A car salesman calling himself “Alex S” posted a comment on my Blog recently. You can read his comment and my response by clicking on my Blog, http://www.earlstewartoncars.com/ and going to my article, “The No-Dealer-Fee “Fat Lady” Hasn’t Sung Yet.”
I’ve reproduced his posting and my reply below because the comments of this car salesman are very revealing of what goes on inside the heads of many car sales people today.
I often am accused of calling car dealers and car sales people “crooks” or just plain “evil”. I certainly don’t mean to. I don’t believe that most people in the retail auto business are dishonest any more than I believe that about lawyers or politicians. Of course, there are a few that are just plain bad.
“Amoral” is a better way to describe the mindset of those in the retail car business who cause the huge problem we have today with the way car buyers are treated. A person who is amoral is one who is not admitting of moral distinctions or judgments; neither moral nor immoral. When you read the words of “Alex S” below you can see that he does not believe what he does to sell a car is deceptive, immoral or unethical. I’m sure you know others like Alex. If somebody challenges their behavior, it’s never their fault. In Alex’s case, he blames me and he blames and his customers for the negativity surrounding car dealers and car salesmen.
(my comments in caps)
Earl Stewart:THANKS VERY MUCH FOR YOUR POSTING. PLEASE EXCUSE THE "ALL CAPS" BUT THIS WILL DIFFERENTIATE YOUR WORDS FROM MINE. I'VE CHOSEN TO ADDRESS YOUR POSTING PARAGRAPH BY PARAGRAPH. FIRST, LET ME CONGRATULATE YOU FOR HAVING THE COURAGE, NOT ONLY TO RESPOND TO MY BLOG, BUT NOT TO CHOOSE TO BE ANONYMOUS. YOUR POSTING IS VERY INTERESTING BECAUSE IT SPEAKS FOR MOST FLORIDA CAR DEALERS. AS YOU POINT OUT, YOU AND MOST OF THOSE EMPLOYED IN THE RETAIL AUTO BUSINESS ARE NOT "CROOKS". A MINORITY ARE, BUT THE MAJORITY ARE SIMPLY ASSESSING THE DEALER FEE BECAUSE "THAT'S THE WAY ITS ALWAYS BEEN DONE" AND NOT TAKING TIME TO THINK OUT WHY IT'S BAD FOR THE CONSUMER.
Alex S: I work at a dealership in sawgrass(i wont mention the name because i dont have the authority to). Over the past few days I have noticed the quantity of my complaints over dealer fees have gone up, so I investigated and found your site. I respect what you are doing and can completely understand what it is that you are doing. I always disclose the dealer fees to my clients during me negotiations, i don't say plus fees i tell them plus dealer fees of XXX.
Earl Stewart: I'M VERY GLAD TO HEAR THAT MY ANTI-DEALER FEE EFFORTS ARE SPREADING AROUND THE STATE. I'M HAPPY TO HEAR THAT YOU TOTALLY DISCLOSE THE DEALER FEE TO ALL OF YOUR CUSTOMERS. UNFORTUNATELY, MOST SALES PEOPLE DO NOT. VIRTUALLY ALL SALES PEOPLE DO NOT USE THE COMPLETE TERM "DEALER FEE" [OR WHATEVER THEIR PARTICULAR DEALERSHIP CHOOSES TO CALL IT], BUT SIMPLY SAY "FEES". THIS LEADS THE CUSTOMER TO BELIEVE IT IS AN "OFFICAL FEE", FEDERAL, STATE, OR LOCAL.
Alex S: What it boils down to for me is that "profit" is not a dirty word. Dealer fees are an essential part of profit. Car sales are all a game, the customers goal is to spend as little as possible where as my goal is to make as much as possible. If both parties can come to a happy agreement, then it is all for the better. I read your previous article and people feel they are being robbed, that is simply not the point, No salesman has ever held a customer down and made them sign, if you dont like the way we do business then leave.
Earl Stewart: I CAN'T TELL YOU HOW OFTEN I'VE HEARD OTHER DEALERS USE THE SAME PHRASE, "PROFIT IS NOT A DIRTY WORD". THIS PHRASE IS A STRAW DOG JUST LIKE "WE DON'T WANT GOVERNMENT TO TELL US HOW TO PRICE OUR CARS". MY DEALERSHIP IS VERY PROFITABLE AND I DON'T CHARGE DEALER FEES. I'M IN BUSINESS TO MAKE A PROFIT AND I WOULDN'T BE IF I THOUGHT "PROFIT WAS A DIRTY WORD". I'M NOT CRAZY ABOUT YOUR DESCRIPTION OF "ALL CAR SALES BEING A GAME". IT'S THE 2ND BIGGEST PURCHASE A CUSTOMER MAKES IN HIS LIFE. IF IT'S A GAME, IT'S A VERY SERIOUS AND IMPORTANT ONE. USING YOUR ANALOGY, I ONLY WANT BOTH TEAMS TO BE FULLY INFORMED OF THE RULES OF THE GAME...HENCE FULL DISCLOSURE OF THE PRICE OF THE CAR WHICH SHOULD INCLUDE EVERYTHING EXCEPT TAX AND TAG. THIS FULL DISCLOSURE SHOULD NOT COME "AFTER THE FACT" BUT FROM THE FIRST TIME A PRICE IS QUOTED IN ADVERTISING, VERBALLY, ON A WINDSHIELD OR SIGN, OR OVER THE INTERNET. YOU SAY "NO ONE HAS EVER HELD A CUSTOMER DOWN AND MADE HIM SIGN". MAYBE NOT LITERALLY, BUT I KNOW OF LOTS OF CUSTOMERS THAT WERE FIGURATIVELY "HELD DOWN". I'VE TALKED WITH ELDERLY WIDOWS IN THEIR EIGHTIES AND NINTIES WHO WERE KEPT IN A CLOSING OFFICE FOR HOURS WHEN THEY ASKED FOR THEIR CAR KEYS TO GO HOME. I ALSO KNOW OF CUSTOMERS WHO DON'T UNDERSTAND OR READ ENGLISH WELL, YOUNG, UNSOPHISTICATED FIRST-TIME BUYERS, AND BUYERS WHO ARE UNEDUCATED AND/OR JUST NOT VERY SMART WHO HAVE BEEN TAKE GREAT ADVANTAGE OF.
Alex S: People do not walk into an electronics store and fight about the price they pay for a $5000 flat screen tv. They dont walk into the grocery store and argue about the price of a pound of apples. I guess what i am trying to get at is if you are in a comfortable place with a calm attitude the dealer fee should not be a deal breaker for anyone. Talk to the dealer sales associate about it. Believe me when i say this, most sales people dont recieve compensation from the dealer fee, but i still need to collect it.
Earl Stewart: ANOTHER THING THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN WHEN YOU SHOP CIRCUIT CITY, BUY RITE, AND BEST BUY TO GET THE LOWEST PRICE ON A 50 INCH PANASONIC TV IS NOT BEING SURPRISED AT THE CASHIER THAT THE "BEST PRICE" IS NOT REALLY THE BESTS PRICE BECAUSE BEST BUY HAS A $350 "DEALER FEE". YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAGGLE WITH CIRCUIT CITY BECAUSE YOU'VE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO FAIRLY COMPARE THEIR PRICE WITH THEIR COMPETITION. THIS OPPORTUNITY IS BEING DENIED CAR BUYERS IN FLORIDA. YOU ARE RIGHT ABOUT CAR SALESMEN NOT BEING PAID ON THE DEALER FEE. THIS MAKES THE SALESMAN VERY RELUCTANT TO DEDUCT THE AMOUNT OF THE DEALER FEE FROM THE PRICE OF THE CAR DURING NEGOTIATION. IF YOUR DEALER FEE IS $999 AND YOU DEDUCT IT FROM THE PRICE, YOU ARE COSTING YOURSELF $250 [ASSUMING A 25% COMMISSION]. THE SALESMAN ALSO TELLS THE CUSTOMER HE CANNOT REMOVE THE DEALER FEE BECAUSE HE IS REQUIRED BY LAW TO CHARGE ALL CUSTOMERS THE SAME DEALER FEE.
Alex S: If you find the need to rush out after the sales associate has informed you of a dealer fee, you didnt want to be there in the first place. Buying a car should be a pleasent experience.
Earl Stewart: WOULDN'T YOU "RUSH OUT" OF BEST BUY IF THE CASHIER ADDED A $350 DEALER FEE TO THE $3,995 ADVERTISED PRICE OF YOUR PANASONIC PLASMA TV? AS FAR AS CAR BUYING BEING A PLEASANT EXPERIENCE, TRY THIS EXPERIMENT...WITHOUT REVEALING YOU ARE A CAR SALESMAN, ASK THE NEXT 10 PEOPLE YOU SEE OUTSIDE YOUR DEALERSHIP IF THEY CONSIDER BUYING A CAR A "PLEASANT EXPERIENCE". I WROTE A POSTING FOR THIS BLOG ENTITLED "WOULD YOU RATHER BUY A CAR OR HAVE A COLONOSCOPY"? CAR DEALERS ARE ONE OF THE FEW RETAILERS THAT HAVEN'T ENTERED THE 21ST CENTURY. THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE TO IF THEY ARE GOING TO SURVIVE AND COMPETE. ALex, IN THE 21ST CENTURY, "THE CUSTOMER IS KING"...WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE.
Alex S: As a last note, if you walk into a dealship expecting to be ripped off, no matter how good of deal you actually get, it will never be good enough. If you walk in expecting to be treated right, you will probably leave happy everytime.
Earl Stewart: ARE YOU SUGGESTING THAT CAR BUYERS SHOULD SHOULD NOT BE WARY OF OVER-PAYING WHEN BUYING A CAR? IN THE SECOND PARAGRAPH OF YOUR POSTING YOU ADMITTED THAT "YOUR GOAL WAS TO MAKE AS MUCH PROFT OFF THAT CUSTOMER AS POSSIBLE". YOU ARE SUGGESTING THAT IF THE CUSTOMERS WEAR ROSE TINTED GLASSES, TRUST YOU TO GIVE THEM A GOOD PRICE, THEY WILL LEAVE HAPPY. ALEX, THE ONLY CUSTOMERS THAT "LEAVES HAPPY EVERY TIME" AFTER OVER PAYING FOR A CAR ARE THE THOSE WHO WERE DECEIVED.