A quick trip to the used car lot…

For the past several months I have been doing gobs of research on my next car. It has to be a sedan, have all wheel drive, great reliability, and be within a certain dollar amount so my payments are actually less on the new car than on my current.

I tend to research big purchases, exhaustively. Whether it is a car, a computer, etc… If I am going to invest a large portion of my income to something – I’m going to make sure it is worth it. About a week ago I decided to settle on a 2007 Ford Fusion AWD with the V6. Once I made that choice, I did my research.

First I checked the ‘black book auction price’ for the car, took the number down and tucked it away. Then I asked the dealer how much it cost to refresh the car I was looking at (new tires, a good detail, etc…) and cut that number in half. Then I add $2k to that price, and make it my initial offer.

So I took it for a test drive, two in fact. The second one, I showed it to the fiancee as well as my folks. Very nice car, great ride, good power, but the asking price was a little too high. NADA guides listed it at the price they were asking – but we all know the only people who use that book are the consumers, so they can believe that the asking price is fair (when it is actually inflated by a minimum of $5,000).

So I get to the dealer today, title is in the glovebox, checkbook is in my pocket. I’ve already had them appraise my trade-in (they were willing to pay about 800 less than I owed, but I was going to negotiate that up). I also made my initial offer (the aforementioned price which covers the dealer costs and also allows them some profit). Immediately my offer was shot down as too low – that’s fine. I do have an actual price in my head which was about halfway between their asking price and my offer.

I make sure to point out that the car hasn’t moved off their lot for over 6 months, that there’s some cosmetic damage on the vehicle, etc… That’s when the salesman breaks out the NADA guide price (which I immediately pointed out that I don’t use, then quote the black book wholesale auction price to him). We’re still fairly jovial at this point, and he makes his first counter offer (900 off the asking price) but he reinforces that he must ‘check with his manager on that.’ I say flat out that the price still is not low enough (he’s actually getting close to where I *really* want to be) and that I am minimally flexible. He crunches some numbers and quotes me the monthly payment at his new price – which is also still well off of what I’m looking for.

This is when things get downright silly. Manager comes out, salesman tells him what I’m looking to spend on the car, and he laughingly says ‘no way.’ Salesman mentions his counter offer – still getting push back from the manager. He wants his asking price, no less, stating that the current price has been active for two weeks (which is when I remind him that the car has been on the lot since February). That was pretty much it – no further counter offers, I effectively had the door slammed in my face and the manager walked off.

The salesman was pretty flustered as well, as his hands were tied by the manager, he couldn’t budge – and I wasn’t about to go on the defensive and increase my offer after being dismissed so quickly. I got up, the salesman apologized for not being able to help me out, and I walked out of the dealership.

I didn’t even get to the trade-in negotiation, in fact negotiations broke down so quick my head spun, I’ve never had the sales door slammed in my face that hard before. Still, there are ’07 Fusions on other local lots (every single other local lot) so I’m going to talk to a few other dealers in the mean time and see if I can land a similarly equipped model and hope I get some more flexible people to talk with.

Next week though, I may just stop back at the small lot and add another $500 to my initial offer if the car is still there.

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