TL;DR: Walking out of a dealership with no car can be the best decision you make. Car dealers are SLEAZY AF.
I am in the market for a new car, so I went to the nearest Acura dealership to me. I have a new-ish Honda Pilot, but an MDX before that, and I miss my MDX so here we are.
I knew going in that my trade-in (the Pilot) is worth $4500 more than what I presently owe on it. It is lower than average miles and in excellent condition. I have a buyout offer in hand from a neighboring dealer as well.
They do the obligatory “we have to appraise” it and I told them that’s fine, but I know what it’s worth and there’s no need to sell my existing car, so I won’t be taking less than the buyout offer I have from a dealership across the street.
I ask to drive the car and my husband and I take it for a spin. It is what I expect. We return to the dealership.
I had gone through TrueCar to get an offer from this same dealership and was given an offer of $48k the night before on the car I was looking for. They tell me that TrueCar is really aggressive and the best they could do was $49k.
I warn the salesperson that when he gets me the term sheet that I am looking for the out the door cost for the car and NOT payments. I also ask for a breakdown of the fees.
He compliments my wedding ring. Tells me he was in jewelry sales before. Cool, I am wearing a plain milligrain band. I assure you, the ring is nothing to write home about.
I mention that I want roof racks and crossbars for the car. He tells me they will be $1230. I tell him the price on the Acura eStore is $850. He tells me shipping and installation makes up the difference (THIS IS A LIE). Then he tries telling me that it costs $180 just to install these (THIS IS ALSO A LIE). I tell him he can take 20% off his price for the aftermarket parts. He takes off 15.
The deal that Acura is running now is either 0.9% over 72 months (car at MSRP) OR you can take the “Internet E-Price” discount. MSRP for the car is $53k. He wants to give me $4k off.
Then the funny business happens. The sales manager comes out and tells me that there’s something wrong with my financing (through Acura). I ask what it is, he says they won’t approve me for 72 months, but only 60 months (RED FLAG). There’s nothing wrong with my financing. I tell him I don’t care about the term, it can be 36 , 48 or 60 for all I care. He starts being really slick and coming out to talk to me:
“Look, I really want to help you out here, and really want you to leave an Acura today”
“You don’t have to worry about any of this, we are going to bend over backwards to make sure you get into this car”
“Are we really only talking about a difference of $400?” (demeaning, dismissive, when I insisted he bring the offer on my trade-in to match what the other dealership had offered me.
Him and the salesperson do the “can we get you anything to make you more comfortable while we work on this” and “the finance guy is getting this into the system right now” and I respond letting them know they’ve got half an hour to get it figured out, because I have a lunch date.
Now something weird happens. I get an updated offer from a different sales agent at the SAME DEALERSHIP.
Except, it is 3k less than what they have proposed for the vehicle.
My old MDX dealer is 40 mins from my house but at this point I am willing to make the trip.
I call my contact at the old dealership. I explain the situation. He tsk tsk’s me for being at the other dealership. I ask him if he can make $46k happen, and he tells me he has to call me back.
Bear in mind, these are 2020’s sitting on the lot, and the 2021 is supposed to be coming soon. Probably delayed, but still sitting.
The salesperson comes back out and is sweet talking my husband as I return from my phone call.
I tell the salesperson about the email from HIS dealership with an offer $3k LOWER than what I am paying. You know, he could have swallowed his pride on this one but he says…
“Oh that must have been a mistake, I bet he hit the wrong button, we can’t honor a price that low”
I asked him to let my husband and I chat. In the meantime I start packing up my things and I see the salesperson come back out of the corner of my eye.
He has the keys to my trade-in and he hands them to me and says “Sorry, we could not make the financing work, thanks for coming out today”
THIS IS A TACTIC. PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE BEING TOLD NO. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt there is NOTHING wrong with my financing. Why? Because I was pre-approved through my bank before I showed up. They did not even ask, tried to hit me with a higher rate, even though I offered my pre-approval.
My husband and I left for our lunch date and my old dealership called me back. He says “Clover, if you want to make the trip out here, you’ll leave in your car for that price”
I show up at the dealership and he already has a no-bullshit term sheet drawn up. I tsk tsk’d him for putting GAP and Extended warranty on there, and he took them off.
Those aftermarket accessories? $200 markup, not $400.
He added the $500 to my downpayment from the finance company (double cash, where Acura matches your downpayment up to $500) without me asking (he knows I would have).
They matched my bank’s rate, and husband and I went to go drive it while they drew up the paperwork.
Then, I got a text message from a number I did not recognize. “Hey Clover! I’ve got some great news for you, will you give me a call when you get this?”
Oh you have GOT to be kidding.
Then, the same number calls me half an hour later and leaves a message. “Hey Clover, my Sales Manager was really upset with American Honda but he pulled some strings and we got it all sorted out for you, and we can WORK ON the price when you get here”
It was the salesperson from the other dealership, trying to convince me to come back.
Got back from my test drive at my dealership, caught up with the Sales Manager (who has been there for 8 years and sold me my first MDX) and I drove off the lot 2 hours after we got there, and now my new car is sitting in my driveway.
I texted the salesperson from the first dealership back once we got home. “I purchased from ACME Acura. Thanks.”
Moral of the story: Even the most informed and prepared of us can get swindled. If I had not received that email I would have paid $3k more for that car than I should have. Don’t be afraid to walk away. There are PLENTY of cars on the lot!