.
He was the only person we knew in any commercial business, so we stopped by to bid farewell before we left town. He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word.”
“When I Started Doing The Math, It Didn’t Add Up”
“I received one of those offers to come into a car dealership to refinance my current car note and get a better interest rate. I think I was paying seven percent at the time and this one dealership was offering me four to five percent. I could have received these rates from my credit union but the dealership was local and my credit union was a couple of hours from where I live so I decided to take a shot and go into the local dealership.
When I arrived, they were courteous as usual, since they want your business.
When we sat down at the finance table, they gave me the same spiel, ‘Where do you want your payment per month to be?’
I said, ‘Don’t play games with me, you said you could get me a four to five percent interest rate. I don’t want to change any other terms, I still want the exact same terms just two or three percent less annual interest.’
The finance manager came back with the contract and showed a payment slightly lower than what I was currently paying, but it should have been a lot less. When I started doing the math, it didn’t add up. I look down at the bottom of the paper and the loan amount showed $17,000 when my loan payoff amount was $14,000 before I walked in these scammers doors.
I said to him, ‘What’s this $17,000 all about?’
He said, ‘Don’t worry about that number, your interest rate is 4.5 percent and your monthly payment is lower, aren’t you happy?’
I said, ‘Are you insane? If I wanted to pay off my car today, I can do it for $14,000. If I do this STUPID deal with you, I would have to pay $17,000 to pay my car off tomorrow! Your trying to make $3000 off me for coming into your dealership to refinance my car! Are you kidding me?! I could go to my credit union and pay zero dollars in closing costs and get a five percent interest rate on a $14,000 loan, not a 4.5 percent interest rate on a $17,000 loan and pay $3000 to your dealership.’
When the finance manager started to get defensive, I lost it. I screamed to the top of my lungs in their dealership. I used words I never knew existed. Then I reached over to the finance manager, snatched his paperwork, proceeded to rip it into pieces, and I threw it in his face and lap.
The General Manager came out all freaked out, asking, ‘What’s happening?!’
I told him really loud in front of all his customers watching in amazement, ‘I came in here for a simple refinance that I could have received at any bank or even my own credit union, and you guys tried to scam me out of $3000 to sign a piece of paper that allows me to sell my car to you for $14,000 and you sell it back to me five minutes later for $17,000!’
Everyone was watching, so he pulled me aside and said, ‘What if we sell you back your car for $15,500 and we split the difference.’
I laughed and told him, ‘Good luck in business! You are the biggest scammers I have ever met! Once people are smart enough to see through your games, you’re done.’
I am quite positive I left an impression on everyone that was in that dealership that day. Anytime I see someone try to take advantage of another I can’t help but stand up. ”
“Don’t Treat Me Like A Chump”
“Years ago, I had my eyes on a new car. It was a specific model I wanted. It was a sport-utility crossover vehicle. Something that had enough pickup and cargo room. So I did my research and figured out how much it was worth and how much I could get it for.
I marched down to the dealership, went through the process of doing a test drive, and liked how it felt so I went through with the song and dance. The young slickster I was dealing with I didn’t particularly like. He was being too friendly, a little too ‘used car salesmen’ if you catch my drift but a lot of salesmen are like that so I ignored it.
He said he needed to speak to his sales manager which is always a red flag,
So when the manager came in, he scribbled a number down on the paper, handed it to me, and said, ‘I have so many numbers running through my head that I don’t know if this is a good deal for you or me.’
Then he followed it up with a laugh. I looked at the number and it was about 2K more than what I was willing to spend. Not that I cared at that point because seriously what he said was insulting.
I looked him in the eye and said, ‘Does that line ever work?’
He looked confused.
I continued, ‘You’re the sales manager of a dealership. You should know, more or less, the exact price of every single car on the premises to at least the closest $1000.’
I crumpled the paper, threw it in the trash, and walked out. They tried to follow me, apologizing and saying they could give me a better deal but I was having none of it.
Don’t treat me like a chump. Be honest and I’ll happily do business with you.”
“I was going to buy my first brand new off-the-lot car when I was in my early 30s. My uncle who worked for a GMC plant said he could get me a discount so we went to the local dealership. We looked around a bit and I saw one I really liked. It was an unsold last year model with a sign hanging saying $18,000.
I took it for a drive and said, ‘I want it!’
When the papers were drawn up the manager said, ‘This works up to be $26,000.’
I said, ‘The sign said $18,000!’
He asked, ‘What sign?’
When I took him out to show him, he quickly ripped off the sign that said $18,000. He said, ‘Oh! Someone must have put the wrong price sign on it. Now let’s go back and finish that paperwork!’
I told them, ‘No, thanks.’
I knew the old bait and switch trick when I saw it.”
“My daughter and I lived in Miami, Florida, then. When I had to replace my old car, I decided to buy a three-year-old Toyota Camry (in 2003) because that was all I could afford, at the time. I checked out the ads and decided to look at the same make and model (Toyota Camry) in two different dealerships, so I could compare and buy from the one that offered the best deal.
But, at the very first dealer I visited, I saw a Camry that I liked in every way — color, mileage, price, etc. This wasn’t a Toyota dealership but a used-car dealership. My daughter was with me. She was eight years old, then. Obviously, she didn’t understand gears, cylinders, etc. But she knew that Daddy was buying a new car and was excited to be part of the process.
So, anyway, I told the lady who was selling me the car that I liked the car and how I wanted to buy it. Financing was done, at this point. We had agreed on a price and on payments, though I hadn’t signed the deal yet. The paperwork was in front of me. All I had to do was to sign it. I was happy about the deal. I was smiling. So was my daughter.
I looked at my daughter and I asked her, ‘Do you like the car?’
Before my daughter could answer, the saleslady said, ‘Are you buying this car or do you need your daughter’s permission?’
I walked out without another word. I bought a nearly-identical car from the other dealer (also a non-Toyota dealership) on identical terms. That car worked for 20 years (from 2000 to 2020), though I gave away that car in 2017 and leased myself another one. So, I made a good decision, though it was an emotional decision. I have never regretted it. I would do the same again. ”
Never Judge A Book By Its Cover
“I was young. I worked a manual labor job. I went to the dealership directly after work. While I admit I looked like I couldn’t even afford to feed myself, I did have about four times the price of the vehicle in my savings account.
When no one wanted to help me, I told one of the sales guys, ‘Forget you pal!’
I returned to my vehicle and drove away. However, I really was interested in that car. So the next morning I went back to the dealership and walked directly to the sales office.
I said, ‘I am here to buy a car from anyone but you.’
I pointed at the salesman from the day before. A young sales guy about my age jumped up and said he would show me whatever car I wanted to see.
Fast forward about 90 minutes and I was paying for the vehicle in cash.
After all the paperwork was finished and I was leaving, I was approached by the sales manager. He asked why I came in the way that I had. I explained to him the way things had gone the day before. He seemed quite upset and asked if I would talk to that individual with him. I refused. I told him his salesman’s behavior was his problem, but if I had not been in love with that car they would have lost a sale completely.
He said, ‘I will take care of it.’
I left and never went back.”