3 ways to say no at a car deal­er­ship

How to say no at the car deal­er­ship


Iwas buy­ing a new car when the fi­nance man­ager be­gan pitch­ing a wheel and tire pro­tec­tion plan. He even pulled out his cell phone and showed me a pic­ture of a dam­aged wheel.

“My wife has used it five times,” he said. “So I’m sure you’d like it to pro­tect your new car.”

“No, thank you,” I said, and clamped my mouth shut.

He heaved a dis­ap­pointed sigh and drew up the sales con­tract with­out the ad­di­tion.

Now, 18 months later, my tires and wheels are in per­fect con­di­tion and that money is still in my bank ac­count.

Why it’s hard to say no

When a car dealer pitches a host of items at a buyer al­ready worn down by a pro­longed sales process, it’s no ac­ci­dent that you want to say yes or of­fer a rea­son for say­ing no.

“As chil­dren, we are taught not to go against au­thor­ity,” psy­chother­a­pist F. Diane Barth writes in Psy­chol­ogy To­day. “We are sup­posed to do what par­ents, teach­ers and oth­ers in power tell us to do.”

I think you could add “car sales­per­son” to that list of au­thor­ity fig­ures.

As a vet­eran fi­nance and in­surance man­ager once told me, if you can get peo­ple say­ing yes, they will keep say­ing yes.

Your job is to be able to say no to items you re­ally don’t want or will pos­si­bly never use.

Add-ons and ex­tras

The most pop­u­lar item that is up­sold is the ex­tended warranty.

But there are plenty of other good­ies the dealer just knows you’ll love:

• Anti-theft prod­ucts such as ad­di­tional alarms or a ve­hi­cle lo­cat­ing de­vice.

• Paint pro­tec­tion and pin­strip­ing. • Fab­ric pro­tec­tion for the up­hol­stery. • Wheel and tire pro­tec­tion plans.

• Gap in­surance.

• Pre­paid main­te­nance plans.

• Paint­less dent re­pair for door dings. Some deal­er­ships have an even more di­rect way of up­selling items: They in­stall them ahead of time on the car. Then, if you protest, they say, “Sorry, it’s al­ready on the car.”

Deal­er­ships of­ten give you ad­vanced warn­ing of these up­sells by post­ing an “ad­den­dum” to the win­dow sticker on the car.

This ad­den­dum is usu­ally a slim sticker next to the of­fi­cial fac­tory win­dow sticker, and it lists ex­tra prod­ucts — such as cus­tom wheels, run­ning boards and mud flaps. The to­tal price of all the items is added to the sticker price of the car, even though most peo­ple ne­go­ti­ate a be­low-MSRP price.

How many ways do I need to say no?

Know­ing that the up­sell is com­ing puts you ahead of the game.

You can de­cide, in ad­vance, if there is some­thing you want, such as gap in­surance or an ex­tended warranty. And you can have, in ad­vance, an an­swer for the pres­sure tac­tics you are likely to face.

Here are three strate­gies to emerge un­scathed from the deal­er­ship:

Strat­egy 1: Ne­go­ti­ate the out-the-door price

The sooner you know about add-ons, the eas­ier they will be to de­cline.

If you’ve seen an ad­den­dum to the win­dow sticker, you know what you’re up against and can po­litely say, “I want the car, but I’m not go­ing to pay for the ex­tra items that were added.”

But if there is no ad­den­dum, there still might be add-ons or ex­tras on the cars such as a pre-in­stalled car alarm.

To smoke out ex­tras and add-ons sim­ply say, “I’d like to see a break­down of the fees and what my out-the-door price is.” Any ex­pe­ri­enced sales­per­son knows ex­actly what you’re ask­ing.

Strat­egy 2: Make a pre­emp­tive re­fusal

Car sales­peo­ple are very alert to the cus­tomer’s knowl­edge level.

If you seem savvy, they are more likely to stream­line the deal and ac­cept a lower profit just to move the metal. So one ex­pe­ri­enced car shop­per rec­om­mended say­ing no firmly and po­litely right up­front.

You can say, “I know you have to present these items to me. But I’m not in­ter­ested in buy­ing any­thing ex­tra.” At this point, the fi­nance and in­surance man­ager will prob­a­bly back off.

Strat­egy 3: Have a fall­back an­swer

You don’t have to jus­tify your de­ci­sion not to buy the deal­er­ship’s add-ons.

But ag­gres­sive sales­peo­ple will probe for a rea­son for your re­fusal and then try to over­come it with a scripted re­sponse.

If this hap­pens to you, here’s a handy ap­proach: Just tell them you don’t plan to keep the car for longer than three years. This means you will al­ways be cov­ered by the in­cluded fac­tory warranty.


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