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Driving Home The Sale

| Working | November 26, 2013

(I am in the market for a used car. I find a listing online for a two-year-old RX-8 I like that’s at a nearby dealer. My friend offers to help me negotiate. She used to work in the auto finance industry in another state as a funder, the person that the dealers call when someone is looking for a car loan. We do our homework on the car the night before. After test driving the car, we sit down at the salesman’s desk.)

Friend: “We’re not going to sit here for hours while you try to beat us down. If we don’t have a deal in 15 minutes then we’re leaving. I’m starting the timer on my phone.”

(My friend makes a show of starting the timer and setting the phone on his desk.)

Salesman: *feigning enthusiasm* “That’s great! No problem at all! Let me go get the paperwork.”

(He leaves for a few minutes. While he’s gone, one of his fellow salespeople the next desk over chats us up.)

Other Salesperson: “That’s a really cool car. I have someone coming to look at it tomorrow.”

(We know from our research that the car has been on the lot for over six weeks already. So that story is probably just a line they use to help each other out. The salesman returns.)

Salesman: “I have good news and I have great news. The good news is that the car is still available. The great news is that I can let you have it for [asking price]!”

Friend: “Are you kidding me?!”

(I’m bright enough to keep quiet and let her have at him.)

Friend: “There’s no way he’s paying that price. We looked it up last night and we know that that car should be going for [about 15 percent less].”

Salesman: “Well, here’s our paperwork that shows how much we gave her for the car when it was traded in. It belonged to a former employee, and it was her baby. She took such great care of the car. As you can see, we’re already losing money on it.”

Friend: “I don’t care what you’ve put into the car. That was your fault for paying that much. I’m looking at what the car is worth today.”

(My friend pulls out some printouts from web pages we had researched it on.)

Friend: “Here’s Kelly Blue Book, and they say it’s worth [price].”

Salesman: “Well, none of the dealerships really go by Blue Book.”

Friend: “Fine. Here’s Black Book. And here’s Edmund’s. Which would you like to use? They’re all saying about the same thing.”

(One of the nearby salespeople has bolted to get the sales manager while this is going on. Less than three minutes into the conversation, the sales manager swoops in and kicks the salesman out of his chair.)

Manager: “Hi, I’m the manager. What will it take to make this deal?”

Friend: “My friend has already got his financing set up with his bank. He’s willing to give you a fair price on the car. But he’s not going to get reamed on that price just because you gave a good deal to a former employee.”

Manager: “What rate did he get? What if I can beat it?”

Friend: “We’re not going to sit here while you blast the deal out to 30 lenders.”

Manager: “I’m not going to do that. I have one place in mind. What payment are you looking for?”

(My friend nods to me, indicating that I’m allowed to speak.)

Me: “My bank gave me [rate]. I’d like to keep the payment at [payment].”

Manager: “I can work with that.”

(The manager and the salesman leave. The salesperson at the next desk isn’t feeling so chatty anymore. A few minutes later the salesman comes back.)

Salesman: *trying look upbeat* “The manager okayed the deal at 0.2 per cent lower, and that makes the payment what you are looking for.”

(My friend picks up her phone and stops the timer. It shows 14:53.)

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