The first lesson of car buying is: salesmen lie. That this is no newsflash proves the point. Now, I'm sure that most car salesmen are well-intended folks who are just trying to put food on the table. I also understand that most of them don't make much money on each car they sell. But why is it that, for everyone else (randy Presidents, obsequious Vice Presidential chiefs of staff, alcohol-addled heiresses), lying is a punishable offense, yet for salesmen, lying is rewarded?
Case in point: I'm test-driving a certain Teutonic titan yesterday, with the salesman in the passenger seat beside me. He mentions that one of his customers just returned an even nicer car after only one month and a thousand miles because the customer is being "relocated." He says the car is like new. Beeeep! Lie number one. It's a demo model. We all know how prospective customers abuse those demo models during test drives, just the way the salesman is encouraging me to do that very moment. Then, when I ask the salesman how many thousands less the "returned" car is selling for, he says it's worth even more money than a new car, because the dealership has given it "Certified Pre-Owned" status which includes a longer warranty and an extensive "reconditioning" that adds $3,500 to the price of the car. Brrrnnnggg! Lie number two. "Like new" cars that are one month old with a thousand miles don't need extensive reconditioning. When I point this out to the salesman, I get The Tell. The way to tell that a salesman is lying is simply to push back with a factual retort and watch what happens. He will move his lips, and a stream of words will emerge, but they will make no sense. Because he has no answer.
A few minutes later, I complain to the salesman that, as some magazine and online automobile reviewers have pointed out, the car hesitates annoyingly from a dead stop. His reply? "That's deliberate." Gonnnnggg! Lie number three. When I ask him why a car maker would want its cars to hesitate, then lurch forward when the driver hits the accelerator, he again gives me The Tell -- a mealy-mouthed answer that I cannot decipher.
A few minutes later, his supervisor, the Assistant Sales Manager, tells me lie number four. He says that his dealership would offer me the Edmunds True Market Value (TMV) Price
. At the Edmunds.com web site
, it is explained in boldface type
that "Whenever there is an advertising fee, we take it into account when calculating TMV."
These advertising fees are often referred to as DAG
(both of which are acronyms, I believe). However, when the manager writes out an offer for me, he puts down extra fees on top of the Edmunds TMV price, and mentions that he was adding a "MAK fee." Zzzzzaaaapppp!
That means that he was trying to charge me twice for the same fee.
Eventually, I lost count of the lies, and pulled away in the car in which I had arrived -- a shiny, like-new model that I have only driven to church on Sundays.