Saturday, 11 May 2013

In the market for a car

We're in the market for a new car.   It's probably overdue, but we've held off from getting one until now because the purchase process is so time-consuming.    It is, of course, tempting, just to rush into the nearest dealer and say, "I'll have one of those, and please can I have a blue one".   However, there are so many cars to choose from, you feel that you have to research the various possibilities on the internet, then you have to inspect at least some of them.  This leads to a test drive .... and so on.

However, at this stage, there are two aspects of the car-buying process that have begun to annoy me.

First is the lack of price transparency.     Life would be so much easier if every car had a price tag on it.  Instead, we're given a "ball-park" figure, and told, "Of course, there are good deals at the moment so the price is negotiable".  While I have got to the stage of gently prodding for an indicative final figure, I can't quite bring myself to ask the sales person for their "best and final price" until we're ready at least to seriously consider their car.  Perhaps I'm too soft?  

The other issue that bugs me is that you become locked into the first sales person who latches on to you when you walk into the showroom.  Once this occurs, apparently the commission-driven etiquette is that no other sales person will deal with you.    In one particular dealership, we were left abandoned when the sales person who initially spoke to us left us to deal with another customer (who, admittedly, really was on the verge of buying).  In hindsight, we ought to have gone to the reception desk and asked for someone else to help us.  Instead, we eventually walked out, with the strong impression that the dealership would prefer to lose the opportunity for any sale at all (which it did) rather than disturb the culture that a particular sales person seems to "own" the customer.  We ended up deleting this brand from our list of "possibles":  while the car didn't appeal, the fact that no attempt was made to "talk up" its virtues obviously didn't help.

A variation on this is where the sales person tells you that their day off is, say, Wednesday, and so if we want to follow up, please call either before or after this day.

We seem to forget that we're the customer and so we acquiesce in both these situations.   Disturbingly, it seems to show elements of the "Stockholm syndrome"!

Footnote - since preparing the above post, we have in fact committed to a car.  More about this later.

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