Throwback Thursday: Car Shopping & Slimy Salesmen

Today's Throwback Thursday post is from last November, back when I was car shopping. 

Last month my fiancé and I spent one of our few Saturdays together visiting car dealerships. (It’s hunting season, he’s gone most weekends these days!) I’d done my research and narrowed my search down to the Chevy Equinox and the Mazda CX-5.

We stopped at the Chevy dealer first. In retrospect, I probably should’ve done some research on the actual dealers themselves, but instead we just went to the closest one. Big mistake.

We pulled up to the front of the dealership in my 04 Silverado, and the car salesmen (men. All of them.) were standing around just waiting for someone to show up. One headed our way before I even opened the car door. He cracked some joke about how they must look like vultures circling and I said with no humor in my voice that it was exactly what they looked like. So clearly, we were off to a great start.

Y’all, this guy did EVERYTHING people warn you car salesmen will do. I said I was looking for a basic model Equinox, preferably AWD. I stressed just looking and even said that I was going to another dealership after this to test drive a different vehicle. He nodded, and showed me the top of the line model, loaded with tv screens in the headrests, heated leather seats, satellite radio – you name it, this SUV had it. My fiancé and I stood out in the misty cold and checked out the vehicle while the salesman ran back inside to get the keys. Before running off though, he asked me all the questions I expected, including trying to get me to name the monthly payment amount I wanted (I refused and focused on total price).

Since this was a 2013 model he just knew he could get the price down into my range. (Not sure how he thought that would happen, as the sticker price for this vehicle was a good $10,000 over my budget.) When he finally returned with the keys, he was “so sorry to report that his manager just wouldn’t let him bring the price down” but he insisted we drive it anyway. At this point I’d already decided that if I was to buy an Equinox, I would not be buying it from this man. But we were already there, so I took the keys and did a little test drive. Emphasis on little. We went on this short little circle around the dealer, which was enough to show me that I really didn’t care for this vehicle. It felt sluggish and heavy, and I just wasn’t comfortable.

When we got back to the dealership, the salesman asked me to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. I said maybe a 6. Maybe. And I tried to bow out of the conversation then, bringing up the other vehicle I had in mind. But he insisted we go inside so he could “see if he could find us what we were looking for”. I reluctantly agreed, and we had barely sat down when he started requesting my information. I gave him the basics (phone number, email) but then he asked for my keys to get the VIN off my truck. I flat out refused and told him I was not interested in that. If he wanted to give me a quote today he could, but that’s as far as it would go. So then he brings over his manager and they try to tell me all about the deals they could make. I don’t remember exactly how we escaped, but I think I finally made the manager realize I was not interested and had crossed over to annoyed and frustrated, bordering on angry. All I know is that I was incredibly relieved to get back in my truck and drive away from there.

Instead of going straight to the other dealer like we planned, we took a break from the madness to do some wedding errands (yay registering!). But after awhile we headed north to the Mazda dealer.

It was a completely different vibe at this dealer. There were people standing outside, but not waiting around like vultures. They were helping other people or just talking, but we were greeted immediately. I said I wanted to test drive the CX-5, and with pretty much no questions asked, we were led to the exact car I’d asked to drive. (Well, I can’t remember if it drove an AWD or not, but it was at least the level of CX-5 I wanted. No leather or heated seats here.)

The lady who took us on the drive, Linda, did a great job of telling me about the car without overtlyselling me the car. Before we even drove off, she showed me the basic features. She then had me go on a test drive that lasted twice as long as the one at the Chevy dealership. I drove on city streets, did donuts in a parking lot, backed into a parking spot to check out the back up camera, and finally did the last mile or so on the interstate. It allowed me to actually get an idea of how it handled.

When we returned to the dealership I had a chance to really look at the vehicle, check out the back seats and cargo area, and just process things. There was no push to come inside, though we happily did. I’d made it clear that we weren’t buying that day, and no one tried to change my mind. In fact, I had to ask what the price of the vehicle was. She never once asked what I wanted my monthly payment to be or any other leading question. She simply answered my questions, gave me her information, and then let me be.

If you can’t tell, I clearly had a much better experience at the Mazda dealership. Of course, that doesn’t mean all Chevy dealers are slimy salesmen and that all Mazda dealers are low-pressure ladies. They definitely aren’t, because as I’ll mention next time, I had some dealings with a less-than-friendly Mazda dealer. And my family has pretty much only purchased Chevy before, so I’ve had good experiences with them. But on this particular Saturday, Mazda beat Chevy. Hands down.