Listen up, car dealers: When we asked our Facebook followers about what annoys them most when buying a car, we got an earful. And across the board, their biggest complaint was how they were treated at dealerships. By an overwhelming margin, respondents said it was a sales representative who made the experience an unhappy one, followed by the sales or finance manager. Many also complained about having to haggle, about the amount of time it took to close a deal, and about feeling like pawns in a time-consuming game. (See our car-buying advice.)
Here’s a representative sample of their feedback.
Charles: “Why do they still do that ‘get-up-and-go-check-on-something’ rigmarole?”
Jim: “The worst part for me is to do all the homework and have the facts and figures
with me, and still have a sales/finance manager talk to me like I’m stupid!”
Dianne: “Because I am a woman, most dealerships suffer from ‘dumb-broad syndrome’
and assume I know squat. I surprised a few salesmen by knowing more than they did about the car.”
Kelly: “Don’t ever ask me ‘if I am the sole decision-maker’ in my household if I am the
only person at the dealership test-driving the vehicle. No sale for that salesperson!”
Stephen: “Getting the runaround on the phone when calling with an offer based on
Internet pricing. They always say that you really need to come in to talk price, which is a huge time dump.”
The most positive comments came from buyers who did their homework. “I researched the real price of the car,” Kevin said. “Coming from a position of strength and knowledge helped a great deal. And be willing to walk out, and make it clear you will.”
Several also reported good experiences by avoiding the haggling experience entirely, by either buying at a fixed-price location such as CarMax or Costco, or by getting up-front dealer pricing information from a service such as TrueCar or the Consumer Reports Build & Buy service.
This article also appears in the April 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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