Apr 132010
 

We’re spiraling down the minivan funnel. We’ve started test driving new and used models, trying to get a grip on what we want, what’s practical, and what we can afford. We found ourselves at Bob Lanphere’s Beaverton Honda test driving a new and a used Honda Odyssey. We liked the van (as much as one can like a van). We hadn’t decided on whether to sell privately or do a trade in. The salesman, we’ll call this one Jay, started to talk numbers, and I wasn’t quite prepared for that. I knew I wanted at least $7k for my car if I was to trade it in, knowing I could get $8k for it privately. The kids started screaming, he started talking fast, he wrote some 3rd generation figures on a card as we walked out the door.

That night we renewed our Consumer Reports subscription and got their new car price report ($15, do it!). It listed the dealer invoice price as well as the dealer incentives and hold-backs that make it look like the dealer is making less money than they really are. This process also notified Consumer Reports Zag program partner dealers of our interest, and they replied with quotes as well. One of those dealers was, again, Beaverton Honda. This quote was a full $3,000 less than the one our salesman scribbled on the card, and was really a very good price, earning the dealer a good $1,400 on the sale. I was happy with the internet price.

Our showroom salesman, Jay, called the next day and asked when we were coming to “pick up our van”. I let him know that I received a lower quote from their internet department. He said it was a mistake and that they would be “losing money” (that was the first of many more occurrences of that outright lie – albeit backed by very official looking invoice paperwork). The internet sales person, we’ll call this one Mary, called later and I let her know I wasn’t sure how to proceed with their two departments now laying claim to me, and that I was upset at being lied to by the showroom people – still believing they were somehow separate. I played phone tag with Mary for a couple days, bouncing partial quotes back and forth over email, until she finally caught me at work today (which is odd since they day before she said she would be going on vacation for three days and I should close on the deal then so as to not lose my chance to get that particular van…)

Mary started off politely, trying to explain the discrepancy in price as being due to my wanting $7k for my car – which Jay had agreed to. Of course Jay agreed to this by padding the living crap out of the price for the vehicle. I told Mary that I would rather sell my car privately and wait a few weeks to buy the van rather than lose the $3k by trading it in to them for the $5k she offered. This is where the conversation got weird, and I can’t hope to capture it here. Mary first started trying to convince me my car wasn’t worth what the KBB says it’s worth. When that didn’t work, she suggested I buy the van now and refinance the loan after I sell my car. When I told her a refinance wasn’t free, she cut me off and said “What is free in this world?” I should have hung-up right there, but I have this delusional sense of obligation to make the other person understand, and see reason. (Yes, I know, she understood perfectly well.) I had mentioned that we planned to use the 2.9% Honda financing, to which she replied “You can have this price or the financing, but not both.” I replied with “So for this price that you quoted me, you won’t give me the Honda Customer Incentive 2.9% financing?”. “If I do, will you buy the car today?” What? That doesn’t even make sense. She proceeded to try the “There are only 3 left, and there won’t be any more.” line, then the “You work for a living, we have to make money too.” line – which I don’t understand as I wasn’t asking them to lower the price, then the “You’ve spent a lot of Jay’s time and my time.” line, and finally my personal favorite “Can you just be frank with me and give me the number you have in mind?”. Frank? Really? _You_ want _me_ to be frank with you… “What can we do to get your business?” “We aren’t going to do anything Mary, we’re done.” “Well I’m done with you sir!”. Click.

The sad thing is, I was ready to wait a couple weeks, get my car sold, and go hand them a wad of cash and finance the rest. Maybe I’d have to wait a couple weeks for them to find one of the two colors we found acceptable, but I was ready to do it. Their dealership is close, the service department is close, our friends had a good experience there. But instead, Mary decided to try and bully me into making a rash decision to purchase a thirty-thousand-dollar vehicle. So not only did she not make a sale today, she lost the sale she would have had in a couple weeks time. I’m also doing my very best to warn potential buyers of this dealership’s complete disregard for ethical salesmanship. They’ve lost more than one sale this day.

It’s different at Beaverton Honda alright. The names and possibly the gender of the salespeople mentioned in this post have been changed to mock the guilty.

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