What sort of payments were you looking for?
September 5, 2006 7:35 AM   Subscribe

What's it like to buy/lease a car anywhere other than in the US?

Our son is off to technical school and taking our other car with him. So we recently started the ordeal of shopping for some cheap, reliable transportation for use by myself and, eventually, our soon-to-get-her-permit daughter (wife uses the other car for her daily commute)

Starting the shopping for another car reminded me why I so loathe the process. I feel like I am wearing "Please fuck me up the ass with a razor-barbed dildo" emblazoned on my shirt as I walk on the dealer's lot. Yes, I've read all the "how not to get screwed" materials, and have found them to be of moderate-to-no help, really. Anyway, that's not really part of the question.

Is shopping for a car as notoriously messed-up elsewhere? Or is it a fairly straight-forward, "this is the price" process? Or are car salesmen glad-handing sharks everywhere?
posted by Thorzdad to Shopping (12 answers total)
salespeople are salespeople everywhere. the only ones I know to be different are saturn (too bad the product sucks) and porsche (we don't need to discuss pricing, who do you think you are?)

porsche is just like that everywhere. it's wiedekind's position. there is a story about them in germany where a couple years ago they sniffed at the city of leipzig. porsche had been looking around for a location to build a new factory and they had offered some hefty subsidies. they publicly sneered they didn't need handouts and they might better use it to fight unemployment.

but in general? yeah, it's the same everywhere. silk ties however seem to be a unique american thing.
posted by krautland at 8:00 AM on September 5, 2006

Less terrible (as in *somewhat* less pushy), but still similar in Ontario, Canada.
posted by shepd at 8:01 AM on September 5, 2006

I leased a car (over 4 years, then bought it, sold it, made money) in Canada and loved the process. Simple, happy, ummm... fun? I'd definately do it again. [1998 Acura EL 1.6]
posted by blue_beetle at 8:08 AM on September 5, 2006

Response by poster: So, are you guys saying that the price was the price posted? Or was there the whole smoke-and-mirrors slight-of-hand around the price that goes on in the US? The haggling and dealing and "let me talk to my manager" bs?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:40 AM on September 5, 2006

My leasing experiences here (Winnipeg, Canada) have all involved the sleezy "let me talk to the manager", the never being sure what the price really is, and all that fun.
posted by pocams at 8:47 AM on September 5, 2006

Some dealers are pushier than others. For example, we have purchased 3 new Hondas over the years. The first dealer was one of those pushy places that installs all kinds of crap on every car that comes in, so it's almost impossible to pay list. The last one, we called ahead, told them what our trade-in was, what we wanted (down to the color), and they had the papers ready with a rock-bottom price when we arrived. (If you happen to be in Seattle, I prefer Lynnwood Honda to Klein Honda. If you are in Vegas, drive out to that Honda dealer in Henderson rather than the guys on Sahara, YMMV.)

My advice is to have a real good idea about what you want and what it should cost before you ever arrive on a dealer's lot. Ask your friends/neighbors about their car buying experiences. Use sites like Edmonds.com. Play lots against one another. Walk away from salesdoods who annoy you in any way, and be particularly wary if the sales manager wants to talk to you. Oh, and go on the last day of the month, because any salesdood who is short on his quota will bend over backwards to make a deal happen.
posted by ilsa at 8:47 AM on September 5, 2006

My last three cars I've bought/leased in the manner ilsa describes. I decided how much I was willing to pay -- and coverted it to how much I was willing to put down and pay per month and not get screwed. Because I expected a counter offer I intentionally went lower with my offer than I thought I'd get. He came back within $100 of my original desired cost. $100 over 36 payments isn't too shabby. It was the end of the month and the dealer was hungry.

The dealer knew I was ready to buy. But he also knew I'd walk if I didn't get the price I was looking for. Everything was done via email [and a web form for when I had to fill out a credit app]. No phone calls. No visits. I already knew the make/model I wanted. When I came to the dealership, I took the car on a test drive, [alone, he wasn't trying to sell me], came inside and signed the papers.

Do lots of research on the internets. Know the price the car will go for. Know what you want to pay in every angle -- payments/total cost/etc. Stick to your guns. Be ready to walk away. On the car I bought before my last one, I did walk away and the salesguy called back the next day saying he could do the deal. Again, did this at the end of the month.
posted by birdherder at 9:38 AM on September 5, 2006

Do the "fax attack" technique. Fax a full specification of the vehicle you want to all the dealers you'd reasonably buy from (i.e. not ones 200 miles away unless you're willing to drive that far to get your new car), attention of the fleet sales manager. Say you don't need VIN etching, undercoating, or any of the dozens of other useless pure-profit upsell items. Ask them to quote you their best price. Take the best offer you get, then fax it to the other dealers and ask them to beat it. From this second round, pick your dealer and go in and get your car.

You can also do some research, figure out the dealer's cost and any applicable incentives, and just make an offer to one dealer the same way. "Here's the price I calculated, if you have this exact car on your lot and are willing to sell it for this price, I will buy it today." Keep trying until you get a dealer that will sell it to you at the price you want.

Or combine the tactics and fax all the dealers with your calculated price. "This is the price I determined, the first dealer to beat it sells me the car."

Since you're dealing with the fleet sales manager, you will bypass most of the sleazy sales tactics. The exception being if you're going to finance through the dealer; this means you will be dealing with the finance manager, who will try to upsell you on stuff. Just say "I said in my fax that I didn't want any of the extras, why are you still trying to sell them to me?" (Just to be safe from the really sleazy dealers, who will bait and switch you on the financing and call you back after you get home and try to raise your interest rate, you should have your own financing before you go in, and ask the dealer to beat it.)
posted by kindall at 10:45 AM on September 5, 2006

While that sounds good on the internets, kindall, in real life that probably won't work. I receive all the time useless "quote me a computer" stuff and just round file them. I used to bother to respond to them, but that's because at that time I didn't realise the chances of them buying anything at all were slim to none.

I'm not going to go through 15 minutes worth of effort drawing up a quotation on something I think they won't buy.

With a car, being it is probably way more work, I think they'd be even less inclined to help anyone that wasn't a warm body in their shop. But that's just me...
posted by shepd at 11:18 AM on September 5, 2006

I've leased and bought cars in Canada and bought in the US. My experience of car-buying was more or less the same in both countries, though the salespeople were less "and what colour would you like, little girl?" in the US (to be fair, I also looked like a teenager when I bought the car in Canada, even though I was in my mid-20s).

The car was leased according to the terms of an advertisement. They had these giant posters all over the lot, qualified buyers get 0% APR yadda yadda yadda. All of the sketchy wheeling-and-dealing was around how much we'd put down - they kept telling us that if we put money down our monthly payment would be lower by Y dollars, but when you did the math, Y x #ofmonths was less than the downpayment, so you were actually paying them more to give them money up front. Once we pointed out the stupidity of that, they just basically handed us a contract to look over.

The high pressure tactics were on the other end, where we had to sit through this long "explanation" of why buying the ex-leased car was such a fantastic deal, with amazingly bogus numbers that assumed things like you'd have to pay 10%APR to buy a regular car (at the time, most places were still advertising 0%APR deals), and of course the comparisons were all to buying a new car rather than the two-year-old car we would actually have been buying.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:17 PM on September 5, 2006

With a car, being it is probably way more work, I think they'd be even less inclined to help anyone that wasn't a warm body in their shop.

Except for the fact that they already know exactly what they paid for each vehicle in their inventory, and you are dealing with the fleet sales guy and it's his job to give out quotes. It takes him literally a minute. Most dealers now have these newfangled "computers" that do most of the work. I bet he doesn't even have to stick actual paper in the fax machine anymore to send you the quote.

I bought my last car this way, in fact -- I gave a salesman I liked first dibs (he was really helpful and low-pressure on the test drive, so I wanted him to get the commission), but used essentially this technique, and he called me up 5 minutes after I faxed him my offer and said "we'll do that." And he didn't pull any funny business when I got there, either.

If you Google "fax attack car" you will find lots of people having success with the technique. That's why I recommended it! It isn't wishful thinking, it is actual advice based on my and other people's actual experience.
posted by kindall at 4:09 PM on September 5, 2006

Just out of pure interest, I'm surprised no one mentioned reading Edmunds.com's Confessions of a Car Salesman. It's pretty long, but it brings a bit of perspective to how car salesmen get to be like they are in the States. The "Go Team! Go!" sales meetings nearly made me nauseated with their cheesiness.
posted by fujiko at 5:43 PM on September 5, 2006

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