Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Buying a New Car, Part 3: The Negotiation

By Scott Araujo
In my last post, Buying a New Car, Part 2: The Search, Andy and I had looked at and test driven the cars on The List and narrowed down the choices.

So, after a few days of test drives, tire kicking, and reflection I've decided to look for a leftover 2013 Scion xD. Andy pointed out a fairly obvious fact though, I didn't want the Series model I looked at. It's got alloy wheels, limited edition paint, blue LED stuff everywhere, and a solar powered gearshift knob that glows in the dark, and I don't need any of it.

2013 Scion xD Series 10
I like things simple. I'm not a guy who seeks out flashy stuff and doo-dads. All the Series widgets are cool but not really my cup of tea. While the leftover Series is a screaming deal, I can save myself some cash if I just get a base model.

I popped back the Toyota/Scion dealer and asked for the salesman we had the other day. I guess retirement wasn't so bad after all because he went back to it. Too bad, he was a nice guy. The manager finds me another salesman to take care of me.

I told him I was in before and I'd like to take another look at the xD and xB. We head out to where the cars are on the lot. While I had problems with the center console in the xB, I wanted to be sure it really was a deal breaker because the rest of the car was great.

They only have the xD Series models on the lot, nothing in a base model leftover. He checks the inventory, nope, these are the last two leftovers with manual transmissions. The other day was cloudy and today it's bright and sunny. I can see that the color is this weird metallic baby blue that looked cool on the cloudy day we saw it but that I don't really like when I see it in the full sun.

"Why don't you want one of these?" asked the salesman.

"Well they've got lots of options included that I don't really need, I'd rather get the base model and save some money," I replied.

"But it's got this great stereo!"

"Yeah but I don't want it ..."

"But it's got alloy rims!"

"Yeah, I don't need those and I don't really like the color the Series comes in," I quipped.

"The color? That's not important!" he said in a very matter-of-fact tone. (OMG did he really just say that?)

I'm going to look at it and drive it every day so the color is important to me. I ask if he can get a base model in dark gray from another dealer but he says there are none around.

I ask to take another look at the xB. It's still the same; a great car that I hit my elbow on. "But I can have a guy reupholster that for about $100 and take maybe a quarter inch of height off it," said the sales guy.  Well I'd really need to take off about one and a half to two inches. "I'm sure they could do something."  It's only two inches thick to start with. "They can do it."  Ok, so it's obvious at this point that he's only interested in selling me a car and doesn't care about anything I say. I tell him thanks very much but I don't want to buy today. He walks off in a pretty foul mood, as if I was obligated to buy a car and I was just wasting his time.

I decide to check other local dealers on the web for a leftover xD. As luck would have it I quickly find one in dark gray and it's not too far away. Since it's late and the dealers are all closed, I just send some e-mails. Though only one dealer lists one in their inventory, I know what's online isn't always up to date, so I figure it's worth e-mailing all of them even if they don't list any. Plus it seems that any time you actually speak with a car dealer they just want you to come down, sit in cars, and buy one on the spot. E-mail allows some distance from the usual fast talking.

Sending e-mail was the way to go. The next morning while I'm at work I start getting responses. I send any calls to voice mail since I am at work, answering e-mails only takes a second.

2014 Scion xD

It turns out the dealer who had the xD leftover online is the only one who really had one in stock. It also turns out this is a no-haggle dealer. I'm buying a no-haggle car from a no-haggle dealer, how hard could this be, right?

Beware: No haggle pricing
Wow did it go sideways fast. I e-mailed to ask if I could come down and see it, and if I like it put down a deposit. What followed was a day of total frustration that made me really glad I decided to do this by e-mail.

First, the car is still in port, which seems odd for a 2013 leftover. Then they say the car in port is actually a 2014. Do I want that?  No. "Well the 2013 was sold months ago but they forgot to take it down. How about any of these 2014s?"  They send a list of three cars all with automatic and loaded with options. I restate that I'm only interested in a new 2013 xD with stick in dark gray and no options. "How about one of these used xDs?"  What part of "new" did you not understand? They admit that they don't have what I'm looking for. Then I see I have a voicemail. "Please call me back right away, we've got great news about your car!" Sorry, would that be the car you just told me you didn't have?

shell game

Now I'm pretty angry at this point. I've spent a day going back and forth and I feel like all I've been getting is the run around. Now, after refusing to buy all the other cars they pushed at me, they've got great news? I send a strongly worded e-mail to ask them to please state plainly what exactly is going on. I get a response back that they have a 2013 xD with manual and no options, but they need a $500 deposit which they can take over the phone.

Used car salesman

I call the salesman's manager to find out what the deal is and to express my displeasure. The manager explains that the Scion Pure Price policy says if they advertise it, they have to sell it at that price. The salesman was not aware of this. Even though they had sold that car they were still obligated to get it for me at that price since it was still listed on the website. They had found one at a dealer several hundred miles away that they would ship in to make good on the deal, but they want a $500 deposit before they pay to ship it. I've kept my cool but I'm so happy I did this through e-mail instead of heading down there to deal with this idiocy in person. I told him there's no way I'm giving him my credit card over the phone for a deposit. He says it's completely refundable, or I could also come down to pay in person. No way, and at this point I tell him I don't want to deal with them at all. Please don't contact me.

I was so excited about Scion with their simple no haggle purchase policy. The whole no-haggle experience has soured me a bit. To be fair to the dealer, I looked and the car was removed from the site soon after. Was it just a series of honest mistakes?  I think it probably was, but I was also on the receiving end of it all for a day and it did not give me any warm fuzzies. I guess that regardless of the brand, a car dealer is a car dealer, and salesman are salesman. Some are good and some aren't. I decide to step back for a day or two and re-think things.


MattyWiggles said...

Always best to step back and rethink when something goes as sour as that did. For such a big purchase, it always grinds my gears how dealerships make it out to be just another normal type purchase.

Have you looked into the Ford Fiesta at all? I know you took the Nissan Versa/Note off your list too, but I have been driving my 2014 Note for 6 months now and love it for what it is. Not the best interior but it drives just fine and the manual keeps it fun.

Ducati Scotty said...

I did consider the Fiesta but the rear seat was just too tight.