The economy is in a bad spot lately and people aren’t buying cars – at least that is what the news proposes. I think that may be true, but the car dealers are either dumb or just don’t care. This is my story….
My company car lease was up in May so I figured the timing works out great since I can either extend the current lease cheap for another year or get a great deal on a new car lease. Boy, was I wrong on both counts. I contacted my current lease provider and asked what the lease payment would be to keep the car for an additional year. I figured that they didn’t want the car back since no one is buying cars and would love to have me keep it. They said my lease payment would double and couldn’t give me a rational explanation as to why. What the heck? So I dropped the car off and moved on to looking at new cars.
I was looking at the usual suspects and some not usual ones – BMW, Lexus, Volvo, Acura, VW, Hyundai (hey don’t knock the Genesis), Infiniti, and Audi. I figured with these brands the dealers would “get it” and give me a good deal and leave out all of the stereotypical car sales BS. Unfortunately that NEVER happened or even came close.
I wanted to make my life easy and leverage the Internet to work with the dealers. So I started emailing them asking for the best lease deal for the model car I was looking at with the general options I wanted. Many of the dealers said I had to come in to the dealership for the best pricing and would give me nothing in email (one dealer eventually did but then said that it was only valid for the next 4 hours so I better come in and take a test drive – what a dope). On the opposite side of the spectrum, several dealers gave me all of the information and said that was the best deal they could do. Those dealers seemed to be giving me good numbers until I checked Google, Edmunds, and other sites.
I finally narrowed my choice down to an Acura TL. It had all of the technology toys I was looking for, drove great, and it looked to be a good bang for the buck since the lease payment was less than any other of the cars I researched. So now I needed to find the right dealer. I did the same routine above with the Chicagoland Acura dealers and got the same results. Some dealers would give me nothing via email or phone and others were more open about it. The sad thing is that I visited a couple of the dealers for a test drive and both of them pretty much ignored me when walking in the door or after the test drive. It is quite disheartening to walk in to a largely empty car dealership and have no one pay attention to you for nearly 30 minutes even though you went to the counter and asked for a sales person twice.
So I finally chose the least worse dealer. The lease payment was on par with the numbers I had been getting (they said it was their best possible deal even though I saw others getting better deals in other states) so I went in to lease the car. Sad to say after two hours with them I drove off with the car but will never do business with the dealer again. They put me through the stereotypical dealer 101 sales pitch and cycle. Their finance guy showed me his computer screen to explain all of the financing. When I started questioning numbers (i.e. the sales price for the car) he was not smart enough to handle it and ended up changing the numbers on the screen and the lease payment dropped nearly $100 per month and they were still making money off the deal. In the end the finance manager came in, actually yelled at me, said that we were working off the lease payment for negotiation and not the price of the car (Yeah right… I’m stupid), ended up dropping the lease payment some and then said that I didn’t deserve getting more of his money but he would do it anyway. Yikes.
What perplexed me the most was that all of the dealers were so short sighted. Here I am leasing a company car, which means that I will be needing to lease another one in 3 years. You would think they would want my repeat business, but all of the dealers seemed only focused on the transaction. They didn’t care about me as their customer, they didn’t care about tyring to maintain a relationship, they were not proactive with anything, and their responsiveness and communication skills were severely lacking. My basic business practice is to treat my clients as family, be responsive, communicate, and take care of whatever they need. If no one is buying cars how come the dealers are not even doing the basics? I just don’t get it.
I’ve had the new Acura TL for a couple of weeks and love it. Great car if you are looking for one. Just don’t buy it from the dealer I did and you should be OK.