Over the past years, many articles and books have been written to help the consumer buy a car and save hundreds of dollars. But none of these "how-to" books deal with what is expected of you -- the customer -- by the salesman.
As a salesman handling both domestic and foreign cars, I feel that now is the time to speak out and let you become a little more aware of your responsibilities. Yes, you as the buyer, must take some of the blame if your last new-car purchase was less than an enjoyable one.
Dealers and salesmen have laid aside their dishonest practices -- such as turning back the speedometer -- and they are trying to create a new image for themselves. Yet, the public still stereotypes all salesmen as dishonest.
Granted, there may be some dealers who still evade the truth, or doctor it somewhat, but these are the dealers the honest salesman would like to see shut down.
Should you encounter such a salesman and you feel that he is trying to sell you a bill of goods, get out! Check with several other dealers selling the same car and you should know who is telling the whole story and who is not.
On the other hand, for every dishonest salesman, there is a dishonest customer. The customers who doctor up their trade-in cars so they will last just long enough to be appraised and then fall apart, is just one example.
If you are going to stereotype all salesmen as dishonest, then all customers might be stereotyped as chislers, squirrels, flakes, pipe smokers, be-backs. Yet, these are not the majority of car buyers, just as the majority of salesmen are not dishonest.
If you consider making a fair profit dishonest or unfair, try going to a store selling furniture, television sets, clothing, groceries or anything else, and tell them to cut their profit to 2 percent or so of the list price and see how quickly you are thrown out.
The average profit to the dealer on a $7,000 American car is now$100 to $200, or about 2 percent. Out of that comes the salesman's commission.
Some dealers have led the public to believe they can sell cars for less money. You may have bought a car because you thought you were getting it for a lower price. But, upon occasion, customers have returned to pick that car up and found the salesman "forgot to mention" that you had to pay for the dealer preparation, glaze, undercoat and so on.
Your drive-away price is greater now than what you would have paid, had you bought from a possibly more respectable dealer.
So, what do you do now? Call the salesman a crook, get your deposit back and go back to the salesman who told you from the beginning that this would happen?
NO. This is a matter of pride now, not money.
So, for as long as you own your car you are going to be calling salesmen crooks.
A salesman also expects you to hold true to your word, just as you expect him to hold true to his. If you make an appointment to meet him at a certain time, and you find that you can't or won't be there, please let him know. Salemen have personal lives, too, and they waste hundreds of hours waiting for customers who never return.
Most people think we make more money than we do. We work, most of us, on straight commissions, and the average commission on a new American car is now less than $100.
Another thing to remember is that a salesman sells cars; he doesn't build them. If a problem arises after you take delivery, most salesmen want it fixed as much as you do. A good salesman can receive a lot of business from a satisfied customer and, for the most part, he will make sure your car gets serviced as quickly as possible if you will -- calmly -- let him know there is a problem.
Buying a new car does not have to be a battle if you simply use a little common sense and treat the salesman as you would expect him to treat you.
Believe it or not, buying a new car can, and should be, an enjoyable experience.