8 moves that drive car salesmen crazy

Asking for prices by phone, shopping around for financing and lying are some customer tricks that dealerships hate.

By Kim Peterson Feb 26, 2013 3:52PM
Image: Car salesman showing couple new silver hatchback in car showroom, opening boot, smiling, side view - Juice Images, Cultura, Getty ImagesWhat do customers do and say that irritate car dealerships?

The website Reddit asked car salespeople to weigh in on this. What's something you don't want customers to know when buying a car?

What took place was a wide-ranging discussion on the frustrating and often intimidating process of negotiating for a new or used vehicle. Overall, the consensus was the same: People who do their research and come armed with information stand a much better chance at nabbing a great deal. And when you're negotiating on a car, one of the best advantages you have is patience.

From that discussion, here are eight moves that drive car salespeople crazy:

1. Using your phone to check prices. "As a former car salesman our greatest fear was your smartphone," one contributor wrote. "If we gave you a number and you had a smartphone in your hand with Autotrader or some other site pulled up, we were neutered."

2. Asking for the sales manager. The salesperson approaching you on the lot has no power. The sales manager is the one making decisions, and customers can ask to speak directly to that person. "You won't believe how many times we were told what to say to a customer," wrote one person who said he was a former car salesman. "I started hating myself. I even started smoking and my anxiety was through the roof."

3. Calling in to check prices.
Customers call up dealerships, say they have other offers on a car and ask for that dealership's best offer. "Basically, the customer actually makes the dealer give the lowest out-the-door price they're willing to," wrote one contributor.

4. Asking for the Carfax report.
Carfax is a company that keeps a database with background information about specific vehicles. "CarFax is pretty much extortion for dealerships," wrote one person. "They have created a semi-false sense of security for consumers who MUST have the CarFax stating that their sweet used ride is not actually a lemon, when in reality CarFax can and does make a lot of mistakes -- and the dealer must pay for the service regardless."

5. Lying. Car salespeople have zero trust in buyers, one contributor wrote. Buyers lie about whether a trade-in has been in an accident. They lie about getting a better price from another dealer. They promise to show up the next day and never return. They spend hours negotiating and then walk away. "So everyone who says sales people are scum, customers are 10x worse," that person adds.

6. Obsessively inspecting a used car. Dealerships will do anything to get a used car looking brand new, but appearances don't hold up. "Our repairs are sometimes just a quick patch not meant for the long haul," wrote one contributor. "When you buy a used car, make sure you check every square inch of the body to make sure nothing is awry, and ask to see a list of repairs done on the car."

7. Shopping around for financing. The finance department is one of a dealership's major profit centers. Dealers often make more money on the finance than on the car itself.

8. Skipping the add-ons, like protection for the car's paint. Those packages are another profit point for a dealership. "Paint protection packages (and even many undercoatings) are a fancy way of saying 'special car wax,'" wrote one person who claimed to have worked for a dealership for six years.

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Feb 26, 2013 4:37PM
One move that drives an auto buyer is the price asked for a used car that is withing $500 dollars of a new car of the same make and model. I experienced that today at a Honda dealership on a CRV that was a 2010 model with the same equipment. That is an insult to the intelligence of the car shopper, and means that I will not set foot on that dealership ever again. The damn car was THREE years old and out of warranty also. Lying salesmen and sales managers have no right to complain about anyone else lying, not even politicians.
Feb 26, 2013 4:55PM

The whole haggling process is archaic and needs to go away.   A salesperson's jobs should be to go out and bring customers in the door, demo the cars.. maybe even persuade me that your Ford is better than their Chevy.  But this thing where a Ford dealer offers me a price and I call up another Ford dealer to put them in competition with each other... that's just silly. Give me a price... a price that makes you a respectable profit and that you can stand by... and let that be the price.  Not just for me but for everyone, from every dealer.  The thing that pisses people off about car sales is the feeling, true or not, that someone got a better deal than them and they got screwed.




Feb 26, 2013 4:58PM
If some one treats you right gives you a "competitive price" and follows up with great service.....thats people want.  "Long after the cheap price is forgotten the poor quality remains"....This goes for service too.
Feb 26, 2013 5:43PM
I sell cars and I don't find any of these things annoying.  If the customer is doing these things it pretty much means they are buying from you.  Wow, I would hate that!!  What I can't stand, and probably the only thing, is when the customer expects you to jump through hoops and do all this extra work for them only to find out they have purchased somewhere else or nothing at all.  Ex.  Can you see if you can get me a black such and such with such and such and add such and such to it at such and at such a price.  So after getting all the information they need, which could take hours, they shopped your price and bought somewhere else for 100 dollars less.  Please people, respect the person that does the work for you.  We are commissioned sales people and deserve a little bit of respect for our time.  Most of us want to help you and make you happy.  Obviously most of the negative comments on here are from people who have had bad experiences.  It is not like that in most places.  Be informed and educated and you will be treated properly.  Be a jerk and a know it all and you will be treated as such.  And that is the bottom line. 
The best time I ever had buying a car was the one I purchased 10 years ago. It was, then, a 10 year old Jeep Sahara and though the car is now 20, I still own it. BUT here is the story. I walked in, tested it, and told the salesman "I will give you $5000 cash, not a penny more" (the car was listed on the lot for $5700. He affirmed yes with the manager and made sure that I did not pay for anything, tax, tag, title, or anything more. I handed them fifty $100 bills. Now I know he made a profit, I was not there to screw them over, and I got my deal. It was a win win (oh the best part was that I drove away in less than 1 hour from the time I showed up). Cash... always cash from now on.
Feb 26, 2013 6:08PM

i have sold cars for 30 years. i have no problem with educated buyers. they do their homework and they are actually less of a problem than those who have no idea what they want. where does MSN find these so called experts. dealerships have'nt sold paint sealants in over a decade

 most dealerships do a fine job of fixing up their trades. they want to sell you your next car. only trash dealers selling to people who can't finance a car patch their cars.

any real dealerships is fine with you knowing as much as possible and teach their sales people not to lie. it's not about selling you that car, it's about selling you your next 10 cars and everyone in your family and you only do that by treating people right and being hoest.

seems like they found a bunch of washed out car salesmen to get their story from

Feb 26, 2013 5:39PM
There actually are salespeople out there who ARE honest and CAN do the deal directly with the buyer , and fairly. Granted , you will have to look around , but find the SMALL New Car dealer who has been around forever. The mega-dealers who are volume minded DO program there people to where they are little more than puppet mouthpieces or "go-betweens" , but there are exceptions . Smaller dealers tend to give there small staff more lattitude, because many times salespeople have been with them for years. They are still in buisness because people get to know who they are and usually become repeat buyers because they were treated well. I worked for a small dealer ( 2-3 sales people), and  was able to make my own deals and approve trade ins. We DID NOT preasure buyers into items they did not want , and took the time to hear what they wanted. I realize this approach goes against everything most people think dealers do , but it was " the old school way" , and it can and will still work today. When a man or woman comes in and buys a car from you , and then brings their children and family in for a car , and then their friends , you know you did the right thing and have happy buyers for many years to come. If anyone thinks that it doesn't work , I was the number 1 salesman for Buick in our zone  for 2 straight years ; not bragging , just showing that honesty does work , and you can still find it... IF YOU LOOK FOR IT.
Feb 26, 2013 4:56PM
I think it's halarious you crybabies will camp out for two days to spend $750.00 on an I phone that will sell six months later for $199.00 and get a $50.00 mail in rebate.
Feb 26, 2013 4:37PM
#5 just kills me, thank God a used car salesman has never lied to sell a car. 
Feb 26, 2013 4:36PM
I would think that in this day and age that car salesmen had best seek to accomodate the customer as best as they can.  Prove to me that Edge is really worth 28,000 dollars.
Feb 26, 2013 5:20PM

I don't know why anyone would want to sell cars in this day and age. I sold them for a short time back in the early 70s and it was tough enough then. People acted like they hated you no matter how well you treated them, and now these day they walk into a showroom with the invoice on what your selling them. You get paid on the net profit which must be pretty small now. Believe it or not an honest customer can be as hard to find sometimes as an honest salesman. It goes both ways. We used to get paid 20 per cent on the net profit and I would be willing to bet that hasn't changed to this day. A raise is an unheard of word for a car salesman. They just tell you to sell more cars. There are a lot of good honest people in the car business. It can be the most frustrating experience of you life. Go try it.

Feb 26, 2013 5:36PM
With 20 years in the car business, both with new franchise stores and independent dealers, I have heard these conversations over and over.  The most vocal dissatisfied customers are normally the ones trying to buy a vehicle well above their means.  The most vocal dissatisfied car people are the ones that have had to deal with irrational customers on a daily basis for a number of years, but stay in the business for those customers intelligent enough to do their research, know what a good deal is, and make a reasonable offer.  I'm sick and tired of every car person in the world being thrown under the bus just because some loud mouth with a computer can whine and share his or her side of the story without revealing all the facts. Go pick on somebody in politics, I promise that you will find far worse scum.
Feb 26, 2013 5:05PM
I hate it when you walk into a dealership and being a woman, they act like you dont know what you are talking about.  I did my research, I know what I want and what I dont want and they act like I will never find what i want for the price I want.  I was going to garage my mustang for the winter and was looking to buy a car to drive in the winter and paying cash $6000 and no higher. Some salesman just looked at me like I was stupid and others stayed around for a minute once he found out that I was not going over that amount and then would disappear.
Feb 26, 2013 4:45PM
From the salesmans point of view, there is not a more warming feeling than when a client that "has a freind that can buy them at the auction for $2000.00 less" pulls in the service department with a car that was deep-sixed in a flood.
Feb 26, 2013 5:31PM
really MSN, in 2 weeks there has been 2 articles about  car sales and the people who work at dealerships, is there some sort of vendetta you have towards car salesman? Did you come home to find your wife with a car salesman because you couldnt take care of her yourself. Get the hell over it we are real people too, how about an article about jewelry sales (300%) markup or window sales man 50-70% mark-up, no lets just keep trashing car salesman cause "its the thing to do". Yep we are all just lying jerks that cant do $%^& on our own. MSN please , pretty please "GO F#$% YOURSELVES!!!!" Try putting some relevant news on here.
Feb 26, 2013 6:00PM

The reason car salesmen get such a bad reputation is partly the fault of the customer. It is one of the only businesses where you can still argue the price but the consumer's quest to make sure that the dealership makes as little profit as possible only hurts the salesperson. If you truly want a great buying experience, determine how much a fair profit would be for the dealership for the particular vehicle you are looking for and negotiate that. There is not a dealer in the country that will turn down a profitable deal. The issues arise when customer's believe they know more than the dealer about what the dealer paid for the car and what the trade is worth. Just FYI.. you don't. Profit is not a dirty word. How can you expect the best experience from your sales person when you expect them to not make any money when you buy a car. Almost everyone at the dealership is paid on a commission only pay plan. When the customer changes their perceptions that the dealer shouldn't make a profit, the easier it will become to buy a new or used vehicle.

Feb 26, 2013 5:22PM
It doesn't matter what business you are in or what side of the negotiating table you are on lying is unacceptable. Period. As to the rest of the things that drive sales people crazy--Oh well, deal with it.
Feb 26, 2013 5:15PM

One of my most favorite memories of my Dad was in the summer of 1966.  He was wheeling and dealing for a new 1966 Mercury Comet.  He were trading in 1954 Chevy.  He must have been dealing for over two hours, and the dealership finally came down to a price with the trade of $3,636 and change.  My Dad looked at the number and simply stated that he could only write round numbers in his checkbook.


They were so pi$$ed.  They took that 54 Chevy for a test drive,,,,peeled out the lot, up the highway, came back...nearly setting the chevy sideways in the gravel.  The guy came in and said in a huff, give him his damn $36 dollars.   My Dad wrote the check for $3,600.


You know, I still use that tactic myself.

Feb 26, 2013 5:24PM
One of the worst experiences I've had was buying a new car, then going back to the same dealership a few years later to trade it in. (Dan Wolfe in Naperville, IL) I was low-balled on my trade-in even though I bought it there. They then played the "keep the keys" game to get me to submit. I almost called the police on them, but they found my keys before I did. I ended up going to another dealer, getting more for my trade-in, and getting the vehicle I wanted for thousands less.
Feb 26, 2013 6:10PM

I have been to dealerships and purchased many vehicles since I got my drivers license. I am a professional businessman and I have seen bad apples both on the dealership side and the customer side. I can honestly say that I have only had one bad experience myself but I have witnessed countless situations wher the customers were rude and hateful to the salesperson. I have even heard them bragging to each other while the salesperson was away how they were lying to him.  The thing is these guys have a job to do and have to support thier family. I am sure if we took a poll we would probably find that people like RJ2cents probably lead a miserable life and I bet if we ask those who know him we would find out that their opinion of him is probably not far from what his is of the car saleman. I have actually had worse experiences in electronics or furniture stores than I have at car dealerships.

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