We’re shopping for a new vehicle, and with just a very basic bit of research from Cars.com, I learned that a salesman lied to our faces today. Needless to say, we won’t be shopping there for this or any future vehicle…
Sarah and I have a bit of a dilemma. We need a bigger car. See, if we want to go somewhere with just our son, no problem. Sarah’s Jetta is a bit tight but can hold us just fine, and my Prius is quite roomy for two adults and an infant. The problem is that when you add our 100lb labrador into the mix, the Prius starts to resemble a clown car-we open it up after travel, and out tumbles bags, stroller, dog, dog bed, all sorts of baby accessories…it’s tight. Since Sarah’s lease on the Jetta is up this fall, it makes sense for us to replace her car with an SUV, station wagon, or something similar.
Car shopping with just two adults is easy. Head to the dealership, take a test drive, shop around, find the car, drive off. Since we have a baby with us, we’re doing this in several parts. First, we’ve scoped out Cars.com and Edmunds to get an idea of what cars fall into our price range (we’re looking for used/”certified pre-owned”). We’re visiting dealerships as we pass by running errands, even if we have the baby in tow, and doing quick visuals of the cars on our shortlist. This way, when we can get someone to watch our son one afternoon, we can maximize our test drive time and not waste a trip to dealerships selling cars that won’t work for our needs. We had success visiting Ford and Honda over the weekend, and wanted to stop by the local Mazda dealership, Crystal Auto Mall, to check out their CX-9 and CX-5 SUVs.
I’d done some basic homework ahead of the visit and knew that a CX-9 coming off lease from 2010-2011 would fall easily into our price range. We checked out the brand new CX-9 on the sales floor just to get an idea of the cargo space, and we explained our situation and needs to the salesman to see what his thoughts were on cars and whether there were other models worth considering. He immediately agreed the CX-9 was a good choice for us, and Sarah asked about the availability and price range of certified pre-owned CX-9s. Without skipping a beat, the salesman looked us in the eye and explained the CX-9 was “too new” to be available used, and that given our needs, it would be “nearly impossible” to find a used SUV that would work for us. In other words, we had no choice but to spend $30,000+ on a car, because everyone buying SUVs apparently drives them into the ground and never resells them.
If we hadn’t been there with our son, who was finally happily napping, I would have shown the salesman what I showed Sarah as soon as he finished his sentence-that cars.com showed not only CX-9s in our price range used, but that the dealership had them on the lot. So the salesman either knew nothing about his product, or he lied to us because he figured two women, young baby, no time to research a car…anything he tells us will be gospel! Instead of embarrassing him on the spot, we just walked out. As it turns out, a quick complaining post on Facebook led to a friend sharing several stories about Crystal Auto Mall and their less than savory practices. Clearly, this wasn’t a one-time issue but an ongoing one with pushy salesmen and a lack of respect for the customer.
The salesman’s attitude was so over the top that my bullsh-t meter would have gone off even if we hadn’t done some prior research, but it did cement that a car buyer’s best friend is the internet. It’s keeping us from wasting time on makes and models we know from the start aren’t big enough, and more importantly, it means we know ahead of time that excuses like “That car we’ve been making for years isn’t available used. Please pay 30% more for it new.” are just over the top hard sales.
What’s your tactic for avoiding pushy car salesmen? Have you found the internet has evened the playing field between car buyer and seller? And do you have any ideas on a good car for a growing family and a large dog that isn’t a minivan? Share your best and worst stories in the comments!